It's been about a month since the boy bumped up to the Level 4 course on Aleks. When he started, he knew about 63% of the fourth-grade curriculum, according to the California state standards.
One month later, he has spent about 9 hours working on the program. He is finding fractions very confusing; in part because he is always trying to figure them out pictorially, and he doesn't know how to go about it. Today however, I got him to some level of understanding of the "bowtie" method of adding and subtracting fractions with different denominators.
1) Get a common denominator by multiplying the two denominators together.
2) Multiply the left numerator by the right denominator
3) Put in the correct sign
4) Multiply the right numerator by the left denominator.
I also think I drew enough pictures so that he sort-of gets it. He needs more work on fractions in general, though. Especially converting mixed and improper fractions, and reducing fractions.
I have been assigning him some extra work in multiplication, which the program allows me to do. They call it a quiz, but I think of it more as a review worksheet. Sometimes you just have to work dozens of problems before it really sinks in, and Aleks doesn't do that unless you tell it to.
So, after a month, the boy has learned about 20% more of the curriculum, and currently stands at 84% of the CA standards for 4th.
He is doing about 7 topics per hour, and he has about 32 topics left. So another 5 hours or so should get him through. I would love for him to complete level4 before he does standardized testing in mid-November. That should be doable.