Monday, December 13, 2010

ALEKS-Review

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We were recently given a month subscription to ALEKS. ALEKS stands for Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces. Here’s the description off the 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.”

Initially I was a little intimidated by the website (I’m not that technically savvy) but I didn’t have any trouble setting accounts up for my 10th, 9th and 8th graders. I signed the older two up for Algebra 2 and the 8th grader up for PreAlgebra. They started out taking an assessment to see where they fell in the spectrum of the class. The assessment was tricky for them in that they were used to another math program, but quickly picked it up and were able to answer the questions and input the answers in the appropriate way. There was lots of help throughout the assessment to make sure they understood how to input the answers. Banana Taffy had a little trouble with the program at first because he’s an Auditory Learner, and there is no sound on this program. But eventually he adapted and even really appreciated the ability to go through the information at his own pace with his own “voice.”

I had each of the children write up a “mini-review” since they are ones that used it and I just supervised. Here’s what Banana Taffy had to say, in his own words-

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10th Grade/Algebra 2

“At first I was nervous, trying out a new math program, but once I started using it, I loved it! ALEKS explains how to complete a math problem, step by step, and gives “easy to understand” directions on how to work out the problem. Every month you take a test. This test evaluates what problems you need work on, and which ones you have mastered.

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After you take the test, you’ll be taken to your “pie” where each of the topics you need to work on are. Each slice of the pie is a different equation. Whether it’s graphs, linear equations, or radical numbers, it’s all here, and it’s easy to find the problem you want to work on.

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Everyday you’ll take review questions from the previous day, on problems you needed to work on. This helps a lot, I love this review page, a lot of times I am doing math, I figure out how to do the problem, but I don’t KNOW the problem, meaning I haven’t memorized how I complete it.

I love ALEKS, it’s a wonderful math program, the only problem I have with it, is the price. $20.00* a month is a little expensive for my family and I, if it were any cheaper, I would be using this program regularly! Thanks ALEKS, for letting me have the experience of trying out your program!”

*More on price shortly…

Here’s Chocolate Taffy’s opinion:

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9th Grade/Algebra 2

“At my first impression ALEKS looked hard, the page that tells you how to solve problems was a little confusing at first, but eventually I was able to understand it. I liked how it had a test every few weeks and then it showed you what problems you still needed work on. I also liked how you got to choose which problems you wanted to work on. However I didn't like how it didn't tell you how the problem was used in real life, many times I got confused when I saw some problem, learned how to figure it out, but never new what it was used for or how I could use it. Other than that I liked the program and would have liked to use it more had it not cost so much.”

And finally, Strawberry Taffy’s unique opinion:

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8th Grade/Pre Algebra

ALEKS seems like a really neat program. I like it that you can figure out how to do the problem yourself. It’s really fun that you get to pick which problems you want to tackle; I got to do 17 geometry problems while I’m in Pre-Algebra! I only encountered a few glitches where I would type in the correct answer and ALEKS would call it wrong. But altogether I think it’s a really neat way to learn math.”

Here’s the skinny on the price:

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They also offer a family discount that you can read about here. Honestly, I’m good with the price, I can see the value in using an on-line curriculum, especially with the higher levels of Math. I’ve just already purchased math curriculum for the year…

I have taught my children to be independent learners from the beginning but I have found that I need to make myself stay connected with what they are learning, for accountability and for harmony. I didn’t feel I could do that with this program, I pretty much just had to trust that they were learning something. Now, there is a way to see how long they’ve worked on ALEKS each day, how many problems they’ve mastered, how many more they need to master before completion of the different pieces of the pie, etc. For me though, correcting a math test on a piece of paper is valuable in that it keeps me somewhat in tune (even if I have no idea how to do the problem myself) with what they are doing! That’s my only complaint, and that’s more of a personality issue/preference than a program problem. Smile I will say though, that I can see the extreme value in such a website, especially in the upper levels of math, and during seasons of chaos in life—they come don’t they!? ALEKS is kind enough to offer a free trail so you can check it out for yourself!

To read more opinions by other homeschoolers visit the crew blog!

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Joyfully,

Mrs. Taffy

Disclaimer: I was given a one month subscription to ALEKS for the sole purpose of this review, all opinions expressed belong to me and my family. We were not paid.

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