Saturday, November 2, 2013

IXL Online Math and Language Arts (Schoolhouse Review)

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We had the privilege of reviewing IXL.com last year and Emily loved it, so I was thrilled at the opportunity to do another review this year.

Language Arts

Something that is new at IXL since last year is the addition of the Online Language Arts Membership. Currently, only 2nd-4th grades are online, but more grades will be added soon. Some of the many topics covered include parts of speech and other grammar concepts, synonyms and antonyms, alphabetical order, and prefixes and suffixes. Emily didn’t try this out, since it is quite a bit below her grade level, but we’re hoping that some higher levels will come online soon!

Math

IXL is an amazingly comprehensive math practice site. The levels of the Online Math Membership range from Pre-K to Algebra 2 (grades pre-K to 12), and each level is broken down into 200-300 skills per level. (Pre-calculus will be added soon.) Because of the way the program is laid out, it is very easy for a student to work sequentially through topics, or to jump to a particular topic for additional practice.

First, the student chooses the appropriate grade level. Then he chooses a skill to work on.

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As the student correctly answers questions, his SmartScore goes up. If he misses a question, the score immediately goes down a few points, providing instant positive or negative reinforcement for accurate work or errors. When the student’s SmartScore reaches 100, he has completed the section. Problems include multiple choice fill-in-the-blank format. A student may leave a section before completing it and the program will remember his score until he returns to that section. The student is also free to jump around between topics. This can be helpful for a student who needs extra practice in a specific area. On the other hand, it can allow a student to jump ahead to an area that he is not ready for. I’ve asked Emily to try to work sequentially within a topic, since the concepts often build on each other.

The presentation is bright and “fun,” and students are awarded medals for various achievements, such as areas mastered or numbers of problems completed.

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Parent Accounts

There is a separate log-in for parents, allowing them to monitor each child’s progress. The Parent Reports are incredibly comprehensive, allowing the parent to see the total time spent on IXL each day, proficiency assessments for each topic the child has attempted, and progress as compared to Common Core or state standards (for every state). Within each area, the parent is even able to see the specific problems that the child answered correctly or incorrectly. This is very helpful to pick out areas that the child might need extra help with or to ascertain if the child has just been guessing.

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IXL is so comprehensive that it is difficult to think of ways that it could be improved. However, it would be helpful if the parent had the ability to assign specific areas for the child to work in each day, or to set up a preferred sequence. Other than that small request, I think it is a wonderful supplement to any math curriculum.

Pricing: $9.95 a month or $79 a year for each content area (math or language arts)

    $15.95 a month or $129 a year for both math and language arts

If you’d like to try out IXL, your child (or you) may visit the site and do 20 problems every day for free! Record keeping is not available with the free option, but it’s a good way to see if IXL is right for you.

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I received the product free in exchange for my honest review.

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