Monday, December 13, 2010

TOS Review - ALEKS Math

We were given a one month subscription to ALEKS Math as part of the TOS crew.  I had never heard of ALEKS math prior and all I can say is, WOW!  There is so much to this program it will be hard for me to put it all into my blog post without missing something. So I'll be quoting a lot from their website and providing links so you can check out this incredible math program.

I'll start with what ALEKS is and, since it's rather technical, this is quoted from their website:

  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 offers truly individualized instruction that meets the student at her learning level and instructs her on the exact topics that she is most ready to learn. As a result, no two students will experience the same learning path while working in ALEKS. Learn more by watching a quick 2-minute video.

ALEKS can provide you with the instruction and support that you need to homeschool your children in mathematics for grades 3-12. With a comprehensive course library ranging from elementary school math to complex subjects such as PreCalculus, ALEKS acts much like a human tutor to help take the stress off of homeschooling parents.

ALEKS offers highly-targeted, individualized instruction from virtually any computer with Internet access, making it a comprehensive and mobile education solution for your children. A subscription to ALEKS offers access to all courses and your child may take as many courses as needed during their subscription period.

ALEKS is a Research-Based Online Program:

  • Complete Curriculum Solution for Math with Access to Full Course Library
  • No Textbook Required
  • Artificial Intelligence Targets Gaps in Student Knowledge
  • Assessment and Individualized Learning for Grades 3-12
  • Master Account Includes Quizzing and Automated Reports to Monitor Learning Progress
  • Unlimited Online Access - PC and Mac Compatible
  • QuickTables - Complimentary Math Fact Mastery Program for Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction
  • Learn More
  • ALEKS has been used successfully by homeschoolers, as well as by millions of students at schools and educational institutions throughout the world. Additionally, some ALEKS course products are American Council on Education (ACE) credit-recommended, meaning that your student may be eligible for college credit at participating colleges.

Now how all the above related into actual reality of day to day homeschooling and math in particular. :) 

I used ALEKS with my three oldest as well as creating an account for myself.  We all took an assessment test that shows what we already know and what we are next ready to learn.

After being assessed a pie chart, unique for each individual student, is created. The pie chart shows a students current knowledge and areas where they need work. As the students work through the problems, the pie chart is completed and the student is able to move on to the next level in the course.

There are really cool tools used for graphing, drawing lines, etc. Each problem has a link where your student can click to see how to use the tools for the problem they are working on.  

Having the tools for the students to use, as opposed to multiple choice questions, forces the student to show mastery of the topic. They need to actually work the problem not just guess. Plus, my kids just really thought they were cool and fun to use. :)

The student is given a problem to solve, one problem per page with links to define terms they may be unfamiliar with.

If your student doesn't understand the problem or how to work it, they click on the "explain" button. They are taken to another screen where the problem they were just looking at is worked out, step by step, so they can see exactly how it is to be done. If they need more explanation, they click on "Another explanation" at the bottom of the page that takes them to a page with a much more detailed explanation of the problem.  After they feel they are ready they then go back to "practice" mode and get another problem, similar to the last one to solve. Again, if they are unsure of how to work the problem, they can click on "explain" to see how to work it out.  

Once they work out a problem they click on "next" and the problem is instantly graded and they are given immediate feedback. If it is correct, they move on to another practice problem. If it's incorrect, they are given another attempt to fix the problem. At any time they can click on explain and it will show them the correct procedure to follow to get the correct answer.  Depending on how many incorrect answers given determines how many problems a student is given on any one subject area. I found that if I got two correct in a row, the program moved me on to the next section. It does give you the option to continue practicing those problems or to go ahead and move on. So if your student thought they needed more work, or simply enjoyed doing that particular type of problem, they could keep on working them until ALEKS determined mastery and moved them on to the next section.

If your student needs more practice on a concept, or you want to mix up computer based with paper and pencil, there are worksheets you can print for your student to work problems the old fashioned way. ;)  The worksheets are developed uniquely for your child and what they need to be working on. Pretty cool. :)

 Quick Tables are for mastery of math facts. They are timed which requires your student to know their math facts! There is one drawback for my students with this aspect. They know the answer but they aren't great typists. Which means, they might time out before they figure out where the number is to type it! A minor problem and one that can be easily overcome with typing practice.

Once they've worked through a certain number of quick tables, they earn games!  They are only allowed a certain number of games and quick tables before the computer tells them they are done for the day. Gotta love that. :)

Now for the Teacher side of ALEKS.

 When signing up, the teacher creates a Master Account. From here you add your students and you can track all of their progress and attendance which includes how many hours per day they are working on the ALEKS math program.

This shows the attendance sheet for a "class".  You can click on the individual students topics covered section to see what they were working on.

The Student Progress Report enables the teacher to track their students progress throughout the course. The blue bar shows the percent of course material that has been mastered through ALEKS assessments, the green bar shows the new material your student has mastered through the course and the yellow bar shows what's yet to be mastered.

Quizzes are automatically generated at various intervals based on your students progress. They are graded immediately and the results are provided for both the student and the teacher.

The verdict in our house, ALEKS math was fun and something the girls actually asked to do. I asked my oldest, 13, if she really felt like she was learning and retaining the material. She answered with a resounding, "Yes!" and proceeded to tell me what new concepts she has learned since starting this program last month. She even asked if she could switch to using ALEKS from her current program.

If you'd like to give ALEKS a try, they are offering an incredible deal for fellow homeschoolers.  On their website they offer a free 48 hour trial. But for those reading our reviews here at TOS they are offering a free month of ALEKS (a $19.95 value).  Wohoo!

Visit ALEKS for 1-Month Trial

A subscription to ALEKS is

  • $19.95 per student, per month, or
  • only $99.95 every 6 months, or
  • only $179.95 every 12 months.
Have more than one student, like I do :), check out there discount rates for families here.

To see what others on the TOS crew thought of ALEKS Math, click here.

 I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it.  I received no other compensation for this review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions.

1 comment:

Denise said...

Great review! My kids really enjoyed doing this program!