View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
Broadview Middle School, Alamance Burlington School System
Grade(s): 6 - 8
Scenario: Computers in Classroom, Home Access
Purpose: RtI, Enrichment/Gifted and Talented, Special Education, Improve State Test Scores
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 90%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 3 hours per week, 54 hours per term
ALEKS Course: RtI 6
Nathan Page, Teacher
I have found ALEKS to be a wonderful instructional tool in my classroom. It blows other online programs out of the water. The open-response questions, instead of multiple-choice, really get the students to think about their responses. Once they see their pie chart growing, they are interested in learning for its own sake, instead of seeing who can do the most flips on a mini-flash game.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
Our Exceptional Children (EC) department's scores grew less than 10 percent last year. Of course, this is unacceptable. While the numbers for this year's End-of-Grade scores have not come back, based upon our in-house benchmarks, I would not be surprised if the sixth grade EC numbers were closer to 100 than to zero percent. I am really excited about the part that ALEKS has played in this, as I feel like it gives students the opportunity to try and try again, and not feel bad when they get the wrong answer. Students feel like making a mistake is okay and that they can continue on a problem until they understand it.
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?
ALEKS started in just my classroom as a center, but has since advanced to the entire sixth grade using the program in their classes.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
I ask the students to focus on whatever they like because I appreciate the freedom in choice that ALEKS gives the students. They are able to choose where they have a weakness or where they are strong, and can complete a pie piece.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
Students in my classroom work in centers, where they rotate through ALEKS twice every couple of days. This gives them a chance to see math in projects, in problems, and in true-to-life questions.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
While our pacing guide says specifically what we have to teach on certain days, I look to ALEKS to choose my whole group instruction. This lets me teach concepts that the students are ready for and are able to retain. My targeted instruction makes me a more effective and timely teacher.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
This year I do not have a requirement associated with homework, but I will bring in assignments into this format next year.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I LOVE being able to show parents their student's specific growth numbers and what they have begun mastered. It is a nice tool to brag about student achievement.
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?
Yes, but only over extended school breaks (spring break, etc.).
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
My grading system is broken down into the following categories: homework is 20 percent, classwork is 25 percent, ALEKS is 15 percent, and tests and quizzes are 40 percent.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
No, but I do require time spent online. To require growth, I feel I would have to pick topics rather than let them work on what they want to work on.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
When we started ALEKS, most students were testing at about 20 percent of the RtI course for sixth grade. I would take this to mean the bare minimum allowed for a sixth grader to be able to function on level. By the end of the year (and some students at over 50 hours of time in ALEKS) the tests were amazing. I have passed the other teachers in my school who are not using ALEKS in achievement levels, and the retention and speed of my students has improved, which we all know has a direct effect on the confidence! Most students love to see their pie charts fill up, but they are the happiest when they have a slice of the graph full. This provides us with a great opportunity to allow students to discuss what they learned when mastering that portion of the test. Students love being the teacher and I feel comfortable handing a portion of the class over to them when they have already showed mastery. They rarely make mistakes, and so don't fear ridicule!
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Use it as a supplement for everything. ALEKS is not the only thing that should be used to teach a concept, but it is a great reinforcer, reviewer, and a WONDERFUL track record for students.