# Math

So I don’t know what I did before IXL. IXL is an online practice program that has language arts, math skills, and more. My school just purchased it for our grade level and I love it already! The kids also love it too and ask to play it! That is a refreshing change from the groans I used to get when we’d work on some of our other math programs. We’ve mainly been using IXL for math so I’m going to share a few of my favorite things about it….

- Differentiation
- With IXL you have access to multiple grade levels and skills, which allows you to have kids move at their own pace. I teach second and I can use first grade practice for some of my struggling students and use third grade practice for students who have mastered the second grade skill and need a challenge.
- Real Time Data
- This is the best part of IXL. They have real time data. I can have my students working on IXL in class and/or in study hall and see exactly how they are doing and what they are doing. It lets you know if a student has missed so many and is struggling and needs help. This instant access to how they are doing is fantastic!
- Multiple Skills
- As I mentioned in my differentiation point, there are many skills for each topic. For example, we’ve been working on patterns. It has repeating patterns and growing patterns and different variations of each. I love that there are many options and that it covers so many math and language arts skills.
- Instant Feedback for Students and Teacher
- This is why I like using it especially for homework. Feedback is instant. Once the student submits their answer they know right away if they got it correct or if they got it wrong. If they got it wrong it coaches them through some tips to see what they did wrong.
- Appropriate amounts of practice
- I’m not a fan of worksheets and I’ve been saying this for years. I do not think every child needs to be doing 50 problems on a worksheet to show they have mastered something. Some kids do need more problems to demonstrate mastery, but some can demonstrate it in 10 problems instead of 50. As they get problems right on IXL, it moves them closer to 100 as they get them wrong the lose points. It gives them the practice they need. If a child understands the skill it gives them a few problems to show that and then they are done. I like that it isn’t drill and kill – a billion problems that many students do not need.

Check back later this week for another round of math ideas – this time for Properties of Addition and it will include a FREEBIE!

As I mentioned in my post about Story Problem Tip #1, story problems are a huge part of math. It’s so important that we provide students opportunities to use math with real world situations. Last week I talked about how students tend to dread word problems. The see words in math and tend to freak out – it’s just supposed to be numbers! That’s why I started this little mini blog series. You can find tip #1…here…

So, for tip #2 to make story problems a little more fun, let the students choose their numbers. A huge part of differentiation is choice. My example below is from when I taught first grade, but you could change the numbers and story problem skill to fit any grade level.

I often give 3 choices. One for my struggling students, one for my on-level students, and higher numbers to challenge my kids who are ready. I let kids pick the numbers. However, I do go around and monitor their choices. If students pick one that is too easy, after they solve it, I suggest they try the larger numbers. If students pick one too hard for their ability, I suggest they try a different one first and then they can try to go back to that one.

Kids love choice and by giving them choice with story problems we are differentiating for their needs, which will make story problems seem less dreaded and impossible.

Every Tuesday during the month of September I’ll be sharing tips for using story problems in your classroom. While these story problems are often dreaded for most children, they are such an important part of math and a practical real-world application. So, it’s important that they practice them and that they hopefully become less dreaded in the process. Here’s tip #1 for how I make them less dreaded…

Use student’s names in your story problems. Kids love being included. Especially if you can include a hobby or something you know they are interested in. We do weekly (every Friday) story problems in my class. I use my student’s names in the story problems. They always get excited to see who the story problem is about! It’s also fun to put in interests and real-life things for them. The more excited they are to start, the more excited they’ll be to solve it!

Check back next Tuesday for my second story problem tip!