Distance learning strategies from top teachers: Part 2

As we all navigate the shift to at-home learning, it’s important to collaborate and help each other succeed. We asked IXL Elite 100 teachers to share what’s been working for them, and we’ve gathered a wealth of insights. In fact, they had so many tips that we’re continuing our blog post series – if you missed part 1, check it out here!

Whether you’re brand-new to IXL, or just working to adapt to this new context, we hope you’ll be inspired by their ideas. Hint: Click the links within for more information!

Use the Real-Time Diagnostic to easily personalize learning

Start with the Real-Time Diagnostic! A great way for students to make progress at home is to work on the next skill in sequence that they are ready to learn. When we are in school, there are a variety of informal and formal assessments that we do to determine a student’s math level and what skills we should be working on next. IXL takes all of the guesswork out with the diagnostic. I have my students answer at least 10 questions per week to keep their levels updated. Their recommended skills assigned based on their diagnostic levels are almost always skills they are ready to work on and master after just one or two example problems. — Mathew Baillargeon

Since all students learn at different rates, we’ve seen a lot of growth overall using the IXL Real-Time Diagnostic. It’s been wonderful for giving my students an idea of their different math strengths. We try to focus on the math strand with the lowest score, and simply work on the 4 or 5 skills suggested. When those are completed, we reassess where each student is at. They have become much more self-directed and self-aware learners than they would have otherwise been. — Dave Kaul

I’ve been encouraging students to continue answering questions in the Real-Time Diagnostic once a week. If we move to giving no grades, I will have students begin doing more recommendations from their Recommendations wall. This is an ideal opportunity for students to fill in learning “gaps” and to move ahead in their areas of giftedness. — Maritza Jennings

If you don’t know what your student needs to work on, use the Real-Time Diagnostic section. I really like the new diagnostic updates that allow me to keep track of student work in this area. — Maynard Saugstad

Track progress with IXL Analytics

Students Quickview has been a godsend. It is a great way to see who has been online working, what skills they completed and how long they have spent working on each skill. Parents have emailed asking if their students are doing the work they say they are, and I am able to quickly report back to parents on their progress. — Mathew Baillargeon

I’ve been assigning IXL skills for students to work on at home. I also have one hour a day where I pull up Live Classroom. That way, students who want me to see them work can log in and have me watch. Then I’m able to make notes on which kids might need more instruction on the skills. I’ll be recording myself teaching through some of the skills to send out to students, too. — Jordann Hardin

I use the reports as an assessment tool and the data drives my instruction. This data will help me in the following weeks as I assign additional IXL skills. The dashboard is very helpful, as it tells me what students are working on at home and how much time is spent on each strand. The Trouble spots tab also indicates certain skills that particular students are having a hard time with, and even shows the questions they’ve answered incorrectly. — Jennifer VanGeest

Combining the data from the Students Quickview page + Trouble Spots is very helpful. I’m recording very short (1 minute) screencast videos with a voiceover to help walk them through any skills they’re having difficulty with. These are pretty much what I’d say if we were in class looking at the problem together. I usually have a second IXL screen open to the explanation page, so that I can switch over and walk through the solution. — Dave Kaul

Integrate with your learning platform

I have been trying to keep things “normal.” I have been taking notes on what lessons I assign to students and posting them on Schoology (our online platform).  A discussion forum is attached for students to ask questions if they have them. — James Gorski

We assign IXL topics to our students through Google Classroom.  Students have their access codes and can sign in and continue to work on different subjects anytime. Regardless of assignments posted, students can continue to work on any assignment they choose. I can assign a skill by grade level standards, topics, and personalize their learning. — Susan Lazor

Keep students motivated and build a distance learning culture

I’ve told students whoever reaches 100 in the most IXL skills will have lunch with me.  A competition has started within our school to see which class can achieve the most 100’s overall. — Mark C. Ledoux

I’ve created a simple spreadsheet that rewards students with various points for different learning activities. For instance, if they read a book and complete an online quiz, they earn 50 points each. Completing/mastering an IXL skill I have “assigned” for the day earns them 100 + 50 points. — Dave Kaul

We practice “ask two before me” and it has truly grown my classroom culture. My students are very supportive of one another and they respect each other’s thoughts. Ultimately, being able to describe a process and break it down for another student truly shows mastery of the content. We’ve continued using this practice with distance learning. Students post questions in Google Classroom that I monitor, but I give students an opportunity to assist before I step in. I correct misinformation instantly. I find that this has made my students advocates for their learning, and they’re not afraid to ask for assistance. We are all good at something and our gifts are meant to be shared with the world. This is our classroom in a nutshell — whether we are near or far, we are a family and we rely on and take care of one another. — Dr. Amy Klaren

Learn more about IXL

Even though I have used IXL daily for a few years, I was so happy to participate in one of the Distance Learning webinars that you hosted. Thank you so much for reminding me of features that I may not have utilized as much in the classroom, but now need in order to help my students. You have helped make one piece of my transition to distance learning a breeze! — Mathew Baillargeon

My advice to a newbie: There are so many great things about IXL it can get overwhelming. Pick some time and really explore all of the opportunities you will find in IXL. I learn something new every day myself. But IXL is always staying in front of what educators need, and how to make our lives easier, and really engaging students, and I truly appreciate that. — Dr. Amy Klaren

The best way to become familiar with the site is to explore it on your own and watch videos that highlight the many features of IXL. In my opinion, IXL is one of the best student friendly sites. My students and I love IXL! — Donna Bailey