Excel With Math And Language Arts! ~ IXL #review
IXL, an online subscription learning service, provides skill reinforcement for math (grades K-12) and language arts (grades 2-4). It’s super-easy to use, for both parents AND kids. When registering, a parent will receive a “main” account ID and password – and every log-in, for everyone in the family, uses that same ID and password.
But wait! You say – how does it know which member is logging in? That’s where “profiles” come in. The parent enters each child’s first name, chooses a representative icon, and adds a “secret word” – aka, each student’s individual password.
As you can see, icon choices are cute and youngster-friendly, though I have to admit, they might be a tad too young for the preferences of some teens. Eh, no big deal, my 17-year-old told me – I’ll take the cat. Chris already claimed it? No worries, just give me the duck.
We’ve used their Online Math Membership before, but since we’ve last checked in with IXL, they’ve been busy adding new things! The most appealing for us – they now offer high school math, including Algebra 1, 2, and Geometry. (Pre-Calculus is coming soon!) And now, they’re branching out into language arts – a tidbit more on the Online Language Arts Membership in a moment.
My high school senior told me that he really likes the way IXL is set up; it has a stronger visual appeal than other subscription math skill-builders he’s used.
While it doesn’t quite give the impression of working for any structure of math challenge, the bright colors and “fun” styling give IXL a much more approachable interface compared to more “just the learning” alternatives.
Adding to the sense of fun, and appealing to the inner competitor, is the framing of challenges – virtual prizes are rewarded for success, and it’s surprising how big a difference a non-tangible picture “prize” can make in the feeling of accomplishment. (There’s a reason this works for online games, and it’s a method that I expect to see used more and more in online learning – primarily because, as a motivational tool, it just plain WORKS.)
IXL has tons of reports and details for the parent. Start with the Overview screen to see the big picture of how your child is faring, view their time spent by week and by category,
and then you can even drill down to individual tasks. Is a skill taking an exceptional amount of time? Perhaps some extra instruction in that area would be a good idea…
View your child’s overall proficiency by skill:
Check the “news flash” section for recent accomplishments; these are a great way to see successes that can be celebrated offline. Once you’ve got a feel for the type of goal that will be listed, it’s easy to plan ahead to acknowledge milestones.
View a “report card” for another approach to performance; the pie chart is perfect for getting an overall idea of how your child is doing.
One thing I really appreciate about IXL is the ability to see each and every problem that my child has completed. I hate it when my child mentions a question later that they struggled with, but they’re not always able to give me enough detail to determine what kind of exercise it was, or what might have been the issue. With IXL, it’s all there; all you have to do is look.
Students have a great deal of flexibility in what topics – and level – they choose to work at; if there are specific tasks, or a certain grade level, that you wish them to complete, you’ll need to direct them to do so. IXL doesn’t allow for scheduling of specific tasks.
All students have access to all grade levels; if you need them working solely at grade level, make sure to tell them so. Otherwise, if you have a child that values “completeness”, it might well occur to them to start at Kindergarten and work their way up through ALL the grade levels. (Yes, one of mine has done this in the past.)
Tasks can also be chosen by topic, and while this might make viewing overall progress a bit more difficult for the parents, if you have a student whose skills are all over the map – or you feel like they might have missed something – it’s an equally good way to start.
I really appreciate the ability of a student to access all the grade levels at once; that’s my one huge concern with other programs that stick skills to particular grades – what if they miss something?
Students can view their overall progress for a grade level on a sort of “gameboard”; topics with a question mark are available for use. Having all the details that [are likely to] matter to the child in one place, in a visual format, is a great motivational tool. Again, you can see here that students can easily switch between grade levels.
IXL has recently started to add in their new language arts program; at this time, just three levels are available, but more are on the way. I’m looking forward to seeing how they approach middle and high school skills. We only peeked our noses into language arts long enough to see what it was like, since my kids are a little too old for the current offerings.
Many of the exercises are text-based and lack images, but really, that’s to be expected in a language arts program, in my opinion – it’s sort of the point.
A math membership to IXL for one student is $9.95/month or $79/year. More students may be added for just $2/month or $20/year per student. The language arts portion may be added for a flat (not per-student) rate of $6/month or $50/year.