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Despite the numerous success stories and examples from two years with Khan Academy, there are still some questions and concerns that I have and will try to address this year.  

Question:

Can you share your curriculum / resources with me?

My Thoughts:

You can download my 6th grade math curriculum aligned to Khan Academy


 

Question:

What happens at the end of the school year if there are students who have not completed all the units or if students complete all the units before the school year ends?  

 

My Thoughts:

Because I have the luxury of teaching in a self-contained classroom, I am able to make adjustments in the daily schedule to allow for more math time.  In addition, Eastside has after school hours from 5-10pm.  They can stay at school to access the internet in the computer lab.  I have the flexibility to stay with them in the evenings to help.  When the school year ended at the end of May, I had almost half the class who hadn’t finished all the units.  Some needed to take the final post-test, some needed to retake a post-test, and others needed to start the last unit.  To accommodate this need, I held a 2-week summer school session in June.  Students came to school from 8-2pm to work on Khan Academy and complete the units.  For the students who were extremely behind, I modified their unit packet to focus only on the core content and removed exercises that were included as extensions.  By doing this, in those two weeks, everyone finished and everyone passed all the 6th grade math units.  I know that this flexibility with time is unique to my life and circumstance.  My students were able to finish because I had extra time to give them.  I know that this is not always the case.  Students who finish the 6th grade curriculum move onto the 7th grade material.  Because the 7th/8th grade math teacher follows a similar model, the material is available for use.  

 

Question:  

Is there a certain characteristic/personality of students that gives them an advantage as they proceed through the math curriculum using Khan Academy?

 

My Thoughts:  

Students who are more independent and self-directed are the ones who take off with this learning model and use of Khan Academy.  Other personality traits/characteristics that help students are perseverance, grit, and stamina.  Students who are more dependent on others to learn, less confident, easily distracted, less focused, and those who give up quickly usually require more time and teacher support.  Part of the teacher’s job then becomes to help these students develop habits of work and habits of mind that will help their academic achievement.  

 

Question:  

How will the students feel about themselves if they are behind other students in their progress?

 

My Thoughts:  

Establishing a classroom culture of acceptance, respect, and kindness is of utmost importance.  Classroom community expectations should be known and should become common language shared within the class.  Teachers can consistently draw on these, reiterate, and emphasize these in order to prevent potential problems with self-concept.  

 

Question:

If some students do not have access to the internet at home, how will they overcome the disadvantage of having less time to work towards their goals?

 

My Thoughts:  

These students need more time and access to the internet.  Some of my students go to their local libraries on the weekends.  Other students stay in the computer lab in the evenings to continue working toward their goals.  And in my class’ case, I was able to have two weeks of summer school in June to provide this extra time and support.  

 

Question:  

Although it is clear that student engagement/motivation increased with this new way of learning/teaching (qualitative data from survey), how certain are we that math skills have improved (quantitative data) when compared to the traditional way of teaching?  

 

 

My Thoughts:  

The quantitative data from my classroom has shown improvement in math achievement.  Compared to the data from my teaching without Khan Academy, I’ve found that more students are passing unit tests and final exams.  With the traditional teaching model, on average, there would be about 5-6 students (out of 24) who were not able to pass with a 70% or higher.  Out of these, many scored way below 70%, with scores of 20%, 30%, 40%.  It was clear that these students did not learn the unit content.  Although I’ve always required all students to make test corrections, I struggled finding time to help these students one-on-one.  To my shame and dismay, students moved right along to the next unit without addressing the struggles of the previous unit.  There were so many holes and compounding holes.  In the years using Khan Academy and integrating it fully into the math curriculum and my math instruction, I’ve seen some quantitative differences.  First, the number of students who didn’t pass unit tests and/or the final exams decreased to about 2-4.  And of these students, their scores were almost always in the 60-69% range.  They were very close to passing.  In addition, because of the new math model using Khan Academy, I had time to meet with every student who did not pass.  We had time to go over and talk about each problem.  The students were then able to make corrections with awareness of what they did wrong or with new clarity about the concepts.  And 100% of the time, they passed the post-test retake.  Thus, students moved on to the next unit only after the holes were filled.