View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
Medomak Middle School, Maine Area School District 40
Grade(s): 7 - 8
Scenario: One-to-One Laptop Program
Purpose: Enrichment/Gifted and Talented
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 30%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 1.25 hours per week
ALEKS Course: Mathematics - LV 5 (with QuickTables), Middle School Math Course 2, Middle School Math Course 3, Algebra 1, High School Geometry
Jennifer Goode, Gifted and Talented Coordinator
We have been using ALEKS as part of our district's gifted program for about three years. ALEKS enables our high ability math students to pinpoint the skills that they need to learn and accelerate the curriculum at the individual's pace. Using ALEKS, gifted students in our district have been able to move up one or more grade levels. ALEKS keeps the gifted students engaged, rather than having them stuck spinning their wheels in the regular classroom.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
It was very difficult in our traditional school structure to offer acceleration opportunities to students, particularly at the K-6 levels.
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?
I ask teachers to utilize ALEKS as an acceleration and enrichment option. Students also use it outside of class time.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
ALEKS topics are usually assigned based on the initial grade level of the student. For example, if a student is in grade four, they are assigned grade five topics.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
Gifted and Talented (GT) students are given time in class to work on ALEKS depending on whether or not the skills being taught that day are something they have already shown that they have mastered.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
Teachers have to compact instruction for GT students, which is a bit of an adjustment for some.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
I have found many of my gifted students work on ALEKS at home by their own choice. At the middle school level, students are given grades based on time completed in ALEKS at home.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
At this point, I have not cultivated parent involvement except to make them aware of the opportunity for their child.
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, it is around ten percent of the total homework load for middle school students.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
It depends on the individual teacher working with the GT students.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
I do not require regular amounts of progress. I do reward them when they complete the ALEKS Pie by giving them a real pie.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
The students' math skills have been strengthened and new mastery has been achieved. We have also seen an increase in math scores and continual progress for students who are already significantly high, with many accelerating through one or more grade levels in math. The GT students who love math really like ALEKS. They like the satisfaction of seeing their ALEKS Pie fill and of having the opportunity to learn material that is not found in their grade-level curriculum.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Make sure that students are taking the time to read the explanations. Sometimes I find that students will guess at answers rather than choose the explanations. The other issue I find in my particular situation is that GT students hate to have to admit they do not know how to do something, so they really fight pressing that button. In addition, train your students to practice, practice, and practice again. When they get to the point that they can press "Done" or press "Practice," they inevitably press "Done." Finally, take the time to really explain the value and purpose of doing ALEKS. Kids need to know why it is worth their while. If students understand that ALEKS is a way for them to further their math skills, they tend to buy in to using it.