This year we’ve gone back to adaptive learning with IXL’s full annual IXL Learning membership, and this time we’re reviewing the USA version which includes math, language arts, science, social studies, and also Spanish! Although we’ve previously used the UK program, I didn’t realise there was so much to it!
What is IXL?
As you may know, I’m from Canada but raising our children in the UK. Four years ago we reviewed the UK version of IXL, and I really liked it, but this time I thought it would good to try out the USA version as my children are more closely aligned to North American curriculum than that here in the UK. The UK and Canadian versions have math and English, while the USA version has math and language arts from Pre-K to Grade 12, as well as science and social studies for grades 2-8, as well as non-graded Spanish. There are now a total of 14 country-specific programs available, so check out what’s in each and what will work best for you.
A membership will give you access to one country’s program that will include all grades for each student signed up. This means that they can work across levels, depending on their abilities. They may need some extra work on a lower level, while in another area they may be at a higher level, and you can do this with IXL.
IXL is an online program and my children have used it with success on a PC, laptop, as well as a Kindle Fire. Keep in mind that IXL is a supplementary program that will give students extra practice with their skills rather than a full-curriculum ‘teaching’ program.
How Does IXL use Adaptive Learning?
Once we had our account set up and the children logged on, they began the Diagnostics Test. This test combines both math and language arts skills into one test that then shows the parent where the child’s strengths and weaknesses are and how they sit; a score of 500 would indicate a child is ready to begin learning at a grade 5 level.
Tristan and Kallista worked hard on the diagnostics test for 15-20 minutes every day for a week, but the test didn’t end, it just kept refining itself to learn what the kids knew and what they needed to work on.
How We Use IXL
There are a couple of ways IXL can be used:
- The children can work on the lessons that are recommended for them based on their diagnostic results.
- They can choose to work on lessons of their choice.
- I can choose to assign them specific skills that I’d like them to work on.
We tend to do a little of all of the above. At times the children will choose to work on a suggested skill, while on other days they will choose what they want to test themselves with and go with that. Kallista only knows a couple of words in Spanish, yet she loved using IXL to practice her numbers.
At other times I will ask them to work on a concept that is giving them some trouble in their regular math or science programs so that they can have some extra practice and have the concepts reinforced. When a question is answered incorrectly, IXL will let the student know, as well as explain the correct answer.
I have scheduled IXL into the children’s calendars for 3 days a week during which they spend about 15-20 minutes answering questions.
At the moment, the children are mainly using IXL for math and science. In the autumn Tristan will begin to use it for social studies. In the lower grade social studies are mainly concentrated around American topics, which makes sense for an American program. In the higher grades there are more world topics also included, which will be great to have available.
The parent’s dashboard in IXL has a lot of useful information in it, including:
- Usage: how many minutes has each child been using IXL and where are they spending their time (however, it does not have a place to track how long has been spent doing the diagnostics questions).
- Diagnostic: find out where your child sits in math and language arts. My issue is that it may show 2 recommendations for improving a particular skill on this page, but when you click to see them, all of the recommendations in all grades for both math and language arts are presented so it is difficult for a child to then figure out which ones they need to do to improve the skill they want to work on.
- Trouble Spots: this is perhaps a better place to help your child improve as you can see which kind of questions they have missed in the skills they have worked on. You can then sit with them and go through them together.
- Score: find out how your children have been doing in particular subjects and skills.
- Questions: here you can see all the questions your children have attempted, as well as the answer they gave. You will also see both the correct and incorrect answers.
- Progress: this shows how your child has progressed or improved in each of the skills they have done.
As a home educator, I worry about what my children are learning and if everything/the basics are being covered. IXL covers so much within each grade and subject that it can seem overwhelming to see it all there…but it helps guide me in my planning so I know what to look for in the children’s other programs and where we need to supplement, which is a big help to me.
The certificates that are awarded to the children after completing so many lessons, or so many skills in a particular area, keep them motivated – they love things like that – they hang the certificates on their door, upgrading them each time they achieve a new one. At the end of the year they then have a nice bundle of them in their math binder that makes them feel accomplished as they have something physical to show for their hard work.
My children will continue to use IXL for extra adaptive learning practice and reinforcement in the various topics, and I am going to use IXL to help me plan the next year’s curriculum.
To read more reviews about IXL for different levels and countries, there are 90 honest reviews by the Homeschool Review Crew waiting for you to browse through.