Second grade teacher Scott Mayes knows the struggle of differentiation. It was a daily challenge until his school, Roscommon Elementary, purchased a license for IXL Math in 2012. Since then, Scott has used IXL to give his students extra support and expose them to math concepts that have not yet been covered in their standardized math curriculum.
A Standardized Curriculum, with Unstandardized Students
Scott’s district uses a highly standardized curriculum that is comprehensive, but does not allow much room for deviation from the daily plan. Differentiating for students with non-standardized needs was difficult. In addition, some concepts covered on state assessments and district benchmarks were not addressed by the curriculum until after the tests were over.
Scott says, “Without IXL, I had to find time after the day’s assignment was done to figure out who needed help in what and then how to go about doing it. I had to have different activities at different levels, determine who needed each one and then grade them all. It was a lot of work.”
“With IXL, my kids are really pushing each other to learn more. Kids who are working ahead like to show the class what they are doing, and then everyone gets excited and wants to try it, too. It’s given me an opportunity to enrich my instruction with topics that have not yet come up in the curriculum.”
– Scott Mayes, 2nd grade teacher
Differentiation Made Easy with IXL
Ever since he was introduced to IXL, Scott has been an enthusiastic convert. “It’s such an easy tool for differentiating between ability levels,” he explains. “Students who are struggling to master what I’ve taught that day can get extra practice, and students who need more of a challenge can move ahead.”
His students especially benefit from the immediate feedback and detailed explanations provided when they get an answer wrong. Scott says, “Every student learns differently and the way I am teaching a topic may not reach everyone. IXL gives them a different way of looking at the same task.”
A Measurable Impact on Scores—and Enthusiasm!
Daily practice with IXL has paid dividends for Scott’s students. “Since implementing IXL, my class is consistently above average for student growth in math on our district benchmarks.” On their most recent NWEA benchmark assessment, 83% of Scott’s class achieved their growth targets—the highest score in their grade level.
Scott attributes these results to IXL’s additional support, practice, and enrichment. “It accelerates their learning,” he says. With IXL, students are able to go above and beyond the scripted curriculum and get exposure to math concepts that have not been introduced in class. All of Scott’s students completed the first few multiplication lessons on IXL well before the topic was covered in their textbook. This familiarity allowed them to answer some additional questions on the district benchmark and provided a strong foundation when they were ready to cover the material as a class.
Perhaps the biggest change Scott has seen is in students’ attitude and enthusiasm for math. His students love to show him the trophies and awards they earn in IXL. He supplements the IXL awards with a weekly drawing for small prizes. Students earn coupons for the drawing by getting a SmartScore of 100 on IXL skills. “They really love working in IXL and are always excited to show me when they have earned their 100,” he says.
But the students’ motivation goes beyond the prizes. Scott says his students are excited by the learning itself and love showing off what they have learned to the class. “It’s exciting for them when they can show the class how to do something that I haven’t taught yet,” he says. That love of learning is sure to carry his students far.
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