View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
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Searsport District Middle School, Maine School Administrative District 56
Grade(s): 6 - 8
Scenario: Computer Lab, One-to-One Laptop Program
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 28-38%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 2-2.5 hours per week, 25-30 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Middle School Math Course 2
Michelle Wakeman, Seventh Grade Math Teacher
We have just begun to implement ALEKS, and I have created two levels of classes within the seventh grade. I love the ability to monitor student progress and send little notes to the students on my own time.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
We face the usual challenges that schools with heterogeneous grouping face: how to serve the needs of both the advanced students, and those who are below grade level at the same time that you are maintaining a pace that will cover the curriculum topics within the year. The advanced students are not challenged adequately and the low students don't get enough practice time to master the skills they need to advance. We also have students who have missed certain topics in their journey through school, due to illness or moving from one school to another. We would not have discovered what these deficits were as quickly or completely without ALEKS.
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?
We have a numeracy block that meets every other day for about 50 minutes. This is in addition to the core math class that each student has using the standards based curriculum. I have not had any opportunity to cover any particular ALEKS topics with classes as a whole, because my classes are so diverse, and we are just beginning to implement ALEKS. I will probably try using it as a supplemental teaching tool in several units coming up in the future, such as operations with fractions, decimals, and integers.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
No, not at this time.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
Students sign on and continue working at their own pace for the allotted time during the numeracy block.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I don't worry so much about catching kids up on basic skills before beginning a unit. I just make sure that they practice that particular topic on their ALEKS program before we get to the unit.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
They are encouraged to work at home, but are not required because many of our students do not have Internet access at home or anywhere convenient to their home.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
We are sending out a newsletter, and we have talked about it during parent/teacher conferences. I also intend to award certificates for certain percentages of progress as students reach them. The first ones are going out soon.
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 not used for homework.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
We have not decided what we will do about that at this time. We have to meet with our principal about this issue.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
We have just begun to implement this program, so this has not been worked out as yet.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
It's too early to say at this point, but I have seen some real interest in some kids that I didn't see before. The ones who have reached a milestone, such as their first assessment after the initial pretest or filling in a slice on their pie chart, are really excited and proud of themselves.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
I think that the fact that I can personally send messages to each student regarding their progress is very effective. It lets students know that I am checking in on them personally. It also meets each student where they are and brings them forward from there, sometimes with assistance and sometimes on their own. This gives students immediate reinforcement for their efforts and lets slower students still see that they are progressing from where they were in a very concrete way.