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Guest blog post from the Khan Academy Schools blog

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

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Spring 2013

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.

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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!

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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!