Monday, November 10, 2014

IXL- TOS Review

Days are busy.  Life is full.  And sometimes getting all of the school subjects in for the day is a challenge.  For us, that is when computer-based learning is valued more than ever.  That is also why we love IXL!

We had the opportunity to review IXL a year ago and had a good experience with it, but since then they have added a new subject and expanded and I was eager to try it again.  We were given a years access to IXL Math and IXL Language Arts to try with our three youngest.

IXL is a review based program.  While concepts are not taught per say, they are explained in pretty good detail if you get a problem incorrect.  No matter what grade level your child is at, once you sign up for IXL you have access to all grades.  For Math that covers grades Pre K through Pre-Calculus (12th grade).  For Language Arts that covers grades 2nd-8th.  I have found that the advantage of this is that you can easily identify strengths and weaknesses in your child's learning.  Let's face it, no math or grammar program is perfect and your child WILL be less proficient in some areas.  This is where I find IXL invaluable.  Once we identify an area of weakness, we are able to go directly to that area and have additional practice.  Once you choose a grade you want to work in, you simply access that menu and the skills are broken into categories that are well labeled for ease.  Because you can access any grade, we have also gone back a grade to work even more on a specific skill.

IXL is quite easy to navigate and therefore takes little if any supervision.  Because of that, there is a pretty extensive parental page.  From there you can access grades and progress, often in chart form, as well as see what areas your child is having a hard time with.  In addition, weekly updates are sent to your email so you can see how much time a child has spent on the program and in what areas.

How we used IXL-

Again, this is a review program, so we have used it as such several days a week.  Our 2nd grader has used it the most and prefers the math section over the Language Arts.  Some days we use it as simply a review and I require him to do at least 10-15 minutes of work.  Other days when life gets the best of us, it becomes our math and grammar for the day and he works at least 30 minutes.  When we first began he worked in the order of the menu, but he soon found areas he enjoyed more than others and would choose those first.  Measurement is one of his favorites!  One the right side of his screen a timer is displayed that shows how long he has been working.  That option can be turned off, but once he realized it was not a race, but simply an indicator of time spent and part of the things that earned him "prizes" he relaxed.  Also shown are the number of problems attempted, your score and ribbons earned. 

Combinations of time, sections completed, and number of problems completed earn the child "awards."  Once they earn awards they are able to access a screen that looks like a grid with question marks on it.  Certain stars are then revealed with "prizes."  Don't ask me why, but that is a HUGE incentive for my youngest son.  HUGE!  As a matter of fact, because the Language Arts is a newer program it does not have this feature yet and I realized that is why CJ does not like doing those activities as much.  You still earn ribbons, but for him- it is all about those picture prizes!  Whatever it takes, huh?

That, on the other hand, is exactly why my 7th grader did not enjoy the program as much.  While he does not mind the review, the prizes seem babyish to him and he would rather just avoid it all together.  His math skills are pretty strong so we found him to be spot on with his grade level and even beyond, but have seen a few more challenges with his Language Arts.  I intend to use IXL Language Arts this summer as part of his summer review- not only to bring him up to speed but also help fill in a few gaps that I have seen we have.

The whole point of me adding my 17 year old to the review was for ACT test review.  Because she is currently quite busy with online college classes she has not been able to spend much time on the site, but we have explored the areas extensively and are convinced it is a perfect way to review for tests required for college admittance.  Because of that, she will be spending the next few months doing 15-30 minutes a day.  Since so many of those tests cover several years worth of subject matter, gaining access to Algebra, Geometry, and Pre-Calculus is a huge advantage.  Instead of having to dig out all of her old books, the skills she needs to review are all in one place.

I am not always sold on online programs and especially do not gravitate towards game like ones with a million bells and whistles, but I really like IXL.  The review is strong, the detailed explanations when needed are good and the subject matter is extensive- over 4,000 skills are taught.  Whether your child needs some extra help and review or you are just looking for a supplemental program for those days when it is just hard for mom to sit down and teach, I think you will find IXL will meet your needs!

You can find IXL the following places-

Pricing starts at $9.95 a month or $75 per year for one student.  Each additional child is $2 a month or $20 per year.  So two subjects for one child would cost $129.00.

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