My goal in this, the first of a series of blog posts, is to show you how valuable the Khan Academy can be as a tool in your classroom. I will give you a little background about the Khan Academy, explain to you why I value this tool so much, and give you step-by-step directions on how you can use the Khan Academy in your classroom. Of course, you can discover all of this on your own, but perhaps my experiences, research, and writing will end up saving you time and giving you new insights or ideas to use in your middle school math classroom.
A Little Bit About Sal Khan
By now, most of you have heard about the Khan Academy. In 2004 Salman Khan began tutoring his cousin Nadia in mathematics. Soon others wanted to be tutored by Khan and he decided that the most efficient way for him to help them was by establishing a YouTube channel where he could post videos of his teaching.
The Khan Academy is Born
Today that channel has evolved into the Khan Academy, which has helped millions of students from around the world to learn mathematics as well as many other subjects. The Khan Academy slogan is “a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.” To get an overview of the Khan Academy visit the Khan Academy “About” page.
Khan Academy is Interactive and Individualized
There are a number of reasons why I love using the Khan Academy with my students. First of all, Khan Academy is interactive. Students work on interactive challenges, skill practice, and assessments. If they are ever stuck and need help, Khan provides easily accessible hints and videos to help students to understand the math. Students can monitor their own progress and learn at their own pace. This individualization is one of the key benefits of using the Khan Academy.
Grade Level Missions Are Here!!
I introduced two of my own math classes to the Khan Academy recently when there was only one “mission” available. It is called “The World of Math” and includes 557 unique skills spanning many different grade levels. Missions are great tools in that they organize a subject matter, and keep track of the user’s progress as they work through various skills.
While I was excited with this first Khan Academy mission I longed for a specific grade level mission that I could assign to my students. Khan heard my request (and I’m sure the request of many other teachers) and has recently introduced their grade level missions. Now my advanced 6th graders can take the 7th grade math mission and my regular classes can take the 6th grade math mission.
These individual grade level missions focus specifically on the grade level math standards (as well as the important pre-requisite standards from previous grade levels) that our students will need to excel in math. (Note: I recommend that all math teachers select and begin their own mission, in a grade level that they teach, so that they can experience and understand Khan Academy from the students’ perspective.)
Khan and The Common Core Math Standards
The Khan Academy has made an effort to support the strong standards of the Common Core. To hear Salman Khan’s view of Khan Academy and the Common Core take a look at the 7-minute video below.
Coaching in the Khan Academy
Anyone who has a Khan Academy account can be a coach, including teachers. You can easily set up classes and give students a code to join a class. Then, as the coach or teacher, you can monitor student progress and even assign tasks or videos. My goal will be to have my students complete their own grade level mission each year. This is just a quick overview of what you, as a teacher, can do with Khan Academy. In future posts, I will break down this process and include some further ideas for the classroom. If you want to find out more visit the Khan Academy Coach Resources.
Watch the 10-minute YouTube video below called “A Tour of the Khan Academy for Coaches” to see the student experience firsthand and to see the student reporting that can be generated. You can even recommend individualized problems to students in math skill areas that need practice!
Setting Up Classes, Parent, and Child Accounts
In the Khan Academy it is easy to set up individual classes and then have your parents and students set up parent and child accounts. It is recommended that children under 13 set up a child account that their parents are able to monitor. Printable PDF files that show how to easily set up teacher accounts, parent accounts, and child accounts as well as setting up classes can be found at Khan References for Coaches. I copied and sent home the child account instructions with my students as well as a letter to parents explaining a little about the Khan Academy.
If you already have a Khan Academy personal account you may want to set up a separate teacher account where you can list your name more formally as Mr. Tully, for example, and which will also tie in to your teacher email address rather than your personal email.
Khan Action Steps
If you are ready to try Khan Academy for the first time I suggest that you set up 1 or 2 classes and experiment with the functionality, capabilities, and reporting available in the Khan Academy. Then let your students begin the appropriate grade level mission by selecting it from the drop down menu on their dashboard. This is what I am doing. I am learning on the go and will share what I discover in the next posts on Khan Academy.
Share Your Experience with Khan Academy
I hope that this post has helped to clarify some of the potential for using Khan Academy in the classroom. Please share your experiences with Khan Academy (or any other comments that you may have) in the comment box below. (All first-time commenters are moderated to prevent spam and inappropriate posts).
Continue on DigitalLesson.com to Part 2 of Khan Academy for Middle School Math.