IXL is a math and language arts website that allows you to give your student more practice in those two subjects. The math program is for preK-12, and the language arts program for grades 2-8. We received a one year subscription to both the IXL Math and IXL Language Arts portions to review. Bear used mostly the third grade sections and J-jo the first grade sections. The language arts portion only start in second grade, so J-jo only used the math section.
I was very impressed with the number of skills a child can practice there. Here is a peek at only a portion of the third grade math skills to practice.
And a peek at the third grade language arts skills.
We ran into a stumbling block right away. The child gets rewarded when practicing math skills. They are awarded “stickers”. My kids loved this so much. Such a little thing, but it really kept them persevering to finish a section even when they were tired of it, just to get that sticker.
However, Bear quickly found out that the language arts practice does not award sticker prizes and she was quite disappointed, to the point that she refused to practice any more language arts during the time of the review.
It is a practice site, so no teaching is done, except, that if your child answers incorrectly, there is a teaching moment, in which the correct answer is explained.
I love the reports section. I can find out exactly where they need extra practice in the trouble spots section.
We encountered several problems for our particular family. First, it takes forever for my children to type things into answer boxes, so any skills that required students to type an answer took an inordinate amount of time.
Second, there are so many practice questions per skill. For example, even though my son was answering every single question correctly for a particular skill, the program still asked him to complete 27 or 28 questions. This is a lot of repetition for a student who gets the concept. It’s a lot of repetition in a row for a young child, too. However, he couldn’t get the award unless he completed the section.
Third, if he got a question wrong, it subtracted from the Smart Score counter that was moving up to 100. You have to get 100 to get the prize and you get more questions to answer if you get one wrong. While this makes sense, it was incredibly frustrating for my son to see his number decrease. I think it would be better if the number just stayed stagnant until the next correct answer. It was frustrating to him to the point of anger and tears. My recommendation is for IXL to decrease the number of questions and not make a student reach 100 in one practice session. The parent will get the report that the child needs extra practice and just get the child to practice it again in another session. In fact, the child may need a live human to do some reteaching. Who wants to practice a single skill for more than ten minutes anyway? I’d rather get to do several kinds of math problems than focus all my energy and time doing the same kind of question over and over.
My daughter got so upset and frustrated about all three of these things that she flat out refused to continue using any part of IXL. 🙁
I kind of got lax about enforcing the three times a week rule after that because it was too exhausting to fight with them over this. However, J-jo surprised me yesterday. He didn’t have any school work scheduled except for copying out a very long letter to a friend. It took him all morning to finish and after that he declared he was doing no more school. But not two minutes later he came back and asked if he could do the math that gives stickers. He spent 46 minutes doing math.
While, I don’t particularly care for IXL as it is (see my three frustration points above and see my recommendations below), I do appreciate the thoroughness of it. If your kids are a little less headstrong and perfectionist than mine, and don’t mind doing math for long periods of time, then this is a great program. I even think it could be used as a complete math program (especially in the elementary school grades) if you were a parent who knew how to teach the skills listed. You could teach a lesson, then let your student practice and it would all get graded for you and you would be sent a report via email of your student’s progress and results.
The IXL program is even available as an iPad app, though I have heard from fellow crew members that it doesn’t work on a first generation iPad. We didn’t end up using the app because my second generation iPad is too full to update my iOS.
Again, my recommendation for IXL is to decrease the number of questions per section. How about ten of them? If the child gets 100 on ten, he or she doesn’t need more practice. Actually, why couldn’t we as parents set the number of questions we want our children to do in order to demonstrate mastery. And if the child is really having difficulty and not mastering the skill, then what is the point of giving more and more questions? I’d rather see he got 0/10 when I get sent my report. Then I know I need to reteach a skill. If the IXL people could do this, I would definitely purchase a membership.