View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
Hilltop Middle School, Sweetwater Union High School District
Chula Vista, CA
Grade(s): 7 - 8
Scenario: Computer Lab
Purpose: After-School, Summer School
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 60%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 3 hours per week
ALEKS Course: Middle School Math Course 2, Middle School Math Course 3, Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1
Gary Oakland, Teacher
I have had tremendous success using ALEKS in many different ways. I started using ALEKS for students in afterschool math recovery classes (Math 7, 8, and Algebra) and then found that the ALEKS program also works great for summer school, advanced students, and as extra credit. Currently, I am using ALEKS for Math 7 Support classes in a computer lab that I helped build for the program.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
We found that many students were getting left behind because they had not mastered many of the math basics. ALEKS allows students to select and work on improving their unique gaps. The teacher can also select standards for the students to work on.
How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
3 days per week.
What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
How do you implement ALEKS?
I use overheads about twice a week for 3-6 warm-ups that consist of basic math concepts that the students are learning in their regular math class. After the warm-ups, I conduct short ALEKS quizzes regarding the warm-ups, then the students work on ALEKS problems of their choice. I like to give my students three opportunities to complete their quizzes over the course of two days. I use ALEKS along with our textbook to follow district guidelines and to master the state standards.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
I let students work on ALEKS in any order they choose, except when it comes to their ALEKS quizzes. For the quizzes, I follow district text guides so that I stay on track with their regular math classes.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
For the first 10 minutes, I have my class do a brief warm-up using the overhead that covers topics correlated to the state standards. The warm-ups also consist of basic math concepts such as multiplying, dividing, or fractions. Students then work on an ALEKS quiz that covers the warm-up topic. They then have the option to work on any ALEKS topic they like. Students usually complete 1-2 quizzes per week and students spend the rest of class time filling in their individual ALEKS pies.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I use less lecturing and a lot less homework.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
I always encourage students to work at home and give them extra credit for their hours, as well as their success.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I send many ALEKS reports home to parents and highly recommend that their children spend more time in ALEKS. Parents like the reports that ALEKS provides and they are very impressed with the ALEKS state standards report. This report also helps me show the student's strengths and weaknesses to the parents.
Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities? If so, what part of the total homework load is it?
ALEKS is not assigned as homework, but students can earn extra credit.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
I like to use the internal ALEKS grading system as a student's main grade. I have various other assignments and projects that I use as part of their grade. The student's grade roughly breaks down as follows: ALEKS progress is 90 percent; and worksheets count for the remaining 10 percent of a student's grade.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
No, but I make suggestions for improvement in order for the student to move to the next ALEKS course level.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
It's very rewarding and exciting to see students finally get a concept and be proud of their accomplishments. The results have been truly amazing. I had classes of 30-40 F students that showed over a 90 percent success rate of achieving a C or better. Some of my students achieved A's and some reached the entire course level mastery. One of my current students has completed 85 percent of Algebra using ALEKS without ever being in an Algebra class! In another instance, I had a teacher send me 12 ESL students every day during my lunch period to work on ALEKS in Spanish because these students were failing math due to the language barrier. I don't speak Spanish, but I found it very easy to use the bilingual capability of ALEKS to help these students do better in math. Students love the ALEKS pie chart and get excited about watching the sections of the pie chart grow as they master items. They like being able to work at their own individual pace and to choose the standard that they wish to work on. I've noticed almost an obsession in some students to complete their mastery of the course when they get close to finishing the pie. I had several students this past June ask me to change their course level to the next ALEKS math course level so that they could get ahead of their classmates over the summer. ALEKS can be used from any computer with Internet access so students can work in ALEKS at school and at home.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
As a teacher, the feature that I am most impressed with is the quiz feature. Correlating teaching with state standards is something we all strive to do as teachers, and ALEKS makes this easy. Using an overhead, I work with the class to solve warm-up problems that coincide with problems they are currently working on in ALEKS. I have the students do a short ALEKS quiz once or twice a week to work on these warm-ups. I keep the quizzes short and give students three opportunities to earn a higher grade.