Friday, June 22, 2012

Excelling in Math - A New TOS Review!!

I love when we get to review something that all my children are able to use.  IXL was one of the programs.
The Product:
IXL (I Excel) is a math based web program that helps make math practice fun. By using fun and interactive games and practice questions your students can navigate through math skills.  And as the teacher you have the ability to monitor their progress as they are mastering each skill.

IXL works from Pre-K - Algebra for all areas of math and they are working on expanding their offerings to include Geometry, Trigonometry, Statistics, and more. This program is being used in 150 countries and includes state standards for every state.  If you are just getting started with IXL they have a user guide selection for parents and teachers alike to make sure you get the most out of your subscription.

This program can be used alongside any math curriculum.  As the child practices skills, whether new or not, they are rewarded with stars on the reward page when they hit certain specified goals (completing a skill, working for "x" amount of minutes, finishing a section of skills, etc.)  As the parent you can always check to see how your student is progressing by accessing the reports tab.  They also email out a brief weekly report highlighting what your child has accomplished in that week. And you get separate emails when it's time to print off a certificate for your child's stellar performance!
There are 2 options as "parent" teachers for subscribing to IXL - monthly or yearly. As a member you receive access to all of their math content so your kids won't miss a beat from Pre-K through Algebra.  They will have unlimited questions in over 2,000 skill areas, adaptive questions, audio for Pre-K through 1st grade skills (very important for your non-readers, of which I have 1 1/2), fun and colorful practice pages, immediate feedback, detailed reports that notify you of trouble spots, printable certificates, awards, and weekly emails.  All this for a monthly subscription of $9.95 (for one child - each additional child add $2) or yearly for $79.95 (for the first child - add $20 for each additional child.)

Our Experience:
We were graciously given a subscription for up to 3 children, so I was able to use this program even with Seanan.  The pictures below are from one of his very first times of using the program, but it didn't take long for him to love IXL.  He asks several times a day to do his math, which I love! And we can even do it on the couch on the Tablet.

He has been doing very well with his math. Already he has completed 45% of the Pre-K skills (there are 48 in all).  He loves the stars that he earns with the digital rewards - such as pictures of a guitar, or a slide, or even a truck.  He has also earned several certificates that we print and I am compiling in a folder to show his achievements.

I started Audrie off in the first grade section so that we could really cement the concepts and skills for 1st grade. One thing that I like with this program, especially for her, is that she can push the volume button and it will speak the problem for her as well as the choices of answers.  That helps her so she doesn't have to feel like she can't work on her math because her reading isn't perfect.

Now, I'm not saying she can't read ... she can, but she is in the beginning stages of reading so most regular words still give her a little bit of trouble and she will get frustrated.  The option to have the program read the questions and choices to you help with keeping her frustration level low while still allowing her to work on her math by herself (so that she doesn't feel like a "baby" as she says.)
Below are some pictures of what they may see once they complete a specific skill and then another picture of the awards page.  On the right side of the awards there is a short list telling you and your student how many medals they have earned, the length of time they have been working on the program, how many questions they have answered, how many skills they have mastered, how many prizes they have discovered, and how many skills or questions they  need to complete before their next prize.

Even though these prizes are virtual, it hasn't stopped my children from trying to reach the next level.  They love to discover the next picture and watch the stars appear.  It's fascinating how such a small reward can really impact performance.

Arianna can do this program all by herself.  We started her out in the 4th grade level because she really is between 3rd and 4th and sometimes when I give her lower level problems she thinks it's too easy and then doesn't do her best.  What we found, is that the 4th grade level was a bit harder then she was ready for, so we told her to start back with the 3rd grade skills and work into the 4th grade again.  Now she knows that some of the skills will be really easy, but that she will also be able to practice those skills she hasn't learned really at all.

My Thoughts:
Although I love this as an enhancement program to help practice skills and become a master of the skill area, I do not feel this can be used as a complete curriculum.  The drill is definitely built into the program.  But if a child hasn't learned a specific concept, there is no "teaching" of the concept.  You just have a question, you answer it, if you are wrong you can click on "Explanation", but you don't have to click on it.

So if you have a child you think needs more practice on what they have already been taught then this program will be great. Or if your family includes a math genius - like my husband ;) - then by all means this can be used as your predominant curriculum because you would have someone there to explain the new concepts before giving them questions to drill and enforce mastery.

And don't forget that if it's your first time visiting you can explore for free!  You can also email IXL if you have any other questions.  I hope you take some time and read what other Crew members thought of IXL - you can do that by clicking the link below.  


*** I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2011-2012 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of money for any of my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences with the products and services that I receive.***

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see you review this and surprised to see such a positive review. I had looked at it last month and just decided not to even bother with it. But your review makes me think it would be cool to look at again.

But speaking of great free teaching resources for math. KHAN Academy online is the best. Love it. Just saying. =)

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