Leveraging student strengths for growth with IXL

Asset-based teaching and IXL go hand-in-hand

Sheila Berger is an IXL Professional Learning Specialist with nearly a decade of experience as both a classroom teacher and instructional coach.

It’s been a tough year. In the world of education we could lament the professional challenges we have all dealt with, but I want to celebrate the positives that have come out of this unprecedented time. Stakeholders in education have become more technologically savvy, confronted inequities surfaced by the pandemic, and figured out how to support and serve all students in new, creative ways.

Equally as impressive is the growth in our students’ resilience, technological competency, and their ability to learn independently. To build on these newfound strengths, I encourage educators to look through the lens of asset-based education, because from this growth comes so much opportunity.

Asset-based teaching views a student’s culture, traits, perspectives, and background knowledge as strengths that are leveraged as entry points for student learning and growth. It’s strongly related to Funds of Knowledge, The Whole Child approach, and many aspects of Culturally Responsive Teaching. IXL has some incredible features to help you identify student strengths and build off of them with an asset-based approach. Moreover, because there’s no one right way to use IXL, teachers can incorporate their technology skills and use the platform to meet the needs of their students in multiple ways.

Comprehensive curriculum and real-time analytics

Teachers can start with a skill as a formative learning activity and IXL Analytics will reveal information about what students know and can do. With access to any grade level in our curriculum, teachers can use those results to provide different learning pathways so that all students can build on what they know and still have the opportunity to meet high expectations. As most standards are scaffolded from one grade level to the next, teachers can start with appropriately challenging materials and use our Trouble Spots report to provide support when necessary.

Real-Time Diagnostic and student action plans

The IXL Real-Time Diagnostic not only pinpoints students’ knowledge levels in both math and English language arts, but also provides individualized action plans for growth. Using the action plan to recognize a student’s highest strand scores is a great way to help learners discover their own gifts. When we help a student see what they have to offer, they can focus on their abilities and build ownership over their learning.

Tailored recommended skills

IXL’s personalized recommendations build on the strengths of what a student currently knows. The Recommendations wall makes it easy for students to continue on their own path and build on knowledge they already have. They’re also given the tools to learn independently through features like immediate feedback, question-specific explanations, and in-skill recommendations.

Granular practice settings for all learners

Teachers can adjust practice settings (such as hiding grade levels, hiding timers, and extending audio support) for an individual class or pupil, helping them reach students with differing learning needs. Additionally, IXL’s Spanish support tools remove barriers to success for Spanish-speaking ELLs by allowing them to view and hear math questions in their native language. When students use their first language (L1) in second language (L2) classrooms, it helps ease the barrier between language and content knowledge.

Formative feedback with Live Classroom

The most important element of an asset-based approach to learning is formative assessment and feedback. Our Live Classroom feature allows you to check in on students’ understanding while they are working in IXL, and you can use Live Message to provide right-there support.

There are many other features on IXL that support asset-based teaching; hopefully these ideas are just a starting point! Most importantly, remember to model this independence and way of thinking for your students. By showing your class that it’s okay to take risks, you help them develop confidence in their strengths and the courage to advocate for their own learning paths.

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