How I Use It
I started using the Skill Builder component of ASSISTments first. It takes but a few minutes to assign a topic, and with the help of ARRS (the automatic reassessment system), the program takes care of itself. I can assign a skill that students need to get 3 correct answers in a row to have "mastered" that skill. A week later, they take a reassessment test. One question. If they get it right, they have again temporarily "mastered" the skill. Then they get another question two weeks out, and then four weeks out, and then about seven weeks out. Each time they must answer correctly. So they have been brought back to the same topic over 3 months to ensure mastery of it. If they get a question on a reassessment test wrong, they get "Relearning" which is to do the Skill Builder again. All of this happens automatically. This was what hooked me. It was fast to create, simple to manage, and effective for student growth. Over the last two years, I have used it for homework. Our textbook offers suggestions for leveling questions. I have taken these questions and built three levels of the same homework assignment. Time consuming? YES! But now I can assign to individual students, based on their mastery of the topic, on daily basis if I choose, one of three leveled homework assignments and only the student and I know which level they get. It is the best way to inconspicuously differentiate homework I have ever come across. Once the content is built, you have it forever. I also have a folder built with higher level work when the advanced students have completed their work.
This program has fundamentally changed the way I teach math. The struggle I have is when students have no internet access. I make print out copies of the assignment which they can then enter the following morning in school, but it is not ideal. I don't have a better way around that. My kids don't like the extra work it takes to write it out and then enter, but they do like to see whether they get it or not and they appreciate not having to spend the first 10 or so minutes everyday reviewing the homework as I can target the points that they struggled with before they walk through the front door.