Support.  We, as teachers, can always use the support. Moral support, emotional support, practical support, especially when teaching a larger number of children, but even while we are in the trenches of educating one student struggling with the concepts at hand.

IXL Learning, which we have been having the opprotunity to review, is an online program  that offers tremedous support to teachers when it comes to reviewing or practicing for mastering skills learned in the classroom.  We have been supplementing our homeschool with IXL‘s full annual membership that includes the subjects math, language arts, grades 2-8 science, grades 2-8 social studies, and an intro to Spanish.

NUTS AND BOLTS of IXL

IXL’s full annual membership opens students and teachers up to full access to grades levels Pre-K through 12th grade subjects. 

 

Upon logging in, you select which student is going to start practicing and you can select which grade level you wish to practice.

 

We spent most of our time in the “Third Grade” level, so let’s explore there.

 

 

 

At the top of the screen is a series of subjects we can select as well as “Recommendations”, “Diagnostic”, “Standards” and “Awards”.

We spent most of our time in the subject of “Math” and “Social Studies” so I would like to zero in on those two subjects.

Here you can see a student can scroll over a lesson they are interested in and view some preview questions. I really enjoyed this feature of IXL. Also, next to the lessons that the student accomplished is a little symbol of a ribbon. Seeing all those ribbons color the page brings a big sense of accomplishment to the student. Let’s select: E.8 Write multiplication sentences for number lines.

 

When you click onto a lesson, the screen stays very simple and distraction free which  I appreciate. On the right hand side of the screen the program tracks the number of questions answered, the amount of time that has passed, and a SmartScore tracker that tracks the student on their way to maserting a topic.

A child can earn a wide variety of awards for anything from how much time they spend practicing on IXL, or how many days in a row they practice, to how many questions in a row they get right. Earning awards is always a great motivator for a child. Showing those accomp off to their teacher brings that learning motivation to the next level.

The Diagnostic part of a child’s program allows them to take a Diagnostic test that narrows down what concepts they have a good grasp on and which areas they need to work on more. 

I found this tool to be pretty accurate. For the most part, my 3rd graders placed around where I would have expected them to. The Diagnostic test seemed endless and I wonder if it’s possible to complete and if so, how long it would take? We never fully finished one as my children only used IXL in 15-20 minute increments. 

Recommendations is an ever-scrolling page of lessons that cover subjects that the Diagnostic Test includes and recommends lessons that are either troublesome or not yet complete. This tool is fun to switch things up when a student is bored with the redundant lessons they’ve been working on.

A very cool tool that IXL offers is the Teacher’s view of the “Analytics”. This tool categorizes every student’s progress, struggle areas, practice times, and much more. I could see this tool being very useful for a public school teacher with a large number of students as it would tell them what areas to focus on in class time. 

IXL Learning is

  • database of knowledge and skill practice
  • continuous diagnostic tools that can identify where your child is at and where they need to go on a specific topic
  • Includes targeted guidance and personalized skill recommendations based on the child’s practice
  • Includes awards and certifigates celebrating the child’s accomplishments

IXL is not:

  • a resource for instruction of new concepts
  • source of variety of colorful learning tools (videos, animation ect)

Three member packages:

  1. Single Subject: just Math, Language Arts, or Spanish for $9.95/month
  2. Combo Package: includes Math and Language Arts for $15.95/month
  3. Core Subjects: includes Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies for $19.95/month

Pros:

– Very Organized and Simple to Navigate

– When hover mouse over section a sample problem appears

– When the student got an incorrect answer, the correct answer isn’t just given, but is accompanied by an explaination on how to aquire the correct answer

– When the child gets a problem wrong, usually the program will offer them an easier problem/question or two and then bring them back to the same idea they previously got incorrect

– Weekly email summarizing each student’s progress

 

Cons:

– Can only hold a child’s attention for a short amount of time since it’s laid out in what I would call”testing” format.

– Although many subjects are offered, only a small amount of practice for each topic is actually available. The questions don’t change up with each practice. They are a set number of questions that are repeated every time.

– Common Core Aligned

– Theory of Evolution is the filter through which science is taught and Creation is not mentioned or taught (expected, but still a con).

 

IXL has a termendous amount of content. Due to this fact I was unable to throughuly investigate all it’s content. I did randomly browse through topics and subjects and in doing this, I ran into some questionable topics.

 

Here are a few:

The “Government” Studies on this site were a bit troublesome to my husband and I and this is one of the reasons why.

 

“Laws help people work together. How? Think about a team sport like soccer. The rules tell the players how to play together. For example, rules say which team should get the ball when it goes out of bounds. Laws work the same way in a community. Laws can tell people how to work together and settle disagreements.”

 

The role of government is being portrayed as the “parental” or “coach-type” entity we should go to to teach us how to work together as a team. They should teach us how to work together. This is not the role of government. The laws of government are meant to keep us safe, not tell us how to be a community. This way of thinking aligns more with Socialism then it does a Republic and it is subconsciously being passed onto a child that this is the role of government: to help us “play along”.  

The government doesn’t tell people “how to play together” or “how to live” or “how to cooperate”. They enforce the rules that the people set up for the game. What is a goal? Who can touch the balls with their hands? Who cannot? This question should portray that reality more accurately. 

There were several questions that gave the impression that we need the government in order to know how to live together peacefully and work cooperatively. This is simply not true and a dangerous impression to give a child. 

 

 

 

This question took me by surprise simply becuase it caused my children to sneer and say, “Haha, it’s not the government’s job to leave people alone!” I realized this question planted that idea in their mind that it was ridiculous to think that the government should leave the people alone!

It is, in fact, NOT the government’s role to be in people’s private business, but questions with answers like these could condition children to think that it’s humerous and therefore incorrect to think that the government should leave people alone…

The fact that IXL felt is necessary to point out that the people who created the Constitution of our United States and the people who were invited to the Constitutional Convention were only “white men” plays heavily into the “white privilege” agenda that is being taught in modern history. Yes, the fact was that the men who were there were white men, but stressing this point was never the rhetoric of history until modern times. This is dangerous and plants seeds in a child’s heart that wouldn’t naturally be there.

Our Opinion:

I can see IXL working marvelously for a public school classroom. It is proudly Common Core aligned. It self-corrects the student’s work and neatly organizes the class statistically for the teacher to observe and identify strengths and weaknessess of each student and the class as a whole. All this at the click of a button on the teacher’s “Reports” option.

However, as far as the homeschool family goes, particularly a Christian family, I would not recommend this. I do not agree with a lot of what is being taught and what is being indirectly and directly indoctrinated to children participating in this program.

 

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