Tuesday, June 19, 2012

IXL ~ Online Math Practice

Math~ Love it or hate it, we all have to master it (Or suffer the consequences.....)
For kids who hate writing, workbooks, and "traditional" pencil and paper math practice, computer based programs are a boon. IXL is one such program, and one of our latest review items as part of the TOS Review Crew.

IXL is a standards-based online subscription math practice service, with a goal of helping your students exclaim that "I Excel at math!" (Just a note~ it took me awhile to "get" the "I Excel/ IXL" connection~ color me slow...)
There are thousands of math skills addressed from Pre-K - Algebra (Geometry, Trig, etc are in the "Coming soon" category).

Here is what we liked about this program: 

  • Skills are practiced with a wide variety of question types, from multiple choice and fill in the blank to interactive responses. 
  • In the Pre-K - 1st grade section the instructions are "audio-enabled"  by clicking on the "Volume" icon, so that even pre-reading and beginning readers are able to be fairly independent. 
  • The student is given control over which topics they practice, which is not as much of a factor for my youngest, as he isn't reading the topics yet, but Middlest was very pleased to be able to skip around and work on skills of his choice.
  • Immediate feedback for incorrect answers, with explanations~ Here are some screen shots from an example problem that I answered incorrectly (mind you, I did that on purpose, for the purpose of sharing how it works... ;) ): 
  • The reports section helps me to see where each child needs improvement in those skills (At which point, I can just tell them which sets to practice for a bit~ ;) ) Here is a screenshot of a portion of my Middlest's report:
  • You can see that he skipped around some (pie chart table shows problems from 6th-8th grade). In the Skills Practiced table I really like the "Time spent/Problems Attempted/Smartscore" columns. I particularly appreciate the highlighting in red of skills that need improvement as well as yellow for skills that are satisfactory, and  blue for skills that are good. This makes it very easy at a glance to see what needs work.
  • Newsflash  and weekly reports that are sent directly to my email~ Here's an example~ "We're happy to say that Xxxx has been hard at work on IXL! Xxxx has answered 500 math problems so far. Print certificate. To view a full report, please sign in to IXL and click on the Reports tab. You'll be able to see how Xxxx is doing on each skill, and you and Xxxx can set new practice goals together." And for those little ones, the certificates are a great incentive! :) The weekly reports give you access to the exact problems that your students worked, and what their answers were~ this helps to pinpoint problem areas, as well as keep track of outstanding achievements. :)

  • Another great incentive, particularly for the younger set (Although I have known my Eldest to be very "Competitive" when given "Achievements" to strive towards), is a chart with virtual prizes to be earned. All the pictures are earned prizes~ click on the picture and it will tell you how it was earned. The squares with a "?" tell the child which skills need to be mastered in order to earn that award. It's very helpful for those younger learners, as the skills are clickable links that bring them right to the practice page. 
  • What Middlest particularly liked: The ability to try many different skills, including testing his skills in higher grade levels... :) 
  • What Youngest particularly liked: "Mastering" skills and earning those sticker prizes.

Now for what we wish was different, and/or "other" comments 

  • I think a "placement test" would be very helpful~ it would eliminate time spent on skills that have already been mastered. 
  • Perhaps a different "Award system" for 5th or 6th grade and up, as filling in a sticker chart isn't really much of an incentive as they get older. I do think the certificates are nice, tho'.
  • Important to note~ this appears to be not so much a teaching program as a practice program. The explanations are useful, but may not be enough to constitute a stand-alone program in every situation.
In general, we are fairly impressed and pleased with the IXL Program~ You can try 20 questions per day for free (but keep in mind that there are no reports available, and only limited practice~ ) to get a feel for the program yourself. 

 ~ The Not-so-Nutty Nitty Gritty ~

  • Company~ IXL
  • Ages~ Pre-K Through Algebra
  • Pricing~  $9.95/ month or $79/year 
Be sure to click on the banner below to see what my fellow crew-mates thought about IXL, and discover if this might be a program for  your homeschool. I hope that this review was helpful to you as you choose where to spend your homeschool budget.



Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Review Crew Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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