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I’ve been looking for a way to easily incorporate more social studies topics into my elementary students’ homeschooling. I didn’t want a textbook, as we are working through history books.
But, there are a ton of important skills to learn that fall under social studies, not history. So when I had the opportunity to review a full annual membership of IXL from IXL Learning, I was so excited to discover it covered social studies (along with other subjects.)
What Did I Receive?
I received access to the full annual membership for three of my students. The full membership includes grades PK-12 for math and language arts, grades 2-8 for science and social studies, and an introduction to Spanish for all ages.
What Is IXL Learning?
IXL Learning is an online program designed to help students practice and master skills.
It’s available as an app, and on a web browser.
I initially planned on using the app. But, the app only covers language arts and math. I wanted to have my kid use this primarily for social studies.
Since the app didn’t work out like I anticipated, I had them use it on my computer. My Surface Laptop is a touch-screen, and it worked really well.
Since there aren’t videos, this program didn’t bog down my metered internet nearly as much as I worried it would!
In addition to some social studies skills, I also had my kids practice some other selected skills. I wanted to get a better sense of the program over all.
This program utilizes text and picture based questions. Students answer a multiple choice question, and progress. There’s a certain number they need to get right to master a skill. Then they can do challenges that get a bit harder.
Here’s what they worked on the most.
Sydney’s Use of IXL Learning
My first graders, Sydney, enjoyed using the program. She loves using the computer, and enjoyed seeing what she could master.
I love that I can pick and choose what grade level to work on. I had Sydney do some second grade topics for math and social studies, and kindergarten and first grade ones for language arts/reading.
It really helps that they can be met at their grade level!
Here’s a pic of Sydney working on cardinal directions with IXL:
Ellie’s Use of IXL Learning
My third grader, Ellie, wasn’t thrilled with this program. She found it repetitive and boring. She didn’t like having to answer so many questions in a row, and then being “rewarded” with more questions for a challenge round.
So it’s definitely not a good fit for everyone!
But, I still made her use it for some social studies topics. To make her feel better about using it, I let her pick whatever topics she wanted to learn about.
With IXL Learning, it’s really easy to select your topic. There are SO MANY!
Once you log in, you can select your subject. Then you can see all the available grade levels and select what you want:
Being able to select her topic gave Ellie a bit of control over her learning. She did enjoy some of the topics, especially the section on States and the one on American symbols.
Jeff’s Use of IXL Learning
My fourth grader really is working hard on multiplication facts. So when I discovered that the phone app didn’t have social studies, I decided to have him primarily use it for multiplication practice.
He enjoyed this format. He thrives on immediate feedback, and that’s what you get with IXL learning. You enter an answer and it tells you right away if you’re right or wrong.
He also liked playing around with the “Recommendations” on the home page on the computer. These are skills that are similar to ones you’ve done, or ones that the algorithm thinks you may want to practice.
What I Thought of IXL Learning
I found this program to be user friendly, and was surprised at how many topics were available.
It’s easy to navigate, and find what you’re looking for.
I also like the plethora of data that I had access to as the parent. I was able to keep tabs on how often they were using the program (and for how long!) and what topics they were practicing.
The diagnostic part of IXL was great – it helped show exactly what the kids knew and where they may need to practice more.
On my dashboard, I could see if they ran into any trouble spots. Being able to see exactly which questions they missed helped me plan further instruction more easily. Here’s a shot of the parent dashboard with one of the reports – showing plenty of helpful information:
However, there were a few things I would have loved for to make this product even better.
I wish all subjects were available on the app. With so many kids working on school at the same time, it would have been nice to have two of them working at once.
And while I could have opened it up in a browser for them on my phone, I find my kids often accidentally click off where they’re supposed to be when they’re online on my phone. The size and location of the navigation just make it happen.
So I didn’t want to go that route.
I also wish there was a bit more instruction to go along with the questions. It literally just asks questions and gives you multiple choice answers. There’s no background information.
A quick supporting paragraph or something would have been helpful.
But, all in all it was a solid way for my kids to practice skills. They all made progress in the areas I wanted them to make progress in, and we will continue using IXL Learning.
What Did Other Families Think?
I was one of 90 reviewers for IXL Learning. To see how other families used this program, please click on the banner below.