Friday, June 22, 2012

TOS Review: IXL

IXL is a website designed to teach math skills from preschool through junior high (algebra).  I was able to create accounts for all three of the kids that are old enough to use it, and they've been using it as their math curriculum for a little while.

It was easy to set up our family account on the website and assign grade levels to my children.  I told the older two to work in the 6th grade level, and Little Miss worked in Pre-K.  They actually have access to all the levels, though.  When one of them clicks through their grade level, it shows a list of skills to be mastered - over 260 for 6th grade, and about 40 for Pre-K.  This is where I found the first thing I do not like about IXL - the child can skip around through the skills, possibly attempting things they are not ready for.  In my own personal experience, trying to do math problems that you don't have the foundational skills for just leads to a lot of frustration and issues with math in general.  Just say the word "math" to me, and my eyes tend to glaze over.  Also, one category does not have to be completed before they can move on.  The child can work a little in each one if they choose, not really mastering anything.

My older two children were assigned to work in IXL for at least 30 minutes at a time.  Conveniently, there is a timer on the side of the practice screen which lets the student know how long they have been working.  It also displays a running total of problems attempted, as well as the score.  If a question is answered incorrectly, the correct answer is displayed.  The student has the option of having the answer explained to them, or they can simply move on to the next question.  Children earn virtual medals and other rewards by answering questions correctly, practicing for certain amounts of times, and mastering skills.  Super Girl likes being able to choose different categories to work in based on her mood, and really liked that the questions are asked in several different ways in each section.

Little Miss has enjoyed answering questions, but at her age (not quite 3 years old), she has only worked on IXL a few times.  She did master the first skill (circles, triangles, and squares) within her first few minutes on the site.  However, she does not really have the computer skills necessary, and so any practicing she does must be with the assistance of someone else.  She really seems to enjoy the little rewards and such.

The other thing I was not crazy about in regards to the way the site works is that the children have access to all the levels at once (as I stated before).  I would prefer to be able to select a level for each child, and then adjust it as needed.  As the site sends me reports on how and what my children are doing in their math work, I can easily tell if they are in the appropriate level.   I do like that I can make sure they are finishing each area, rather than just doing a little here and there.  Over all, I'm glad that my children have IXL to not only keep them at grade level over the summer, but help them continue to advance during this period of lighter school work (that's right - we don't take a full-on break, but that's another post)!

IXL can be found at  Membership is available on a monthly basis for $9.95, or yearly for $79 for one child.  Each additional child is $20 on the yearly membership.

***Disclaimer:  I was given a 6 month membership to IXL for three of my children in exchange for my review through the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  All opinions are my own.  

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