I volunteer at the local middle school in a resource room for an hour every Tuesday and Thursday, and the last time I went, the teacher suggested that I help students prepare for the standardized testing they’ll be doing in a week. Coming up with a way to help them broadly study eighth grade mathematics without knowing what they know stressed me out a bit, but then the teacher asked if I’d ever used IXL. She showed me it, and I’d have to say, it’s an impressive tool for review. It basically gives problems for each concept you could teach in math, language arts, science, social studies, or Spanish. For example, the teacher who runs the resource room said I should work on real life examples of area and perimeter. There’s a section called “area and perimeter: word problems” that I could use. It gives problems that are exactly as described.

The way I used it was by just going through the problems up on the board, but it’s really set up for students to use on their own. It presents a problem that the students have to answer. If they get it right, it adds to their “SmartScore.” If they get it wrong, it takes away from their score and gives them an explanation for how to solve the problem. It also keeps track of how long they’ve been working. After students are done, a teacher can look and see what each student’s areas of need are, which can help the teacher differentiate for their students. IXL can present information in graphs to show “your students’ growth, trouble spots, and even their readiness for standardized testing.” IXL is built around content standards, so it’s great for preparing for standardized testing. I think that it can potentially be a great resource, especially because of this reason, but it can be easy to go overboard with it.

While it’s great to have so many problems available, they are pretty simple problems. They should be used for repetition, not teaching. I could see some of my own high school teachers delivering a quick lesson and then just letting us loose on IXL for the remainder of class, which doesn’t help the students much. The problems don’t encourage much deep thinking; they’re better for practice. This is fine, I’d just had for teachers to become too in love with it and use it constantly. To conclude, I think that IXL can be great for practice and review, and it can help teachers learn more about their class more quickly, but shouldn’t be overused.