View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
Westside Middle School, Westside Community Schools 66
Grade(s): 7 - 8
Scenario: One-to-One Laptop Program
Purpose: Enrichment/Gifted and Talented
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 40%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 5 hours per week, 195 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Algebra 1
Kristen Job, Excellence in Youth Coordinator
I have utilized the ALEKS program for my highly-able gifted and talented students. These students are generally bored in the regular classroom; as a result, they learn to accept the easy A and accept that no one is working for them on a regular basis. By incorporating the ALEKS program, these students can work at their own pace and go as far as they can in their math studies. These students then learn that, at times, they have to ask for the challenge, live up to the challenge, and take more responsibility for their learning. Programs such as this really drive home the need for more responsible learning with my students.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
None. We have a very welcoming district for technology.
How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
5 days per week.
What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
How do you implement ALEKS?
The students use the material as challenge material, because they are enrolled in a regular math class which is not difficult for them. The program allows them to learn above and beyond, at their own pace.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
No, I simply offer them a specific theme and they work as they see fit.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
The students have their own computers - they simply come in and work. If they have questions we discuss them, but this is mainly a chance for them to move at their own pace.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I did not, I simply offered the students a challenge - they accepted!
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
They know they have unlimited access and they are encouraged to use it. They do, and they love the program. Many would rather do this than play video games!
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
Oh, yes. The parents are excited to see their progress, and the kids are excited to show off a bit!
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?
No. This is totally a challenge for them, and they step up to the challenge as they see fit.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
I do not grade their ALEKS work, however it is used as a grade-skipping resource for our schools. Depending on placement in the ALEKS program, kids may be able to jump ahead in their math classes.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
No, this is teaching them responsibility, and honestly, I don't have to resort to such measures. The kids simply love doing it!
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
My students using the ALEKS program, first and foremost, understand what it means to be responsible for their own directed learning. They love the independence of the program, and the obvious gains in math ability are measurable. The unseen advantages are a pure joy for learning at their own pace, on their own time, and with their own goals in mind. My students have blossomed with this program. Kids are often afraid to approach teachers to ask for more of a challenge; they see the teachers working one on one with struggling students and frankly they feel cheated. This program allows them to work at their own pace, and as their needs adjust so does the program. They feel so very empowered and this translates to other aspects of their life as well.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
If this is introduced as a way for students to challenge themselves in a low pressure environment, they will rise to the challenge. So often kids are afraid to ask for something different, fearing they will just get more. ALEKS allows for differentiation for each child; no one knows what level they are at unless they choose to share that information with each other. Our gifted and talented kids deserve as much attention as the struggling students, and this program allows for just that!