Math. It can be a scary thing to teach, especially as kids get older and involved in higher level math courses. I was pretty good in math, so I’ve been OK teaching math so far. I often wonder, though, what will happen when the kids get to courses like Trigonometry and Calculus. I’ve taken both, but I don’t know that I remember enough to actually teach them.
As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I had the opportunity to review ALEKS, which stands for Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces. Basically, it’s a web-based math program. Sound promising? Read on!
ALEKS uses artificial intelligence to assess and teach students math. Prior to starting a course, students are assessed to find out what they know. From the initial assessment, ALEKS provides the student with instruction and practice, until the course is mastered.
Students can work at their own pace, zooming through what they learn quickly, and taking their time on things that are causing them trouble. Reviews are frequently incorporated, so students don’t forget what they learn.
The Parent Account allows the parent to keep tabs on students. Parents are able to see what days their student worked on ALEKS and how long they worked. They can also view progress reports and create quizzes.
My Experience with ALEKS
We used the Quick Tables to beef up Stargirl’s knowledge of math facts. It’s an area she struggles in, and one we’re always working on. I also created a student account for myself in pre-algebra.
The initial assessment seemed to take forever, but at the end I was able to see a pie chart showing what areas I needed to work on. I was then able to select the skill area I wanted to practice and do some problems. When I got stuck, ALEKS always provided me with help. As someone who likes to compete with myself, it was very motivating to see my pie chart fill up.
When I needed to use math tools, such as a ruler and a graph, electronic versions were provided. Doing math on the computer took some getting used to, but I eventually got the hang of it. Stargirl adapted much faster than I did.
As a parent, I really liked being able to see when Stargirl was working on her math. One thing I worry about with web based programs is accountability. ALEKS solves that problem by showing the parent exactly what a student has been doing.
The Nitty Gritty on ALEKS
- Site is easy to navigate
- Parent account helps to keep student accountable
- Courses tailored to student’s ability
- Higher education courses available
- Sometimes it’s nice to use “real” tools, rather than computerized versions
My Overall Opinion: I really, really liked ALEKS. I’m not typically a fan of computer based programs, as I feel my kids spend enough time on the computer already. However, ALEKS is really effective, and the built in accountability is a huge selling point. Customer service is excellent, too.
I think this program would work best with a student who is fairly self-motivated and somewhat competitive. Other students would also benefit, but the competitive student would thrive.
Important Information About ALEKS
Age Range: 3rd grade and up. The quick tables may be useful for younger students.
Cost: $19.95 per month, $99.95 for 6 months, or $179.95 for 12 months (per student…discounts available for multiple students). Free trial available.
*Disclosure: I received a free subscription to ALEKS in exchange for my honest review.