Monday, December 13, 2010

Aleks - Assessment & Learning in Knowledge Spaces - TOS Review

ALEKS Corporation
15641 Red Hill Avenue, Suite 150
Tustin, CA 92780
Email: contact us at

Our latest homeschool adventure has been to check out ALEKS, Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces, a great Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system. Through adaptive questioning (basically a short online quiz) the program determines what your child knows and doesn't know about different areas in math. ALEKS then instructs on the topics your child is most ready to learn.
While working through a course, ALEKS periodically reassesses the child to make sure that topics learned are retained. This one is designed for individual use, no textbook and not a lot of parent "hands-on" time with this one.  Another feature, ALEKS QuickTables, is a fact mastery tool for multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction for grades 3 and up.

After the initial assessment quiz the students abilities are put into a pie chart.  Assessment of what is known and what still need to be learned is shown on the chart.  The student then picks a section of the pie to work on.  The chart adjusts as the student masters topics.

ALEKS has been used by millions of students in more than 50 academic subjects ranging from Basic Math to Precalculus at thousands of institutions throughout the world.  This program is available for homeschoolers, public and private schools, and individual use.  Coverage includes K-12, higher math including algebra, precalculus and trigonometry, and college prep business math, accounting, and statistics.  With the advantage of one-on-one instruction, 24/7 you can work through problems almost anytime and anywhere if you have a Web-based computer.  English and Spanish are both available.  Another great feature about this program is that it will work for Macintosh or PC.  It also works with a number of different browsers.  Although Internet Explorer should work, we had to do a quick download of Mozilla Firefox to get access.  In addition, your browser must have Java enabled. The last thing you'll need is the ALEKS plug-in installed on your computer, a relatively short download, even on "dial-up".

Example of a screen shot:

To get started you sign up for a Student Account and a Master Account.  The Master Account allows you to monitor and direct your child's learning.  User Guides, additional reference material, reports and announcements are available.  There is also the possibility of ACE credits for completion of materials.

This program is really easy to use and reasonably priced for the coverage available.  This one is great for K-12 and College Prep.  This would definitely be a great way to get a refresher on those upper math topics before teaching and/or helping your kids tackle them. 

We really like the variety of topics and the fact that you don't have to do 50 of the same type of problem.  Once you feel you have mastered a topic you can quit doing "practice" problems and move on to the next section, at your pace.  We also like that you work for however long you choose, whether that is 10 minute segments or a full hour, and still feel like you've accomplished something.  This program helps you find and fill those gaps in your child's abilities.  Thumbs up for a great product!!

  Subscription prices for 1 student are $99.95 for 6 months or $179.95 for 12 months.  Family discounts which increase with the number of your students are available for 6-month and 12-month terms.

Try before you buy, click here to get your free trial.

For other reviews of this product by the TOS Crew click here.

I was provided a free month subscription to Aleks in exchange for an honest review of the program.  An additional 2 months was provided in appreciation of the review.  No further compensation was received.  Observations and opinions are my own.

Friday, November 19, 2010

KB Teachers - A Great New Site - TOS Review

KB Teachers (Knowledge Bear)
Great for PK-12th age children, all ages
$29 per year, or $49 for two years

As a member of the The Old Schoolhouse product review crew I recently received a free premium membership to KBTeachers to use in exchange for an honest review of the product.  No further compensation was received.  (What a timesaver this one was!)

Wow, KBTeachers is awesome!  This site is great for teachers and parents looking for new teaching tools and materials.  They don't charge per download or per workbook.  For a low yearly or monthly fee, you get full access to all of their content and services--which would easily cost you much more elsewhere.

Even better, before you join, you can preview the entire library, and after you join, you have 30 days to cancel your membership and ask for a refund.  If you go here to visit the site you can set up your free no risk 10 day trial with PayPal or use your credit card with a 30 day money back guarantee.
For Parents, Teachers and Educators this invaluable site offers worksheet generators and alphabet factory,
unlimited numbers of printable activities for all ages and grade levels, unlimited access with no watermarks,
graphics and clipart for use on websites, blogs, activity sheets, etc...  The available choices are numerous, with answers keys available.  The site regularly updates and adds new features and member created content every week.  Another plus, nothing to download--instant access (great timesaver if you're on dial-up internet)!  Where else can you find handwriting practice, math worksheets, detailed information about food pyramids, grammar lessons, a dinosaur workbook,  and seasonal clipart in the same place?

Site content is based on standards set by * NCTE, * NCSS,  *NSTA, * NCTM and * ISTE, (whew, say that three times fast).

As a KBTeacher you get access to an online community and can diversify your educational materials.  There are sections covering English, Math, Science, Biology, Social Studies, Seasonal, Crafts, Clipart and more.  This site is colorful and engaging, just like the printables you'll find there.  There's an online newsletter, and you'll find KBTeachers on Facebook too.  If you can't find something there's a request option too.

Taking into account all that I've mentioned, this really is a great option.  I'm glad this product came my way at a time when I was looking for the "extras" for my children.  I really like the seasonal options and worksheet generators.  My kids are having fun and learning.  It's great for my 13 year old and my 5 year old, and of course this 29+ year old!  You really should check out this site when you have time.  The cost is pretty reasonable considering all the options available.  For other reviews of this product click here.

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