View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
Russell County Middle School, Russell County School District
Russell Springs, KY
Grade(s): 7 - 8
Scenario: Laptop Carts, Home Access
Purpose: Enrichment/Gifted and Talented, At-Risk Students
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 10-20%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 3 hours per week; 27 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Mathematics - LV 4 (with QuickTables), Mathematics - LV 5 (with QuickTables), Middle School Math Course 2, Middle School Math Course 3, Algebra 1
Mickie Tarter, Gifted Teacher
I learned about ALEKS at a gifted conference in Lexington, KY. I sent home a letter asking parents and students to commit to three hours per week at home for three weeks. About half of my students made this commitment. After this time period, I reviewed the results and shared the information with the parents and students. Next, I asked the parents to respond with comments and suggestions about ALEKS. Several of my students did not spend the time they committed to. Many students spent many more hours in ALEKS than their initial commitment. Five students tested into the next grade level course. Several other students are very close to going on to the next level. When the students completed their next grade level test, I was amazed at how well they scored. I asked regular education teachers to allow ALEKS students who had gone to the next grade level to work in ALEKS as a substitute for regular class time. At first I was concerned about how they would do, but all of the students were at a higher level than the grade-level students who had been working for three weeks. I was excited to see how well they did at the next level and it was great to know what they learned stayed with them. We are planning an ALEKS Recognition Day!
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
Students were being held back in the regular classroom, and lacking exposure to topics they could have mastered. Another challenge was progressing with the regular class at their school on topics they have already mastered.
How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
How do you implement ALEKS?
Students took the Initial ALEKS Assessment at school. Then they worked in ALEKS at home.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
Students work individually on topics they select in whatever order they choose.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
I only see my gifted students once per week for an hour. I structure ALEKS through home use.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
Students are encouraged to work in ALEKS at home for three hours per week. Weekly emails are sent to parents stating the amount of time the student has worked.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I email parents concerning time spent in ALEKS, how many students have advanced to the next level, and students in particular grades who have spent the most time in ALEKS.
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?
These students are intrinsically motivated. It is totally without reward or punishment, but rather for their own personal growth.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
I do not incorporate ALEKS into grading since they do not receive a grade in the gifted program.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
If the students spend time, they make progress, so this has not been an issue.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
I have seen students become more confident in their math ability. I also see students who gain self-confidence by realizing they can click on "explain" and figure out math concepts themselves. I have seen very supportive parents; some have been very, very thankful for the program. One student told me he liked ALEKS because there was no paper and pencil and he did not have to complete multiple problems, especially when he knew the answers early on. How students feel about ALEKS seems tied to how willing or dedicated they are. Also I feel parental support is a factor. If the student is willing and has parental support, they have a really great attitude about working in the program. Those dedicated students were thrilled with their progress and to be able to progress on their own. They feel held back in the regular classroom, so the freedom to pursue math at their ability level is wonderful for them. I suppose the most amazing part for me is realizing how well the students performed at the next grade level. I know it will not take much effort for them now to go on to the next level. It seems the possibilities are endless for those truly dedicated students and they are out there!
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Parent involvement is a key factor in the success of our program. Notification to parents via email is a plus. I think having a time to acknowledge student accomplishment will be rewarding and encourage parents and students, and perhaps even teachers.