Wednesday, June 20, 2012

IXL Math: A TOS Crew Review

Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer! School finally done for the year... or not!

As I reached the ends of my 36-week Daily Lesson Plans for 6th Grade, I truly, this year, did not want to waste our summer. I informed my son, he would do fifteen minutes of math each day on an online website.  He groaned, but understood. 
I was very pleased when I learned I had been chosen to review IXL Math. This is a perfect fit for what I need: a program that I can use right now, immediately, to keep his math facts sharp, and a program that I can continue to use for the entire school year to help him understand the math concepts we will be learning this upcoming school year.

We had to change over from doing book work, finishing our school year, to working daily on the IXL website, but we have finally made the complete transition. Now my son is fully cranking on  IXL Math, does his daily time almost without complaining, and seems to be enjoying the site. Today he received some token awards for work completed, and he pleased! When fall arrives, I hope to transition him to doing both his daily Math lesson, and some daily time on IXL. (He does not adjust to change well...)
About IXL:
  • IXL Math has links for students to do math work at levels from K to Algebra, and Geometry, Trigonometry, and other advanced topics are on their way! 
  • IXL Math is currently used in 180 countries around the world! 
  • IXL Math has links to state standards, so that you can see your state's standards and see how IXL Math supports and reinforces these standards.
  • IXL automatically tracks student progress and displays proficiency scores in the state standards reports. These reports allow you to quickly evaluate student aptitude and identify trouble spots. I clicked on the link for my state, for my son's grade level just completed (here), and was amazed at the list of standards IXL is reinforcing and tracking on my son.
  • IXL sends me a weekly report on how my son is doing. In addition, I can log into the website (as me, the parent), and access more detailed reports, to see exactly when my son worked, how long, what grade level, what math operations, etc. 
  • I only had one student, but families with multiple students receive a family report.
  • IXL Math has beautiful colorful pages that catch the eyes of the children and hold their attention.
  • The program adapts the questions to your child's abilities, based on how they are responding to the questions they are being asked.
  • IXL Math provides audio for the early learners (through first grade).
As I checked out the report on the website, I had to wade around a bit to understand how my son was doing. Like any program, there is a little learning curve. I learned that initially he was not actually doing the fifteen minutes a day, but that as time has gone by, his usage has increased without my even requiring him to work longer. That tells me that, 1) this site is now "familiar" for him and not "new", so he's not fighting me over it any more, and 2) he actually likes it, because even if something is familiar to him, he will resist doing it if he doesn't like it. I'm pleased about that.

I really liked using IXL to help my son see where he was getting things wrong. He had a particularly difficult time when it came to writing numbers out in word form. He didn’t know here to hyphenate, where to put commas, etc. After he got some problems wrong and I explained to him why his answers were wrong, he quickly adapted and began to answer correctly. It was wonderful.

In our book work this year, when he would get a problem wrong, even if I showed him how to do it correctly he would sort of shrug, and continue to get the same things wrong again and again. Using IXL, he seemed highly motivated to answer correctly just to get to that screen-shot that would say “Correct!” with a green check mark! It was wonderful!

He sometimes gets frustrated when he doesn't understand they way the question is being presented, and being stubborn he does not click on the button that will give him an explanation. I will continue to work on this, because the whole concept of having the student click on the button to get the explanation is one of the huge benefits of this programs.

Today, as I was sitting with him, he was working on decimals, and as I watched him get one wrong, I could see what he was not understanding. As soon as I explained it to him, he immediately started getting the rest of the answers correct, and he was pleased. He benefits a great deal from knowing immediately if his answer is right or wrong, and from having the explanation immediately if he got it wrong. Our daily math program in 6th grade he did not have that benefit. (I can't even tell you how many of his papers have never even been checked.... ::sigh::) Then he received several virtual awards, and he was very pleased with himself! 
My son has not done well, consistently, with programs like this one that I hoped he could work with and benefit from, so I am very pleased with how well he is doing with IXL.

Nitty Gritty Facts:
  • The cost of IXL Math is graduated, based on what you want and need for your family. 
  • This program is also used by schools, so click HERE to see information about that as well. 
  • This program does not require any teacher prep. Your student can work on any level they want to, or you can direct them to work on the level that you know is where they should be.
  • I like the immediate and exacting correction of my son’s answers. He is benefiting from the quick feedback and adjustments and explanations.
  • I like the virtual awards. I like the way the immediate feedback and awards really energize my son to do more, work hard, and learn well.
  • I appreciate this company giving us such a generous opportunity to review their site, with a six-month subscription. I selfishly wish they had given us a year. I will be saving my money from book-sales with subscription renewal in mind…
  • What I don’t like – has nothing to do with this company. I don’t like that we live in a culture where using the Internet is unsafe and requires such parental vigilance. ::sigh:: With every good thing there are also disadvantages.
  • I have been surprised by how energized by son is by the instant feedback and virtual awards. I had to bite my tongue when my mouth almost said, “It’s just a picture of an ice cream cone!...”
  • I really like that I don’t have to correct his math! And last,…
  • My JD likes this one, and he hates everything!

I received a six-month subscription to IXL Math in exchange for my review. My opinions are my own and are sincere.
Click to read Crew Reviews
This review brought to you by The Schoolhouse Review Crew. Let me know what you think! Leave me a comment! To see more reviews by the Crew, click HERE!


  1. "My daughter didn't like the grade 6 math questions and games on IXL. She could hardly concentrate on them. I let her try Beestar, another after-school tutoring website instead. Now she has been using Beestar math program for five months. She looks very happy every time she works on exercises from Beestar.
    Based on my observation, Beestar's math has some advantages over IXL. First of all, unlike IXL, Beestar doesn't always frustrate children. Proving very reasonable point system and motivational honor roll, children would produce strong interest on earning better scores to win other competitive peers. Secondly, many of the math questions are vivid real life problems, which is helpful for kids to build solid problem-solving knowledge. In addition, the math questions are free to use. It's incredible to use such valuable exercises for free.
    Beestar is perfect for us. That's why I like to recommend it to parent I know. My daughter is becoming more confident in math. I hope she will keep using it in next years."

    1. I had not heard of Beestar, so I immediately went and checked it out. I am always looking for new choices. For me, Beestar won't work at this point. It ends at 8th Grade and my son is now 9th. ::sigh:: I am glad it is working well for you and your daughter. Thanks for taking the time to post the comment.

      I have tried many online programs. It's probably not good for me to name them here, but they are named elsewhere in my blog entries. My son really does like IXL. The main problem I have is that IXL does not instruct; it is practice. My son wants to do IXL and then be done with Math for the day, and that doesn't work. So we go around in circles. So I prefer Math programs that instruct, practice, keep scores, and report to me. There is one in particular. But I still feel uncertain that he is getting all that he needs for college Algebra. I feel like I want to be there doing the instructing. But he doesn't always understand my teaching as well as he understands someone else.

      We go round in circles. It can be confusing. It can be hard having so many choices, and then again I'm so glad to have so many choices. I started home schooling January 1992. NO CHOICES back then. So glad to have choices now!