How I Use It
I usually use IXL as an independent practice opportunity. I am an ELL teacher and I work one-on-one with a Spanish speaking student from Mexico who needs work on his subtraction math facts. One day, I checked out a laptop from our school's media center, and I worked side-by-side with him to help him get logged into the site. He does not have an extensive background in using technology, so I was acting kind of like his guide, while he navigated the site. We quickly found the second grade section, but what took a while was figuring out what kind of activity to focus on. There are a number of subtraction activities (subtraction one digit, subtraction two digit, mixed operation, money, etc.). Finally we decided together that he needed to work on his subtraction and addition math facts up to 20. He started working on the problems and liked that every time he got an answer right, it flashed "excellent" or "fantastic" in big letters. That seemed to be a big motivator for him. He started to lose interest after about seven minutes, but then we went back and he tried a different activity. Although we didn't get to it this time, I realized that it would be really helpful for him to practice the money activities. Since he only recently arrived in the United States (about 6 months ago), he could use the extra practice dealing with money. He doesn't have Internet Access at home, so he is unable to use this website in his house for additional practice, although that would be a very good way to use this site. In the future, I will plan to use IXL as a supplemental activity for only about 10 minutes, especially when I need a filler activity. Since the activities in IXL are mainly games or timed drills, it is a good way for students to reinforce the math concepts they are expected to know in class in an engaging, "techie" way.
IXL is great for students who need additional practice math. Each grade level (K-8) is broken down into all the skills students are expected to learn in that specific grade level, and the skills are organized into categories. The website says it can be used for K-12 students, but I it was not very clear to me if, indeed, there were actual activities for 10-12 grade students. The site also has the common core state standards available on the site. This is helpful for lesson planning although I have not yet used this feature.
I teach a second grader who is does fairly well in addition, but has not yet memorized his subtraction math facts up to 20. I checked out a laptop from our school's media center, and had him log into IXL. I wanted him to stay sharp in addition but I knew he needed work in subtraction. I chose an activity for him that practiced both addition and subtraction to reinforce the areas he knew while at the same time, working on newer concepts. What I really liked about this site though, is there is a hover feature, which allows you to hover over a skill and see sample problems from that section. The only real criticism I have about the site is that the drills get a little repetitive after a while, so my student got a little bored after about 7 minutes. At that point, I had him use his back arrow on his browser to choose a different activity. IXL tracks students' scores, and the questions automatically increase in difficulty as they improve. I have not yet used the score tracking feature, but I feel like this is a site I/students can grow with the more I learn about it.