Friday, August 21, 2009

ALEKS Review

Aleks Math is a customizable online program for students Grades 3 and up. Aleks stands for Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces. We were blessed to receive a thirty day trial as part of my TOS review responsibilities. We had a small amount of trouble installing the plug-in’s to one of our older computers but we were able to find a way to make it work so that both of our boys could be on different computers signed in to Aleks at the same time.

Our middle child tried the Essential Mathematics Course which the Aleks K-12 Course recommendation page suggested for 7th, 8th and 9th graders who learn more slowly. This recommendation feature was helpful to me in selection of the correct levels of instruction for each child. Check the list out at:

I was concerned that Aleks might be too discouraging for this child with special learning challenges at first, as we have tried other computerized Math programs and it only led to tears and protests but with the Aleks course work, my child adapted to the system or rather, it adapted to him.

Here is a sample of the Table Of Contents for this course.

Essential Mathematics (with QuickTables)
This course covers the topics shown below.
Students navigate learning paths based on their level of readiness.
Curriculum (370 topics) [open all close all] PDF
Whole Numbers (80 topics)
Expanded Form and Numeral Translation (6 topics)
Addition and Subtraction (16 topics)
Multiplication and Division (27 topics)
Rounding, Estimation, and Order of Operations (16 topics)
Factors and Prime Numbers (9 topics)
Properties of Arithmetic, Fact Families, and Sequences (6 topics)
Fractions and Decimals (66 topics)
Geometry (72 topics)
Measurement and Graphs (48 topics)
Proportions, Percents, and Probability (33 topics)
Algebra (71 topics)
ALEKS QuickTables is a research-based math fact mastery program for multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction for grades 3 and up. The online program offers ongoing assessment, learning, review, and visual tracking of student progress. [learn more]

The Aleks program contains assessment tools and customizable progress and attendance reports and even a pie chart so that the parents/teachers can tell what their child has done in each topic area during every session of use. One of the complaints I have heard from people who tried the program in the past was that the pie charts kept changing and erasing progress, causing the students to do lessons over in order to fill in the pie. It is all based on mastery and when a child misses too many problems, this can happen as the computer program can’t determine if it was a typing error or poor mastery that caused the gap. However, the problem is easily solved if the child has learned the concepts and merely chose the wrong answers causing parts of the pie to be subtracted-- your child will only have to answer a few questions right to fill the pie back in. If they really haven’t mastered the learning area, then they will have more practice questions to do in learning mode before filling the pie back in to the previous fullness. Also, the pie will change how it looks depending on the topic area which the student is working to master. It’s really quite simple with the artificial intelligence of the program working to find gaps and helping them to master the information necessary to learn the topic.

We were amazed to see our son who hates Mathematics with a passion, developing a desire to learn. We received a happy response from him when he was told to go do his Aleks Math. “Can we keep this Math, mom?” was his question. (In my heart, I’m hoping that we can purchase the full version, as I’ve never seen him learn so much in Math with such a good attitude. His pie filled up quickly in some areas and gradually in others but his level of knowledge and understanding of the course contents increased dramatically with only a little help from his parents. The course contained drop down examples and explanations as well with many graphics to assist comprehension.

The Aleks program itself offers a wide variety of features, including the ability to earn college credit as they are accredited with the American Council for Education.

In the course, there were multiple links helping to customize the learning experience and allowing parental involvement and choice. One must remember however, the personality and individual needs of each child vary even in the same household where siblings may share similar learning styles and concerns so a big plus to this program is the adaptability and targeted lessons. With a textbook, that is all you have and if your child is not getting it, you will need to find supplementation elsewhere. That is not likely to happen with Aleks because the assessment tools and reviewing techniques keep track of your child’s learning gaps and mastery and gears the learning accordingly.

Some features I also like about the program:
Report section contains: progress reports, pie charts showing mastery, attendance reports showing time logged in and problems worked on during that time, quiz creation and viewing of completed quizzes.
Regular email reports on your child’s progress, with detailed log of topics that need more practice or yet to be learned.
Not a large amount of handwriting involved, as answers are typed into boxes or graphs and pictures.
Students learn computer skills in drawing, graphing, plotting, numerical key padding, typing words, etc.

Parents don’t have to spend time grading! Big plus!

Our other student, took the Level 5 course, recommended for 5th and 6th grade levels of slower learning capability. He did pretty well also, but did not enjoy it as much and therefore did not progress as quickly as his brother. He needed something more competitive to motivate him. (This comment is not necessarily reflective of Aleks being boring but more about the needs of my child who has extreme difficulty feeling challenged to do any school work.) We moved him to another math program and once in a while tried him again at Aleks. He did better after a break of a few days and a little more confidence.

One thing I do like about the program is that parents can map out their child’s learning direction by requesting assessments periodically. The reports can be emailed to the family as well as as the findings of the assessments. It’s very user-friendly. Some of the grammar and explanations during the lessons weren’t perfect but they were sufficient for us to understand and apply.

Aleks has so many features to their programs and web pages that I cannot tell you all of the things I like about it. One of my children loves it and the other thinks it’s ok. I guess that’s not too bad from two young people who “don’t like” Math in general.
Perhaps I will be able to come back and write more later after a little more time, but for now, I have to say that Aleks is an answer to prayer for me that took a little stress out of Math for us. Any relief we can find for dealing with learning challenges is welcome these days.
If you want to purchase Aleks for your family, there are family and individual rates available.

A subscription to ALEKS for an individual student is:
· $19.95 per month
· only $99.95 for 6 months! Six months for the cost of five
They offer a family discount for the 6-month and 12-month terms.
6-Month Term 12-Month Term
Number of Students Price Total Discount Off Monthly Rate
1 $99.95 16.50%
2 $169.90 29.03%
3 $239.88 33.20%
4 $299.84 37.38%
5 $374.80 37.38%
6 $449.76 37.38%
Number of Students Price Total Discount Off Monthly Rate
1 $179.95 24.83%
2 $305.90 36.11%
3 $431.88 39.87%
4 $539.84 43.63%
5 $674.80 43.63%
6 $809.76 43.63%

Here's how you can contact them.

CONTACT: Emily Wennerberg
EMAIL: PHONE: 714-245-7191 x25

You can also find and read more information from differing perspectives by other TOS crewmembers by clicking here on these links or one of the banners below.
At this link, you can also visit The Old Schoolhouse Store to find additional products from other vendors.

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