IXL generously offered Schoolhouse Review Crew members the opportunity to review their online program which includes IXL Math and IXL Language Arts for a full year for up to five children.
What Is IXL?
IXL is an online, interactive learning program specializing in Math and Language Arts for students in K-12. Students can practice and master skills appropriate to their grade level by answering questions that appeal to all learning styles.
IXL provides right and left brained content, a focused learning environment free from distractions, and a reward system that encourages students to keep on learning. Detailed reports and weekly emails keep parents up to date on their child's progress.
Each grade level in Language Arts and Math shows a list of skills that are organized by topic. Students can click on a topic and begin answering a series of questions that increase in difficulty as they proceed. Questions are tailored to each individual student. Skills are not initially taught, but when a wrong answer is given, IXL shows students why they missed a question and provides instruction for that particular skill. More questions pertaining to that skill will follow to ensure mastery.
IXL tracks students' scores for each skill. Scores increase with each correct answer, however, they decrease with each incorrect answer. Students have to work harder to bring scores back up, but they always have the opportunity to reach a score of 100% which earns them a gold ribbon.
How IXL Works
My fourth grade daughter is the one using this program. She spends about 15-30 minutes a day working on Fourth Grade Language Arts skills. My review will focus on this portion of the program.
Topics and Skills
After my daughter logs in to her account, I let her pick a topic she wants to work on that day. Then she can click on a skill under the topic to begin answering questions. In Language Arts there are 50 topics from which to choose and 139 skills to practice. (Parents can also log in and sample skills without affecting a child's score/progress.)
Questions and Answers
Questions begin right after a skill is chosen. At the fourth grade level, your child will need to be able to read the questions herself. Most of the questions have been multiple choice, but a few questions have required a typed answer. My daughter is able to log in and complete her work without any assistance. She doesn't know what a few of the topics such as "Modal auxiliaries" and "Idioms and adages" mean, but for now, I've told her to work on the skills she does understand and we will get to the ones she doesn't later.
Questions begin to increase in difficulty as your child moves along. The screenshot below shows another choice being added. Sometimes the third choice will even read something like none of the above.
When your child answers a question incorrectly, IXL will give an explanation in 3 parts: review, remember, and solve. Review will show your child the answer she chose. Remember will "teach" your child the skill by giving a definition and examples. Solve will show the correct answer and tell why it is correct.
IXL keeps track of the problems your child has attempted, the time that has elapsed, and the SmartScore that has been earned for each skill.
According to the website, here is what SmartScore means:
When a child reaches a SmartScore of 100, it means she's mastered the skill and that she's answered plenty of questions correctly, even the most difficult ones for that particular skill. At any time, a child can go back to a skill not mastered yet in order to earn a SmartScore of 100.
Once your child reaches a score of 70, she receives an orange ribbon. She receives a blue ribbon for a score of 80, and a green ribbon for a score of 90. At a score of 90, your child enters the Challenge Zone. From 90-100 questions are only worth one point each. For each incorrect answer during the Challenge Zone, two points are subtracted.
Finally, after mastery of a skill is achieved, your child receives a gold medal!
Here's a sample taken from my daughter's Language Arts home page. The dark green bars show the skills she's practiced. As you can she, she's mastered 3 out of the 5 skills shown, but she needs to go back and work on "Capitalizing titles" and "Punctuating dialogue."
**Feel free to visit the website to view all of the Language Arts and Math topics and skills. You can even begin practicing skills to see how the program works before you sign up to become a member. You can also find out what the Common Core standards are according to your state if you wish. Just click on the Common Core tab on the website to learn more.
IXL offers two pricing options for family memberships:
- Monthly plan - For either Math or Language Arts: $9.95/month. For both: $15.95/month. Each additional child is $2.00.
- Yearly plan - For either Math or Language Arts: $79.00/year. For both: $129.00/year. Each additional child is $20.00.
What We Think
My daughter likes IXL and thinks Language Arts is super easy to use. So far, she's answered over 1,500 questions and mastered over 30 skills. I like that she can do the program on her own and that I get email updates regarding her progress. In the emails, I have the option of downloading and printing certificates of achievement like this one:
One of my favorite parts about the program is the Explanation feature. I love that my daughter can thoroughly understand why she got an answer wrong. It's wonderful, too, that the program will then make sure she masters the concept with which she's struggling by asking further questions pertaining to the question previously missed. I hope that makes sense!
Overall, I think this is an excellent supplemental program for practicing and mastering specific skills according to grade level. Click on the banner below to read what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought.
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