Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A TOS Review: IXL (Practice that feels like play!)

I love it when I get to share with you some of my favorite resources on the planet. Last year I wrote this review for IXL. We recently had a chance to once again review IXL Math and IXL Language Arts. There have been a few changes since my previous post. I was anxious to see what it was all about. 
What is this IXL you ask? It is an online review program for math (pre-school to algebra, geometry and pre-calculus) and Language Arts (grades 2-8).  When you sign up for a subscription you have access to all of the content and grade levels (k-12). I can't tell you how much I appreciate this little help alone. I'll 'splain more in a minute.  
For this product you will need a working computer with a reliable online connection. No sound is necessary, but (and this is a fun one) there is audio available for the Littles and you can enable the sound for 2-5 grades. It also can be used as an app with some tablets. 
Pricing for family memberships starts at just $9.95/month or $79/year for one subject. Each additional child costs $2/month or $20/year. 

For more information or to purchase a family membership, go to www.ixl.com/membership/family/pricing, and select your preferred membership option to view pricing details. 
How Does It Work? 
IXL is a review program. I do believe that there are those who have used it successfully as a full curriculum. However, it does not teach so you need to prepared. 
I want to share with you how it all works. 
Here a screen shot of the very top of Josiah's log-in page. I can log in as a parent as well, but I haven't found that necessary. I can get Josiah's reports from his page. 
You can see that there is a tab for Math, Language Arts, Reports, Awards, Common Core and Membership.  

Let's start with math first. 
This is just a shot of the page that will help you navigate between grades and skills. Josiah is all over the place when it comes to math. He is dyslexic and has Dyscalculia. He has trouble memorizing basic math facts and reading a clock face. He has a terrific memory for people, stories, songs and events. But he can connect those things to something. It is helpful for him to practice some of those math skills in a non-pressure environment. 

For this review post, I will share a little bit from the Fifth grade skills list. Am I smarter than a Fifth grader? That remains to be seen. 

I need to reveal my shame first thing. Just 4 problems into it and I made a mistake. I assure you that I know what I'm doing. This is place value, after all. I was distracted. My eyes are tired. My dog ate my homework. 
IXL gives the student immediate feedback. There is no waiting around to see which ones you got right. It also gives and explanation and reviews the material. 
This is how a problem comes up on the screen. I like that it is all by itself. Josiah has increased difficulty if there is too much going on at once. Here he only one problem at a time to worry about. On the left hand side the counters keep track of how many problems have been attempted, how much time is elapsing and the smart score. 

The Smart Score is not merely an indication of correct problems. It takes into account the number of problems completed, problem difficulty and accuracy. You can read more about it here. 
And I've already got a ribbon. When the Smart Score gets to 100 the skills is considered mastered. The amount of time and number of problems completed depend on the student.
We are going to move on to Language Arts. This is some of the newer content on the site. They have added a few grade levels since my last review and are looking to add even more. 

The Language Arts portion works just the same. One question. This section is reviewing types of sentences. 

And I've mastered it! I did get two wrong. I don't even want to go there. I was distracted. I also have the option to keep practicing. I have had Josiah keep practicing even after he has mastered a skill if I think it is beneficial. 

I love that I can personalize Josiah's practice time. This is a screenshot from the second grade math page. You can see that he has mastered all of these skills. I did choose to leave out concepts that I knew would be more frustrating for him that helpful. 

This program keeps wonderful records and they aren't stingy with praise or awards. I get a notice in the email every time Josiah reaches a new milestone. I can tell you that for us that means the world. 
We use this program almost every school day. I generally set him up (or instruct him) with a specific topic. Sometimes I say "just do 20 problems today." He realized very quickly that he couldn't just answer randomly. This handy little problem was keeping track. The first time he tried it the assignment went from "do 20 problems today" to "answer 20 problems correctly." Is this a boy thing? He has learned to be more aware and careful of his answers. 
 Occasionally, I have let him pick out the subject content. This is his favorite. He generally wants to do something he has mastered. 
I am so glad to have IXL as part of our homeschooling toolbox. Especially during this busy season in our lives. Not only is it easy to use, but I can tailor it to meet Josiah's particular needs. It really is Practice that feels Like play! 
You can read more reviews by clicking on the banner below. 
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