IXL ~ Review

When AJ was in public school she had access to a fun learning site called IXL Learning. She would go on each day for a few minutes and have fun learning new concepts. It was something she enjoyed doing. But when she left public school, her account expired. In the beginning she would still go on and try their free version, but it only lets you answer around ten questions a day. Eventually she was no longer interested in doing the ten questions a day, so we forgot all about IXL. That is until we were offered a chance to review an annual subscription! I didn’t know that IXL had learning opportunities all the way through high school, but once I did I was thrilled for AJ to have a chance to try it out.

What is IXL?

IXL is an online learning site. It can be accessed through some apps or it can be used in a regular browser. There is a Kindle app, but at the time of this review it was unavailable for me. (I found out that while the IXL app didn’t work on my Kindle it will work on most. Mine is very old, we have had it since 2012. After the review I tried it on AJ’s 5th generation Kindle and it worked. I was also told by other reviewers who have 7th generation Kindles, that the App worked fine for them.) AJ ended up accessing IXL through the Silk browser on her Kindle Fire and had no issues.

IXL offers both math and language arts for grades K through 12. It also offers science and social studies for grades 2 through 8, and Spanish for all grades.

When your child logs on each day they can pick the topic they want to practice. Then they are given questions in that topic. Some of the questions are multiple choice, while others require them to input the answer. Once they submit each answer it is graded instantly. If they enter a wrong answer an explanation is given to help the student know what they did wrong. For math they may be reminded of a formula or be shown how to solve the problem. In language arts they may be given a tip or a definition of a word to help them out.

Then they just continue to answer questions. As the student gets more and more questions correct their score goes up and they are able to earn ribbons. When they have truly mastered a topic they can earn a special ribbon for 100%. Earning that ribbon takes answering quite a few questions. When they earn that ribbon, you can be confident that they really understand the concept.

Flexibility

One of the best parts about the program is that it is very flexible. With your parent account you can decide if your student sees the grade level they are working on (6th, 9th, K), or if they just see a level (A, H, C). This would be helpful for those who need to work at a lower level than their grade level. It is also nice in the older grades when not everyone is working on the math that is typical for their grade level. AJ is in Algebra 2, but the 10th grade math is Geometry.

There are also options that let your child see how long they have been working on a problem. It is great to have the option to hide or enable the timer depending on your child’s needs. When AJ was younger a timer would have stressed her out. Now it motivates her to see how many questions she can answer in a time frame.

There is a placement test available if you want to see where your child should be placed. It is optional. I personally find that with older students placement tests can take forever because they have to answer so many questions correctly for each level. We decided to skip the test and just have AJ work on the 10th grade level. There was a topic in language arts that she was struggling with. She was shown a topic in a lower level that would help her in the current topic. She went to that topic, worked on it a little, and then came back to the initial topic and was able to earn a ribbon.

How We Used IXL

Since AJ already has a set math program we decided to use IXL as a supplement to practice skills we already covered this year. She started out in Matrix Vocabulary. There she had to answer questions about types of matrices, dimensions, and more. She earned a 100% ribbon after a day. She didn’t want to stop until she earned the ribbon. Then she went on to work in the matrix category for a while before heading to the section on Radical Functions. Some she was able to earn ribbons in quickly, while others took her a little time.

Right now we are working on complex numbers in math, so today she started on the introduction to complex numbers topic. I don’t think you could use this as a full math program unless you have a very dedicated self learner, but it is great for practice and review. The questions don’t seem to repeat and there are endless practice opportunities.

Spanish

Spanish was one of AJ’s favorite topics. She logged on and worked on a topic each day until she earned a 100% ribbon. Then she would go on to the next topic the following day. I liked that it was more than just vocabulary. The spelling had to be correct and there are sections where the vocabulary is used together. She ended up keeping a notebook with the vocabulary to help her remember it. The Spanish section would be perfect for those who are just learning or those who need a refresher!

Language Arts and Other Sections

AJ was a little less enthusiastic to work on Language Arts. I had her pick a topic, or I picked one for her and had her practice about 10 minutes a day. She spent a lot of time in grammar topics and word usage. She didn’t earn many of ribbons, but she did learn a lot. In this category she liked to skip around and not stick to a specific order.

We didn’t try out the social studies section because it was for 8th grade and lower, but we did try out science. AJ loves science and I figured it couldn’t hurt to try it out. She spent time labeling cells and learning about their functions and labeling different diagrams. I found her copping the diagrams into her notebook so she would have the information later. She enjoyed the science section and I think it would be great to use after learning about a topic.

What We Thought About IXL

I was very pleased with our experience with IXL. Setting up an account was simple, I could easily check on her progress, and I was sent emails weekly about her activity and any awards she earned.

The ribbons kept her motivated to work on the topics, while the instant feedback helped if she felt discouraged. I liked the fact that she could move to different topics when she wanted and that she could visit both lower and higher levels when she wanted. I felt the feedback she received when she entered an incorrect answer was solid. It helped to explain and teach the concepts. I feel she has learned a lot using IXL and I plan to have her continue with it.

Click on the graphic below to find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought about IXL. There were reviewers using several different levels.

Immersive, Adaptive Learning Online {IXL Learning Reviews}
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9th Grade Elective Choices

Last week I shared our core curriculum choices for AJ’s freshman year. Today I will be sharing the electives that she will be taking. My plan was for her to take two electives; Spanish and something of her choice. She didn’t want to pick between the few that I offered her, so she will be taking a total of four electives. She won’t do them all every day and some she won’t get to every week. I told her I would let her take more electives but that her core subjects had to be completed first. Here are the electives that AJ plans on taking.

Bible ~ New Testament Overview

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have Bible listed on her transcript. But after thinking and praying about it, I decided it was the right decision for her. Right now my plan is to let her earn up to two credits for Bible study throughout her high school years. One year she will focus on the Old Testament and one year on the New Testament. This year she will be reading through the New Testament. She will use two main resources; Hands-on History Activity-Pak: The New Testament, from Home School in the Woods, and I Can Study Acts Alone With God. Both are products that we are reviewing. I will link the reviews once they have posted.

Hands-on History Activity-Pak: The New Testament
The New Testament Activity-Pak will have her creating a lap book with a lot of information from the New Testament. She will explore the lineage of Jesus, His birth, works on earth, death, resurrection, and ascension. She will also study the fruit of the Spirit, the Armor of God, and a lot more. In addition to the reading and research activities, she will also be completing a newspaper all about the New Testament. While she could easily finish the lapbook quickly, she will take her time and read through the majority of the New Testament this year.

I Can Study Acts is a really neat Bible Study. It only takes about ten minutes a day and has her closely reading through the book of Acts a few verses at a time. The book is set up to last an entire calendar year, so she will need to double up on the work some days to finish by the end of the school year.

I think between the two resources she will be able to earn a full credit of Bible.

Spanish

Living in Southern California, AJ needs to learn Spanish. She has been learning Spanish off and on since fifth grade. Last year she worked through Middlebury High School Spanish 1. She liked it, but it took forever. It also was another program that took up my computer. This year I decided that I wanted an offline program. Let me tell you, it was not easy to find what I was looking for!

Finally after searching for a few months, I found two books that I like. I think they will really help AJ to improve her reading, writing, and vocabulary. She will be using two books from the Practice Makes Perfect Series; Spanish Verb Tenses and Spanish Vocabulary. She won’t finish them both this year, but she will make some good progress. So far I like the variety of activities in the books. She will work through two units of the vocabulary book and then one unit in the verb tense book. She will continue that until the end of the school year. In addition to the book work, she will also continue to use the Duolingo app. (It’s free.)

Photography

This is the class that AJ is the most excited about. She will be taking Photography from SchoolhouseTeachers.com.

Photography - Just one of the amazing courses offered from schoolhouseteachers.com

It has weekly lessons that she will work through. The course is only a half credit course, but we are combining it with Image Editing and Creation to giver her a full credit of Photography.

Just one of the amazing courses offered from schoolhouseteachers.com

This class focuses on editing the pictures once they have been taken. She will learn to use a free photo editing program and will have weekly assignments to complete. She received a digital camera for her birthday and can’t wait to learn better photographing techniques. I may take this class with her, it looks like a lot of fun.

Computer Animation

The last elective she will be taking is from Khan Academy. It has so much more than math! She will be working her way through the computer animation course. She started it at the end of last year and really enjoyed it. It uses Pixar characters to teach about animation. It involves math and science. After learning about a concept then she has to apply the knowledge and animate something. She will probably only work on this a few times a week, so I plan to give her a half credit. Once she is done with the lessons on animation she will go on to learn computer coding. The best part is that theses courses are all free!

It looks like AJ is going to have a fun year that is full of learning! What electives are your students taking this year? Have you used any of the other courses offered from Khan Academy? If so, what did you think?

Fun Spanish – Review

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Learning a new language can be difficult. A lot of programs for elementary students focus only on vocabulary and don’t really explain verbs or conjugation. AJ has used a few different Spanish programs over the years. While she has retained some vocabulary, the majority of what she learned went out the window. I guess the saying, “If you don’t use it you lose it” is true.

We were given a chance to review a new program, created by Kimberly Garcia, called Fun Spanish. With a name like that, we knew we had to try it out.

A different approach to Spanish, learn with fun phrases.

We received a digital copy of the book, but it is also available as a physical download.

Fun Spanish is a different approach from anything we have tried in the past. Instead of working on individual words, your student learns the vocabulary through phrases. The twist is that the phrases are crazy!

The first lesson has the student learning the phrase:

Yo soy un gato grande y verde con pierenes largas.

In English that translates to:

I am a big green cat with long legs.

Each week they are given a verb to memorize and conjugate.  After they finish conjugating, they are given a set of vocabulary words. Some are new and others are review. The average is about five new words a day. The final section is translation practice, it has two parts. First they are given a sentence in English that they have to orally translate into Spanish. The next section has them translating a crazy Spanish sentence into English and then illustrating the sentence.

The program is broken up into 17 lessons. You have the option to complete one lesson a week for a semester long course, or add in extra practice time and complete one lesson every two weeks. Doing a lesson every two weeks will make the course a full year long.

Each lesson is broken up into five days.

How we used The Fun Spanish

Each day AJ would conjugate the verb, and translate the sentences, then we would go over the vocabulary together and make sure she was pronouncing the words correctly. After we went over everything, she would illustrate the sentence. Each lesson only took about 20 minutes, but they were all packed with information.

We only school four days a week, but it was easy to tweak the schedule and make the five day schedule work with our four day week.

As AJ became more use to the set up of this curriculum, she needed less and less help. Now she only needs help with pronunciation once in a while and the rest of the lesson is completed independently.

What we thought f The Fun Spanish

When I first looked at the lessons I doubted learning Spanish with the funny phrases would work. After a week, I was proved wrong. AJ not only learned and retained quite a few vocabulary words, but she was starting to understand the sentence structure as well.

I love that verb conjugation is included daily. It doesn’t take long, but teaches a difficult skill in a simple way.

AJ likes that she gets to draw the meaning of the sentence every day. Illustrating the sentence really helps her to remember the vocabulary.

I think this program is genius and hope that more levels are introduced. For elementary aged students I think this program is more than enough. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is teaching their child Spanish.

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7th Grade Curriculum

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We started 7th grade this week! AJ is officially a middle-schooler now. It seems like yesterday that I was teaching her to count and write letters, the time has sure flown by. We are making a few changes this year as I try to get her to become a little bit more independent. We are using a lot of products that I reviewed, a few I purchased used, and a few that I am making up. It may seem like a lot, but most subjects are not done daily. Some lessons are very short and others are included at her request. My main goals this year are to help her become more independent and improve her study skills, improve her writing, and to make sure she has a solid grasp on all of her major subjects. One resource that we will be using for a few different subjects is SchoolhouseTeachers.com

Here is our 7th grade Curriculum plan.

7th Grade Curriculum Plan 2015-2016

Math

We have been blessed to review quite a few online math programs over the last few months. AJ loves math and did well with all of them, but she has found a favorite – Unlock Math. We have been reviewing the pre algebra program and she will continue with it. So far it is complete enough that I don’t feel I need to supplement it at all. There is enough practice built in that I think by the time she is finished with it she will be ready for Algebra. I will have a full review in a few weeks, but if you are looking for a great way to help your student with pre algebra I would really check this out!

Science

We are going to study biology this year using Christian Kids Explore Biology. This is the first time we have used this science, but I think AJ will enjoy it. I plan on supplementing it with library books and videos from Visual Learning Systems. She loves science, so I am sure this course will go over well.

History

Last year my plan was to use Diana Warring’s history for 6th through 8th grade. We didn’t get as far along as I wanted last year, and I felt it was too much for AJ.  I think we will put off the rest of that curriculum for a few years and take a lighter approach to history this year. We are going with Home School in the Woods Middle Ages. We have been using it for a few weeks and AJ loves it! It is hands on and fun but most of the work is done for me. It will not last all year, if finances allow we will do the Renaissance and Reformation set from Home School in the Woods when we are finished. If that doesn’t work out, we will either revisit Roman History from Memoria Press or tackle the Renaissance and Reformation through unit studies. History is a little up in the air, but I know what we will be using for the first part of the year at least.

Geography

This year we will be focusing on European geography. She will be using the Geography Drawing Series. It is a simple approach that is a quick and easy part of her day.

Bible

For the first half of the year she will be working through the Teen Prasso. Once that is finished she will continue with year 1 of Bible Road Trip. Last year we got off track, but I would like for her to finish year 1 this year.

Spanish

AJ has practiced Spanish with a few different programs, but this year I wanted more. We will be using a few different resources to make a year long study. For a workbook approach we are using Instant Immersion Spanish. We are also using Fun Spanish Level 1 and a few fun apps.

Music

When we reviewed Easy Piano Basics, I was sure the novelty would wear off and she would want to quit practicing the piano in a few weeks. Surprisingly, that is not the case. She has been teaching herself songs and practicing without me saying a word! So she will continue to work through the lessons this year. She is also involved in the choir at church and has practice every week.

Art

Art has been lacking from our homeschool, so I decided that this year we were going to make more of an effort. For drawing practice she will be working through Draw and Write Through History. It will line up pretty well with our history study. For an actual art course we are going with Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool Art Cultures. It is just once a week, so I am hopeful that we will stick with it.

PE

We have never had to worry about PE since AJ was in gymnastics. Unfortunately, finances no longer allow gymnastics so we are making up our own curriculum. Until it is too cold to swim she will be working on different skills on the Red Cross skills list. She will be working her way through each level. Once it is too cold to swim she will be doing different exercise videos and practicing the skills needed to pass the California fitness test that she would take this year if she was in public school. She doesn’t have to take it, but I feel working on the skills that will be on the test will help keep us on track.

Language Arts

I left the hardest subject for last!

For writing she will be using Institute for Excellence in Writing B. It has been the first writing program to click with her.

For spelling we are sticking with Spelling You See Level F.

For grammar she will work through the Grammar Workbook – I will have a review of this soon. We will also use copywork from Homeschoolcopywork.com

For Handwriting she will finish Cursive Logic.

For Literature I am creating my own study for the Chronicles of Narnia. With each book we will learn about different literary elements. I will be sharing each study after we go through it. (That way I hope to catch any issues before I offer it to you. ) Once Narnia is finished we plan to read The Giver.

It looks like AJ will have a full year of learning! Do you have your plan for next year yet?

Spanish for You! – Review

 

Living in California, there is a great need to be fluent in Spanish. Spanish is everywhere and my little one has picked up a lot of words and phrases, but she needs more. For the last two years she was taking a Spanish course at school and while it was great for vocabulary, that was about all that it taught. Now that we are traditionally home schooling I have been searching for a good Spanish program that teaches more than just vocabulary. I wanted a program that was not all on the computer and one that taught conjugating verbs. I found a few programs that fit my specifics, but they had very high price tags. Then I was given the opportunity to review Spanish for You.  It seemed to meet all of my needs so I was very excited to try it.

Spanish for You is a Spanish program designed for kids in grades 3 – 8. It comes with a soft cover book, downloadable worksheets, downloadable flash card pictures, lesson guides, and MP3 downloads that have the author reading the pages in the book and a native Spanish speaker reading as well. It also includes downloadable self checking worksheets.

There are three different themed books; Fiestas (celebrations), Estaciones (seasons), and Viajes (travel). At the time of this review Viajes is not quite finished and will be available soon. The books can be used in any order as they are not leveled. The interesting part of this program is that the same book can be used for your child in third grade and your child in eighth grade. There are lesson guides to use for grades 3/4, 5/6, and 7/8. While your students in different grades will be learning the same things, there are worksheets available that will be at each ones grade level. I only have one child and we used the 3/4 lesson guides but I did look at the higher level worksheets and they looked grade level appropriate.

I was given Estaciones to review. It contains 5 lessons; The Calendar and Weather, Fall and School, Winter, Spring, and Summer. Each lesson covers new vocabulary, verbs and how to conjugate them, and grammar. Each lesson takes about four to six weeks to complete depending on the child and the pace you take. The lessons are short and to the point following a four day a week schedule.




I have to say that I really like this program and so does my nine year old. She actually asks to do Spanish now. I like the fact that while there are some worksheets to complete there is not an abundance of writing. A lot of the work has to do with memorizing the vocabulary and there are quite a few fun games suggested in the book to practice the vocabulary. I think my favorite part of the program is that they are learning the Spanish language not just select vocabulary. On the second week they are already learning how and why to conjugate verbs.


  My little one is learning things that I didn’t learn until high school Spanish, but the learning is being done in a way that is easy for me to teach and for her to learn. Each page in the book is read by the author as well as by a native Spanish speaker so that there is no confusion on pronunciation. I liked having the opportunity to listen to both recordings of the book because I felt that it gave a solid understanding of the pronunciation of words.

There is not much prep time needed to use the program. Each week I printed the lesson guide, printed any worksheets that needed to be printed and found which audio files we would need. I would say it took less than ten minutes to prep for the week and I found the program self explanatory and easy to use.



The program has a few different pricing options shown here. The entire program for a single grade level (3/4, 5/6, or 7/8) is only $39.95 while the entire program with all grade level lesson guides is only $64.95. I feel this product is definitely worth the price. It is a solid Spanish curriculum that I think most anyone would benefit from. I feel it would also be great for those older than eighth grade who were looking for a way to learn Spanish that wouldn’t break the bank.

There was only one small thing that I wish was different when it came to this Spanish program. I wish that there was an option to purchase the audio downloads on a CD and the workbook pages in a workbook so that they didn’t have to be printed. I understand that it would cause the price to increase, but I personally prefer to buy real books and not print page by page. There was not a lot to print, but if that option was available I would definitely choose it when I purchase our next set.

This program has been great and we will continue to use it next year when we start school again in the fall. I feel that this review came at the perfect time as I no longer need to search for the perfect Spanish program, for us this is it.