Review of ALEKS.com

Discussion in 'Alternative Learning' started by Robin, Feb 9, 2010.

  1. Robin

    Robin Jesus Follower

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    I will probably post a more detailed review on my blog but can I just say that I LOVE this program.

    We have struggled to find something that worked well for us. I love parts of MUS but now (4th grade) feel like somethings were missing and we were struggling with feeling behind.

    So I signed up for a trial of ALEKS.com and G is loving it. He is doing great and at the rate he is going he will finish the 4th grade work right on time.
  2. TulaneMama

    TulaneMama countdown mode

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    thank you! I am looking into this right now. Did you go ahead and purchase the program? THe trial is good for 3hrs it says (student module)
  3. TulaneMama

    TulaneMama countdown mode

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    and...how do you institute this each day. Does G do it for 30 minutes, as an example?
  4. Robin

    Robin Jesus Follower

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    I will answer more later, but google search one month free trial and you should be able to get one month free. Enter 2 email addresses of other homeschoolers and you should get an additional month (that takes a couple of days to process). So we are doing two months free and then will sign up for it.

    I will answer the rest later, I have to clean up for Lego club now.
  5. 3boysnagrl

    3boysnagrl Amity's Focus Member

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    We love it, too.

    I have a time AND progress requirement. With Austin, when we used it a few years ago, I instituted a time limit. HOWEVER, he would sit there with it open and do next to nothing the entire time. NOW... he has to log in AT LEAST 45 minutes and he has to show me that he attempted a few sections and mastered a few as well.

    Adam doesn't need the second stipulation - if I have him work for 30 minutes, he works for 30 minutes and actually accomplishes something.

    And fwiw, looks like Austin didn't get enough sleep last night, too, and he is SO off today. It's 9 am and he has already started at least 8 arguments and been in everyone's business.
  6. tara

    tara Amity's Focus Member

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    We used Aleks for Alg I, and Sam liked it. We used it in conjunction with TT to fill some of the gaps there.

    One caution about Aleks: the program tends to offer not enough variety (IMO) of problem types about each concept. So, the program will explain how to solve a problem using some examples, and then offer problems in the same exact format. The student learns that one particular format. I sometimes saw Sam go back to TT and struggle with a problem incorporating the same exact concept but in a different format (or, as a word problem). I would encourage Aleks users to do one day a week of different problem formats to make sure the student isn't comfortable/familiar with only one problem format per concept.
  7. TulaneMama

    TulaneMama countdown mode

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    :hug: Heather, thank you.
  8. Robin

    Robin Jesus Follower

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    Tara can you explain more? We would love to use TT but we can't afford it, we have the Delta level of MUS so I know we can use it to reinforce.

    I like that I can have him go back and practice a concept he has mastered to give him more review because I do think some of the concepts move a little too quickly.

    Heather :hug: some days I feel like *I* should get combat pay for homeschooling.

    We just do a time limit, since but if I ever fail to see progress I can see doing like Heather does and have time and progress requirements. I don't *think* that will happen with G, it isn't his personality.

    Ashley, we are currently using a loop schedule and so during G's math time I get him started on ALEKS. He works about 30 minutes on it and then does math drill (not ALEKS) for another 15-20 minutes. I ask that he try problems from each section of the pie so that he is getting variety.
  9. tara

    tara Amity's Focus Member

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    I wasn't advocating for using TT as a supplement (although we did use both TT and Aleks simultaneously for Alg I). I just think that Aleks alone is not a comprehensive math curriculum. Does it hit every math standard for my state? Yes. And there are many things I love about Aleks.

    Its caveat, the issue of not having a variety of problem formats, is (I think) tied to the AI portion of the program. As long as it senses that your child has not yet mastered the concept, it will continue to throw a series of similar problems at your kid until your child answers them correctly to prove mastery. However, take the same kid and the same math concept, and present a problem in a completely different format (let's say it's a word problem, or the problem is actually formatted differently), and the child may not be able to translate the skill successfully.

    Most curricula teach a concept and then present the concept in a variety of ways. Let's say the concept is dividing fractions that have variables in them. Aleks might present that concept with a single format of problem, like

    -8(2x + 5)
    ----------
    -4(5 + 2x)

    And your child will see similar problems over and over until they master the skill of solving that problem type. But present your kids with a problem like

    -8(2x + 5) / -4(5 + 2x) --sub the / sign with a traditional division symbol--

    and your child might not recognize the format, not be able to translate the skill. Or format that same concept into a word problem, and your kid might not be able to read the word problem and be able to translate the word problem into math that s/he can solve. Know what I mean?

    IMO the best math curricula will present a concept, teach it, and show the child multiple ways in which the concept can be presented AND resolved. In our own situation, I felt that TT did that pretty well--but TT has its own caveat that I felt Aleks resolves, which is that TT has not ability to provide a student with additional work on a concept if the kid doesn't master it. It's taught with a limited number of problems, tested, and then the student doesn't see many of those problems ever again (maybe a few times in subsequent lessons). Aleks fills that gap by not allowing the student to complete a particular piece of pie until the concept is mastered, whether that means the student has to do 5 problems or 500 problems.

    If I was using Aleks and couldn't afford a pricey curriculum to supplement, I'd go with something like used textbooks from the thrift or whatever, and make sure my kid had exposure to a variety of problem types and could make sense of them. For Alg I, for example, we also used Life of Fred and Ed Zacarro books. (I know you can find the Zacarro books used many places online.) I think that word problems are particularly important for Alg I and lower.

    Again, all of this is just my opinion and my experience, YMMV.

    Tara
  10. TulaneMama

    TulaneMama countdown mode

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    thank you for the insight Tara! We have looked at TT too.
  11. tara

    tara Amity's Focus Member

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    NP - I hope I'm not coming across as bad-mouthing Aleks, b/c I'm not. Actually, I'm a huge Aleks fan and have recommended it to lots of people. I think it's a fantastic teaching tool for math, for many reasons.

    My opinion above is based on seeing a few instances of Sam supposedly having mastered a concept via Aleks, and then seeing him not be able to solve a problem centered on the same concept in TT or some other math resource. Sam and I would talk about it, and it became clear that he only knew the Aleks version of that particular concept -- present the problem diferently, and he didn't know what to do with it. This wasn't across the board, but it happened often enough that I was concerned and made sure to expose him to different math approaches so that I felt he could be flexible in his problem-solving skills.

    Again, Aleks fan here! I just haven't found a math resource that I think is the be-all, end-all.

    Tara
  12. TeriMomOf4

    TeriMomOf4 Active Member

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    Are the upper levels of TT different than the lower levels? We are doing 4th grade and out of the 22 problems in each lesson, 3/4 of them are on previous concepts.
  13. tara

    tara Amity's Focus Member

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    I only have TT experience with Math 7 and Algebra I. I do know that format-wise, the levels lower than high school are different from the high school levels. For instance, in Math 7, the computer program is interactive. The student types in answers and the program responds. There is an online gradebook (great for HSing parents like me, whose state requires tons of paperwork). For the high school levels, the computer program is not interactive at all. The discs are recorded online lectures and the student watches. Also, there is no online gradebook (obviously, since the student is not typing anything into the computer during the lecture). Completely different learning experience, IMO. It's my understanding that TT developed the upper-level courses first, and improved on them when they developed the lower-level courses. Customers have been asking for years if TT intends to redo the upper level courses so they match the lower-level courses in terms of interactivity, and the answer is always, "eventually."

    Re: questions on previous concepts, I wouldn't say that 3/4 of each lesson is review. Maybe 1/4? However, I think that TT does a LOT of review, and that their course syllabi are skewed in that direction. For instance, check out the TOC (at their site) for Math 7. Focus on the first half of the book. Does that look like normal 7th grade math to you? It looked like 5th grade math (or lower!) to me. It worked for us since I wanted to check for gaps (TT7 was our very first actual math curricula, which we started when Sam was 6 or 7), but if I was wanting a standard 7th grade math program, I would be a bit surprised. Their programs are great, but the levels seem a bit off to me. Also, some years seem to duplicate a lot of work. Compare the TOCs for Math 7 and Pre-Algebra. They are very similar. Everyone is coming in at different levels, so I like that they have these options, but if someone buys Pre-Alg after using Math 7 without checking into the TOCs, I imagine there would be some surprise at the repetition of concepts.

    Tara
  14. amyincali

    amyincali New Member

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    So you think TT is about 2 grades behind? We have TT grades 4, 5, and 6. So far far I've found Grade 4 to be very very easy. They seem to barely cover long division in there and MUS Delta was tons of long division. Rebecca is halfway through TT4 and she can do almost all of it in her head. She rarely needs any paper and she usually gets 95-100 on everything. I love the format but I wish it challenged her a little more.

    Erica's doing TT 6 and we are planning to put her in 7th grade for the fall (and maybe 6th grade for the last month this year) and now after reading this I'm wondering if she'll be behind. Math is not her strongest subject though and we did 3 first grade math programs before things really started to click with her. TT has been the best program for her so far so I don't think I'll switch her but it has me wondering if I should supplement here. I haven't compared it to any other 6th grade math books to see the difference.
  15. Robin

    Robin Jesus Follower

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    There was a recent thread on welltrainedmind forums about this and the consensus was that TT was behind other curriculum.

    Also there was a lot of discussion about TT7.
  16. mamajohnson

    mamajohnson New Member

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    We started using ALEKS this past Sept when we joined a NAPS and it was recommended. Some other programs we've tried in the past are MUS, Abeka, PACE's, etc. We really like it but we also supplement with other resources (Math is Fun website, EdHelper website) if the kids are having a difficult time getting a concept (my 2 boys have some interesting, aka challenging at times, learning disabilities). I have seen so much progress with all three of children who were behind in Math. It took my dd a few days to be comfortable with the program and the two boys closer to a month. We pay $40 per child for the year.

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