When it comes to online learning, a personalized fit is key. IXL Learning has that personalization and came to us for review at a time when we were looking for some fresh ideas.
IXL is an online program that requires a subscription, a computer, and internet access. We are using the full annual membership and that gives us access to all grade levels and all subjects. This is a really good thing for us since we have a student in late elementary, one in middle school and one in high school. There truly is something for each of them with IXL.
IXL is a comprehensive curriculum for the elementary levels in math, language arts, science, and social studies. What this means is that the subject and skill areas covered is comprehensive – everything you would need for those levels. It is comprehensive in math and language arts all the way through high school. Science and social studies are available through 8th grade. There is also a Spanish class to take that covered many areas of the language.
IXL is not a complete curriculum in that it does not include the teaching necessary for students to understand the concepts/skills if they don’t already know them. A parent/teacher would need to be available to preteach or teach when questions are missed. In a previous review, this is how we used IXL and it worked well. We used it to teach the skills the girls needed help with as they went along. They also used it to practice those things they already knew or could pick up easily.
HOW IT WORKS
When a student is ready to work in IXL, they log in. Each student has their own profile but it is under a central login. The student then chooses which subject area they are going to work in. After clicking, say, language arts, the student then chooses the grade level to work on and the specific skill area within that subject. So, Miss J might choose math, grade 4, and patterns. It will then begin her work.
She will read and answer questions. As she answers correctly, the questions get progressively more challenging, requiring the students to think harder to get all the way through the question set. This dynamic system keeps the questions fresh and the student working hard at mastery. When a questions is answered incorrectly, the program gives them an explanation page. It gives the correct answer, the answer the student gave, and a step-by-step explanation of the correct answer. The student must read through that or have someone read and explain it to them. There is not a “read to me” option and there are no video explanations with additional examples to help grasp the concept.
Each question set has a goal. For many it is to reach 100. For others it is to answer a certain number of questions correctly. As they near the goal, it becomes a challenge zone, which is a key to the student that the questions are getting more difficult and they will have to work harder.
Alternatively, there is a second way to approach using IXL. When a student first begins, they can take a diagnostic test. Each question on the test is designed to narrow down the skills the student needs to work on, honing in on specific areas. The more questions the student answers, the better the program can identify needs. This is very good. However, you need to know that ahead of time because it otherwise becomes the never-ending test. It doesn’t stop, as far as I can tell. It just keeps honing. You can just have your student stop after a certain period of time you choose or answer a chosen number of questions.
Once the diagnostic test is stopped, there are recommendations made for the student. These recommendations do change when a different child clicks into their account. If the child has not taken the diagnostic test, they will still receive recommendations based on what they have worked on. The child can choose to tackle the recommendations or just go on to what they want to work on. The recommendations include all subject areas.
HOW WE USED IT
Miss J is 10 and working at a 4th/5th grade level. She is using the program mostly for math but also doing some science, social studies, and Spanish. She is using the program almost every day for her math. She works for about 30 minutes on math each day, which takes her through 2 – 3 skill areas. Once a week, I sit down with her to go through Spanish. This is more of a review for her at these early stages, working on letters, numbers, and such. It does eventually become more conversational but she has to learn to spell the Spanish words for things before we move too much further with it. In science, she is exploring the gems and minerals part of the topics about once a week. And she is working on the American History topics once a week with me, also.
Miss J loves that she is getting some little “prizes” when she reaches certain goals – answer 100 questions or spend 2 hours on math. I also receive an emailed certificate for each of those goals. I can print that out or just show it to her online.
Miss L is in 7th grade. She has had some math topics that she has struggled with. We have used IXL math as a review for her. I have given her a list of topics/skill areas that I want her to practice. She gets on and work through that list. I have seen those skill areas, as well as her general attention to detail in math, grow through using IXL.
Miss E is in high school. She has been using IXL to work on some of the history topics that relate to the project she is working on. She is creating cards related to the big happenings in American history. She used IXL to see how her retention was and to challenge herself in her memory. She has looked at some of the math topics, as well. They are relating to her math book very clearly and so when she needs some review or extra practice on math skills for algebra, she can log in here.I
WHAT I LIKE
I like that there are an abundance of topics and skill areas for the girls to work on. I like that there is something for everyone. I like the variety of question styles and answer options, such as the picture choices when working on minerals. And, I like that I can see progress.
There is a parent/teacher side to the site that gives you all sorts of diagnostic information. You can see how long any one student has worked in a given day or week. You can see the exact skills and questions they worked on. You can see if they need additional work. You can also see their progress. I like that this exists and can see how I might use it sometimes but I am not using it a lot. I do, however, see the benefits of this and am thankful it is there for those parents/teachers who want and need to see these for grades and planning.
All in all, there are some great things about IXL. It is a solid program for review or to work alongside an active parent/teacher. It is worth checking out.
If you are looking for a Spanish version of the site, there is one available. If you are in another country, it also possible for you to receive the site with the appropriate math skills for your area. It should redirect you automatically to the IXL site for your country.
Lori, At Home.
The Homeschool Review Crew had many families using IXL Learning for the past few weeks. Reading several reviews will help you understand more about the benefits and flexibility of this program. Please read more of the reviews by clicking the banner below.