Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Aleks - A Review

If you have read much of my blog you already know that we have switched Math curricula atleast once/year for Paul. We just couldn't find exactly what fit for my teaching style and his learning style. What we finally figured out is that my teaching style and his learning style for Math were never going to match! The way my brain processes Math and the way he processes Math are just two totally different things. That is when we started looking at computer based Math curriculum. Aleks was on my list of programs to try. So, we were very thankful when we were given the opportunity to review ALEKS.

From their website:
Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces is a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system. ALEKS uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn't know in a course. ALEKS then instructs the student on the topics she is most ready to learn. As a student works through a course, ALEKS periodically reassesses the student to ensure that topics learned are also retained. ALEKS courses are very complete in their topic coverage and ALEKS avoids multiple-choice questions. A student who shows a high level of mastery of an ALEKS course will be successful in the actual course she is taking.

When we first signed up and logged in to ALEKS Paul was very reluctant to give yet another new Math program a try. I told him to give it a week and then we could talk about it. The first thing that he had to do was an assessment. This took approximately 30 minutes and then we were taken to his "pie"

The pie shows the areas of math that need to be learned for that particular grade level (for Paul he is working on a 5th grade level for Math). It is broken down in to pie pieces and then when you click on each pie piece it shows what topics need to be mastered. You then choose the topic you want to work on and are taken to a question concerning that topic. If the student can answer the question and two more like it the topic is considered "mastered" and it is the added to his pie. If the student does not know how to complete the problem he can then click on "explain" and there will be a written explanation for them to read over. The student then has to answer three problems correctly to master that topic. Parents/Teachers can also create review worksheets that can be printed out or a quiz that can be taken online.

What We Like
-Paul really enjoyed being able to choose the topic he is learning about. He had to pick 3 each day and he varied from picking three under the same category to choosing three different categories. What I did notice is when he came to some difficult he would not go back to that piece of the pie for a few days.

- I like the assessment portion and it allowed me to see what "holes" he had in his Math instruction. Since we have switched curriculum a few times there are a few holes in his Math instruction.

-There are no textbooks to purchase and keep up with.

-Everything is completed online so he can do a lesson no matter where we are or what computer in the house is available

-I was emailed progress reports every two weeks.

What We Don't Like
-I do not like Paul choosing his topics. In my opinion Math needs to be taught in a certain order and although I know that's not necessarily the case I am still not comfortable with working on Geometry one day and Algebra the next.

-We had moved to me not having to be right there with him for Math and with Aleks although the explanations are there they are simple explanations with just one example and for new topics this just doesn't work for Paul. So, it was more teacher -intense than I want for him right now.

-There is not a lot of built in review. Each day you just choose a new topic. The teacher/parent can add in review sheets but it's not built into the program.

-It is not reusable year after year for multiple children thus the cost can definitely become a factor. It is currently $19.95/month with discounts for signing up for 6 months or a year as well as discounts for multiple family members.

So, overall this is not the program for us as a complete Math curriculum. We are, however, going to use it for a while longer to fill in those holes he has developed over the years.

I think it would be great for a summer enrichment program for homeschool or regular school kids. It can definitely be used to help a student catch up or fill-in gaps in their Math instruction. Perhaps if you are pulling your child home from public school you could use this program to see where your child is and what areas he/she may need help in.

Paul did end up really enjoying it and continued to use it after the 1week minimum I set for him. Sometimes I give him the choice to do his regular curriculum or 3 topics in Aleks and he will always choose Aleks. So, even though it is not my first pick he does enjoy it, and that says a lot!

Math curriculum is definitely not a "once size fits all" kind of thing so this may be the perfect answer to your Math dilemma. They are offering a two month free trial which is more than enough time to get a good "feel" for the program and see if it is the perfect fit for your child!

You can also take a quick video tour to see more benefits of the program.

ALEKS offers courses for grade 3 - 12

Disclosure: I received a free trial of this program for review purposes. No other compensation was given for this review. All opinions are my own, honest opinions.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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