View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
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Edgerton Middle School, Edgerton School District
Grade(s): 6 - 8
Scenario: One-to-One Laptop Program, Home Access
Purpose: RtI, Intervention, Special Education, Improve State Test Scores
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 10%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 1.5 hours per week, 60 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Essential Mathematics (with QuickTables), Arithmetic (with QuickTables), RtI 6, RtI 7, RtI 8, Middle School Math Course 2, Middle School Math Course 3
Tracie Kransberger, Support Staff
My personal experience with ALEKS has been incredible. It is so rewarding to see that little light bulb go on when a student understands and masters a problem. The program caters to each student's individual strengths and weaknesses, which is very helpful when you have a class that is very diverse in their math skills. ALEKS keeps the attention of a varied group of students and offers game time as a reward for hard work. I am very impressed by the progress the students have made, and I am very proud of them.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
The school faced challenges with a previous program they were using. The program was not user friendly or student friendly, and it did not keep the attention of the students.
How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
2-3 days per week.
What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
How do you implement ALEKS?
I implemented the ALEKS program into the classroom as a support staff member of a math team of teachers and school administrators. I print reports and recommendations and give this information to the teachers. The teachers use this information to place students into the program and to view their progress and understanding of concepts.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
No, I let the students choose which slice of the pie they would like to work on. I tell them to try it and that just because the explanation looks hard doesn't mean that the problems will be. This gives them the freedom to float around and gives them the sense of ownership of their progress.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
I structure ALEKS class periods by having the students pick from a bag as they enter the door. The card contains a math fact to answer, a song to sing, or other activity. The student then logs in to ALEKS, works until the last ten minutes of class, and then can do a math-related activity on the computer (like coolmath) while listening to their iPod as a reward for working so hard. I encourage the students to interact with each other and help their neighbor. I answer any questions they may have, and sometimes I show them a trick to make answering the question easier.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
With the population of students that I work with, I think letting them use their ALEKS time in a relaxed classroom setting makes them feel more comfortable asking questions and encourages their learning.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
Students are encouraged to work in ALEKS at home whenever they want to but it is not required.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I only have a couple of parents that are actively involved in ALEKS. The parents are aware that students can access the program at home and that it is not a graded class offered at school, but an enrichment class to help the student grasp a better understanding of math concepts.
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?
No, ALEKS is not assigned as homework but as an enhancement to the math curriculum.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
The ALEKS program is not currently part of the grading system at our school.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
The required progress in ALEKS is based on the individual student. The students I see daily vary greatly in their math skills and learning abilities. I require a certain amount of active time in the program per day and show the students their time and topics learned after each assessment.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
The learning outcomes and progress I have seen are amazing. The students start ALEKS with an assessment that defines their strengths and weaknesses and then builds on them. The students compare their initial assessment to learning assessments and can visually see their progress and success. I personally have seen an increase in self-confidence, improvement in completing math homework, and better grades. The students are very proud of conquering problems that they thought were going to be too difficult. To visually see their progress really inspires them to keep trying. They like the ability to pick and choose what topic they work on.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
I feel ALEKS should be used to achieve the best results for your students' success. The students that are in my classes vary in their degree of understanding math concepts. I have students that struggle with addition and others learning slope intercept. I encourage them to get to know each other and help their neighbor. I float around the room and answer any questions they have and push them to challenge themselves - it's just numbers! Sometimes I show them a trick to getting the answer. I let them use a white board to work on their problems. We take turns on a smart board and the student's really enjoy that. I have a rule to leave your "junk" at the door. I don't allow gossip, disrespect, or any action that makes another feel bad. I try to keep a positive and upbeat atmosphere. If you make math fun, it is!