Monday, December 13, 2010

TOS Homeschool Crew Review - ALEKS Math

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We have been trying something completely new in this house. For the first time ever, we are using an online math curriculum. As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a free one month trial of the ALEKS website, with student accounts for myself, Kirk, and Maggie. (You can also get a one month free trial - just click on the button on my sidebar to register.)

ALEKS or “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.” – I’m not sure that I fully understand this quote from the website, but after using ALEKS for the last month, I am truly impressed.

I assigned Kirk and myself to the Algebra 1 level and Maggie to 6th grade math. The first time we each signed in we were given an assessment. This is a 25-35 question quiz to determine the student’s understanding of the chosen course. Upon completion of the assessment your "Pie" is set.

The pie gives you a clear picture of your progress. To begin learning a new subject you simply click a slice of your pie to choose a type of problem to learn. Once the problem appears you can choose to see an explanation of how to complete this particular problem or attempt to solve the problem if you think you understand how to do so. Once you complete 2-3 sets of that problem correctly you are given credit for that subject. The next time you log in to ALEKS the problems you completed are added to a review list so you can confirm your understanding. As your knowledge builds and your pie fills, new subjects become available.

A few particular things we like about ALEKS:

The written explanation for each problem - Remember hearing "Show your work" in math class? Well that is exactly what this is, but with written explanation as well. This can be printed out or simply read and it is specific to the problem you are attempting.

Everytime you practice a problem it is different. The system constantly changes the variables so the problem is new, but still the same type.

The problems are very specific types. For example, in the Algebra 1 pie there is a slice for “Exponents & Square Roots” and within that slice one of the problem types is “Square Root of a rational perfect square”. When you select this you will be taught exactly how to find the square root of a rational perfect square and nothing else. For me this was much easier than being presented with 3-4 similar problem types and receiving explanations for all of the types then having to try to apply it to the correct problem.

ALEKS offers quizzes and worksheets tailored to your student. You can allow the ALEKS system to choose questions based on recent work or create your own quiz from available problem types. You can choose the number of problems on the quiz as well as the points earned for each problem.

The system is easy to navigate. It is so simple: just log in, click on a pie slice and answer the question.

I loved the report system as well. From my Master Account I was able to see exactly how much time Kirk and Maggie spent in ALEKS and how many topics they attempted or completed. I also printed out a progress report with a detailed breakdown of the subjects studied and understood by each student. From this I was able to see where each child is struggling or succeeding.

ALEKS users can receive college credit for completed courses at colleges that accept ACE credit courses.

Our family is so pleased with ALEKS that we already purchased a 6 month extension on our accounts. ALEKS appears expensive at first glance:

$19.95 per student, per month

$99.95 per student, per 6 months

$179.95 per student, per 12 months

But ALEKS offers family discounts for each additional child and you can use all of the courses available. Many homeschool math curriculums are comparably priced for just a one year curriculum.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a one month free trial ($19.95 value) available by clicking the button on the sidebar of my blog. If you go to the ALEKS site you will find a free trial there, but it is only good for 3 hours of use within a 48 hour period so this is a wonderful opportunity!

Also take some time to read the reviews of my fellow crewmates by clicking here.


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**Any products reviewed by me as a member of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

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