Last week in ECMP 455 we had a lovely presentation by Shalayne McDermit and Kylie Harder on Mathletics. If you’ve never heard of it I would recommend going to their smore page and reading about, like right now. It’s okay I’ll wait.
You back? Good. I learned a lot last week about Mathletics and it inspired me to write my own post, but it’s not about Mathletics. During internship, I had first-hand experience with the program IXL. Now if you never heard about IXL this is the post for you. There is definitely some benefits and problems with IXL but I think the biggest thing to remember and I probably will say this a couple times throughout the post, IXL is NOT and I repeat NOT a substitute for teaching but extra practice for the student.
So what are the pros?
- It is a different way to work through problems than assigning textbook questions or handing out worksheets.
- If it gives “feedback” instantaneously. I say “feedback” such as if a student gets a question wrong it immediately shows them how to solve problems like that and how to solve the exact problem they just did.I like this part because in a classroom of 24 students it is hard to go around and help each individual one.
- It shows a live feed of how the students are doing. When I had given back my math class to the teacher I got to sit and watch from the computer how the students were doing. It showed which students were in need of help, who were doing just fine, and who were excelling.
- It is aligned with the Saskatchewan Curriculum from pre-k to grade 12.
- They have an awesome analytics, I still get an email often telling me how well my class is doing. Check it out below.
- Students can win prizes for finishing work. I honestly don’t know why this is so exciting for students but they definitely enjoy how many prizes they receive.
But, what are the cons?
- It can be a little pricey. For parents looking to buy it for their kids, it costs $99 a year or $12.95 monthly. For schools and/or teachers, I don’t know the exact price, it would depend on how many students there was. I want to say during internship that the school I was in paid $900 (I don’t know why but that answer is stuck in my head) this was either for the whole High School or for both the High School and Elementary School I don’t know for sure.
- The points system is brutal! It is extremely hard to get to 100 (or mastered) but really easy to lose points. Once students get past 80 they only receive 1-2 points for every question they answer right but lose 5-8 for every wrong question. This can be extremely harmful to students confidence since even a slight mistake can be detrimental to their success. As you can see here, in the beginning, you advance extremely fast (60 points 4 problems). But it got slower the more problems I answered. On question 10 I answered it right and went to 92 but the next problem I got wrong and dropped 8 points!
- It can get old fast, it was nice to use every once in a while but I would never want to implement it as an everyday activity.
- Once they get 90 the go into the “challenge zone” and the worst part is if they get one wrong even when they are 99 they get dropped into the 80’s. I already said this once before but I saw the frustration on so many faces. As well I saw kids scared to make a mistake because they didn’t want to drop. You should not be scared to make mistakes!
So how did I use it? Well, I never made students get 100. My goal and the teacher I was working with both that 80 was more reasonable. If students finished their work early it was great to say go on and practice this skill. As well I did see students excited about learning math. I had some students who went and tried grade 12 math. These were grade 8’s learning about matrices, which I thought was pretty cool. They did do learning on their own during this time which I would never do in my actual lesson, but how do you tell a student “no don’t learn grade 12 math by yourself”?
So, now that you know about IXL, what are your thoughts? Would you use this in your classroom? What do you think about the scoring system?