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Bernardo Heights Middle School, Poway Unified School District
San Diego, CA
Grade(s): 6 - 9
Scenario: Home Access
Purpose: Special Education, At-Risk Students
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 20%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 1-2 hours per week
ALEKS Course: Mathematics - LV 4 (with QuickTables), Mathematics - LV 5 (with QuickTables)
Barbara Barker, Special Education Teacher
When I first started in our district four years ago, we had extra funding to try ALEKS with a set of students who were far below grade level in seventh grade math. They made some gains but were unmotivated, and I tried offering many different incentives for them to complete their ALEKS pie. Three years later, my own son was well below grade level, and I decided to sign him up for the program at home. He has gained over two years' growth in one year and is scoring above grade level in school. He is so excited to be able to say that he is smart and able to do the math that the other students in his class are struggling with. He says "I know this because of ALEKS." The other kids would think ALEKS is a person, and when he tells them it is a computer program, the others would go home and ask their parents if they can also get ALEKS.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
Students in Special Education at the higher grade levels are too embarrassed to say they do not know how to do things and will purposely misuse computers and other school property.
How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
3 days per week.
What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
How do you implement ALEKS?
I added the program as a supplement and gave it to a few of the kids as a reward. As they complete topics, I get them In-N-Out burgers.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
No, I let them choose.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
I bring them to a computer lab.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I didn't modify my program. I teach Special Education, so it is already modified.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
I tell them 15 minutes a night or 1.5 hours a week.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I send home letters. I also introduce it at the beginning of the year and at all Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings.
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 20 percent of their grade.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
20 percent is ALEKS participation, 20 percent is tests, 40 percent is classwork, and 20 percent is other homework.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
No, they are working at their level.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
I have seen a two grade level jump in one year. For my own child, he is excited that he is able to do what the other kids are doing, and in some cases more than what they are able to do.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Use incentives for when a pie slice is completed.