Research shows that the use of technology in an early childhood setting has many positive impacts – it increases student motivation, reinforces skills, encourages problem solving and collaboration, differentiates instruction, and tracks progress. Often, however, early childhood educators are unsure about how they can actually implement technology in their classroom and engage students with it in a developmentally appropriate manner.
Jessica Sigler, a former kindergarten teacher (and now an IXL educational sales consultant), was in the same boat – but came up with creative ways to use IXL in her classroom and help students succeed. Read on to learn how she did it!
Jessica learned about IXL through fellow educators, and liked IXL’s adaptive math practice, direct and differentiated instruction, motivational awards for students, and powerful reporting and assessment tools. “The question was how I would actually implement IXL with 25 5-year-olds,” she says. “I knew I had to get creative, and that’s what I did.”
Set up workstations and recruit student helpers
Jessica only had four computers and two tablets for her classroom – not enough for everyone to work on IXL at the same time. So, she set up rotating math workstations and assigned each student a partner of a different skill level. The partners would work together to solve problems on IXL, and the more advanced student would be able to teach his or her partner how to get to the correct answer.
Jessica also identified students who had previous experience with technology and trained them to be “Computer Scientists,” who were able to help their peers with simple technology issues like recharging tablets and logging in and out of IXL. Jessica also recruited a few 5th grade students who helped read aloud IXL’s question-specific feedback and explanations and retaught concepts when necessary.
Make use of the computer lab and provide incentives to practice
In the school computer lab, the whole class spent around 20 minutes on IXL working on a skill they had learned earlier that week. To provide additional motivation, Jessica set goals for the class to answer a certain number of questions, and rewarded students with a fun treat, such as a bubble party, if that goal was met.
Use IXL reports to track progress and target intervention
Jessica used IXL’s reports to gather meaningful data to inform daily instruction. For example, for a special needs student, Jessica used the Report Card and Trouble Spots reports to identify areas for improvement and then translated those into goals for the year. Jessica then referred to the reports throughout the year to check his progress, and by the end of the year IXL had helped him achieve his goals and put him on the path to graduate to first grade.
Jessica’s creative and consistent use of IXL in her classroom paid off. Says Jessica, “IXL helped me build a classroom full of confident, capable, and courageous mathematicians, ready to tackle first grade math with an intrinsic love of learning.”
Have questions about how to use IXL with your young learners? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below!