Spreading the word about Khan Academy at ISTE

Thanks to our partners at the KA in Idaho initiative, Khan Academy featured prominently at the 2014 International Society for Technology in Education Conference. In addition to representing us at the Common Sense Media Booth at ISTE, Eric and Jesse from KA in Idaho held a formal session on “Using KA in your Math Classroom.”

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In all, 215 people attended, and the training was standing room only. Congratulations to Eric, Jesse, and the entire KA in Idaho team on hosting such a successful session, and thanks so much for spreading the word about KA!

Summer already?

Summer vacation is here – a time to rest, recharge, and most importantly, reflect. Personally, I find myself thinking about the goals my students and I set at the beginning of the year. Although I’m sad to see the school year end, there’s still lots to celebrate. Not only did my students and I have fun learning together all year, but we also accomplished almost all our goals!

On the first day of instruction for the 2013-2014 school year, each student made one long term goal on a Khan Academy leaf (available here in Coach and Classroom Resources!). When we were disassembling our leaves from the ‘We <3 2 Learn’ bulletin board on the last day of school, we noted that 91% of the kids met their yearly goal! This was cause for celebration. In addition, I created and met the goal of beginning Khan Academy on the first day. After that was achieved, I added the goal of continuing with KA until the last day of school. This was easy because this class LoVeD Khan Academy. It is evident in the data. As a class, they mastered 4,432 modules. Energy points were very motivating for my 4th graders. Collectively, they earned over 14,295,000! Usually, their homework consisted of spending 20 minutes on the site mastering skills on the playlist. Consistently, they invested many more minutes than were required. All together, ‘my’ kids spent more than 160,272 minutes (or 4,338 hours). My highest girl progressed all the way to writing expressions and my highest boy mastered measurement precision. I love Khan Academy for this reason. High performing students can progress as fast as they can.

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This was my third year using Khan Academy as the platform of my blended learning rotational model. I can confidently say, that KA has been the best tool, motivator and model for my students and myself. My ‘We <3 2 Learn’ continues to be an 80 minutes math ‘program’ that allows me time to coach individual students on skills he/she is struggling to understand. Peer coaching took off this year. It was a treat to see how my 9 year olds could create and communicate new ways of solving math problems.

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For me, this was the most motivating year so far. There was literally a buzz in our classroom during math time. Students were engaged and excited to learn. The highlight of the year for me was my visit to Brazil. After two observations by the Brazil folks, I was asked to speak at their innovations in education conference: Transformar. Remember, I am a fourth grade teacher, not a public speaker. After I quickly got used to the 800+ faces looking at me, I just spoke about my passion for Khan Academy and for my blended learning rotational model.

I set five personal development goals for the year.

1. I challenged myself to increase the rigor of my performance tasks. Check.

2. I had the obligation to change my Board Math template to Common Core Board Math. I used KA’s Common Core map to find the most rigorous practice problems to include in my weekly board. Check.

3. It was important to me that Khan Academy was utilized every day of class. Check.

4. I wanted to use KA in a different way. I had never used playlists, so I added this method. I really liked it! Check.

5. It was important that I share my ideas with anyone interested in observing. Check. We had more visits than I can remember!

Khan Academy is constantly evolving. Khan Academy models exactly what I want for my students. Together we have achieved so much. Burnett students took risks, learned how to coach classmates, opened their creative minds, learned many new skills and became experts at collaborating. These students organically set long and short term goals for themselves. I genuinely believe that the students in Room 303 love to learn. This is a gift that Khan Academy and I gave to each one of my amazing students.

As the summer progresses, I know that many more creative scenarios will be designed for the 2014-2015 school year; We <3 2 Learn will be better than ever!

Khan Academy Teacher Published in Education Week

If you’ve explored our Coach and Classroom Resources or read our blog in the past, you may remember Silvestre (“Silver”) Arcos, an award-winning math teacher who uses Khan Academy to personalize his instruction at KIPP: Washington Heights Middle School. This week, Silver shared his blended learning journey in a blog post for Education Week, offering words of wisdom for teachers everywhere. You can find his article below - it’s a must-read for any educator interested in using technology to differentiate their teaching. Thanks for sharing your story, Silver, and congratulations!

You can view the original article here (by Silvestre Arcos, Education WeekWednesday, June 18, 2014).

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How I Blended My Math Class

A little over two years ago, my current principal, Danny Swersky, emailed me about his vision for math instruction at KIPP: Washington Heights Middle School, a charter school that would soon be opening in New York City. Specifically, he told me that he wanted to personalize students’ learning with the help of technology. He encouraged me to play around a little with Khan Academy, the online lesson-content provider. I was immediately intrigued.

At that point in the school year, I had covered all of the standards that would be on the New York state test and was interested in finding new ways to engage my students while continuing to boost their skills. So I wheeled a set of school iPads into my classroom and introduced my students to the Khan website. Their response was even more enthusiastic than my own. They quickly started using the site to practice skills, earn “energy points,” and demonstrate mastery. I was excited about the instructional opportunities this kind of tool might present.

Two years later, I’m the founding 5th math grade teacher at KIPP: Washington Heights. My math classroom and my approach to teaching look quite different than they did during the first decade of my teaching career. In particular, my students spend more time working on the computers and in small groups, and I spend far less time teaching whole-class lessons.

My basic approach is to plan a general mini-lesson that targets a specific common-core standard, emphasizing problem-solving and conceptual understanding. I then look at the skills-progress report generated by the Khan site and group students based on their levels of progress on the standard in question. Students who have shown mastery in the skill complete a short exit ticket as they enter the classroom and then head to their laptops to go deeper into the topic or explore new topics. Students who need practice or are struggling with the standard complete some warm-up exercises and then take part in my mini-lesson. I scaffold the instruction by modeling and using visual representations to solve the problems along with them. The students then go to their laptops to continue their practice on the standard. At that point, I often bring together the more advanced students to work on a separate activity related to the skill we’re working on.

Meeting Individual Learning Needs

Leveraging technology in this way has allowed me to meet my students’ individual needs and push them at their current levels of proficiency. As the students work independently or in pairs at their computer work stations, I regularly pull students who need a smaller-group setting to access the day’s lesson. I also group students that need support with the language and background information, and I sit and work with students in ones or twos to address specific issues. Everyone in the room is working at their own level and pushing themselves forward at their own pace. By providing lesson scaffolds in various ways, I am able to make sure that all of my students, regardless of their individualized learning plan goals or English-language learning classification, are working on grade-level standards.

This model of math instruction also provides an excellent opportunity to teach students independence and responsibility, as well as to push them to live the character strengths of grit, optimism, and curiosity. At the beginning of every unit, I create posters that list the Khan Academy exercises aligned with our current unit of study from our curriculum scope and sequence. After choosing between Khan Academy and ST Math, a game-based instructional software program, student look at their individual skills-progress reports to decide what they need to practice and then work the exercises at their own pace. Once they have completed the playlist, they can demonstrate their curiosity by exploring new topics.

Once or twice a week, I project the whole-class skills-progress report to give the students a sense of where we are as a cohort and to give them an idea of who is working on the same skills. I frequently confer with students individually to give them feedback on the choices they’ve made in selecting what skills to practice and what exercises to use. Early in the year I go over strategies that they can use if they are stuck in deciding how to progress. In these ways, I aim to build the students’ sense of autonomy and independence and their ability to find their own solutions—characteristics they will need to succeed in later grades. Technology allows for the personalization of their character development as well as their academic development.

As a teacher, I’ve also recently been influenced by education researcher Sugata Mitra’s TED Talk titled “Build a School in the Cloud,” which emphasizes the importance of student collaboration. I’ve begun to incorporate more collaborative activities into my classroom—for example, by having students work on skills activities in pairs or small groups. I believe the students make significant cognitive and content-understanding gains by asking each other questions and in effect teaching each other the skills.

Shout Outs and Results

At the end of every class, my students have a chance to give a shout out to themselves or others for their accomplishments. “I want to give myself a shout out for leveling up on the exercise on Line Plots,” a student might say. “It was difficult for me in the beginning, but I showed grit, stuck to it, and was able to complete the exercise.” Students burst into applause and cheers when others earn their first “Sun Badge” to reward them for showing mastery on 100 skills. Once they meet their goals, they create new ones. On my classroom door, I post students’ names along with the Khan “energy points” they’ve earned and the number of skills that they’ve mastered. The students become increasingly optimistic that they can improve their achievement and their future opportunities through their own effort.

By using this model over the past two years, I’ve learned that students at every level can make tremendous gains in math achievement. This was not always the case in my classes. I used to see a lot of growth in my students of average proficiency, but I was never as successful in pushing my most advanced students to make significant gains or in making time regularly to help bring up the students who struggled the most. Now I’m finding ways to reach all of my students, many of whom enter our school several grade-levels behind in math.

Over the course of this year, the percentage of my students who were in the bottom quartile on the Measure of Academic Progress benchmarking assessment dropped from 50 to 11. Meanwhile, the percentage of students in the top quartile went from six to 41. Over the last two years, 99 percent of my 5th graders have met their growth goals on the Measure of Academic Progress test. They’ve also fared well on the state tests, performing above city and state averages and outpacing students in other schools with similar demographics.

Perhaps no less gratifyingly, we have seen students continuing to grow and learn outside of the math classroom. It is not rare for students to call or text me to let me know that they have earned a new badge or that they have met a certain goal. I feel that I am getting closer to achieving my goal of turning all of my students into independent learners.

Next year, I’ll be taking on a new position as the math instructional coach in my school. I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues in my school and around the nation on improving and scaling up this blended-learning model. It has helped me see new possibilities in instruction and improved my ability to address students’ individual needs—something that is huge for me, as I know it is for all teachers. I’m looking forward to sharing what I’ve learned about the power of truly personalized math instruction.

Khan Academy in Spanish!

Last month, Khan Academy launched our Spanish website!  We have been excited to hear from educators, parents, and students about the impact this has had on classrooms and learning around the globe. 

For more details about the newly available resources, read on! 

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Spanish-speaking learners can now:

1. Grow with our personalized math experience

Using the new learning dashboard (launched in August), learners receive personalized recommendations on what to work on next, have access to over 100,000 math practice problems, and can track their progress.

2. Explore tutorials in other topics

Our tutorials cover a range of subject areas, including physics, chemistry, biology, art history and more. These tutorials are currently being translated into Spanish.

3. Learn with a mentor

Learners can sign up a parent, mentor, or teacher to help guide their path. These coaches can access real-time dashboards to identify where learners are and where they need help.

If you are a registered user and want to change your language to Spanish, just select “Español” as your preferred language at the bottom of the homepage. Please note that the Spanish website is a work in progress. As Khan Academy creates new content in English (which we do on a daily basis), translators will be working to translate this content to Spanish.

Help us spread the word! Share our Spanish website with Spanish-speaking individuals or educational organizations.

Want to help translate? Apply to become a translator for any language.

¡Khan Academy acaba de lanzar nuestro sitio en Español!

Hay aproximadamente 6 mil millones de personas que no hablan inglés en el mundo. Para proveer recursos libres a cualquier persona en el mundo hemos pasado el último año traduciendo la experiencia que ofrece nuestro sitio a cualquier idioma escrito del mundo.

Con el lanzamiento de la versión del sitio en Español, estamos ahora proporcionando acceso a 500 millones de personas que hablan Español alrededor del mundo. En los siguientes meses y años traduciremos nuestro sitio a otros idiomas.

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Las personas que hablan Español ahora pueden:

1. Crecer con nuestra experiencia personalizada en matemáticas.

Usando nuestro nuevo panel de aprendizaje (lanzado en agosto), los estudiantes reciben recomendaciones personalizadas sobre qué trabajar, teniendo acceso a más de 100,000 problemas prácticos de matemáticas y pueden dar seguimiento a su progreso.

2. Explorar tutoriales de otros temas.

Nuestros tutoriales cubren una amplia gama de áreas, incluyendo física, química, biología, historia del arte y más. Estos tutoriales actualmente están siendo traducidos a Español.

3. Aprender con un tutor.

Los estudiantes pueden inscribirse con un tutor o maestro quién le ayudará a guiar su camino. Los tutores pueden acceder a paneles en tiempo real para identificar en donde están los alumnos y donde necesitan ayuda.

Si eres un usuario registrado y quieres cambiar tu idioma a Español, selecciona “Español” en la parte inferior de la página principal. Ten en cuenta que la página en Español es un trabajo en proceso. Como Khan Academy crea nuevo contenido en inglés (lo cual hacemos a diario) los traductores estarán trabajando para traducir estos contenidos al Español.

¡Ayúdanos a difundir ésta noticia! Comparte nuestro sitio en Español con personas u organizaciones educativas de habla hispana. 

First day in the lab

Article by Derek Oldfield, a math teacher at Blennerhassett Middle School in West Virginia. Check out his blog at http://derekoldfield.edublogs.org.  

Derek kindly gave us permission to reprint his original post in its entirety below. 

These pictures (below) are from one of our computer labs in the school.  My students typically spend 2 days a week in a computer lab as part of a blended learning strategy.  In addition to face to face time in my classroom, I have really enjoyed the time my students get to spend at a computer.  There are some things a computer does really efficiently and Khan Academy provides me with a tremendous amount of data that I can’t imagine teaching without.  Just from today, I can tell which students need extra time converting 1-digit repeating decimals to fractions and vice-versa.  By tomorrow, 90% of my students will have demonstrated they are ready to move on to the next skill.  Back in the classroom I will try to incorporate engaging activities that reinforce what we’ve learned, while building on the next skill or topic.  It’s difficult to share in pictures or words, but already today I saw students helping other students.  This isn’t something I ask them to do, they just do it.  The atmosphere we create inside the computer lab is unmatched.  I’ll try to share more about my students’ experience in math class.  Ask your students about their experience thus far and feel free to contact me with questions or feedback.

 

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Oakland Unity: From 20th percentile to 99th percentile using Khan Academy

In his book The Math Character Gap, Peter McIntosh shares his experience with how Khan Academy helped change his school’s math scores from the bottom 20th percentile on the California Standards Test to 11th in the state. 

Read it for free!

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The Character Gap: Why reduced student responsibility causes the math gap. How Khan Academy can help fix it!

Book description:

When we made rebuilding student character (defined as responsibility, effort & confidence) our primary focus we achieved amazing results. Our average score on the California Standards Test (CST) for 9th grade algebra increased from 327 to 399, raising our state placement from the 20th percentile to the 99th percentile in just three years. We are now ranked 11th out of 1,377 high schools.

This is the story of how Oakland Unity High School, a small charter high school in the tough neighborhoods of Oakland, California, changed its math program and began the process of reversing the math gap. I am the algebra teacher at Oakland Unity High School. This book describes how diminished student character was the cause of that math gap and the specific steps we took to close it. An important part of our strategy was the use of Khan Academy. We describe the specific ways we use Khan and explain some of the reasons why Khan has been so effective. We also describe the specific policies we used to:

* increase student responsibility, 
* improve effort on homework and classwork, 
* address the total lack of student confidence on word problems. 

Students today are not struggling in math because of poor content delivery. They struggle despite the best efforts of many good teachers because many of them are increasingly resistant to absorbing any content. They are stuck in a vicious cycle because they lack three character elements: responsibility, effort and confidence. I am not suggesting a diminution of the teacher’s role; I am suggesting a shift to emphasize leadership and inspiration over explanation. Any teacher that has survived in some of our tougher classrooms has the necessary leadership skills, and I believe that online learning makes this shift more effective.

These are good kids, who used to be enthusiastic learners, who have gotten off track for a variety of reasons. Many of the factors that caused them to lose their way may not have been their fault, but it is their responsibility to rebuild their own character. It is our responsibility as teachers to create the environment for that rebuilding effort. This is the blueprint for creating that environment.

The book is manageable to read at 21,000 words, but filled with useable, real-world solutions that brought our urban math classroom from the bottom of California high schools to the very top.

Teacher workshops: Our summer start

We just kicked off the first of a summer of workshops that focus on how educators can leverage Khan Academy’s tools for personalized, mastery-based, and interactive learning in their classrooms. 

The most popular parts of the day included diving into the tools Khan Academy offers, as well as hearing from teachers who have been using KA - their biggest challenges and triumphs. One attendee commented, “It was great to hear that there is no one right way to implement, that it was an iterative process, and to see that each teacher had their own style and way to use Khan Academy in the classroom.” For more details, check out these case studies

We were infused with the enthusiasm of so many educators looking to use Khan Academy, but wanted to share a note that one participant sent to our team:

Dear Khan [Academy] Team,
Although I stopped to thank Maureen on Tuesday, I wanted to take a minute to thank you all for offering such a productive seminar this week.  I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop for educators, and I came away feeling better equipped to expand my use of Khan Academy with my students, as well as answer concerns I’ve heard from colleagues.  I am looking forward to the fall with excitement, ready to experiment a bit as I work to strengthen the math foundation of each of my students.  I’m so glad I happened to be in the Bay area at such an opportune time, and I want you all to know how much I appreciated the opportunity to take part in the workshop.
Sincerely,
Carolyn S.
Mathematics 
Oregon
Interested in learning more about Khan Academy in the classroom? Check out www.khanacademy.org/coach-res

Rethinking Coach Reports

Guest blog post from Josh Netterfield, Khan Academy intern and University of Waterloo software engineering major, discusses the thinking behind his work on our latest coach reports, which provide key student data to coaches at the touch of a button. 

I’m part of an incredible team at Khan Academy dedicated to empowering teachers.

Currently over 70 000 teachers¹ actively use KA in their classrooms, but few actually use coach reports. Already we’ve seen how the right kind of insights can transform classrooms, but some of the data has historically been quite difficult to navigate. Since I’ve been at Khan Academy, I’ve met with some of the most active coaches on our site and I’ve been absolutely blown away by both how Khan Academy has already allowed them to help their students and the visions they had of how we can do so much more.

In particular, three questions had to be answered quickly and efficiently:

  • How much work is my class as a whole doing? How effective is that work? Right now, we have reports called “Daily Activity” and “Progress Over Time” to help answer this.
  • Who has become proficient in an assigned exercise? And who is still struggling?Right now, “Progress Summary” and “Progress Report” answer this.
  • How is each student doing? This was the weakest link. Before my first major shipped feature this week, many teachers accessed this information by painstakingly going to individual student profiles. This information was not sortable currently and questions like “How much time is each putting in”, “How many skills have they become proficient in over the last week?”, “How much are they struggling?”, “Is Alice getting her points from doing exercises or watching videos?”, and such were all answered separately.

First, as you can see, the titles of our reports didn’t really give any indication of the questions they were answering. So we gave them more descriptive names:

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Secondly, we didn’t adequately answer the third question. When I started three weeks ago, I had little knowledge of JavaScript, Python, or Google App Engine (GAE). Since then, I’ve worked with designers, GAE experts and teachers to get this shipped. I worked on quick iterations, getting features tested sometimes the same day (or hour) as I wrote them, and completely rewrote parts of it until the team and I were completely satisfied with how they answered all the above questions while not being overwhelming. Here is the result:

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One challenge was getting the performance we needed, so I spent some time restructuring the report to load as asynchronously as possible. As a result, I went from being worried that we weren’t going to be able to ship the product to having one of the fastest coach reports.

And this is why I love my internship:

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Try it for yourself!

¹defined as coaches with more than 10 students.