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With Valentine’s Day coming soon, it’s only fitting that I profess my love.... for a super helpful website for speech therapy, of course!
I remember the day that I met IXL.com. My employer had purchased memberships for each of its Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs), so I decided why not? I'll give it a chance.
Let's just say, I had a great first impression. After clicking around for just a few minutes, I was in awe of all that the platform offers– structured practice of over 8,500 preschool through 12th grade academic skills, each with seemingly infinite question prompts. It was love at first site (get it?).
I know what you're thinking. "As an SLP, how are hundreds of geometry questions going to make my life easier? Isn't IXL for teachers?"
Have a seat, and let me tell you about IXL's Language Arts section of skills. It is ROBUST, to put it lightly. The site offers anywhere between 64 and 235 language skills per grade level. This includes everything from phonemic awareness for preschoolers, to drawing text inferences for 5th graders, to combining sentences using clauses for high school students.... and literally everything in between.
These skills may be classified as Language Arts, but so much of it applies to language therapy, as we know. You can explore skills by grade level or topic, as well as use IXL's weekly or skill plans to structure the progression of specific goals. Allow me to give you a look inside the website, and show you how IXL brilliantly serves SLPs and their students.
IXL Supports Teaching New Skills
Throughout my career as an SLP, I have had many epiphanies. One that first comes to mind is the realization I had about the importance of teaching before testing. I shudder when I think of all the times I immediately jumped into taking data on a brand new goal, before ever teaching the skill.
Ok, I know we've all been there- tallying away (to get the data we think we need), without ever providing a model, giving an example, or teaching a strategy. And then we feel perplexed that the student only got 20% correct, followed by overwhelmed at the thought of achieving 80% accuracy, as the goal is written. Sound familiar?
One of IXL's best features is that it includes teaching elements. For each question, you can review the skill with an example and key ideas. For new goals, that's one click away from support for teaching new grammatical structures and strategies. This is not only important when learning a new skill, but also to refer to later on when practicing.
IXL Allows for Differentiated Practice
While the Language Arts section of IXL is enormous with so many skills available to target, it's so perfectly intertwined. You see, if you're working on a skill with a student and it's too hard, IXL gives a link for skills just below the one currently being targeted. Likewise, if your student is easily answering all the questions presented, you have the option to go to a more difficult skill set.
Not only does this help meet the individual needs of students, but it also provides a roadmap for skills in a sequential order. When targeting figures of speech in the example above, IXL helps you differentiate by providing quick links to related skills. Language treatment feels more organized and purposeful when there's a clear progression of skills that build upon one another.
Differentiation is also available within the questions. The difficulty within each skill set adapts to the student's demonstrated level of understanding. For lower grade level skills, IXL also provides built-in audio support (to read the text aloud) and visuals/images to accompany the questions.
IXL Helps you Probe Language Skills
Have I mentioned that IXL contains questions for hundreds of language skills across all grade levels? Ok, well I have to reiterate it once more because the site really allows you to take a quick look at a student's abilities for any language skill that you could dream of.
When you (or a parent or teacher) observes that a student may be having a hard time with something, you can quickly find and probe the skill to collect some initial data. Basically, IXL saves you from having to think of or find relevant question prompts on the spot.
IXL Makes Progress Monitoring EASY
Progress reports are due, and you're scrambling to get some solid data. You know, the kind of data that leaves no questions about where a student is on a goal. Here's another beautiful thing about using IXL– it is your right-hand man for progress monitoring.
It is so easy to get good, quality data using the site. The questions in each section are uniformly written, so you can feel good about reporting the data you obtain from the activities. Plus, since you can return to the exact same skill/grade level another time, you can feel confident that you're comparing apples to apples... or quarters to quarter. And of course, you can also use IXL to gather baseline data for a goal.
I generally use the 'Questions Answered' box on the right to keep track of how many questions the student has answered in total, and make my own tallies for any errors. However, IXL has a built-in data tracking system (called SmartScore) and analytics that you can use too!
A Few Honorable Mentions...
Ok, so you probably get the idea. IXL is a great tool to help SLPs create goals, teach skills, take quality data, and individualize therapy. But here are a few more reasons why IXL makes life as a school SLP easier... and links to read more about it!
STANDARDS ALIGNED. IXL skills are fully aligned with Common Core Standards.
CLEAR FORMATTING. Questions are displayed one at a time, so the screen is never overly busy. This is a must for teletherapy, in my opinion!
IMMEDIATE FEEDBACK. After each answered question, immediate feedback is given. For incorrect answers, IXL provides the correct answer with an explanation, so students can continue to learn.
DIGITAL INTERACTION. Finding ways for students to interact with digital activities is a priority of mine, and I love that IXL uses clickable buttons and click-and-drag to keep students active and engaged.
DIGITAL OPTIONS. In addition to a browser-based platform, IXL has free mobile apps for use on iPads, Androids, and Kindles. Perfect for not just teletherapists, but also those working face-to-face with their students.
As you can see, IXL is what SLP dreams are made of. With thousands of prompts for hundreds of language skills, this website takes the guesswork out of planning and implementing therapy for SLPs working with students of all ages.