Maximize 20-minute instructional blocks with IXL

Kim Laval is an IXL Professional Learning Specialist with 13 years of experience as a teacher, department chair, and district-level curriculum leader. Meghan Manley is an IXL Professional Learning Specialist with experience as a teacher and instructional coach. 

Breaking up the school day into shorter instructional blocks can help students to stay engaged in active learning. However, this also creates the need for teachers to plan even more activities throughout the day!

Because IXL is extremely flexible, it can fit right into instructional blocks of any length, and help you use each minute for maximum learning. We’ll share a few great IXL strategies that we’d recommend using for a 20-minute instructional block.

And the best part is, these ideas are quick and easy to implement, so you can dive into them with or without prior planning.

Check out these ideas for different classroom formats:


Whole group instruction: 20-minute mini lesson

There are tons of great ways to use IXL for whole group instruction! Here’s one strategy that will fit nicely into a 20-minute block.

First, pick out your skill. (Tip: use IXL skill plans to find skills that perfectly match your curriculum, including your textbooks, state standards, test prep goals, and more!)

Next, project your screen, and use IXL’s instructional resources to provide an overview of the topic. You can click “Learn with an example” at the top of the skill to see a sample question and answer, as well as the essential vocabulary and background knowledge students will need. And for math skills, you can also have the class watch a tutorial video that explains the concepts covered in the skill. 

Then, if students have their own devices, you can start a Group Jam! This will ensure that all of your students see the same IXL question at the same time, and you can work through each problem together as a class. You’ll see each student’s progress along the way, and can easily step in to address any misunderstandings.

Or, you can continue answering questions as a class on your projected screen. Have students chime in with their thoughts, or invite students to come up and help answer questions themselves. They can even use the Scratchpad feature to work out problems right on the screen. 

Whichever method you choose, your students will benefit from fun and active learning by answering questions together as a class!


Small group strategies: Target student needs

Only have 20 minutes for small groups or stations? No problem! IXL Analytics makes it easy to identify the top areas to focus your time for maximum impact. 

IXL’s Trouble Spots report does the heavy lifting for you by identifying the precise concepts students are struggling with when practicing on IXL. Students will appear on this report once they have answered three or more questions incorrectly within a particular level of difficulty, allowing you to hone in on exactly where they need support.

Want to make your small groups even more targeted? Use the filtering options at the top of this report. For example, you can view Trouble Spots within a particular date range, and even view Trouble Spots aligned to your state standards or pinned skill plans. This makes it even easier to prioritize and provide the targeted support your students need most.


You’ll notice this report organizes Trouble Spots by those impacting the greatest to the fewest number of students. Once you’ve identified a Trouble Spot to focus on, you can use the question carousel to talk through these exact problems with your students, or even start a Group Jam to work through them all together. After discussing misconceptions, you can suggest the skill to the students you met with, to have them continue working through it on their own.

And, if you use the Real-Time Diagnostic in your classroom, you’ll have tons of great data that helps you meet individual student needs and build targeted small groups. In particular, the Diagnostic Strand Analysis is the perfect report to view suggested groupings and recommended skills for review!


Individual learning: Personalized skill recommendations

IXL provides multiple opportunities for students to practice with intention when working independently.

Every student on IXL has their own Recommendations wall full of skills that have been hand-picked to help them grow. You can rest assured that each skill is at the right level and will help your students on their learning journey!

The Recommendations wall includes five different recommendation types, and each one provides a valuable opportunity for growth. You can encourage students to work on skills of a particular type, or let them choose on their own! 


Along the way, you can use Live Classroom to see exactly what each student is working on, and step in if they need help. 

And to further motivate students, you can even create an IXL Leaderboard for your 20-minute time frame!

Get the full scoop on how to use IXL for personalized practice in our implementation guide.


More to explore

Although 20 minutes may not feel like a lot of time, IXL makes it easy for you and your students to use each moment for maximum learning!

There are so many other ways to use IXL in your classroom. See even more awesome strategies in our full list of implementation guides.

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