View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
Don Callejon School, Santa Clara Unified School District
Santa Clara, CA
Grade(s): 7 - 8
Scenario: Computers in Classroom, Home Access
Purpose: Intervention, Enrichment/Gifted and Talented, Supplement
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 15%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 1-2 hours per week, 10 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Middle School Math Course 2, Algebra 1
Pamela Skilj, Teacher
ALEKS is a great program that the students love to work on. The biggest asset for teachers is the ease of use for us and our students. The biggest draw for the students is the goal of filling up their pie chart.
How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
2 days per week
What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
How do you implement ALEKS?
I use a rotation schedule for ALEKS in my classroom. I have nine computers with Internet access for students to use. After I teach my lesson to the class, I have various assignments for them to complete - some students work in ALEKS, some do worksheets, some start their homework. This works well because each student can get 40 minutes completed in ALEKS in just two days, and I still do not lose a day of teaching.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
I don't cover topics in a particular order. I do, however, suggest topics for students to work on based on the lessons we are covering in class. The thing I like best about ALEKS is that students work at their own pace and on topics that are of interest to them.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
Since we have a modified block schedule every week, I see my students twice a week for 80 minutes. I use the first 20 minutes teaching and then I break the class into groups to work on various stations. This grouping usually continues into the next day if necessary.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I modified my approach by rearranging some time during the block schedule in order to get students onto computers for ALEKS time.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
I encourage students to work in ALEKS every chance they get at home or at their local library (or our school library). At my school, we offer incentives for students to complete time in ALEKS during holiday breaks, and we even open our computer lab for three days every week-long break. This is a great way to give students as many opportunities as possible to get online and use ALEKS.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I send numerous letters home to parents informing them of this program and its benefits. We host a family night at our school, with a dinner for those attending, to highlight ALEKS and the great strides our students have made at our school. Also, I talk about ALEKS during every parent meeting and explain the importance of their child using the program as often as possible.
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?
Students are required to complete an average of one hour per week in ALEKS. However, how they fulfill this requirement is their responsibility, and I provide at least 30 minutes of this required time during class.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
ALEKS is worth 15 percent of students' overall grade in my class. ALEKS has its own category and it's made very clear to the students how important ALEKS is in improving their math knowledge.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
I typically check only for time spent in the program, but I do regularly monitor their progress. Just achieving time requirements with no progress in their pie will not allow them to receive full credit on their ALEKS assignments.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
I have seen a lot of progress with all of my students that regularly use ALEKS. Students below grade level have been able to slowly catch up by using ALEKS to fill in the gaps of knowledge that have slipped by. Some students that started at grade level are now ahead of my lessons by using ALEKS to progress at a faster rate. No matter who uses ALEKS, if they are using it regularly, they are making obvious improvements in their math content knowledge. Many students love seeing their pie chart fill up, which motivates them to keep moving forward with the program.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Have computers in the classroom so that you can do rotations or stations of ALEKS; this way you can still meet with other students in smaller groups and be able to get some solid one-on-one time. Also, computer stations in the classroom help with monitoring the use of ALEKS (less computers to check on) and behavior seems to be better when students are grouped appropriately in the stations. If you are working in a computer lab, make sure to talk with each student individually about what they are working on in ALEKS. Or, review important knowledge covered in your class with a small group of students.