Tuesday 11 November 2014

IXL-Maths and Language Arts-a review.

Christmas Book Review
IXL is an on-line maths and language arts practice site. Its motto is Practice that feels like play. 

The IXL maths site is customised for different countries:

  • US
  • UK
  • Ireland
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Canada
  • Singapore
  • Europe
  • South Africa
  • India
The UK maths site covers reception to year 13 (age 4 to 18). It is aligned to the National Curriculum and of course, covers UK money and metric measurements. It is not necessary to stick with one year's work. One of my children used two adjacent years but we could have used more.

IXL language arts is hosted on the US site and is for grades two to eight (years three to nine). Language arts isn't a term that we use much in the UK but seems to cover grammar, punctuation and vocabulary. I was able to access this site for the review and contacted IXL about general access to the language arts from the UK. This is their reply:

At this time we only offer English Language Arts for the US edition of IXL, though we hope to have that available for the UK edition and aligned to UK standards soon.

In the meantime, customers wanting to access English Language Arts would want to create a separate US membership to do so.

Anyone from the UK who wants to look at the language arts part of the site should scroll down the IXL landing page until they find the list of editions at the foot of the page.

I used IXL with my five and eight year old. My five year old used the year one maths and did a little work from the year two. My eight year old used the year three maths and grade two language arts.

I already had an IXL password. Each child has an individual secret word (set up by the parent) and has individual scores kept. A weekly email is sent to the parent with details of the time spent by each child on the site and their scores.

Once on the site, the year can be chosen.

IXL is primarily a review site. However, it has picked up odd items that I haven't taught, for example, my youngest was quite happy doing subtraction if it was set up horizontally but didn't realise that the sum could also be set out vertically. The way that we use the site is that the children are taught their maths for the day and do some practice in their books. One of them then practices on IXL. This is useful in several ways: I can teach the other child while some useful re-enforcement goes on.
Some year one topics, seemed to need very little teaching and we went straight onto practice about, for example, position of objects.

One feature that helps independence is that in the first three years of the programme, there is an option to have the problem read aloud. I found that Younger Son tried to read the problems first. I found that he was able to be much more independent with the site a year after he first used it.

Each topic is divided up into a series of subtopics:

There is no need to tackle the topics in any particular order.

Each subtopic has scores up to 100 although I don't think that we have found any topic with 100 questions! If mistakes are made, the number of questions seems to increase. The section over 90 is called the Challenge Zone.
Children win awards for number of questions answered, time spent and skills mastered. Each level has a different theme to the awards. This is the year one award screen.

The Language Arts are arranged similarly, having multiple choice questions up to a score of 100.

When any topic is finished there is a congratulations page:

What did we think?
The site is useful for review. It is attractively presented and the children, particularly my five year old, liked earning the rewards.

I also reviewed IXL, last year and this was a programme that we used once the review period was over to help re-enforce mathematical concepts.

It isn't a full teaching programme although mistakes are explained. This really wasn't an issue as I prefer to teach the children maths myself but it is useful not to have to invent every practice question.

The only downside that we found was that Younger Son wasn't keen to work on a different year as it meant that he had to work on a level where he hadn't yet acquired any awards!

I am looking forward to the Language Arts and Maths being all on the UK site.

Recommended programme!

The cost of a UK maths subscription is £7.99 per month or £59 per year for one child. Additional children can be added at £2 per month per child or £20 per year per child.

 IXL have said that UK customers wishing to access Language Arts, at present, need to do this by making a separate US account. The cost of US membership is $9.95 per month or $79 per year for one child.

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