View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
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Taylor Middle School, Taylor Community Schools Corporation
Grade(s): 6 - 8
Scenario: Computer Lab, One-to-One Laptop Program
Purpose: Intervention, Improve State Test Scores
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 10%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 3 hours per week, 25 hours per term
Jo Goodrich, Teacher
I am completing my second year of using ALEKS as a tutorial program for an Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress (ISTEP) math period that contains students who did not pass the math portion of the ISTEP. I am continually amazed at the following observations: improved test performance, stronger self-confidence in the classroom, ability and desire to work through problems, ownership of weaknesses, awareness of strengths, and leadership in groups during the regular math period.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
Our school did not have a program designed to start students at their own level and have them progress according to their ability and dedication.
How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
4 days per week.
What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
How do you implement ALEKS?
ALEKS is used as an ISTEP tutorial program to help students pass the math portion of ISTEP and increase class performance.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
Within the 45 minute period, the students must master five areas of the pie graph, visiting every part of the pie and completing any review questions. At times, I will target certain areas if it is a weakness or if it is a skill coming up in the math classroom curriculum.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
Four days a week, students go to the computer lab or remain in the classroom with a computer to work for 45 minutes on ALEKS. One day a week is spent in the classroom with an ALEKS generated worksheet to allow them to work with paper and pencil.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I allow the students in my ISTEP class to share with their regular math class any time they know something due to ALEKS. This encourages them to be leaders and builds self-confidence. Several students voice the desire to be a part of the program. I give them the website to share with their parents.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
Students are always encouraged, but time is a controlling factor. They lead very busy lives. Parents do not seem to be interested in their student spending additional time on a computer program, possibly due to homework in several subjects.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I make parents aware of the program and the positive influence that I have noticed for their child. I also provide them with instructions on how to access the program. Parents that have allowed the program to be used at home always miss it once their student works out of the program or grade level.
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 only one period a day for a small group of my sixth grade students.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
Students are expected to master five sections of their pie per period. Their success translates into a percent with a five out of five being 100 percent, four out of five being 80 percent, and so on. For assessments, an 80 percent is an A, 70 percent is a B, 60 percent is a C, and 40 percent or below is an F. In addition, they do an ALEKS worksheet packet once a week that is graded using classroom grading. They can receive extra credit points toward their overall grade based on how many points they increase from their previous assessment. They take a progressive assessment once a week.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
I do not enforce regular amounts of progress. They are to progress at their own level. I do not want to force them to rush through. They know the daily expectations. They are allowed to exceed five mastered areas per day which helps as extra points to make up for the days that they struggled.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
Students often learn or have skills sharpened by ALEKS before the material has been presented in class. This gives them bragging rights in group situations where they can be a leader and help others. Math grades have definitely increased. Some of my students from last year passed the ISTEP math portion for the first time. I attribute most of their success to ALEKS. Students feel very positive about their performance. Instant feedback with regards to progress is a big plus of the program that the students really appreciate.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Do not just turn them loose and trust that they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Run reports and check performance constantly to make sure they are working in all areas of their pie. Provide a helpful climate and encourage students to ask questions and not guess. Instruction must still take place.