Friday, February 22, 2019

Improving Skills in Multiple Subject Areas with IXL Learning {A TOS Review}

I just love finding new websites for the children to use in our homeschool. Thanks to the Homeschool Review Crew, three of the children have had the opportunity to practice their skills in various subjects with IXL Learning. This award-winning, online program includes Math, Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, and Spanish. I invite you to continue reading to learn more and see what we thought of IXL

We received a full year's membership to IXL. This program can be used on computers with internet access, and there are also apps available for iPads and iPhones from the App Store, for Android tablets from Google Play, and for Kindle tablets from Amazon Apps/Kindle Fire. 

The curriculum covers thousands of topics and is for all grade levels from Kindergarten through 12th grade. Once you have an account for your family, each child will have access to all the levels. However, the early grades, Pre-K through 1st grade, only have Math, Language Arts and Spanish to choose from. From 2nd through 8th grade (as long as you subscribe to the "Core Subjects" package), there are skills for all five subjects: Math, Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, and Spanish. For the high school years, there is once again, only Math, Language Arts, and Spanish, with specific math topics for each year:
  • 9th grade- Algebra 1
  • 10th grade- Geometry
  • 11th grade- Algebra 2
  • 12th grade- Precalculus and Calculus
From my understanding, Spanish is a new offering, and there is an additional charge above the actual package price. So, the package we were given access to, which would be the yearly "Core Subjects" package with two additional children, plus the Spanish, would normally cost $279. If we had chosen to add Harold to this account, we would pay an additional $40. 

It was quite easy to set up our account. I received an email with a username and generated password (which thankfully could be changed once I logged in). I signed into the account and went to profile and settings to set up the individual accounts, where I had to put the children’s names in. They chose an icon and a “secret word” which is their password to get into their section of the site.

From this section I can also set my timezone, choose whether or not I want to receive weekly email summaries (which I did), choose to hide the grade levels and timer (which I did not), and choose to extend the audio support for skill practice and continuous diagnostic (which I did). The audio support is already available for younger grades, but can be extended for 3rd-5th grade.

We all have access through the main account. 

Once logged in, we each see the following screen:

Once we click on our icon we are prompted to type in our "secret word." This brings us each to our personal section of the account.

As the parent, I have access to all the children's information. I can check out all the different skills that are available.

The following screenshot is just a small fraction of the skills covered in just Third Grade Math. I can see this skills menu, and so can the children.

If you were to click on the colored tabs on the left side of the screen, you would find the lists for the different grades. From the top menu bar you can change subjects, and will find similarly long lists of skills in each of them.

Again, here is a partial list of the Language Arts skills, just for third grade.

I'm sure that must look like it could overwhelm children. How do they know what to focus on? Well, for our family, sometimes they just scroll through and find something they are interested in working on. I could tell them what to work on, which I haven't really felt the need to do so far. Or they can check out the "Recommendations" tab, which is actually the first tab that opens for the children when they are in their section of the account. 

There are many skills that the child can choose from. I actually scrolled for about a minute and there were at least a couple hundred pictured, some of which were language arts, the others being math. They aren't limited to the child's current grade either. Amelia, who is in fifth grade, had recommendations that spanned from third to seventh grade. These recommendations are based on different factors, such as results of the diagnostics test, skills that were excelled in previously, skills that were practiced previously, or just random, new skills for the child to try. 

Once the child hovers over a box, it will turn gray and a green "Try This" button will appear.

While on the Skills menu, if the child hovers over the skill, a preview box with several sample questions will appear. The child then clicks on that skill to go to the questions. 

Another helpful section is the Diagnostic Arena. This appears to be the one area that differs from the parent to the child section. The children can only access the Diagnostic Arena to answer questions. It is recommended that children answer questions weekly to keep the stats updated, and to help the program narrow down the recommended levels for the different subjects. 

As a parent, I am the only one in the family that has access to the results of the diagnostics under the Analytics section of the site. The following screenshot shows the results for Amelia. 

The other sections of the Analytics can be viewed by both parent and child(ren). 

We can check out each child's usage.

This can be narrowed down to see specific subjects, grades worked in, and the date range. For the above screenshot I was looking at Hannah's usage for all subjects, in all grade levels, for the last 30 days.

We can see where each child may be having difficulty under the "Trouble Spots" tab.

This shows us the type of question a child is struggling in, what their current "SmartScore" is, and how many questions were missed. 

We can also look at each child's scores, which honestly, I am still trying to figure out all the details. There is a pie graph that shows the percentage each child has progressed through all the skills, where they have shown mastery, or excellence, or just practiced. 

And then you can look through the list of skills to find the child's scores, including how many questions were answered, the time they spent, and the date they last practiced.

Also in the Analytics section, you can see the questions each child has answered in their Questions Log and the Progress that has been made in each of the skills worked on.

As you can see, IXL is a personalized program which uses the diagnostics and child's usage to determine what it will recommend for the child to work on. Of course, your child does not have to follow the recommendations, unless you want them to. Amelia and I were a bit confused as to why she was being recommended second grade language arts skills, but then we realized she may not have answered enough questions in the diagnostics. Since she started working in the different topics of her choosing, her recommendations have become more level-appropriate. 

The children have each been spending at least 15 minutes a day on IXL. Due to the fact that both Amelia and Hannah need to take their standardized tests this year, I have had them focus on math and language arts, though they also have dabbled in the science and social studies topics. Sometimes I will have them work their full half hour computer time on IXL, splitting their time between math and language arts. 

Tabitha, on the other hand, doesn't have to take standardized tests this year, so I have allowed her to explore the site to see what she is interested in learning. She has focused mainly in social studies, doing quite a bit of map work, though she has also done some language arts as well. I was thrilled to see there were questions in the different time periods we have been learning about this year with our core curriculum.  

As they work, they are able to view how many questions they have answered, plus what their SmartScore is. This is situated at the right hand of their screen.

If they answer the question correctly, they get a check mark and encouragement.

There are different things they can earn to celebrate their accomplishments. Once they master a skill they will earn a medal.

They also have different boards, depending upon grade level and subject.

This one is shows Amelia's virtual math awards.

The prize for practicing for this specific hour was a virtual skateboard.

Her language arts awards are one of my favorites. She gets virtual nesting dolls.

They also get printable certificates in different categories once they reach certain milestones. Depending on what they were working on each day, they may get one or more in a day. It may be for a certain number of questions answered, a certain amount of time practicing, or achieving excellence in a certain skill. As you can see, they have received lots of certificates. And no, these are not the full lists. I could have continued scrolling on each one of them.

Amelia's certificate list:

Hannah's certificate list:

Tabitha's certificate list:

Here they are showing off a couple of their latest certificates.

Amelia received a Certificate of Excellence for excellent performance on 2 fifth-grade math skills, and a Certificate of Achievement for outstanding completion of 500 questions of IXL.

Hannah received a Certificate of Completion for outstanding completion of 5 hours of practice on IXL, and a Certificate of Achievement for outstanding completion of 1,000 language arts questions.

Tabitha received a Certificate of Excellence for excellent performance on 2 fifth-grade language arts skills, and a Certificate of Excellence for excellent performance on 10 fifth-grade skills on IXL.

Now, the one thing I wanted to make sure to mention, is that IXL Learning is not quite a full curriculum. There isn't a teacher instructing them and then asking them questions. IXL is a site that allows the children to practice skills they are already learning. However, if a child gets a question incorrect, the computer will show them the correct answer along with an explanation as to why it is right. So, there is a chance for children to learn new skills. They may need a bit of guidance to understand these new skills. Which is why I appreciate that we can get on the site to check up on the children and receive email reports letting us know what they have been working on each week.

The children have been enjoying their time on IXL Learning. Hannah was really excited when she was the first one to receive a certificate after just one day of using the program. Her favorite part is getting the awards. She really seems to like reading comprehension passages. She always picks skills from her recommendations. Tabitha likes that it is good for practicing Social Studies. She really likes that map work. Amelia likes how it gives you rewards, medals, etc, and how if you get it wrong it shows you why you're wrong and how to get it right the next time. 

I appreciate that my children actually enjoy their time using this program, and that there is so much that they can work on. I love all the ways that the program helps me see what they are working on, where they need help, and what they are excelling in, giving them personalized suggestions for skills to work on. But I also like that the children can go in and choose something to their liking if they prefer. 

IXL Learning is a wonderful learning site, and one that I can highly recommend.

You can find IXL Learning on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Don't forget to click the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about IXL Learning.

Immersive, Adaptive Learning Online {IXL Learning Reviews}

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