November 10, 2014

IXL Math and Language Arts {Product Review}

My boys love online programs. The only internet time they get is using online educational programs. We even switched Little Britches to an online math curriculum this year, because he learned so much better. Baby Britches just loves using the computer period. With their love of anything online, I am always keeping my eyes open for more online learning resources that are creative, fun and the boys ASK me to do. I was given the chance to review IXL, an online learning program for K-12 in math and language arts, and hoped that it would meet our expectations!
IXL online learning program

Product Information

Christmas Book Review
IXL is an online program that provides comprehensive, standards-aligned math and language arts practice for K–12. The creators believed that they could take the "boring" textbook aspect of these two subjects and inject them with vibrant images, colorful illustrations and a touch of play to make learning more fun! With unlimited questions in more than 4,000 math and English language arts skills, there is always something new and exciting to learn on IXL. IXL tracks all the progress for you and gives you a comprehensive analysis on their skills! The questions even adapt to your child's ability, increasing in difficulty as they improve. While the main program is online, IXL also offers iPad and Android tablet apps for mobile practice!

The program is completely online and because audio is available you will want to have speakers of some kind to use it. (My laptop has built in speakers)

IXL Math is available in a comprehensive coverage of skills for grades K-12. The cost for the program is available monthly or yearly. A monthly subscription for one student is $9.95 or $79 for a yearly subscription. Have more than one child using it? Simply add $2/month or $20/year. This makes the annual subscription for 2 students in math $99.

IXL Language Arts provides interactive exercises for grades 2-8. The cost for the LA program is the same as for the math.

But if you choose to bundle the programs up, your pricing is discounted! You can get the math AND language arts program annual subscription for one student for $129...and $149 for two students!

We were given an annual subscription to IXL Math and IXL Language Arts for our family. Little Britches would be using the math and language arts for third grade and Baby Britches would be doing the pre-K math.

How Did We Use IXL?

We received our email notification with our subscription information and I was able to quickly set up our membership. (I am using a PC using Google Chrome for this program.) I discovered that under "profiles and settings" I could set up each boy with their own online profile.

This makes logging in so much easier when they can go straight to their own accounts (their password is whatever you choose for their secret word). It is here that you can also enable a few other settings like receiving emailed reports, hiding grade levels, hiding a timer and (my favorite) enabling the audio for upper grade levels.

I found that in my set up, the program was very easy to navigate and I didn't have any trouble figuring out how to do things or make changes.

For this review, we were using the IXL Math for the Pre-K and 3rd grade levels, so I started each both in their respective level. One nice thing about this is that they aren't limited--as in, your child can bounce between grade levels--they just click whatever level they are working on. When you pull up the grade level for the subject you can see it broken down into all the skills they will learn within their grade level. Something that is interesting about this is that IXL will show you how it works out compared to the Common Core Standards for your state once you have a membership. I'm not normally a big fan of common core, but if you have a state where testing is required (I don't), knowing that everything your child is reviewing on IXL Math will meet the states standards will probably HELP you in the long run.

If you click on the common core tab when logged in to the grade level you are doing, you will get a screen like this:
Notice that it's all separated out for you! And that you can view a report AND print the standards. If you see those little orangish medals after some of them? Those are skills that Baby Britches has mastered. The same thing is available for Little Britches' 3rd grade level.

So since I mentioned math, what does the math look like on IXL?

Here is a screenshot of what comes up when you click on the 3rd grade math.
This is just a peak--because it has skills from A to X! The skill categories include everything from what you see here to multiplication, addition, measurement, geometry, properties, equations, estimations, logical reasoning, money, time, data & graphs and much more! It's easy to see an example of what will be in each skill...just hover over the skill!
Here i hovered over geometry skill R.2: "What 2-dimensional shape is being described"
This allows your child to sort through and work their way through whatever they need to build skills on. Little Britches liked it because he would use it to determine whether it was something he had studied yet or not.

Now I'm going to share some screen shots of the kind of problems included in the 3rd grade math for you to get an idea:
From skill A.11 Ordering Numbers
From skill A.7

From Skill B.5 (Place Value)
From skill N.7 (Money)
I could show you many many more...but this gives you the idea. If you notice the little green speaker icon by the question? That is an audio. If your child clicks on it, the question will be read out loud for him or her. This is something you can enable for the upper levels now and i love it. This allows more independence for Little Britches.

What about the Pre-K math?
Baby Britches and I worked through this program together.  I let the "computer" read him the questions and then he told me or showed me the answer if it was a multiple choice question. If it was a typing question, he typed it in himself. His skill categories including things like shapes, count to 3 (5, 10 or 20), comparing, positions, classify, size, and money.  Here are some of the questions he was asked...



I think this gives you an idea on how it works. Do you see how much of the pre-K is able to be read to the student? This makes it a fabulous since reading skills aren't there yet. If your child can maneuver a mouse and type, they can do this on their own.

What about the Language Arts? What does it look like?

Little Britches explored the third grade Language Arts program. Here is a peek at some of the skills covered:

This is just a peak...there are a LOT of categories! And as with the math, you can click to view how these align up with common core standards for your state as well.

Like the math, hovering over each skill gives you a peak at one of the questions in that skill category. Little Britches used this to determine which ones he would do. I quickly discovered if he knew the answer easily, then he would assume that meant he would understand the whole thing. LOL!

Have you noticed the numbers in parentheses by some of the skills? Like a (73) or a (89) or a (100)? This is the status of "mastery" or completion for the skill. One thing that I like, is that your child doesn't have to get all the questions 100% correct to get a (100) mastery mark. Little Britches has missed one or two questions and still received a (100) overall.

So what do the questions look like for third grade language arts? Here are a few examples:


While these examples all show you multiple choice options, sometimes the student will be asked to type in a word or two. But they all still follow this same pattern.

So what happens when your child gets an answer write? The program will tell them "Amazing!" or "Fantastic!" and move on to the next question.

But what if they get an answer wrong?

The program will let them know they are incorrect and will show them the correct answer and WHY it's the correct answer. This is the same for either the language arts or the math program. So while this program doesn't "teach" the subjects, it does give helpful information to explain the reasoning behind the answers.

Let's talk reports.
IXL Math and IXL Language Arts provides you the parent with up to the minute reports on your student's practice. Here are some examples of what you are provided...

First, there is the report for your children to see! This report also gives them "prizes" for time spent on the program, mastering skills, answering questions...It shows them a variety of things to give them an incentive to move forward. While these aren't physical prizes, both the boys love it when they find out they have earned one.

No one was as happy as Baby Britches was when he discovered he'd earned a tractor (for mastering 5 skills)

Little Britches is bummed because he has so many more to complete...which makes earning one that much sweeter!
Another way you get reports is in your email! These comes like news flashes when your child has hit a milestone. Maybe for the amount of time they've spent on the program, or the number of questions they have completed. These reports come with a printable certificate! My boys love showing these to daddy each week.
Now what about a more detailed report?
When you are logged in, you can easily see detailed reports for each of your children. All accessed on the same page for easy navigation. Here is an example of one for Baby Britches. This shows the amount of time he has spent on the program and a student summary of his accomplishments.
 You can get more detailed by clicking in the green menu. For Little Britches, I wanted to see how his progress was coming in math. So I clicked the progress menu and it gave me detailed information.
These reports are all printable for your records.

In regards to how often we used this program, we did IXL Math about 3-4 days a week with Baby Britches. Little Britches did it usually 3 days a week and the IXL Language Arts 2-3 days a week. This worked perfectly with it being used as a practice or supplemental program. I discovered that he usually found the skill matching what he'd covered in his math curriculum that day. Both boys found the program easy to use and could use it nearly independently. Once they opened up the website, they were able to navigate to their own profile quickly and easy and could start everything without any of my assistance.

We did not use the Android tablet app for IXL during this time, but it is something I will add soon because I think the boys would enjoy it.

What Are Our Thoughts on IXL?

Little Britches:
"I love it because it's easy when I know the skills. I like the prizes. There is nothing I don't like."
When I pressed him, he couldn't tell me anything except that he really likes it. LOL.

Baby Britches:
"I wike the prizes and the pwesents."
He loves using IXL Math and asks for it daily. His favorite part is earning prizes, especially since he has earned more than his brother.

Me:
I like that the Little Britches can work independently for the most part but that I get records of what he has done. I like that it will not grant him mastery unless he gets a certain number of problems correct in a row.  I like that he can pick up where he left off and his information will be there too, noting what he's done so far in that skill. I like that the questions are virtually unlimited and they will keep asking and he can keep doing that skill until he gets mastery---but he doesn't have to achieve mastery in it to still get scored.

I like that the program is available with an audio function for the upper levels, so that Little Britches can work independently but still have someone "read" a question for him if needed.

I like the graphics and think they are fun and that the prizes concept is very cute. I was skeptical at first, but both boys enjoy seeing new prizes pop up. Little Britches wishes they were there for the Language Arts program...but is satisfied because he still gets certificates.

I like that the programs offers a complete range of skills for each grade.

I think that the program is very easy to navigate--and being able to swap between users without having to open new windows or do complete new log-ins each time is very very nice!

The reports are great! I love being able to pin point skill categories that Little Britches needs more work in  and being able to see his entire progress at a glance. Having them be printable too is a plus!

I like that this program works hand in hand with our math curriculum and he's able to have "fun" while building up more practice in his skill.

I like that when he gets a problem wrong, the program shows him why it's wrong and HOW he can do it next time to avoid the same mistake. Many programs just tell you that you are incorrect and leave it there.

I like that both boys know that when the "challenge round" shows up they are almost done and get excited.

What don't I like?
I think that it would be cool if there was a way to know how many problems you have left to get correct in order to earn your mastery. Something like "only 5 more correct answers and you will have it mastered!". The way it is now, you only see how many you are doing...not how many you have left. I know that they will adjust the number based on the number you get right or wrong...but if you are doing really well, it'd would be nice to know how many you have left. That was something Little Britches didn't like...he likes knowing how many TOTAL problems he has left...he gets frustrated if it just keeps going and going and going---he hasn't made the connection that when he gets lots of answers right, it ends quicker.

I wish there was some kind of Language Arts for K-1. I love the language arts that is there, but wish it went lower too---something more along the lines of phonics work.

Little Britches wishes there were prizes for his language arts work. And that there were games to play instead of it being just questions.

And the price. I hate to have to say anything, but in all honesty, though this is an awesome program, I cannot afford to pay for it AND a math curriculum. If I was going to do it, I would probably go with the monthly subscription and do it during the summer when we aren't doing our math curriculum--using it as review. You definitely are getting a great product for your price...but if you are already paying a lot for a math curriculum, this might be an extra expense that falls in the "not a necessity" list.

Would I Recommend IXL?

IXL was designed to be a review program. It was to provide supplementation to whatever curriculum your children are already using to reinforce the information and lessons. For this purpose I think that it is absolutely doing it!  I think of it almost like a tutor in these two subjects. If you have a child struggling in math or language arts concepts, this program could easily be added to any curriculum you are already using. They will be able to use it almost entirely independently while you will continue to get updates on their success and progress. It's a cheerful and fun program and the incentives and "prizes" are fun. The certificates and detailed reports are printable and a great thing to add to any portfolios.

The boys both enjoyed using the program (they do well with online learning programs) and I know we will be continuing to use it for the remainder of our year long membership. At the end of the year however, I do NOT think we will be continuing our membership. While it is an excellent program, the price is not going to be able to fit into our current homeschooling budget. I will keep it in mind for the summer months though. I think that it might be a good practice to keep the skills fresh between our school sessions since we take summer off.

Want to Know More?

We reviewed IXL Math (Pre-K and 3rd) and IXL Language Arts (3rd) receiving a one year access to each (one year for one child of math and language arts is $149).

We have enjoyed using this program, but how about you check out what some of my fellow crew members liked it! Several of them were using it on the middle school and high school level!
Click to read Crew Reviews

If you are interested in learning more about IXL, make sure you find them on their social media outlets!
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I hope you enjoyed this review of IXL. It was a great program to use and my boys are still enjoying it. Baby Britches only has a few skills left in pre-K math, so we will be moving on to Kindergarten math shortly which is exciting!

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you will visit again--I have two more reviews going LIVE this week! My final ones for the 2014 year for The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew...but don't worry! I have much more on the docket to share with you!
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