Posts tagged khan academy
Posts tagged khan academy
— Khan Academy (@khanacademy)
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.
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!
For more about Ane’s classroom, check out her blog at: http://khanacademyjesuitak.blogspot.com.es/
— Derek Oldfield (@Mr_Oldfield)
Let your child fail. That was my initial reaction to a recent message that showed up in my inbox. We live in a “little league” age of celebrating success. In t-ball, every player gets to bat. In little league, every player gets a trophy. I don’t disagree with instructional league rules by any means. However, at what age does failure begin to have value? I was sitting in a department meeting recently when a district-level administrator asked me if I had analyzed test scores of last year’s students to determine if Khan Academy actually had any effect on those students’ test scores. I replied honestly, and said that I had only checked on a handful of students’ scores. But as I continued to ponder her request, I lost my appetite for looking up any more test results. I realize that no matter what those test results may show, they don’t reveal one of the most important skills being taught in my class. They might reveal which students learned how to apply the Pythagorean Theorem in a real-life situation, but what is not tested is perhaps the most important. Tests of that sort do nothing to promote the value of failure. Upon reading that recent message from my inbox, I wanted to shout out “let your child fail.” The shouting was not due to frustration, rather to be sure that my voice was heard by many. And when I say fail, I mean fall. Let them fall. How can we learn to get back up if we never fall? Or if someone else always picks us up. Too often today, students are given every possible opportunity NOT to fail. But why? Why are we afraid of failure? Putting students in frustrating and uncomfortable situations is a tricky part of my job. I have to find that zone where students are frustrated enough to seek out a solution THEMSELVES. I hear this a lot, “Well I’ll just get my mom to help me.” There’s nothing wrong with phoning a friend or a mom. My message to parents, though, is to let your child fail. Sometimes teachers put students in a certain situation so they will fail. Because until they fail, they’ll never seek out that solution themselves. Tests don’t measure whether a student has developed the fortitude to seek out a solution himself, or whether they’ve developed persistence in problem solving. Even if a student doesn’t arrive at the correct solution, the journey or the number of attempts is often what is more important. I always try to make sure that I’ve directed my students to places and opportunities where they can develop, create, or find a solution. But I try to stop there. Too often are students lead, directed, and told which solution is correct. We call it “spoon-feeding”. And students know all about this. They know all about it, because it hits them like a brick wall the first time a teacher or parent shrugs their shoulders and refuses to help them at the first sign of adversity. I want my daughter to be a successful, hard-working citizen. I know that won’t come without learning to fail, get back up, and seek out a solution.
The picture below is a graph of a student’s last 35 problems on adding/subtracting negative numbers. You’ll find the number of problems completed at the bottom the bars. The red bars indicate a wrong answer was inputted first, but eventually the student arrived at the correct answer. You’ll also see that the student’s longest streak correct was 11. This particular student has been struggling adding and subtracting negative numbers for quite a while, but has just recently shown some progress. We’ve exhausted ourselves on learning strategies. We’ve talked about spending money, owing money, number lines, football plays, temperature, etc. The student has struggled to find a solution that works consistently enough to stick. However, it appears the student is finally getting it. This particular student has learned a lot about persistence in problem solving. The student has sought out the answer him/herself and used multiple resources along the way. Consider what this student learned throughout this journey, in addition to learning how to correctly add and subtract negative numbers. All because she was allowed to fail.
One of Khan Academy’s early pilot teachers, Suney Park, has been featured in the new book American Teacher. The book details the stories of 50 inspiring teachers from across the US. Congratulations Suney! Thank you for all that you do for your students!
Read about her inspiring story and learn more about how she uses Khan Academy here.
If you live in the California Bay Area, you can also hear her speak this Saturday, October 12 at the Barnes & Nobles in San Jose from 11:30-12:30 (more info here)
You can now easily recommend practice for multiple students in your class!
To get started, visit:
Click COACH in the upper left, Skill Progress, and then pick a skill to ”Recommend to students that need practice.”