I recently IXLified my classroom.  That is to say, I raised enough money to buy IXL for this year and I am using it as a core part of this year's instruction.  I normally rigorously stick to the curriculum provided by the school district with the exception of adding a lot of core literature and comprehension practice to the lessons.  This year, however, when I looked at students' previous reading scores and spoke to first-grade teachers, I learned that the academic spread between students in the class is wider than usual. 

I also learned that I have three times the number of students struggling in reading than I usually do. First-grade teachers also told me that classroom management would be difficult this year as there were many students who are in need of constant attention and refocusing.

From day 1 I noticed that students were very needy and hard to keep on task.  I took a look at the resources available to me and decided that the class could benefit greatly from an online program that would challenge all students and keep them engaged.  In my class, we have Chromebooks for every student. I looked at a few different programs and decided on ixl because it aligns with the common core standards and it provides challenging work for students at different levels.  

I signed up for a trial of IXL and tried it out with my daughter who is in kindergarten.  My daughter enjoyed answering the questions and she was able to use the system to form and learn new words.  She was able to use IXL even though she can not yet read. This is not to say that IXL will replace Hooked on Phonic which my daughter also uses, but I figured that if a Kindergartner can benefit from hooked on phonics and it also had challenging questions for students who read well, that it would work in my class.

My class has been using IXL for a month and it’s working well.  On the IXL website, the company has posted resources showing exactly which standards for each grade level match up with IXL skills.  I used these standard/skill alignments to create posters and I put these posters up on my wall. Now when I am planning I look at my poster wall, find the standard I want to teach, and write down the IXL skill that goes with that standard.  I teach the lesson, have the students do the normal standard practice, then have students do the ixl skill that is aligned with that standard. I also write the date that I taught the lesson for each standard on my poster. This way at the end of the year I know that every standard was taught and when.

I have taken monitoring IXL skills one step farther.  I have charts posted on the wall of the classroom. Each time a student masters an IXL skill for 2nd grade they get a sticker that we put on the chart.  I am not too sure if this sticker idea is going to work out very well as there are 222 language skills for 2nd grade in IXL and that’s a lot of stickers!  Thus far, I am seeing students who are engaged, motivated, and excited to learn. I look forward to seeing our results on various tests throughout the year.