— Khan Academy (@khanacademy)
— Khan Academy (@khanacademy)
Idaho math teacher Julianne Russell shares how she encourages her students to practice math, and how she thought about incentivizing them in a fair way.
Post from Suney Park, Teacher in Residence at Khan Academy and 6th Grade Teacher at Eastside College Prep, CA
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share how I like to give my students regular opportunities to publicly thank classmates who have helped them. This has two great effects: the person thanking acknowledges that they need others, and the person being thanked feels significant and valuable to the classroom community.
How do I do it? Two simple initiatives:
1. At the end of every math session I dedicate about five minutes to Thank Yous, and students rush to put their hands up to give props to their helpful classmates.
2. Once a month my students are randomly paired with one another for a weekend letter-writing homework assignment. In the letters, they thank, appreciate, and compliment one another; sometimes the letters include creative touches such as drawings, stickers, and little snacks!
Once I started doing this, giving thanks and verbally expressing appreciation became a regular part of my classroom culture. Now, my students feel safe enough to ask for help and confident enough to offer it. I was only able to implement my Khan Academy “Need Help/Can Help” board during math class because of this foundation of classroom culture.
Plus, it warms a teacher’s heart to hear students thank and encourage each other so effortlessly and sincerely. Just last week I heard a student say, “I want to thank Nayely for helping me because without her I would still be stuck on finding the least common multiple the long way instead of using prime factorization.”
Over the summer, Los Altos School District teacher Sheena Vaidyanathan shared the essay below with CSTA’s The Voice about using Khan Academy’s ever evolving and growing computer programming platform with her students. She also presented at the CSTA conference on July 16, 2013.
For more about Sheena’s classroom, check out this article with more details.
Curriculum in Action
Programming through Art and Math
By Sheena Vaidyanathan
Teaching computer science (CS) through art engages students and showcases the creativity behind programming. Connecting programming to math makes CS relevant to the school curriculum and ensures support and funding.
I combined CS with math and art to create a CS course called CSTEM for the Los Altos School District in California. Because CSTEM is a required class, every one of the over 500 sixth graders learns to code as a medium for creating art.
Students were surprised to see how the code on one side of the IDE translated into a design on the other. Students experimented with Processing functions to add windows, fences, chimneys, and other features to their houses. By the end of the first class, students had learned to use functions to create a variety of shapes. Important learning occurred around syntax, sequencing, and parameters.
Students at this age are just learning to graph coordinates. In the Khan Academy IDE, students can guess numbers for the parameters and then use the sliders to experiment. The program output is updated instantly. This form of playing with the x and y values makes the math exercise relevant and fun. In addition to coordinates, students explored other mathematical concepts, including functions, variables, and geometry. Once I had introduced iteration using the draw function, the students were able to create interactive art based on the mouse position variables.
Many students worked outside of class to create complex works of art through code. Using the cloud-based IDE made it easy for students to log in from home to continue working. To facilitate learning beyond the classroom and to manage a large number of classes, I made extensive use of Edmodo, a moderated online classroom, where I post messages and engage in discussions. Students used the environment to share their work, comment on other projects, and ask questions.
I asked the students what they would say to convince others to learn programming; their answers were inspiring.
• I would tell someone that coding is a type of art. There are no bounds to your creativity and you can create anything you want, it can be easy or hard.
• You should try coding! It’s really fun, but I’m not promising that it will be easy. It’s really useful and teaches patience.
• Coding uses all that I have learned in math and applies it to
the real world.
I have seen the value of connecting programming to both art and math; my students are enthusiastic about programming and my school administration is ready to expand the program. A recent, first-ever district coding competition attracted over 100 participants—and 58% were girls! CSTEM has convinced students in our district that CS can be challenging and fun. Required CS education at this age is both valuable and possible.
We recently started emailing weekly reports to Khan Academy coaches with active students. Seems like coaches are enjoying them so far…Jin-Soo Huh, Director of Tech at KIPP Chicago, shared his thoughts via 140 twitter characters:
— Jin-Soo Huh (@JinSooDHuh) October 29, 2013
Haven’t seen the report? Sign up your students and encourage them to try out KA!
Last month, we had the pleasure of visiting the kids in Suney Park’s 6th grade classroom. Suney is in her 3rd year of using KA, and 15th year of teaching, and it’s wonderful to see how she’s been evolving her classroom all the while.
Teachers are experts at developing routines for their students, and Suney has taken her latest evolution with Khan Academy in the way she uses classtime. In her latest evolution, she’s structured her classtime into a few blocks.
In the first 5 minutes, she goes over logistics and scheduling for the math class.
For the first 20 minutes, she has students focus JUST on mastery challenges. As she puts it, “This is time for you and your challenges. It should be quiet time for you to focus.”
For the main stretch of the class, students then practice the skills they need to focus on. Each unit, they have a list of skills they need to complete, and Suney uses recommendations to ensure students have a guided path. Students are grouped together based on what skills they are working on. Peer tutoring occurs during this time, while Suney is focused on specific students in a small group tutoring session to clarify misconceptions.
For the last 10 minutes of class, students have reflection time. Some days, they answer questions reflecting on their learning in their journal by writing it down; other days, they discuss as a class to reflect on how they are learning. This is a great way to reinforce a collaborative learning culture, as well as encourage students to practice articulating their learning progress and challenges.
Every time we visit Suney’s class, we learn something new. If you’d like to learn more about Suney’s class, check out the articles in this section of Coach Resources.
Have a tip on how to structure classtime? Let us know!
Suney and her 6th graders pose for a Halloween photo op. Suney and her dog dressed up as Dorothy and Toto, and the kids came as an assortment of characters…Minions, another Dorothy, ninjas, Where’s Waldo, a butterfly, Little Red Riding Hood, a witch, a zombie, and more!
Not about KA, but a fascinating concept where Professor Joseph Ugoretz turns the concept of a midterm around to the benefit of his students, and his own understanding.
Khan [Academy] Lite has rejuvenated my desire to earn my G.E.D.
I’m thirty eight years old and I dropped out of the fifth grade. The only other education I’ve received was when I came to prison. This is my third and last time returning to prison.
In prison, if a person doesn’t have his G.E.D., he is required to attend G.E.D. classes. Upon entering the classroom in prison, it was and usually is very difficult for me. I felt like since I was so far behind why bother. However, my instructor encouraged me to take some tests and we discovered with a little hard work and dedication I can achieve my G.E.D…
- Edward J. Hills
…Read Edward’s full blog post about KA Lite’s impact on his learning.
Mr. Hills is a student of Corrections Education Director Brian Walsh from Peninsula College, a rural community college in Port Angeles, Washington. Mr. Walsh brings technology-enabled basic education and skills training to inmates at Clallam Bay Corrections Center, a 900-bed maximum security prison. There, he has installed KA Lite, an offline version of Khan Academy, on 60 computers available to 250 students a day. They use KA Lite as a part of their training in GED test preparation, accounting, carpentry, business, and game development.
For more about Ane’s classroom, check out her blog at: http://khanacademyjesuitak.blogspot.com.es/