The crazy life of the ClarkClan. Living a life of grace through Jesus Christ.

Monday, December 13, 2010


What is ALEKS?
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. ALEKS offers truly individualized instruction that meets the student at her learning level and instructs her on the exact topics that she is most ready to learn. As a result, no two students will experience the same learning path while working in ALEKS. Learn more by watching a quick 2-minute video.

ALEKS can provide you with the instruction and support that you need to homeschool your children in mathematics for grades 3-12. With a comprehensive course library ranging from elementary school math to complex subjects such as PreCalculus, ALEKS acts much like a human tutor to help take the stress off of homeschooling parents.

ALEKS offers highly-targeted, individualized instruction from virtually any computer with Internet access, making it a comprehensive and mobile education solution for your children. A subscription to ALEKS offers access to all courses and your child may take as many courses as needed during their subscription period.

ALEKS is a Research-Based Online Program:

  • Complete Curriculum Solution for Math with Access to Full Course Library
  • No Textbook Required
  • Artificial Intelligence Targets Gaps in Student Knowledge
  • Assessment and Individualized Learning for Grades 3-12
  • Master Account Includes Quizzing and Automated Reports to Monitor Learning Progress 
  • Unlimited Online Access - PC and Mac Compatible
  • QuickTables - Complimentary Math Fact Mastery Program for Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction

ALEKS has been used successfully by homeschoolers, as well as by millions of students at schools and educational institutions throughout the world. Additionally, some ALEKS course products are American Council on Education (ACE) credit-recommended, meaning that your student may be eligible for college credit at participating colleges. (Taken from ALEKS website with permission)



Assessment: Students begin in ALEKS by taking an individualized, adaptive assessment to determine what they already know and what they are ready to learn next.


MyPie: The ALEKS Pie summarizes a student's current knowledge and offers topics that the student is ready to learn next. The darkened portion of each pie slice represents the topics that the student has mastered and the lighter portion represents what the student has yet to learn.



Input Tools: ALEKS provides a free response environment and sophisticated input tools that avoid multiple-choice and require students to demonstrate content mastery.


Explanations: When a student is working on a particular problem, she can access an explanation of that problem by clicking on the "Explain" button. The explanation typically provides a step-by-step solution, with commentary. In some cases, an alternative or more detailed explanation is also available.

Additional Features include:

Worksheets: Students have the ability to print out 16-question worksheets for additional practice or review. These worksheets are uniquely generated based on the student's current knowledge.

ALEKS QuickTables: QuickTables is a research-based, math fact mastery program for multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction

Interactive Games: Provide additional review and built-in rewards.

Master Account Homepage: Easily manage all student accounts, monitor student progress, view customized resources, and more.

Attendance Report: Track student time spent in ALEKS per day, the topics attempted, and the topics mastered and added to the ALEKS Pie.

Student Progress Report: Track student progress made throughout the course. The blue bar represents the percent of course material that the student has mastered during an ALEKS assessment; the green bar represents the percent of new topics the student has mastered in Learning Mode since the last assessment; and the yellow bar represents the percent of topics the student has yet to learn in order to complete the course.

Quiz Results: Quizzes are automatically graded and the results are available to both the parent and student immediately. View a detailed quiz results sample report (PDF).


Mom’s observations

     ALEKS worked wonderfully for Matthew and Sarah. It worked reasonably well for Ben. I signed Rebekah up but quickly realized it was over her head.

     Matthew took Algebra II and Sarah was working on the Pre-Algebra level. Sarah is almost finished with her level. Matthew is not almost done, but has been progressing steadily. Ben worked on level 3, which is the first level offered.


     I liked that ALEKS was tailored for each of my kids. They worked on concepts that they needed help in, but they were also given assessments to review past concepts. If extra help was needed in an area, it would show up again in their Pie Chart. 

     One feature that really struck a chord with my kids was the pie chart. They all seemed to like seeing the pie chart fill in as they mastered the topics. The pie chart seemed to be a great motivator.  As well, they liked that they had a choice of what to work on.

     Ben liked the quick tables. he enjoyed the little games that he played on it. I liked the fact that the time on quick tables was limited, so he had to play and then get back to the standard course work.

     I liked that when Ben worked on the Quick Tables the program automatically told him when he had “played” long enough. This way he could not just play during his math time, but had to go back and work on the concepts.


     Ben did wonderful starting the third grade level. But then came he came to the point where he had to learn a totally new concept. He only knew how to multiply when he started ALEKS. This served him very well, but when what was left on his pie chart to work on were division concepts he bogged down considerably. Ben reads very well, and he had no trouble reading the explanations. But, he had a hard time translating what he read into how to actually perform the operations needed to solve the problem.

Sarah’s observations:


     What I liked about ALEKS is that is let me choose what I wanted to work on. I also like the colorful pie chart to chart your progress. It makes tracking your progress easy at a glance. The pie also tells you how many topics there are to master and how many you’ve mastered. There are also assessments tests that it does every now and then. The assessments test what you know and what you need to learn. At the end of every assessment test it gives you a progress report. I like the progress report because it shows you how far you have come and what percent of things you need to learn in order to move up a level. Graphing on ALEKS is also very easy and fun. One of the things I like is that for some of the problems there is a calculator that it gives you. If you don’t understand a problem you click on the explain button and it explains it to you. What I like though is if you don’t get it the way they explain it there is usually a button that says different explanation. All in all I really like ALEKS and think it is a fun program.


6 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


5 $374.80 37.38%



12 Month Term

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%

If you are interested in trying ALEKS for your homeschool they are offering a free one-month trial ($19.95 value) for my blog readers. Just click on the banner to sign up.

Visit ALEKS for 1-Month Trial

I am not the only one to review ALEKS. Visit the TOS Crew Blog to read what others thought about the program.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received four one-month subscriptions one free from ALEKS in exchange for my honest review of their product.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Master Ruler



     “Mom, what do these little lines on the ruler mean?”  “Why is this line longer than that one?” Have you ever come across questions like these when trying to teach your children how to use a ruler? I know I have. Master innovations, LLC has designed a ruler to help make teaching how to use a ruler easier.

     Master innovations, LLC is a company committed to helping make teaching various math concepts pleasant, easy, and successful. It is like having several rulers in one. I was given a Master Ruler to try out in our homeschool. I was also given a poster called Marvels of Measurement.

What is the Master Ruler? 

      It is a ruler that has a hard plastic back, and 3-4 clear overlays, depending on the style. It is available in either standard or metric measurements.  The rulers are very well made, quite sturdy and well able to withstand avid measuring. There is an overlay for each fraction of measurement. Each fraction is a different color. This makes reading the ruler very easy even when flipping over a new overlay. It is designed for use by all ages.

master rulerimage

The Marvels of Measurement! poster is a colorful poster that gives length, capacity, and weight conversions. It is very simple to read and understand.


What we thought:

     We loved the Master Ruler!  When we first received the product, I gave the two rulers (one standard, one metric) to Ben (9) and Rebekah (7). They looked at them, then proceeded to measure everything. At this point I made no explanations as to what the lines mean. Each of them have used rulers before, yet really only ever measured items in inches and half inches. After the general excitement of something new wore off, I was pleasantly surprised to find that anytime they needed a ruler they would grab The Master Ruler on their own.


     After a week or so, I then started using the workbook that came with The Master Ruler. This book is full of activities that introduces how to use the ruler, both in standard and metric. It also is very helpful in explaining equivalent fractions.  Ben quickly caught on to the Fun with Fractions page.  An example of using the ruler for equivalent fractions is, looking at the inch markings on the ruler, flip the half inch overlay on top. This way you can easily see that two halves is the same as one inch. Or you can look just at the 1/2 inch overlay and flip up the quarter overlay to find that 1/2 = 2/4. The big joke at our house became “Do you want 1/2 of the sandwich or 4/8ths.” To which Ben would laugh and say, “It’s the same thing, Mom”.

148      I had not introduced Ben and Rebekah to the metric system yet, but The Master Ruler changed that. I explained that the metric system is based on 10, then we looked at the ruler. By flipping the overlays up they were easily able to see and count that ten centimeters are in a decimeter and 10 millimeters are in a centimeter.

The poster Marvels of Measures! is also a wonderful product. It answers common questions like “”How many cups are in a gallon?” or “How many ounces in a pound?” I was quite taken by the poster and referred to it often.

Pricing information and Where to buy:

The Master Ruler is available online through The Master Ruler website.

The standard or metric ruler is available for $9.95.

The Mastering the World of Measuring workbook is available for $15.95.

You can also purchase a starter set that includes: 1 Standard Master Ruler, 1 Metric Master Ruler, 1 Teacher's Model Master Ruler, and 1 Master Ruler Workbook (reproducible) for $41.25.

The poster Marvels of Measurement is available for $10.00.

There are other products available through Master Innovations. Also available is a Master Clock, Master Angles, and Master Fractions. Some of my other Crew mates reviewed these other products. Visit the Crew Blog to read what they thought of their products.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received the two Master Rulers, one standard and one metric, the workbook and the poster for free from Master Innovations in exchange for my honest review of their product.