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Thursday, November 7, 2013

IXL Learning

This is a review.

IXL is another one of those great products that we have had the privilege of reviewing more than once.  We got to try it out back in the summer of 2012 too!

IXL is both a math and language arts on-line program.  The language arts work, at this point, is only for grades 2 through 4, but their math, is PreK-12.

The on-line math membership is for PreK - 12.


The on-line language arts membership is for grades 2 - 4.....but they are working on adding additional grade levels.  

Click on the links to get a more detailed look at what skills are covered under each membership.  But, here are the highlights of what your membership benefits will be:
  • Comprehensive coverage of K–12 math curriculum. Your kids won't miss a thing!
  • Interactive language arts exercises for grades 2–4.
  • Unlimited questions in over 2,000 skills.
  • Fun and colorful practice formats.
  • Questions that adapt to your child's ability, increasing in difficulty as they improve.
  • Immediate feedback and question-specific explanations to solidify understanding of each concept. (My kids really liked this part) 
  • Audio for all pre-K to first-grade math skills.
  • Weekly e-mail updates on your child's progress.(I loved this feature!) 
  • Informative, detailed reports pointing out successes and trouble spots.
  • Awards and certificates for you and your children to print out as they reach important milestones. (Not my favorite...see why...below.) 
  • iPad app for mobile math practice. (We don't have fancy-schmancy things like Ipads...but other reviewers really liked this option to do IXL on them.)

We mostly used the math portions of IXL and just sort of played around with the language arts sections.  This time around, A-man (3rd grade) and S-girl (1st grade) used IXL. 

All I did was create my account and then register them on the parent page.  I even got to create a little cartoon version of them.  Then whenever they logged in to work, they just picked themselves and went to work.  IXL keeps track of what they do, from how much time they spend to what they work on....and how they do in every area.  As the parent, I can log on and take a look, but they also send me reports in my e-mail account to keep be posted.

Here is a sample of some of the report information available in the parent page.  This is what A-man did in a particular time period.  He mastered place values in whole numbers.  He needs improvement with word names for numbers, and he is doing "satisfactory" in identifying factors.

I really like IXL for a few reasons. 

1. I like all the detailed information available in the reports and progress reports.  So, even if they work on IXL when I am not physically present, I totally know how much time they actually spent and what they worked on. 

2.  I think it is always a good idea to use different teaching styles, wording of problems and approaches (even games) with kids.  I think that it gives you a great sense of whether they are really "getting" the concepts or not.  For example, I want the kids to know what to do with math, whether you use the words "subtract", "take away", or "minus".  IXL uses a slightly different approach and wording of problems than our current curriculum, so sometimes the kids would get caught in not quite understand what they were being asked.  When they would have problems, it was just a chance for Rainman or I to explain that the words can be used in place of each other.

3.  I also liked it because it just gave them good old fashioned practice with their numbers, adding, subtracting, multiplying, etc.  Sort of like the old concept of using flashcards to really get your math skills drilled into your brain.

4.  The kids liked it because they would get awards/certificates when they did well and mastered a topic.  (I didn't love this - because if we printed the certificates - we ended up using a lot of ink....but that is just good, old, frugal mom talking!)

5.  I like IXL is because your child has access to all grade levels and can work wherever they want to/need to and they don't even need to know what "grade" level they are working in.  So, for example, if they are behind where they should be....say only doing 1st grade work, but they are chronologically in the 3rd can hide the grade level notations, so they don't know it.  This also works in reverse and your child can work above grade level.

Here is where I will tell you a little story:

L-girl got to use IXL the last time we reviewed it.  This time, I only signed up A-man and S-girl.  One day, L-girl was bored and asked if she could use A-man's account and do some IXL.  I am no dummy, so I said she could.  She logged on, went to the 6th grade math stuff and worked on stuff for maybe 10 or 15 minutes. 

Fast forward to the next day, when A-man sat down to do his IXL work for the day.  I was actually in the other room and I kept hearing him exclaim at the computer, "What?" "Wait!"  "Uggg!!!"  I asked him what was wrong.  He, in typical, male fashion, said, "Nothing.  I got it, mom."  I asked him if he was sure and whether or not he wanted me to come help walk him through the questions.  Nope.  He had it.  So, I left him alone.  He was at it for a while.  I heard less and less verbal comments from him.  Then he finished his time for the day and informed me that he had mastered the lesson.

Then, he said, "Mom!  I know what happened.  L-girl (no, he didn't call her that...he used her real name) was on and switched it to 6th grade math and didn't change it back.  I just mastered 6th grade math!"

I love that he was challenged.  I love that he ended up figuring out how to complete the problems on his own, without any help from Rainman or I.  I love how proud he was of himself that he had done 6th grade math....and done it well!

I can see where it would also come in handy for your child to be able to go backwards and do some "easy" math from their past when they need a little mental encouragement or boost in their self esteem, that they can do stuff that once upon a time they thought was hard.  You know?

We didn't "use" the language arts part of IXL.  We just played around a bit, but from what I saw I liked it for the same reasons I like the math portions.  It gives them the strong background skills to solidify what is being taught in our language arts curriculum already.  Sort of like the flashcard concept in math...with knowing which word is a noun or adjective.

There is definitely enough content in IXL to use it as a full curriculum for math and, I think, for the grades represented in the language arts, as well.  However, we will continue using our year long subscription as a supplement to what we are doing in our physical textbooks.

IXL can also line up with your State standards and "Common Core" stuff.  You do not want to get me started on the discussion of my feelings on Common, I will just leave it as you can line up what you teach with those things....if you care to. 

So, now for pricing, right?  There are a few ways to go about membership with IXL, a monthly plan or a yearly plan.  The monthly price is $9.95 per month and the yearly plan is $79 for 12 months (there are additional costs to add more students).    So, if you can come up with the funds for a yearly membership, you will be saving money.

Go take a look and see what the other TOS reviewers thought of IXL for both math and language arts.