Monday, August 17, 2009

ALEKS Math, Take Two

ALEKS math is an online math curriculum that is smart. It keeps track of the lessons your child has completed and mastered. When beginning, it starts with an evaluation to see if there are any lessons mastered before you start. It is great to have that, and to know that yes my children have actually learned something. ALEKS uses a pie chart to keep track of progress. The kids love the bright colors and seeing the chart get filled in. The programs are designed for third through twelfth grades, and even beyond.

I signed my 10yo up for fifth grade. He did his initial evaluation, and tested out of about 1/4 of the lessons. He loves that he gets to decide what to do. I am not crazy about that idea. He picks all the "easy" lessons, and then never gets to the things that are really important. The other problem we ran into with him is that he doesn't test well. He would do his lessons, know the stuff, but would not get the questions right on the test. That causes the lessons to be added back into his pie. Then he gets to redo things that he already knows, and again doesn't get to the important stuff. He loves doing it, which is a huge challenge. But he just doesn't seem to progress.

I signed my 6yo up for the third grade. It really isn't as crazy as it might sound. He is currently starting first grade, but is working through second grade math. I thought, it couldn't hurt to try. He did the evaluation, and also tested out of about 1/4 of the lessons. I was very impressed. He was able to do a few lessons, but many of the things were way beyond where he's at right now. If we had already done regrouping, I think he would've done very well with the third grade program. He is a much different learner than my older son. Little one takes direction much better and would not hesitate to do difficult lessons. I wish we could have done more with him, but it was just a little above his head and I did not want him to get frustrated and burned out.

I also got to sign up and give some things a try. I tried Algebra. I really love the program, and think it is a fabulous way to lay out the lessons. When I was in school, I would have loved a pie chart like that. I am very competitive, especially with myself. I love to see the pie getting filled in. I think for an independent, goal-oriented learner it is a fabulous program. Sometimes, though, the explanations don't really make much sense. It is good for practice, but not necessarily great for teaching. I would love to see a little more explanation, or maybe a video demonstration. I think my oldest son would do much better with the challenging lessons if explained better.

1 comment:

StephieK said...

We had the same issues with ALEKS. It is more of a tutor than an actual curriculum. Elizabeth did well utilizing the program, but Jonathan struggled like your son. He, too, would do well with the lessons, but then when it was time for an assessment struggled.

We decided it was not for us and went back to our textbooks for this particular subject.