Friday, June 22, 2012

Review: IXL

Esmé has always preferred computer work to paperwork, so I was happy to add another online program to her lineup of math choices. Yeah, IXL!  We got some cheer moves for ya!

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As soon as we got the login info for IXL, we were up and running.  She “mastered” her first skill and was hooked, ready to move on to the next one.

Synopsis:

A better way to learn math

Math for the left and right brain

Math is about so much more than just numbers—so, IXL is too! We approach each math concept from all angles, offering visual representations, word problems, interactive activities, and more. With an abundance of math problems for every learning style, students can't help but build lasting skills and confidence.

Math learning that sticks with you

IXL is a practice environment that rewards hard work—after all, with dynamic, unlimited questions, guessing your way to success isn't exactly an option. Instead, we encourage students to learn from their mistakes, and move through new challenges at their own pace. There's no feeling that can match mastering a skill on IXL, since it comes with the satisfaction of knowing you really do “get it.”

Math practice that keeps you in the zone

When you're truly “in the zone,” you can pick up new skills in no time. With that in mind, we designed IXL as the ultimate focused learning environment. Free from any gimmicks or distractions, IXL is a place where every minute is spent truly learning math.

Math at its most mesmerizing

Not only do students gain new skills on IXL—they gain a whole new appreciation for how fun math can be! From the vibrant images that permeate IXL's skills, to the enticing awards and certificates that are hidden throughout the site, students cannot wait to hop on IXL—and you'll have trouble tearing them away.

Never miss a math moment

Thanks to IXL's easy-to-read reports and e-mail updates, you will never miss a second of your students' exciting learning journey. We can give you information that matters—exactly which problems students missed, where students' trouble spots lie, how they've progressed over time, how much knowledge they truly understood and retained.

Recommended Age:  PreK through Algebra 
Price:  Monthly plan: $9.95/month; Yearly plan: $79/year; Additional children: $2/month or $20/year
For More Info/To Purchase:  http://www.ixl.com/
For More Reviews:  Schoolhouse Review Crew

How We Use IXL at Our House:

We’ve done a lot of “unconventional” math, resulting in a kiddo with math skills well above age level in many areas, and not so much experience with other “core standards.”  To offset this, we’ve been skimming through a conventional 2nd grade math curriculum, having Esmé do the chapter tests for each chapter and working on whatever areas need work.

I started Esmé at the 2nd grade level of IXL, and she breezed through the first skill, as I expected, loving the award system.  So I figured we’d just work through each skill in order, easy peasy.

Not so easy.  The second skill was a skip-counting one.  Twos, fives, tens, hundreds, threes, fours, no problem.  But then they threw in some odd stuff.  Skip-counting by fours, starting at 31-35-39…?  Is this really 2nd-grade stuff?  Dutifully, I pulled out the hundreds chart and showed her how to work through each problem, but there were a couple dozen of them, with three or so missing numbers in each problem.  A grueling hour later, she had mastered the skill and never wanted to see IXL again.  Me neither.

So we gave it a break.

And then, knowing we had to do a review, I pulled it out again and looked for some easier skill to work through.  Forget the “each skill in order” idea.

And it worked!  There were some super easy skills for her to work on to regain her confidence.

So I started looking for the skills that complemented what we were doing in the “conventional” math curriculum.  Time?  Check.  Money?  Check.  Geometry?  Check. 

Yes, IXL threw some concepts in that we hadn’t covered elsewhere.  In geometrical shapes, for instance, we had been working on rhombuses, trapezoids, etc., but hadn’t covered heptagons, nonagons, decagons, etc.  But it wasn’t hard at all to quickly learn those and master that skill.

So that’s how we use it.  Not to “teach” math.  Not as a base curriculum.  But to complement what Esmé is already learning and maybe add a few related concepts.

What Mom Liked: 

  • The awards.  Is that cheesy to admit?  But that really is what motivates Miss Esmé to keep going, so that’s what I like.  There is an awards board that displays all awards won, and you can change your avatar to one of the awards you’ve won.  Unfortunately, you don’t earn an award for each mastered skill – though initially it seems that way.  There are awards for mastered skills in a specific area, for number of minutes played, etc. etc.  So Little Miss may win several awards or none after finishing a specific skill.  And I hate dealing with the disappointment when she realizes she’s been “slaving” away – faithfully working and watching her score climb to 100 - and not earned a single award.  But when she DOES win, it’s an awesome thing to see!
  • IXL Awards and Games
  • Scoring.  It’s easy for Esmé to see how she’s doing on a skill – with a score up to 100 (mastery level) on the right-hand side.  If she gets a problem wrong, the score goes down, and she can work to build it up again.  It motivates her to pay attention and get the answers right, so she can finish sooner.
  • Skill-focused.  There are not a lot of frills with the program – no games to play, just skills to master.   So you know the time spent on this is entirely math-focused, and you know exactly what skills are being worked on.
  • Standards-based.  If you live in a state like Oregon that requires standardized testing, it’s nice to know where you stand in the different areas that will be tested.  IXL shows exactly what the 50 state standards are, how its skills correspond, and provides reports accordingly.
  • Reports.  Speaking of reports, it’s easy for Mom to monitor how daughter is doing each week.  I can log on and see reports, and I also get an email each week that shows how much time Esmé has spent on IXL and what skills she’s working on.
  • IXL Family Reports
  • Verbal assistance.  The levels up to grade 1 offer auditory assistance, where your child can press a button to have the problem read aloud.  I was wishing it went up to 2nd grade (Esmé’s math skills are better than her reading), but since I usually am with Esmé, and the reading is pretty repetitive and not all that difficult, it worked out fine.  Just wanted to mention this for younger kids – it will allow them to work more independently.

Overall, while I wouldn’t consider IXL to be a complete curriculum since it doesn’t “teach” concepts, it is a great addition to a math program that will certainly help your child excel at math, particularly in aligning with core and/or state standards.

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Disclaimer:  Thanks to
IXL for providing a subscription in exchange for an unbiased review, and to Schoolhouse Review Crew for coordinating the review.  All opinions are our own.

IXL Logo

1 comments:

texasknights said...

As a teacher and a parent, I love IXL! Each child at our school has an account they can use at home or at school.