Learning with dyslexia: How IXL boosts reading skills

Natasha Thomas is an IXL Professional Learning Specialist with over five years of experience as a special education teacher and curriculum developer.

When students have trouble reading, it’s not uncommon that dyslexia is the root cause. In fact, dyslexia affects one in every five individuals. Learners with dyslexia will find it difficult to manipulate basic sounds like “pat” or “bat”, and they also struggle with relating letters to words. 

Because every student with dyslexia has different strengths and areas for improvement, the learning solutions they use to boost their reading skills should be just as adaptive. With IXL, students will find the personalized tools, skills, and accommodations they need to boost their reading skills! 

Here’s how we recommend teachers and parents implement IXL for learners with dyslexia. 

Foundational skills for limitless practice 

One of the many perks of IXL is that students have unlimited access to skills across all grade levels. This means they can work ahead or review prior concepts at their own pace. If you’re working with a student with dyslexia, have them first complete IXL’s Diagnostic to pinpoint their Reading Strategies level and generate a personalized action plan of skills they can work on. 

You can also browse language arts skills by topic, which makes it easy to locate skills in key foundational reading areas. Here’s a list of key topics to explore with your student: 

Plus, you can use IXL’s Learn to Read skill plans with learners of any age to build their reading skills. These skill plans are carefully scaffolded and designed to be used day-by-day for Level 1 – 3 readers. 

Built-in audio support 

To be successful readers, students need to learn how to decode words. This means they need to be able to recognize and apply their knowledge of letter-sound relationships. 

IXL’s built-in audio support ensures that students with dyslexia get as much exposure as they need to build their understanding. Learners working through preK-2 math, language arts, science, and diagnostic skills will have automatic access to audio support. 

Extended audio support is also available for 3rd–8th grade levels for math (skills and diagnostic questions) and 3rd–5th grade levels in language arts, social studies, and science skills. 

As students answer questions, have them use the audio to follow along as they read. This additional exposure to audio across all subjects can help them improve their reading skills. 

Optimized practice pages 

Every IXL skill practice page looks exactly the same—and they were designed with simplicity in mind. Tackling a full worksheet of problems can be overwhelming for dyslexic students, who may prefer to isolate information to better focus on the question at hand. 

IXL’s skill practice pages only feature one question at a time! Students can apply what they know without the risk of distractions. Plus, you can elect to hide the timer to eliminate pressure for slower readers, which may be particularly helpful for ELA skills that have larger blocks of text. 

To isolate main ideas or highlight words they’re struggling with, IXL’s Scratchpad allows students to highlight, circle, and annotate questions on any practice page. For all learners, actively engaging with the text can help boost their comprehension. 

Tools for fast intervention 

When they hit roadblocks, learners with dyslexia benefit from quick support to help them get back on track. 

IXL’s Group Jam allows you to check for understanding in real time. Choose a language arts skill, and IXL will present a question to the whole class or small group. Work it out with students, or keep an eye on the screen as they answer the question themselves! 

Group Jam tells you which students answered incorrectly, so you can determine where and why they’re struggling. 

When students are working independently, Live Classroom provides even more insight by flagging students who have reached a Trouble Spot. Here, you’ll see the exact skill they’re working on and recent questions they’ve missed. 

IXL Games for concept reinforcement 

There’s more than one way to learn, and IXL’s language arts games provide learners with fun, memorable visuals to reinforce reading skills. 

Check out Sight Word Bingo. This game has learners match audio with preK-3 vocabulary, with ample time for students to sound out each word and find the correct one! 

You’ll find a wealth of language arts games available for preK-5 learners. Try setting aside time at the end of each class for a quick game so learners can strengthen their knowledge. They’re also perfect for when students need a brain break between lessons. 

With IXL, you can create a level learning environment for students with dyslexia and remove barriers that would otherwise keep them from progressing. Try incorporating one or several of the above activities into their routine to make a positive impact on their learning journey!

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