We had a chance to review IXL.com. IXL offers Math curriculum for Kindergarten through 12th Grade as well as Preschool Math Skills. Recently they also added Language Arts for grades 2nd through 4th. IXL offers skills that are available for state standards, which in our case would be the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. We received a one-year membership for our review, and we reviewed both the Online Math Membership with all three of our children as well as the Online Language Arts Membership with our oldest two children. We created a profile for each child with a picture of their choice to designate their profile.
For our IXL review we used IXL First Grade Math with our oldest two children (ages 7 and 5) who will be finishing up their First Grade school year at the end of this month. We used it 4-5 days a week as additional practice to supplement our Math curriculum. Since we are at the end of our First Grade Year, some of the skills were reviews, but there were also skills on there that weren’t covered by our current curriculum.
Because computer time is a good time to do independent work, I always have them do one section of review for additional practice followed by something with which they are less familiar. Although, they can do much of that on their own as well because the Pre K – 1st Grade skills have voice to read the problems and possible answers. This is great as our children are both still learning to read! We did run into a slight snag when they would miss a problem because it didn’t read the correct answer and explanation on how to get that answer. Before I realized this, they were just moving on without knowing why the answer was incorrect so they could learn how to do it correctly. Once I was aware of this, though, I asked them to get me (if they were choosing to do the work independently) when they missed a problem so I could explain how to work the problem to get the correct answer.
IXL uses a “Smart Score” system to help them master a skill. They start by answering easier problems for that skill. As they get the answers correct, their Smart Score increases. If they miss a problem the Smart Score will decrease. Once they reach 100 points they have mastered that skill. Sometimes this takes less than 30 problems or it can take MANY problems depending on how much work they need to learn that skill. I really think this is a great way to help them build their knowledge of that specific skill! It just makes sense to me! Generally, for our lessons I would set a time limit (a timer is shown as the child is working on a skill) or have them finish when they master the skill – whichever comes first. This particular method worked well for us!
I am really surprised with all the material covered in the First Grade Math. It covers everything from reviewing basic counting through sorting, ordering, and classifying. It also covers geometry, time, measurement, fractions, probability, and more! The skills are either multiple choice or require typing a number. The multiple choice questions have more available choices as they get the answers correct and get closer to mastering the skill. Some of the skills have proven to be a little challenging, but I think it is because they are new concepts. I also think the kids still haven’t fully adjusted from the move.
The reward system offered by IXL, though, encourages them to keep practicing even if the skill is taking a little longer to master! Even if they don’t master that particular skill the first time, they still may earn an award based on time spent practicing and total number of questions answered. Of course, they do also earn awards for mastering skills as well! They LOVE the awards chart, and they get excited to see what they will turn over next!
We used the Pre-K Math with our preschooler 1-2 times a week. He just turned 3 in April, so I’m still easing him into the more structured learning programs. The Pre-K Math offers 10 different categories, and 3-4 skills per category. It covers Shapes, Counting, Comparing, Size, Money (basic coins), Size, Classifying, and Positions.Although the same scoring system is used for Pre-K Math I did notice the problems closer to mastery didn’t get quite so difficult, though they did count for less points. I definitely thought this was appropriate given the maturity level of Preschoolers. I don’t think our little guy would sit much longer if he had to answer as many questions as the older kids!
Although Pre-K does also read the problems, I did have to sit with our preschooler to help him with the problems because he still isn’t very proficient with the mouse. The extra practice is helping him get better, though!
Even though we won’t be starting Second Grade until January we decided to get a head start and start using the Second Grade Language Arts. Both of our older children have been using it, and we have been using it 2-3 times per week as it is something new, so we are easing into it. It covers a variety of categories with multiple skills per category. We have worked on skills like Sentence Types, Subject and Predicate, different types of nouns, pronouns, and more. Those are just a few of the categories!
The same type of scoring and awards are used for the Language Arts. Because the questions aren’t read for the Second Grade level, I do have to sit with each of them during the lesson and read the question and answers for them. The biggest challenge for me is to let them answer it on their own and not give hints to the correct answer! They try to read my expressions, too! Aside from that, though, it really works out well. Plus I’m right there to help them understand why they do miss a question and discuss the answers. They have been doing well with the Language Arts, so I’m glad we decided to get a jump start on it!
Another feature of IXL is the Parent area where I can access reports for all of the children. I can view them as an overview as posted above, a proficiency assessment to see which skills they have mastered or which need improvement, performance by category or skill (I often use performance by skill to get a “daily grade” for my personal records because it shows number of answers correct versus number of problems attempted), and more. I can also view their progress, trouble spots, improvement over time, and even performance by state standards. (I am not one to focus on this, but I know some states actually require this, so I know it is a helpful feature to have.) I am also emailed regular updates when any of the children reach a certain milestone as well as regular updates.
I am really impressed with everything IXL covers, and I love that it has offered our children the chance to have more independent time and feel accomplished. Plus I get a chance to have more one-on-one time with them as well when we work on Language Arts! The thorough reports are wonderful, and I feel like I don’t have to rush and take notes on what was done that day because I know they will be there for me to view at any time!
A subscription for IXL.com is $9.95/month for only Math, $9.95/month for only Language Arts, or $15.95/month for both. A yearly subscription is also available for $79.00 per year for one subject or $129.00 per year for both subjects. Each additional child is $20/year. IXL also offers an iPad app, which I unfortunately didn’t discover until recently, so we haven’t had a chance to use it, but knowing how we love apps I am sure we will use it soon!
Many members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew have been reviewing IXL Math and/or Language Arts for a variety of grades/ages, so be sure to check out all the reviews by clicking on the button below!