View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
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Cudahy Middle School, Cudahy School District
Grade(s): 7 - 8
Scenario: Computer Lab
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 40%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 2 hours per week; 30 hours per term
Natalie Ktorides, Title 1 Math Teacher
ALEKS has been wonderful for my seventh grade students. I am a Title I teacher so my students struggle to begin with. We go into the computer lab a few days each week during our 40 minute class periods and work on the program. I enjoy how ALEKS is independent, easy to learn and follow, and how it guides students through the questions to ensure that they can be successful. ALEKS is a great contribution to my curriculum because I can spend some time teaching students the concepts that they are learning about in their math class, while ALEKS gives them the knowledge they need to learn a whole realm of math standards. Now that they have been working with the ALEKS program for quite some time, the material is getting more difficult. I remind the students that they are doing some eighth grade or even high school math problems, and that ALEKS will help to prepare them for the more difficult math when they get there. This has helped their confidence grow tremendously. Their math classroom teacher has shared with me that those students are more confident in math class. I would recommend the ALEKS program to anyone!
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
Our school wants to see more students achieving at the proficient or advanced level on the Wisconsin Knowledge Concepts Examination (WKCE). Our curriculum director worked very hard to get the funds to be able to provide our students with a math program. We formed a math committee of about six members and looked at four different programs. After reviewing at all of those choices, we decided that ALEKS looked the best. My students specifically struggled in math. Their tests scores showed that they were below grade level, and we hoped that the ALEKS program would help to get them up to grade level.
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 ALEKS into one of my class periods. We purchased more licenses and then started before and after school ALEKS sessions. Students come at least three days per week for about 45-55 minutes to work on ALEKS.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
Two to three days per week, students go to the computer lab and work on ALEKS the entire class period. The other days of the week are spent in the classroom.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
If there is a topic that most students are struggling with, we take time the next day to discuss and learn about it.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
It was not required because students had anywhere from and an hour and a half to two hours of math classes or ALEKS during the school day. Students were encouraged to use ALEKS at home though. One of the reasons our math committee chose ALEKS was because of the web-based feature.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
We sent letters home to parents telling them that it was a great thing that their child was selected for the ALEKS program. We encourage parents to sit down with their children at night and learn about what they are doing at school with ALEKS.
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?
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
Students are not graded based on the ALEKS program.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
We want our students to enjoy the ALEKS program rather than feel like it is a punishment, so there is no designated amount of work they must complete in any given day or week. Students are scheduled to use ALEKS and there are teachers there to help them and answer questions, so all students are making progress and finding success with the program. If students are absent from school, we encourage them to put in some time at home (if they have a computer and internet access).
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
Since using the ALEKS program, students have made greater gains on pre and post-tests and the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) tests compared to the other seventh grade students in the school. The students really got into it at the beginning and were even friendly competitors. They try to see who can pass the most topics or gain the most percentage points for the day. ALEKS is great because it gives them the motivation to strive for excellence. Although they are competing, they are also very helpful to each other.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
It is important to be encouraging and stay positive so that the students continue to enjoy the ALEKS program and see it as a positive thing. If it is possible to have your own account, the students get excited about your progress and love comparing their pie to the teacher's pie. Encourage students to be independent and click the explain button if there is something they do not understand. Most of the time they will be able to read the explanation and figure out how to complete the problem. However, do not let them get frustrated, and help them if they need it. Have students spend as much time on ALEKS as possible! It is a wonderful program. It is great because they get instant gratification and can see how many topics they have mastered and how many they have yet to go.