Wednesday, November 12, 2014

IXL Math and Language Arts Review

Youngest was delighted to know that we were selected to review IXL one more time, as he frequently requested to use it for math last year and occasionally over the summer. (You can read my previous reviews for IXL in 2012 and IXL in 2013 to see what my thoughts were for K/7th grade and 1st grade). 

This time I used it mostly with Youngest for 2nd grade IXL Math and we tried out the 2nd grade IXL Language Arts as well. Middlest is using an Algebra program that doesn’t totally follow a traditional track, so he only popped on to check it out a couple of times. There are skills for children from Pre-K -12th grade in Math, and 2nd-8th grade in Language Arts. 

Our experiences were very similar to in the past~ I appreciate the ability to check out the reports, of which there is a huge assortment! I would imagine that this would be especially useful to homeschoolers who live in states that require huge amounts of documentation.

  • Status Updates include a pie chart as well as a Proficiency assessment, News flashes and a Report Card
  • Usage (which includes the ability to see all of the problems attempted, only those with correct answers, or only those with wrong answers among other options) along with a list of the skills practiced and a Usage Log which shows the session time each day, the amount of actual time spent practicing, the number of problems attempted and the number of skills practiced. This is helpful for keeping kids accountable~ if the length of their session doesn’t correspond to the actual time spent engaged with the program you might want to talk about distractions and diligence… 
  • Performance, by category and by skill
  • Trouble Spots
  • Progress (Improvement over Time)
  • State Standards
As in the past, my Youngest has been very motivated to fill in his Math award chart with stickers (and we are somewhat disappointed that there isn’t a chart for the Language Arts program, but hopefully that is in the works). We do run into trouble sometimes if we try to do too many skills out of order, so I go between having him work on specific skills and work on completing the skills required to collect a sticker.
Here is what his Award Chart looks like currently:

A word about our general process~ this is something that can be an independent practice program. However, I have discovered that Youngest tends to do a little better when I’m next to him, reminding him to read the problems carefully and to check his answers before hitting submit, as a careless answer will end up creating more problems for him to complete, which will then take more time, and can occasionally cause frustration at the inability to complete the skill in a timely manner.

Initial LA Problem I intentionally got wrong
to show how to complete the problem.
Thoughts on the Language Arts portion: We used the first problem as a learning tool so that he would understand what was being requested (by purposely getting it wrong, so as to get to the instruction…). 

Generally speaking I was fairly happy with the skills, although Youngest wasn’t thrilled with the Language Arts portion~ as there is really no immediate incentive to complete skills, and they are fairly “workbook-ish” in nature, so not very attention grabbing. I do have to say that they receive nice certificates for completing certain amounts of questions, so that is helpful. :) 

I will also mention that there were some sentences used in the examples that I was not prepared for Youngest to read. Probably not an issue with most people, but it did cause some discussions that we hadn’t had. He hasn’t run into “step-family” situations personally, so he requested an explanation of Stepfather and Stepmother when they both showed up within minutes of one another. Yes… unfortunate facts of life, but I didn’t think a language arts program would introduce them.

As I mentioned above, Middlest only used the Algebra portion a little bit. He didn’t feel that it works well as a teaching tool, but is probably useful as a practice tool if it follows your Algebra program.

New to IXL is the ability to access IXL on your tablet. This is sometimes easier for my Youngest to manipulate, so he uses the ipad with regularity to get his IXL Math done. You can download the app and practice up to 20 free questions a day to get a feel for how it works before purchasing.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, this has been a requested program by my youngest, so that speaks volumes about how he generally feels about it, and as a teacher, I am pleased with the scope and sequence of the mathematics in particular, somewhat less so with the LA, but if your kids thrive on workbook style curriculum, this might be a great way to get some great practice in, with good records to show at the end of the year. 

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
  • Company: IXL 
  • Product: IXL Math  and  IXL Language Arts 
  • Ages: 
    • Math ~ Pre-K- 12th (Pre-Calculus)
    • Language Arts ~ Currently offering 2nd to 8th grade
  • Price: 
    • $9.95/month for Math OR Language, $15.95/month for both
    • $79.00/year for Math OR Language, $129/year for both
    • Additional children are $2/month extra or $20/year extra
You can visit IXL on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+

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