11/10/14

Practice Makes Perfect! IXL for Math and Language Arts ~ A Crew Review

There are less than a handful of crew products that I have begged to review multiple times. IXL is one of the few. I love this program.  Supergirl loves this program. I begged for the opportunity to review it for the third time. Yes, it’s even better now! IXL very generously provided a one year subscription for up to five students for both IXL Math and IXL Language Arts. So grab a cup of your favorite beverage and let’s chat about what’s new with IXL. 

First What is IXL? How Does it Work

IXL is designed to help students master concepts in Math and LA through practice. It is intended as a supplement to whatever curriculum you are using. It is easy to coordinate practice with IXL with the student’s current topic. Simply log in and choose math or LA.  Choose your grade or level and then pick a skill. Or you can choose a topic and then choose a skill.  Here let me show you:

You Can Choose by Grade Level Choose By Topic

Students practice the skill and earn points towards mastery. Students must score 100 points to achieve mastery. They earn points for correct answers and lose points for incorrect answers. Questions within the skill for a specific grade will get harder and when you reach 91-93 points you enter the “Challenge Zone.”  Supergirl always gets excited about the challenge zone. These questions are the hardest for the skill set.

When the student has mastered the skill, a special screen comes up showing them the medals they have won. In the Math section of the program, students earn visual rewards on a game board. These are highly motivating.  Rewards are given for how long you’ve been practicing or for mastering a certain number of skills. At the PreK level the final reward was for achieving all the rewards!  This game board reward system is not available for the LA portion of the website but Turtlegirl, Supergirl, and I all agree that adding one to the LA side would make it even more fun. 

Let’s Chat About IXL Math

When I first reviewed IXL Math, it only went from PreK through Algebra. At the beginning of this current review period I got an email from IXL with the exciting news that IXL has added more upper level math programs including Algebra 2 Skills, Geometry Skills and Precalculus skills. I signed myself up as a student so I could play too!

Another added feature: Apps!  I was so thrilled to find out that IXL Math for grades PreK-6th grade is available for 3rd Generation and newer Kindle Fires!  I have a Kindle Fire HDX 7” and the app is gorgeous! If you do not have a compatible device, no worries the program works well in iPad and Kindle browsers too!

IXL Math and Language Arts ~ It's fun to practice math with IXL. Read Tess's Review at Circling Through This Life

This program, as I stated above is intended as way to practice skills. It is not intended to be a stand alone math program. However, I have found that for Supergirl I can use it as her primary math program. The program does have some instruction pop up when you get a problem wrong. For many students this is not enough to teach a new concept but works well a reminder of the concept. Some students grasp math very easily and at the younger levels, some parents may be comfortable using this as their primary math program.

Both Tailorbear and Turtlegirl are using IXL strictly for practice, review and reinforcement of upper level math. Tailorbear needed extra practice with word problems. I love that IXL offers practice in word problems in Algebra! She needed help with specific types of word problems, like percent, and she was able to use IXL to practice and review for her Algebra test.

IXL Math ~ Review at Circling Through This LIfe

Turtlegirl is currently studying geometry. She is using IXL when she needs extra practice with geometry but she is also using it to keep algebra skills from slipping away. I think she’ll be using IXL to freshen up her algebra skills after finishing geometry and before moving on to algebra 2. 

Let’s Chat about IXL Language Arts

This aspect did not exist in 2012 when I first reviewed IXL. When we reviewed IXL again in 2013, they had added the LA portion. Though Supergirl functions most closely at a first grade level, she was ready for some of the skills at the 2nd grade level. We did quickly reach a point where the material was beyond her so we set it aside and just used the math portion. I was thrilled that she had made developmental progress and we were able to work through more of the 2nd grade LA skills this time. I was pleasantly surprised by how much more she could do this time.

Like the Math program, the Language Arts section is intended for practice to achieve mastery and is not intended as a full independent curriculum. I used it as a way to introduce concepts to Supergirl and then to practice those concepts. 

In theory both Tailorbear and Turtlegirl are past the skills offered in IXL Language Arts, but Turtlegirl played around with some of the 8th grade skills to refresh her memory of grammar concepts such as when to use commas. In our experience even high school students may benefit from the practice of the 8th grade language skills.

2nd Grade Language Arts ~ Review at Circling Through This Life

New Options!

Let’s chat a moment about the settings in the Settings section you’ll find several neat little options. To find the settings you must be logged in to your parent account. Choose profile & settings and scroll down to settings. Profiles are first and settings is at the bottom.

You can choose to enable audio for upper grades (grades 2-5).  The audio is always on for grades PreK through 1st. This audio option though only applies to the MATH portion of the website. With the audio option students can click a sound icon and have the questions as well as the answers read aloud. This option is NEW and it is huge! Previously audio was only for grades Prek through 1st grade. I am not sure when this option was added but it is new to me this review period and one that I mentioned wanting in both of my previous reviews. We are hoping this option will be added for the LA portion but this is not as critical for us as Supergirl is not working independently in that subject the way she does in math.

Other settings include:

  • Set your time zone
  • Choose to receive report emails
  • Hide the timer
  • Hide grade levels 

Thoughts from Turtlegirl:

This is an excellent tool for practice. I like how they offer virtual prizes to motivate the student. I wish they offered virtual prizes for the grammar/language part like they do for math. The grammar/language arts part was much more difficult than the math part. I recommend this as a way for students to practice concepts they have already mastered.

Thoughts from Supergirl:

I like IXL. I like to play on it on the Kindle. I like math. I like learning about time. I love getting rewards like the medals and then I get to uncover a prize. I love to count. I also like doing the language arts with my mom at her computer. I wish they had prizes but I do like earning the medals.

The Details:

  • The Vendor:  IXL
  • The Product: Subscription to both IXL Math and IXL Language Arts 
  • Format: Online Subscription for full program
  • Age Range: For Math:  PreK-12th Grade  For LA:  2nd through 8th Grade
  • Price: Pricing starts at just $9.95 per month for one child for one subject.  Annual subscriptions for one child for one subject start at $79. Each additional child is just $2 a month or $20 per year.  A month-to-month subscription for both Math and LA for 2 children would be $17.95 and for a yearly subscription, $149.
  • NOTES: 
    • Currently the LA portion is only available for US English
    • Though the LA app is not available for Kindle Fire, there is an LA App available for some iPads
    • You can try IXL for free. Guest users will not have tracking or reports and there is a daily practice limit of 20 questions.
  • Links You’ll Want to Explore:

For more information visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about IXL. You can also read my IXL review from 2012 and my IXL review from 2013. We love this program!

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All information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review. You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews to find more great products.

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