How to use IXL to support students’ learning styles

Talethia Steward Davis is a District Partnership Specialist with over 10 years of classroom and administrative experience.

Many educators would agree that student learning doesn’t always happen in the same way or at the same pace. With this in mind, one size certainly does not fit all when it comes to providing a differentiated learning experience for each student.

Consider Student A, for example, who learns best when they read a text and take notes to process information. Or, Student B, who prefers physical movement and “hands-on” experiments. With multiple learning modalities, how can we accommodate each student’s preferred way of learning?

Let’s take a look at how you can use IXL to support a variety of learning styles and maximize student engagement. 

Stay “in style” with learning styles

So, how can you identify a student’s learning style? There are many ways to distinguish learning styles, but Neil Fleming’s VARK model is the most widely used among educators.  

VARK is an acronym that refers to four different types of learners: visual learners, auditory learners, reading or writing learners, and kinesthetic learners. The VARK model acknowledges that students process information differently when learning. 

Here are a few characteristics of each type of learner:  

  • Visual learning (learn by seeing)
  • Verbal/auditory (learn by hearing)
  • Reading/writing (learn by processing text)
  • Kinesthetic learning (learn by doing)

Learning styles are not intended to pigeonhole a student into one learning style; many students are multi-modal and have more than one strong learning style. With that being said, when you engage students in multiple learning styles at the same time, they can experience a more diverse learning experience.

Let’s get hands-on with a few ways to engage kinesthetic learners!

Using IXL with kinesthetic learners

With this learning style, kinesthetic learners don’t always benefit from a bottoms-on-the-chair approach. Instead, this group learns best when engaged in physical activity or a hands-on experiment. Since they often learn through their bodies and sense of touch, they benefit from having space to wiggle, tap, or bounce often. 

IXL’s science skills are a great way to tap into your kinesthetic learners’ preferred ways of learning. This science skill, “Compare properties of materials,” is one of many skills that you can use to get your kinesthetic learners up and moving. 

Here are a few ways to use this skill with kinesthetic learners:

  • Strategically place several items with different properties around the classroom.  In groups, have your students do a “gallery walk” by rotating to each item and observing its properties. Post a chart near each item and, after students discuss the item’s properties, have them write down one characteristic of each item (this also engages your auditory, visual and reading/writing learners). Afterwards, assign the skill to students for independent practice.
  • You could also extend this activity by having your students participate in an outdoor scavenger hunt and search for items with different properties. 

Science skills aren’t the only way to engage your hands-on learners. IXL’s language arts skills are a great way to get your kinesthetic learners “in character” as they interact with various texts. Pair coins with money and consumer math skills to give calculations a real-world feel. Make it tactile and cross-curricular with IXL’s economics skills

Using IXL with reading and writing learners

Reading and writing learners pick up new information best with pen and paper. IXL’s Scratchpad tool is the perfect way to keep them engaged! With the Scratchpad, students can use the pencil, highlighter, and/or eraser to practice skills on the app or from the web browser. This gives your reading/writing learners the perfect opportunity to show their work on IXL. 

Encourage students to use the pencil and eraser tool to explain their thinking or jot down key ideas, like in this example. 

Reading/writing learners can also use the highlighter tool to draw attention to important information in a text, giving them an effective way to review the most relevant information. 

Using IXL with visual learners

Visual learners learn best when information is presented visually in a picture, diagram, or video. IXL games for PreK – 5th grade math and language arts skills are a surefire way to support this type of learner! 

Within each IXL game, students enter a vibrant world filled with fun animations and unique challenges. Use them with students to reinforce concepts and provide extra practice! 

This game, “Adventure Man and the Counting Quest” is a fun way for your visual learners to practice skip-counting! Get ready for an immersive adventure!

To complement IXL games, IXL’s video tutorials—available for nearly all 3rd grade through Geometry math skills—are an effective auditory and visual aid for students. Here’s how you can leverage them for visual learners: 

  • Students can view a video tutorial as they practice a skill independently, or you can project it on your whiteboard for all students as a quick review. After watching the video, students can create a concept map or diagram based on the concepts in the video lesson. Concept maps are excellent visual organizers that help learners make connections and provide teachers with information about what a student understands. 
  • Students could share their concept maps with the class or you could post them on the wall in your classroom to “show off” students’ hard work.

Click the “Watch a tutorial” button at the top of this skill practice page to see an example!  

Using IXL with auditory learners

Auditory learners typically enjoy listening to others but also appreciate the chance to talk. IXL’s read along and read alone skills, available in the K-2 curriculum, are an excellent way to support auditory learners with early literacy skills.  

Read-along texts feature audio support that highlights each word as it is being read aloud. This supports your auditory learners with building fluency and reading comprehension. Check out the example skill below. 

Read-alone texts were designed for students to read independently. Take a look at this kindergarten skill that supports auditory learners as they read alone with the text.

In addition to our read along and read alone skills, audio support can also be enabled for skills so students can have any question and its answer choices read aloud to them. Audio support is automatically available on all skills up to the 2nd grade level and can be extended up to 5th grade in language arts, science and social studies skills and up to 8th grade in math skills.

How IXL supports all learning styles

From hands-on learners to visual learners, IXL keeps things fresh with all the tools you need to support every learning modality. 

Check out additional resources and other ways to support learners in IXL’s Learning Hub