Monday, November 4, 2013

IXL Online Math and Language Arts (A TOS Crew Review)

I had the pleasure of reviewing last year, and was so happy the Schoolhouse Review Crew would have the opportunity to review Online Math Membership (Pre-K - 12)  and Online Language Arts Membership (2nd - 4th), and that I was chosen to be a reviewer.

I have used in the past, and this year I was delighted to learn they had expanded their program to include Algebra I, Algebra II and Geometry! They have also expanded to include Language Arts for grades 2nd through 4th, but since my guy is almost high school we didn't use that this time.

My son is having a bit of a struggle with math, and he had actually been asking me if I could subscribe to for him again. I was so glad to be able to receive one year of for free in exchange for my review.
I had thought it wouldn't work, since we were now in Algebra I and last year ended before Algebra I. Now it was a good fit. Yea!

From the beginning my son was happy and willing to do his IXL daily. At times was the only math we did, but it is intended to be supplemental practice, not a curriculum.  The main way my son used the program was just starting at the beginning and plugging through section by section. So in the picture above, He started at "Numbers" and worked on A.1, etc.

Another way you can have your child work on Math is to target the specific material you are working on in your curriculum at any particular time. For instance, where we are in our Algebra I program the focus right now is square roots, positives and negatives, and absolute values. Square roots are in Section A, above. But if my son is really not understanding, is really "missing it", I can pop down a grade level or two, find the "Square roots" section there, and give him even more work and practice. I found, though, that giving him some focused explanation first is absolutely invaluable.

 Absolute values are in section L:

Absolute value equations and inequalities

  1.  reportL.1 Solve absolute value equations
  2.  reportL.2 Graph solutions to absolute value equations
  3.  reportL.3 Solve absolute value inequalities
  4.  reportL.4 Graph solutions to absolute value inequalities
My son was having difficulty understanding that a "minus" between numbers of absolute value is to be treated like a negative number. Negatives still are eluding him. It just takes explanation, practice, patience, more explanation, more practice, more patience, and one day they get it.
I'm loving the regular reports IXL sends right to my inbox. One day my joker of a son spent his 15 minutes on something like pre-school or Kindergarten, on a section for counting 1-10. I was able to inform him that I know what he works on, and that he needs to not play in a younger section and then tell me he has done his time on IXL for the day. That type of accountability keeps my son in line.

I also love all the reports IXL offers breaking down my son's work and progress. It is clear to me that my son has weaknesses, and the reports help me pinpoint where we need to focus together during our one-on-one time in Math. I already knew he was weak in square roots, multiplying positives and negatives, and working with absolute values, but today, looking at the reports, I see that he is also weak when it comes to multiplying decimals. I think he also is doing his IXL time in his head, refusing to use scratch paper, so I need to get on him about that as well.

The program also provides certificates of accomplishment for certain things, like having completed 500 problems successfully. At my son's age, it is difficult to know how they are reponding to those types of praise. I think he is benefiting from them, but he really down-plays it as an award that "little kids" would appreciate, like he is too old to appreciate a paper certificate announcing his accomplishments. I'm glad IXL gives them to the high school subjects, too.

Mastery is so important, and repetition and practice are so important to mastery. I am so glad IXL is there for me to have my son work on daily. In the long run I think it is going to make an incredible difference not only in his "performance", but also his success, and therefore his attitude about Math. My son wants to be an engineer, or focus on some science in his career, so it is so important that he be successful in Math, and I want to do everything I can to help him succeed.

To highlight recent changes to IXL:
  • IXL has recently also introduced an iPad app for the IXL Math for pre-K through 6th grade Math. They have made navigating easier for a smaller screen, and the skills have been updated to be more friendly to touch-actions on the iPad screen.
  • IXL now offers Language Arts for grades 2-4;
  • IXL includes Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry proofs.
  • IXL is working to soon include pre-Calculus, Calculus, and Language Arts for other grade levels.
In summary: Math is available for children grades pre-K through 12th. The program goes systematically through each grade level, offering practice problems for the students to work through. It keeps track of the students success and failure, and sends reports to the parents of time spent, number of problems covered, subject matter covered, and progress in successes and failures. Language Arts is currently available for grades 2-4. One child can use Math for $9.95/month, or you can sign up for a full year at a discount, for $79.  Each additional child costs $2/month, or $20/year. One child can get Math and Language Arts for $15.95/month or $129/year.

Any ways I think could be improved?
  • I'd like the parent/teacher to be able to lock the student's access so they can only access the grade level or material the parent wants them to access.
  • I'd like the parent/teacher to have a way to indicate the assignment they want the student to work on.
  • I'd like the iPad app to be developed to the higher levels of Math so I could have my son do his IXL Algebra on the iPad. The iPad has safeties I can use the enable me to let my son use an app but deny him other Internet access. My son tries to sneak off to other areas when I am trying to get him to use the computer for school work.
In summary: I love Math. My son loves Math, and my son doesn't like much. So consider giving IXL a try. $9.95 for a month, and if you like it, keep paying monthly, or switch to a full year and save some money. Give it a try; see what you think. Thanks for reading.


  1. Replies
    1. You're welcome. My son currently has on line access to a wide variety of Algebra I programs, but given his choice he always chooses to work on IXL Algebra.