Khan Academy Teacher Highlighted in the San Jose Mercury News


If you’re a regular visitor to our blog, you’ve probably read a post or two by Alison Elizondo, a fourth-grade teacher at Burnett Elementary in Milpitas, California. Recently, the San Jose Mercury News highlighted the work Alison is doing to personalize instruction for her students and the recognition her efforts have earned, both in California and internationally. In one month, Alison both received a visit from California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and spoke at the Transformar 2014 conference on education innovation in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Congratulations, Alison, and keep up the excellent work!

You can read the full article here (by Aliyah Mohammed, San Jose Mercury News, Friday, September 12, 2014).

You can also find a case study of Alison’s classroom here in Khan Academy’s Coach and Classroom Resources.

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.


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.


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!

The Magic Ingredient in Milpitas’ Blend: Teacher-Driven Design

EdSurge’s Matt Bowman visited Alison Elizondo’s classroom using Khan Academy and reflected on the impact of allowing teachers to design how they use tech in their classrooms. 

The Magic Ingredient in Milpitas’ Blend: Teacher-Driven Design

If Room 303 is any indication, letting great teachers call the hardware shots might be an amazingly good idea

by EdSurge co-founder Matt Bowman

“Whoa.”  Several visitors simultaneously whispered the same assessment upon entering Burnett Elementary’s Room 303 in Milpitas, CA.

The teacher, Ms. Alison Elizondo, greeted our tour group. Behind her, 33 4th graders were sprawled in groups across the room. Two huddled around a Chromebook listening to a third explain some point of a paused Khan Academy video. Another pair used an iPad to record their own math lesson. Half a dozen typed away independently, writing, as we soon learned, narratives of how to solve sample word problems they themselves had developed. A large bulletin board displayed each student’s personal math objectives for the year.  Elizondo herself was coaching one single student when we entered, with her back to the class. She prefers sitting that way to show trust.

As we milled about the room, visitors began exchanging furtive glances like prospectors discovering the Mother Lode.  A purposeful buzz permeated the tech-heavy class as 8- and 9-years olds taught each other the finer points of arithmetic.

Burnett Elementary is a Title I public school with 50% immigrant population in the Milpitas school district, whose bottom-up approach to going blended we profiled earlier this week. That approach, which gives teachers a big say in what tech to use and how, seems to be yielding positive results in Room 303. Eighty percent of Elizondo’s students were proficient by the end of last year, and the 4th grade as a whole had the highest math proficiency rates in the school.

The district let Elizondo take the lead on creating her blended rotational model, even allowing her to dictate hardware requirements. She ended up with a rather fine-tuned setup: 18 Chromebooks and 2 iPads, with access to Khan Academy and EduCreations. Elizondo developed the model with a single goal in mind: free the teacher up for more one-on-one coaching time. Along the way, she’s training her students to teach themselves, focusing on skills like goal-setting, progress tracking and checking for mastery…

For the full article article, visit here.

For more on Alison’s classroom, check out her blog posts here.

100,000 points!  This picture came along with a sweet note from Burnett Elementary&#8217;s 4th grade teacher Alison Elizondo who kicked off Khan Academy with her students a few weeks ago : 

Today we celebrated our first student who earned 100,000 energy points.  Matthew set this as his first custom goal.  All the kids were so proud, supportive and encouraging to him. 

Congrats, Matthew! We&#8217;re excited that Khan Academy is supporting an encouraging, positive classroom culture. 

100,000 points!  This picture came along with a sweet note from Burnett Elementary’s 4th grade teacher Alison Elizondo who kicked off Khan Academy with her students a few weeks ago

Today we celebrated our first student who earned 100,000 energy points.  Matthew set this as his first custom goal.  All the kids were so proud, supportive and encouraging to him. 

Congrats, Matthew! We’re excited that Khan Academy is supporting an encouraging, positive classroom culture. 

Ready. Set. Go!

Guest blog post by Alison Elizondo, 4th grade teacher at Burnett Elementary, a Title 1 school in Milpitas, CA.

Welcome to the 2013-2014 school year!  During the summer, I attended (and spoke) at the KA workshop offered free of charge in Redwood City, CA.  Maureen, from Khan Academy, encouraged participants to ‘just start’.  


This is my third year using the KA platform in my fourth grade classroom.  Because I want to constantly evolve, improve and create new learning experiences for myself and my students, I set a goal to begin KA on the first day of instruction.


I was amazed at what I witnessed in my classroom.  The students were able to sign up, personalize their account, add me as a coach, take the new pretest and begin earning energy points on the very first day….and in 40 minutes.

First hand, I have experienced what kids can achieve if given the opportunity.  I have 9 fourth graders that are still 8 years old.  They were able to accomplish all of these tasks effortlessly.  The message I took from this is that kids are open to new learning if the teacher is willing to try new ways of teaching.


Last year my class created the name ‘We <3 2 Learn’ for our KA rotation model.  This school year, my fourth graders are going to innovate and collaborate in order to advance our program.  Each student created an attainable math goal for themselves.  We used the cool KA leaves found in the Coach Resources section of Khan Academy.  These are now displayed on our ‘We <3 2 Learn’ bulletin board.


My students completed a survey today about the first week in fourth grade.  Most every student reflected that the best part of the week was beginning Khan Academy.  This is exciting! I can only imagine what we can achieve in 180 days together.  Stay tuned :)

We <3 2 Learn

Guest blog post by Alison Elizondo, 4th grade teacher at Burnett Elementary School in Milpitas, CA.  


Khan Academy has changed the way I teach.  I cannot believe that it has only been one year since I signed up for my very own account!  With the support of my principal, administration and school district as a whole, I have seen my vision come into action.  Burnett Elementary, Go Bulldogs!, is a Title 1 school located in Milpitas, CA. We serve a diverse population in which 40% of our kids are english language learners and 36% are eligible for free/reduced lunch.   In our class of 33 4th graders and one 42 year old teacher, we are all lifelong learners and coaches. I want my students to be comfortable trying new things; to this end, it is my responsibility to model this risk taking in my teaching.

As educators we must prepare our students for college and career.   I believe our future innovators will need to collaborate with their peers, communicate effectively, think critically, and demonstrate creativity.  The way teachers can assist students with this endeavor is to explain the relevance of their studies to future use, expect students to achieve proficiency through rigorous studies and to work together to achieve a common goal. Khan Academy lends itself as a diverse tool for achieving my goal of preparing students for their exciting future.


We <3 2 Learn, our blended learning rotational math block, was created with the simple goal of allowing me 80 minutes of coaching time to assist my students with strategic, targeted intervention that clears up misconceptions quickly…This is Khan Academy!   My students are genuinely gaining true mastery of mathematical concepts because they are demonstrating continuous proficiency in the Khan Academy modules.  I am able to differentiate my teaching effortlessly by using the real time data.

Because Khan Academy is a tool not a program, I wanted to create a blended learning environment where kids learn in many different modalities.  The other centers include Common Core projects, Board Math templates that include doing research and also “producing” Educreations videos, similar to Sal’s. Since I “invented” We <3 2 Learn in February, already it has evolved. We now include goal setting, reflections, taking notes, and practicing active listening. Learning can and should happen in a joyful environment; in my class we love to learn!


Update: Less than 2 weeks after Alison wrote this post, she was chosen as Teacher of the Year at her school.  What made it even more special is that she was chosen by her colleagues for the award.  Congrats Alison!