View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
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Wendover Middle School, Hempfield Area School District
Grade(s): 6 - 7
Scenario: Computer Lab, Computers in Classroom, Home Access
Purpose: Special Education
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 25%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 1 hour per week
ALEKS Course: Mathematics - LV 3 (with QuickTables), Mathematics - LV 4 (with QuickTables), Mathematics - LV 5 (with QuickTables)
Jacque Johnston, Learning Support Teacher
I teach the full-time Learning Support students who experience a great deal of difficulty learning and retaining math facts. I had been looking for alternative and interesting ways to provide more repetitions for the students in addition to worksheets and flash cards. I started using the ALEKS program three years ago. I have had amazing results with my students on their ability to learn and retain their basic facts. We mostly utilize the QuickTables program, but some of my students have been able to move into the Mathematics Level 3, Level 4, and Level 5 programs. At the end of each school year I am so impressed at the progress the students have made, and I am able to quickly access reports to document this progress. ALEKS was exactly the kind of online math program that I had in mind. The results are better than I ever anticipated.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
My challenge was the students' lack of motivation in learning basic math facts. ALEKS is a program that the students don't mind using. In fact, they look forward to it each day.
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 use ALEKS as a supplement to our direct instruction curriculum.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
The students do a direct instruction math lesson, and then they work on the ALEKS program while I am grading their work. I call students over individually to review and correct their errors.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I do not spend much time on drill and practice and worksheets. This is mostly accomplished utilizing the ALEKS program.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
No, some of my students do not have computer or access to the Internet at home.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
At the beginning of the school year I hold a "parent information" meeting. At this meeting, I have the students demonstrate to their parents how they use the ALEKS program. I also mention it daily on the homework portion of my website.
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?
Not at this time. It is recommended but is optional.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
ALEKS is not included as a part of the student's grade but it is documented quarterly in the progress monitoring portion of the Individualized Education Program (IEP).
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
We have monthly charts that the students maintain. They are to make two percent progress in each of the basic fact areas each session that they use the ALEKS program. This usually equals about 40 percent progress in each area. When the students are assessed each month, they start with the new number they received on their test. The Learning Support students struggle with retention so this is not a steady increase.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
I am currently doing my year-end student evaluations. One of my students improved by 13 percent in addition, 19 percent in subtraction, 19 percent in multiplication, and one percent in division. This improvement is very typical of what I have seen in most of my students. The students are very proud of themselves. They like to compare their scores with their classmates when they are playing the math games. Usually I have one or two students who master all of the basic facts during the school year. We do some "Math Challenges" using flash cards, and these students do not miss any of their math facts. It is very impressive.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
I think you need to utilize ALEKS at least three days each week in order to see results with the Learning Support students. I try to use it four days a week to supplement our direct instruction math curriculum. It seems to be the perfect complement to our curriculum. All of my students have greatly benefitted by using the ALEKS program.