Monday, December 13, 2010

Math with ALEKS

Out of all the subjects, math is my least favorite. It also is the one subject I don't feel as confident teaching my children. When I was asked to review ALEKS math, the timing couldn't have been better. With a newborn in the house, I needed a little break from teaching math but I didn't want my kids to get behind. I was hoping ALEKS would be a good solution.

What is ALEKS?
Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces is a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system that uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn't know in a course. ~ALEKS website

When a new student starts this program, ALEKS has them complete an assessment. Based on this assessment, a custom math plan is created for that student. This allows for individualization of the curriculum.

This customize math plan is shown as the student's "pie". The pie graph shows lessons completed in each of the different math content areas. The student can also click on a portion of the graph and the lessons needed to be completed for that content area show up.

Another component of ALEKS (at least for the elementary/middle school ages) are QuickTables. QuickTables is an application that allows students to practice and master their basic math facts. Whenever a student reaches a star, it opens a special game to be played. These games provide additional review practice.

What We Thought:

Since ALEKS is for students 3rd grade - 12th, I had my three older kids open accounts.

My 3rd grader: I found the QuickTables portion to be very beneficial for my daughter. I noticed that she really needs to master her facts and this helped me to remember to have her practice each day. She felt a sense of accomplishment whenever she would move up a star. She struggled a bit with the lessons, partly because it was a little above her math level (she needs to get those math facts mastered) and also because it required reading---which is also a task that doesn't come easy for her. So the combination of those two wore her out on some days. She did much better if I sat by her and walked through some of the first problems in each new lesson. Though it wasn't something that came easy for her, I liked the accountability and she liked to see how her "pie" was getting darker (lessons completed).

My 5th grader:  He enjoyed being online and basically being in charge of his own learning. He tends to be the one who tries to find the easiest way to finish things, and I liked that ALEKS won't let him move on unless he masters an area. If I thought that he was rushing through and not really understanding a concept, I would assign him a quiz (more practice) or print out a worksheet.

My 7th grader: Now this program was made for this child! She loved it. She liked that she could move at her own pace and switch between content areas (geometry, measuring, whole numbers etc.) If she didn't understand something, the written explanations were usually enough for her to grasp the concept. I occasionally had to explain things, but really she was able to move through the lessons on her own.

What I thought: This program is perfect for my family's needs at this moment in time. I can have my students work on math on their own and know that they are practicing and learning what they need to know based on the assessment. I especially like that as a parent I can see how long each student worked that day, what they accomplished, and what they need to accomplish. I also have the ability to assign quizzes or print out worksheets if additional practice is needed. This program however, does not teach new concepts well. For this reason I would not consider it a stand-alone curriculum. You will have to supplement with hands-on opportunities and further explanations if a concept is not understood.  Knowing that, I still find that it is an excellent way to fill in the gaps and reinforce concepts previously learned. I plan on extending our membership for several more months.

ALEKS Homepage
$19.95 per month per student-- there is a family discount option
You can try a free 1-month trial by clicking the button below:

Visit ALEKS 
for 1-Month Trial

For More ALEKS Reviews See;

Disclosure: I am a member of TOS and I was given this product free for review purposes only. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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