We have previously utilized IXL, both the free and paid portions of the website, for working on math and we liked it for the most part. At the time, they did not have a Language Arts option, but when given the opportunity to review IXL, we decided to give them another try and see how we liked the language arts portions as well as use the math again.
If you haven’t visited IXL, you should check them out. Offering a math review program that meets core standards, IXL has interactive math online worksheets for grades Pre-K through 8th grade. Though not a full program, IXL offers a wonderful program in both language arts and math to help students work through skills. The language arts program is available currently for grades 2-4.
The setup of the program is very easy to move through with an award system that the kids liked. All grades are available to the user so parents and students can move between grades which is great if you have a child that is working at one level in some math or language arts skills and another grade level on other skills.
The programs are not stand-alone programs; therefore skills need to be introduced and taught by the parent or teacher before working through the skills review in IXL. This is nice because we enjoy having a program to use for supplemental work and review.
The program is interactive and worked through online. Only one question is presented at a time which is great for students that are easily distracted. Additionally, the skills are worked through until mastered. Once mastered the next skill that naturally comes after the mastered skill is presented. However, students can begin at any point in the skill set; they do not have to complete one before moving onto another. This was nice because it allowed us to skip skill sets that we didn’t need to work on and find exactly the skill sets that coincided with our math and language art programs to use as a supplement.
The parents section is nice in that it shows reports, skill progress, and time worked within each skill set. Parents can also view particular questions in the skill set and see how the student did on the question. This was good for areas that I found needed additional work. I was able to see where my kids were having trouble.
If parents select the option in the settings of the program, you can receive a daily email “news flash” at the end of the day telling what the children have done including skills mastered and time spent reviewing. There is also a weekly report option. I liked this because it helped me remember to print the occasional certificate (an option) to celebrate progress – something my children need from time to time.
The student screen has a right hand section that shows problem attempted, time elapsed, and smart score, which is the IXL’s scoring based on the number of problem attempt, number correct and problem difficulty. The scores are given in percentages. My daughter did not like the SmartScore. In fact, she didn’t like it when we used it in the past and didn’t like it this time. As a perfectionist by nature, if she is having trouble with mastering a skill, the SmartScore decreases which frustrates her instead of motivating her. Therefore, at times, we had to step away from the program.
We used the program to review skills that we are working on in our math and language arts programs. Some of the skills were in two different grade levels. It was nice that we could work in both grade levels without any issue. We also used the program to work in the Pre-K math for my son. It was nice that there is a feature in the program that reads the question to the child. Though the program required more supervision and assistance by me with my PreK son than with other preschool programs, he did like the program somewhat and mastered skills quickly. He liked the receipt of the “prizes” just like my daughter but they weren’t as motivating as in some of the other online preschool programs so he lost interest a little more quickly.
Here is a picture of the “awards” and “prizes” that student receive as they move through the skill levels.
Overall, I like the program. My daughter, on the other hand, does not get that excited about IXL. She doesn’t like the reward system as well as in other programs that provides interactive prizes. And since the SmartScore is such a point of contention for her, she doesn’t get overly motivated. However, conversely, if she’s doing well, she loves that it increases and is excited to “master” the skill so it’s a little conflicting for us. She was proud of her prizes and the skills she mastered. My son didn’t really care about mastering a skill but I think that mostly has to do with age and that he can’t read what is going on on the page while he is practicing.
We worked in several different grade levels. This, oddly enough, does not bother my daughter; however, if you have a child that is bothered by the fact that he or she is working below their grade level on a skill, there is an option available in the settings of IXL to hide the grade levels. I searched for a place to hide the SmartScore but could not find that option – I think that would be a nice option for those that are hindered by watching their scores decrease. I would like the option to easily turn it on and off since it seemed to work great at times and other times needed to be hidden while we worked to better understand a topic.
One thing that was a little troublesome to both me and my daughter was in the math program. In the early grades, money is a skill set that is worked on. The student is provided with a picture of money and has to count the coins to add up the total amount of money shown. The money is a little difficult to distinguish in the picture for us at times and even I couldn’t figure out whether it was a picture of the new nickel or the new dime and therefore couldn’t get the amount right. This was frustrating to my daughter who cannot stand to watch her SmartScore go down. It would have been nice that, if the pictures can’t be bigger maybe an option to hover over the coin and have the coin identified so a student can check and make certain they are identifying the coins correctly. They would still have to know the worth of the coin to solve but could know what the coin is supposed to be.
IXL is a great supplementary program that is colorful, interactive, and easy to use. You can check out the IXL website here and see what a membership can do for you. You can purchase a 12 month membership to IXL math or IXL language arts for $11.95/mo for two students and each additional student is just $2/mo additional. You can purchase a two student family membership to both language arts and math for $17.95 per month. A yearly membership is available for $99 per subject or $149 for both.