Monday, December 13, 2010


Look for special offer below!
Math is one of those things that elicits a strong reaction.  Most people either love it or hate it.  At our house, it can go either way.  My husband loves it, I am not fond of it, Flower is good at it but doesn't revel in this, and Dragonette loves it or hates it, depending on the curriculum being used.  How's that for a mixed bag?

My latest assignment was to check out the interactive math program ALEKS - Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces.  While the name ALEKS is catchy, the words it comes from do not explain to me what it is. I had heard of ALEKS, but had never tried it out.

Click here for a 2 minute tour
After downloading the plugin, I had to choose which level to assign to each kid.  Even though it is marketed as K-12, it starts with 3rd grade level math and ranges up to Pre-calculus, and then includes a lot of upper level maths like Statistics, test preps, Accounting, and Chemistry.  See list here.  I put Flower in MS LV 6 (I assume this is Middle School Level 6 or 6th grade math).  With Dragonette, I know she is in Algebra 1, but there were three Algebra 1 classes to choose from.  I chose Algebra 1 (not CA or Core).  If I guessed horribly, I could change the level at any time.  I also set up an account for me so I could see their progress.

Each child was then assessed with about 25 questions. They got a pie chart broken into major math topics showing what was learned and what was still to be learned and a bar graph with percentages showing their overall progress.

Pie Chart for Algebra 1

After this, they could pick from any topic available (20-30) and if they got the first 2 questions right, it was marked as done.  If they missed any, they then had to get 3 in a row right to move on.  After completing 20 topics they were assessed again.

If a problem is not understood, the program will show you how to work it and give you another of that type.  Vocabulary definitions are available at a click.  If you have problems using any of the tools they provide to answer the question, a help box is readily available.  Most things were written so my kids understood.  Dragonette did have some trouble with circle equations, so she went back to her old math books to get an alternate explanation.  Flower struggled with the tools for geometry questions and needed Dragonette to help her.

Notice in this description I said nothing about me.  I can check on their progress.   But otherwise, I have no role except occasional advisor.  The program explains everything.  It decides when a topic is mastered and when to give a test.  I could trip it to give a test when I wanted, but otherwise this was very hands off for me.

Flower hated the initial assessment. It was long and asked a large range of questions.  She didn't like being asked things she had never been taught to do.  But she did well and tested in at 57% done with this level.  Since our usual math books are not aligned with US standards, it was cool to see where she stood.  I was pleased!

Dragonette had no problems with the initial assessment and instead saw it as all the cool stuff she still needed to learn.  She loves this program.  Adores it.  Works on it an hour every day she has free.  She can pick and choose the order to work the problems instead of following the sequence of a textbook.  She has a visual cue of what she has done and what is left.  The explanations make a lot of sense to her, and she loves the immediate feedback of whether a problem is right or wrong, instead of doing a set of problems and then looking at the answers.  She initially tested in at 38% done, and in 2 weeks has progressed to 68% and triggered 2 more assessments or tests.  Based on how many topics she is completing per hour used, the program computes she will need 16 more hours complete the program. 
I can see us adding one more month to our subscription so she can finish Algebra 1.  I think it would hard to work on Geometry with this program, just because the tools used for answering Geometry questions are clunky, but I can see us coming back for Algebra II.

ALEKS has flexibility in its pricing program for individual families. You receive a student account and a parent account to monitor their progress.

For one student:
  • $19.95 per month
  • only $99.95 for 6 months!   Six months for the cost of five
  • only $179.95 for 12 months!   Best Deal: You save $59.45
For more than one student:

6-Month Term

12-Month Term
Number of Students Price Total Discount Off Monthly Rate
1 $99.95 16.50%
2 $169.90 29.03%
3 $239.88 33.20%
4 $299.84 37.38%
5 $374.80 37.38%
6 $449.76 37.38%

Number of Students Price Total Discount Off Monthly Rate
1 $179.95 24.83%
2 $305.90 36.11%
3 $431.88 39.87%
4 $539.84 43.63%
5 $674.80 43.63%
6 $809.76 43.63%

ALEKS usually offers a free 1-week trial to try ALEKS out.  But as a special offer, ALEKS will give you one month free instead, if you follow the link in this blog,
ALEKS for 1-Month Trial

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