IXL® has activities for math, language arts, social studies, and science, but there are many more for math than for the other subject areas. IXL offers monthly or annual subscriptions. A subscription provides access and tracking for one student, but that student may access practice topics from all levels. Subscriptions for additional students in your family are very inexpensive. The program provides online math practice with tutorial help for pre-kindergarten through pre-calculus.
Topics are aligned with state (or province) standards. When you set up the account it will enter your state by default, but you may change it if you wish.
A student can start with any math topic at any grade level and can skip around at any time. I love this flexibility! Questions automatically adapt to a student’s level as he works, becoming more or less challenging depending on how well he or she is doing. The system tracks progress and provides awards in the form of pictures after a certain number of questions are answered.
If a student misses a problem, a popup screen gives the correct answer and displays an explanation button. Clicking the button brings up a simple explanation of the skill. In some cases, this is sufficient to explain a new skill with which the student is not familiar, but not always. The video tutorials available for some levels (see below) will help, but IXL Math still works best as a supplement rather than your primary source of instruction.
The system presents quite a few questions of a single type each time, but students do not need to complete all of them in one sitting. They can earn awards when they spend a certain amount of time and complete a minimum number of problems, even if the time is spread out. I really like this feature since some students prefer completing all problems on a topic in one sitting and others become easily bored by answering the same type of problem over and over again. Students can complete part of a set of problems and come back to finish the set after working on something else. For example, an easily-bored student might solve ten multiplication problems, ten division problems, and ten fraction problems one day (selecting particular skills such as multiplication by two-digit multipliers within each area), then either continue in those same topics the next day or shift to others. Parents will probably want to direct topic selection if students are not completing the topics in order.
Another feature I greatly appreciate is that once the student types in or clicks on an answer, the response is immediate. A large “Correct!” appears to show they answered correctly. But there are no animations or additional “Good job!” encouragements to slow things down.
Parents can receive daily or weekly email reports on student progress and they can access detailed progress reports at any time that point out trouble spots as well as topics that students appear to have mastered. Note that you have to select reports by grade level, so if a student works on topics within more than one level, you will need to change the grade level to see all results. Online user guides are available, but you probably won’t need them since the site seems so easy to figure out.
Video Tutorials and Games
All IXL math skills for grades six through eight, and most skills for grade five and Algebra 1 now have an accompanying video lesson that explains the concept being taught. IXL’s video tutorials provide students with more opportunities to learn new skills, reinforce what they’ve learned, or get help if they’re stuck. Students can click the “Watch a tutorial” link at the top of the skill practice page at any time. The videos were created in partnership with expert instructors from Wyzant, the largest tutoring network in the United States.
IXL’s curriculum (U.S. edition) also includes almost 50 math games that are great for children in pre-kindergarten through second grade. This gives them an additional way to engage with key math concepts from their grade level. Each game provides hands-on practice on topics such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, place value, money, and telling time. Games can be accessed at the bottom of each grade-level index page for math.
I have looked at a number of online math tutorial and practice options, and this is one of my favorites!