Thursday, November 7

IXL - a review

IXL Logo photo ixllogofixed.pngI've seen the IXL logo around for years.  Every time I did a google search for anything related to math and homeschooling, it popped up. It's a clever little name IXL (I excel), don't you think? I'm not sure why I resisted considering it. Well, okay, we all know why. It wasn't free, and I'm cheap.

My girls have done really well catching up this past year. We held off on doing formal math until they were a bit older, like everything I've researched recommends. I was a bit scared that it would put them terribly behind, but the research is proving to be true. They have grasped concepts much better this past year and we're well on our way to being on track. However, they needed some extra practice when it comes to memory work. And that is where IXL came in. IXL gave my family a One Year Subscription to try out and my girls have loved it! They've especially loved that they can play on their accounts using the iPad app.
 photo 280956_362445090496975_1685320066_o_zpse8620420.jpg

IXL covers everything from Pre-K to 12th grade. It doesn't teach new concepts, but it reinforces very well. I teach math to my 3rd and 4th grade girls Monday-Thursday. On Friday's, they do math on IXL. They enjoy it and have asked many times to do it for extra work through the week. This surprised me a bit. The math problems aren't presented as games. They have regular math problems for them to work through. But it is laid out cleanly and is very attractive. The pages are uncluttered and the sounds are practically nonexistent.
The lack of obnoxious sound is my favorite part. When a student gets the right answer, a "Good job!" "Nice Work!" or "Brilliant!" sign pops up. No dinging or buzzing or irritating noises. There are sounds, but they are relevant to the problems. For example, when matching shapes up to words, there are audio clips, reading the words Square, Circle, or Triangle to the student. There is also audio available to read the instructions to students in PreK through 1st grade, making it an independent activity.

Students each get their own account and you can choose a different icon to represent each student. They click on their icon and it opens up a list of activity levels to choose from. Skills levels are listed from Level A through Level M. The skills are listed under each level. Level A includes 42 skills, including shapes, money, counting to 20, comparing sizes and quantities, etc. Level B includes 127 skills, including seasons, making graphs, skip-counting, time, addition, etc.

The problems are intuitive and this is a part that I think is key to this program. There aren't set number of problems and the child passes or fails. Instead, the problems are presented with the basics first and they progress in difficulty level as the student answers correctly. If the student misses a problem, it tells them what they need to do differently and continues to quiz them until they consistently answer correctly. It doesn't waste their time, grilling them on things they've proven they know. And it doesn't rush them through, moving them on before they are ready.

Once students master a skills, they receive a gold medal:

 The Gold Medal page includes a wall of medals, each revealing a different "prize" behind their square. These are fun pictures of toys and such. Not a huge motivator, but a great marker for accomplishments. The motivation is doing well and seeing the improvements along the way.

Each problem page shows the time they've spent learning math for that session, but this feature can be turned off if your student is overwhelmed. My girls didn't really even notice it. I appreciate that it tells me how long they spent on the computer.

IXL sends weekly email updates to the parents, sharing performance reports. The performance reports are another unique element of this program. They tell me everything. I can see at a glance how well they are doing. I can look a little deeper and see their improvements over time. I can see how long they spent on specific areas. I can see their trouble spots so we can know which areas to work on together. I can even look at the individual problems they missed, seeing the question, their answer, and what the answer should have been.

It isn't a program in itself, as it doesn't teach material, aside from explaining errors, but it is incredible for reinforcement. I think it would be especially excellent for parents wanting to be sure their student had covered all of the skills before moving on to the next level of math. It is a great confidence builder, and not in the A-for-effort kind of way. It helps them see their progress and the fruit of their effort.

The only thing I might want to see change is the fact that students can access all levels of math problems, regardless of which areas they have mastered or not mastered. A preschool student could choose to scroll down and attempt some Algebra 2. My girls never tried anything over their level, but I think my boys might have tried something like that when they were younger.  But thanks to the progress report, I would have been informed before that nonsense went on for very long.
I rarely spend money on non-essential and I have avoided purchasing this program when I knew I could find some free printable worksheets somewhere on the web. But now that I have tried it, I am a huge fan. Worksheets and even free math game websites don't provide this kind of feedback to me, the teacher. They generally come with obnoxious sounds and they nearly always include cluttered and distracting pages that make it difficult for students to focus. This site is clean and attractive and easy to use. IXL's One Year Subscription for $79 or you can order it monthly for $9.95 

IXL now offers language arts lessons! My family didn't use them, but other crew members tried it and have shared reviews about that program. Be sure to check out other reviews of IXL math and L.A.


No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...