Beyond Drill: 3 Ways to Use IXL in Your Classroom

IXL often has a bad rap amongst students. While it is easy for teachers to use and assign, misuse of the program and an overemphasis on drill will cause burnout for your kids. Whether you have been using IXL for years, or have yet to start, read below for three ways to get your class excited about using IXL.

IXL in Centers/Stations

As your students move through rotations in your math or literacy class, it is often challenging to have work that all students can do independently. Whether it is gaps in learning, struggling readers, or lacking background knowledge, there are many reasons students find themself struggling with independent work. 

IXL is here to the rescue. By utilizing the NWEA skill plans for independent practice, students are able to practice assigned work based off their individual RIT scores for each subcategory in NWEA. Because the plan is aligned to their own individualized scores, students should be properly challenged without reaching the point of frustration. If students find themselves struggling, they can utilize the “example” feature when they need help. 

To learn more about NWEA Skill Plans, watch the video linked here.

Accessibility Features

Grade Levels → Levels

If you have students that find themselves uncomfortable or embarrassed by working at a lower grade level, consider changing the phrasing from “grades” to “levels”.

Audio Support

If you have a struggling reader, consider extending audio support for your students in 3rd-8th grade in Math, and 3rd-5th grade in Language Arts. (Grades K-2 automatically have the audio feature turned on).

Spanish Support

If you have EL students, be sure to enable Spanish language support for Pre-K through Geometry. Learn how to utilize all of the features mentioned above, in the video below.  

Group Jam

Does your class love Kahoot? Check out IXL Group Jam. Group Jam is a Kahoot-style, in-the-moment formative check for individual skills. In a Group Jam, teachers will pick a specific skill (or multiple skills). Students will see the same question at the same time on their iPad screen when logged into IXL from the browser. After students answer, teachers are able to move on to a review page to talk about how to correctly solve this problem. Depending on how a class is mastering the content, teachers can make informed decisions on the next step to take, whether they need to pick an easier question, the same-level question, or a harder question. This creates new opportunities for students to collaborate and share their thinking within the classroom.

Learn more about Group Jams, here

Use Student Coaches with Essential Standard Skill Suggestions

When your class needs practice with essential, grade-level standards, using the features to “suggest a skill” is a great way to direct students to individual skills for practice. Use the Skill Plan aligned to your core curriculum to find skills that match each lesson. At ECS, we would select the Math Expressions curriculum at the elementary level. To check student progress on a skill, you can run a score grid report to check just suggested skills. The score grid is found under Analytics > select “Score Grid” > check “Currently Suggested Skills”.

Learn more about how to assign skills and use IXL to help support your core curriculum with the video below.

Student Coaches

While suggesting skills will allow students access to grade-level content, students may not be quite ready to do this practice independently. This is a great time to utilize student coaches. Pair up students with varying levels of ability with one student being the coach and the other being the student. In this engagement strategy, the student acting as the “student” holds the pencil and the iPad, where the “coach” can only talk the student through a problem. 

Teacher Monitors

Teachers are active monitors during this time, also serving as a coach to help the student pairs through problems when they are both stuck. You can monitor who needs help by using the Live Classroom for live updates on student progress. Visually see which students are struggling, those that are idle, or those working towards mastery. Learn more about Live Classroom with the video below.

How do you use IXL in your classroom? Tell us more in the comments!