Blended Learning with IXL and Google Leads to Increased Math Achievement

Cetronia Elementary School, Allentown, PA

October 30, 2015


In the Classroom, For Admins

Dr. Chris Mangan is a 5th grade math teacher in the Parkland School District, northwest of Philadelphia. Chris wanted to find an effective teaching method to help students at all levels master math, and knew that he had to look beyond traditional teaching methods for a solution.

Balancing Diverse Student Needs

As an elementary school teacher, Chris faced a challenge that most educators can relate to–his classroom includes every kind of learner, from special needs to gifted students. To ensure all of his students were engaged and making progress, Chris needed to simultaneously provide remediation and enrichment, but didn’t feel the traditional classroom environment would allow for it. Having seen research showing that students are only paying attention 40 percent of the time in a lecture class and retaining only 20 percent in the last 10 minutes of class, Chris sought an alternative way to teach.

Chris faced an added challenge -– meeting the state’s performance standard, the Pennsylvania Value Added Assessment System (PVAAS). PVAAS measures each student’s growth alongside achievement data, which not only monitors the performance of all students from low to high achieving, but evaluates a teacher’s effectiveness as well.

Using Data to Drive Mastery

In order to allow students to learn at their own pace, Chris needed to find a data-driven approach to individualized instruction. With IXL, a blended classroom model, and Google for Education, Chris was able to develop a hybrid, inclusive, and self-paced math class. “This means my students do not move to the next math lesson unless they have mastered that particular skill,” said Chris. In his class, students are instructed through screencasts that he creates. These videos are interactive, and since his students are 1:1 with Google Chromebooks, they are able to follow along easily, take notes, and work out the problems with him in real-time. Then, students move on to the IXL problems that correspond to the screencast, aiming for a SmartScore that demonstrates mastery in that skill. IXL’s skills are automatically differentiated, adjusting in rigor and complexity based on students’ skill level. “Some students need to complete 20 IXL problems to obtain mastery and others might need 50 or more, but the important part is that they master the skill,” said Chris.

“Without using IXL, I would not be able to provide students the opportunity to learn at their own pace.”

Chris relies heavily on data from IXL Analytics to inform his teaching. “Planning for a self-paced math class is very different than planning for a traditional class,” said Chris. “I do not spend time creating engaging lessons for whole group instruction. Rather, I plan my lessons by looking at data given to me through IXL.” Using IXL’s insights on classroom and individual student performance, Chris is easily able to provide targeted one-on-one or small group instruction. “If I see a student struggling on a certain skill, I will make note of it to work with that particular student at the beginning of class. I will often have more than one student who is struggling, so I meet with the most intensive student first and make my way through the others,” he said.

“IXL works great with mastery-based learning. It’s great for all kids of different levels.”

Self-Paced Learning + IXL + Google = Success in Math

Shortly after implementing IXL, Chris saw student engagement with math skyrocket: “My students were buying into it. Even my low performers were having fun with it.” His students enjoy IXL because it feels like playing a game; they can earn virtual rewards for mastering a skill. As an educator, Chris appreciates the immediate feedback from IXL. He can look at what the students are doing on the screen, evaluate performance on the spot, and help them as needed.

“Using IXL in this way has completely transformed the way I teach and my students continue to love math!”

Has this strategy helped with student improvement and the PVAAS? The numbers say it all. Of his lower level growth students, one went from the 28th percentile to 66th percentile between 4th and 5th grade. Of his high performing students, who often times have the hardest time demonstrating further improvement, one student went from 89th percentile to 98th percentile. “Last year I had 14 out of 25 students—nearly 60 percent—score at the advanced level on the End-of-the-Year benchmark assessment test,” said Chris.

At-A-Glance: A Model for Math Success at Cetronia Elementary School

Here’s how math teacher Chris Mangan is using IXL in his classroom:

  • Blended learning with Chromebooks and IXL: Chris provides his students with an engaging, interactive instructional environment in his 1:1 Google Chromebook classroom. Students follow along with screencast videos, then reinforce their knowledge of each concept by practicing assigned skills on IXL.
  • Data-driven lesson plans: Using insights from IXL Analytics, Chris is able to develop personalized learning paths for each student. This approach empowers students to progress through lessons at their own pace and helps them build the confidence needed to excel in mathematics.
  • One-on-one/Small Group Instruction: Chris strategically selects students for individual or small-group remediation based on IXL performance data. These students receive targeted instruction to ensure that they quickly overcome trouble spots and spring back on the path to mastery.
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All Comments (2)

Hawa January 29, 2016 at 11:13 am

I love IXL because I think it’s fun to me., so that’s why I like IXL.


Kaitlin March 8, 2016 at 8:16 am

I LOVE IXL math!! it helps soooooo much!!! 🙂


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