How to Motivate Your Students with IXL

Back-to-school blog series #7

September 9, 2016


In the Classroom

Ah, the new school year, a time of fresh starts and classrooms full of energy. Kids are eager to learn and motivated to start the year off strong. But what happens a few months in when some of that momentum wanes? We’ve gathered up some strategies for how you can use IXL to keep students’ enthusiasm and natural curiosity strong all year long.

The Spirit of Competition

If you’ve ever had recess duty, you’re probably aware that kids are naturally competitive. So why not use IXL to harness that energy for class- or school-wide contests? There’s nothing like a little friendly competition to spur students on to answer more questions and master more skills! You can recognize contestants over the morning announcements or in a small awards ceremony to give participants a chance to bask in the limelight.

Reward Hard Work

We believe kids have an intrinsic desire to learn, yet small incentives can have a huge impact on motivation. Try giving simple rewards, like stickers or pencil erasers, to students that reach certain goals, such as practicing for a set amount of time or mastering a skill. Another option is to let students earn tickets for a class raffle by achieving a particular SmartScore on a skill. Then, every month or quarter, you can hold a drawing for prizes, either tangible (e.g., dollar store items) or experiential (e.g., lunch with the teacher).

Show Off Those Certificates

At IXL, we want to recognize the hard work of your students, which is why we automatically send certificates for reaching noteworthy milestones. We also offer customizable certificates so you can acknowledge all of your students’ achievements! Showcase those certificates around the classroom or school hallways as a reminder to students of all they’ve achieved. And, when your class answers 100,000 questions, send a photo of them with their certificate to, and we’ll highlight them in our Rockstars Facebook album.

Ideas from Power Users

IXL’s Elite 100 is a group of our top teachers who know how to leverage IXL to motivate students, encourage engagement, and drive achievement. We’ve rounded up a few highlights from their tips below, and you can find even more here.

“My students enjoy having IXL ‘Jam Time.’ We turn off the lights and turn up the music. The students love to sprawl out on the floor and work in the dark.”
–Ashely Organ, Montezuma, IN

“I have a few lanyards with tags that say ‘Math Leader,’ ‘LA Leader,’ and ‘Top IXL Usage.’ I let students wear them about once a month.”
–Angela Schnieders, Eckerty, IN

“To encourage students to complete each section, I often allow students who master each section first to choose a book of their liking from our book club. I also use the same reward for each student who has shown the most improvement in each section.”
–Dan Tomas, London, Ontario, Canada

“I pretend that we are playing a one-on-one game. If the students score above a score of 80 in twenty minutes or so, they get to write their name on the board as winning against their teacher.”
–Rod Wolford, Portland, IN

“I have done individual rewards, like stickers or even a sweet treat, for completing an especially difficult skill. As a whole group, if everyone in the class completes a skill or series of skills we can earn extra recess time or free game times. These individual and whole class incentives have provided great opportunities for students to give peer support (i.e., a student who has mastered the skill will peer tutor the peer who is struggling) so that everyone feels successful.”
–Mattie Walton, Billings, MT

What ways do you use IXL to motivate students?

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All Comments (7)

Shealee42 September 13, 2016 at 3:45 pm

Hello, I entered the Summer Contest and was wondering when the next contest is.


The IXL Team September 14, 2016 at 10:44 am

We don’t have specific details about our next contest yet, but we’ll likely hold one for classrooms in the spring and another for individuals in the summer.


Shealee42 September 14, 2016 at 5:15 pm

Thank you!


BingBong September 30, 2016 at 10:27 am

Hey, so like, My parents are super upset at the first leaderboard. With 48,000 questions on top and don’t think I should use IXL if there is cheating going on. What should I tell them?


The IXL Team October 3, 2016 at 11:30 am

Hey there–All leaderboards are tallied based on student practice. Are you looking at one of the Study in the Sun leaderboards? Keep in mind, those contests spanned several months, which means a lot of practice time for students. Regardless of where you fall in the rankings, you learn with every question you answer–and we hope you’ll continue to challenge yourself with IXL!


Aliyya June 26, 2017 at 2:53 pm

i was going to do a test to admission in rgc school but i wasnt smart enough when i started ixl i learn more in the past 2 weeks than 3 months on my own so thank you and i passed only cause if ixl i just have 1 favour could you please make ixl more fun please it gets quite boring please tell me what to do to make ixl more fun and learn at the same time.


The IXL Team June 27, 2017 at 9:46 am

Hi Aliyya–We’re glad IXL has been helpful! We’ll let our team know about your feedback.


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