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Three Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Sal Khan

Did you know Sal Khan will be in Spain this week accepting a prestigious award from the Princess of Asturias Foundation? The team here at Khan Academy is very proud of Sal, and we’ll all be cheering for him on Friday, October 18 during the award ceremony! 🎉

You might think of Sal as the founder of Khan Academy, but we know him as the approachable, down-to-earth guy who we work with every day—and we want you to know that Sal too! Here are three facts about Sal you might not know!

Sal Khan wears shorts and a polo shirt and poses with a teacher. Text: Three things you probably didn't know about Sal Khan.

Image: Sal Khan and Khan Academy Ambassador Crystal Famania

1) Sal often wears shorts to the office.

You’ll probably see photos and video of Sal wearing a suit and tie accepting his award this week, but our Sal is often in the office wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Sal knows that people learn and work better in a variety of settings and at different times of day, and the culture in our office embraces that mindset. We enjoy a relaxed and casual dress code and are encouraged to work when and where we’ll be most productive. And, of course, Sal started Khan Academy by recording videos in his closet after work, so it’s always been casual for him.

2) Sal loves to conduct walking meetings.

If you have a meeting with Sal on your calendar, chances are you’ll be going for a walk with him outside the office. These walk-and-talk meetings are great for getting more physical exercise and experiencing a change of scenery. Plus, recent research found that walking can lead to increases in creative thinking!

3) Sal’s favorite book is Pride and Prejudice.

When Sal was forced to read Austen, Huxley, and Dickens in school, he hated these classic works of literature. But, when he reread Pride and Prejudice for fun in his twenties, he realized he loved it. What book from your childhood have you reread as an adult and now realize you actually love?

Follow the hashtags #PremiosPrincesadeAsturias and #PrincessofAsturiasAwards on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on Friday, October 18, to see pictures from the awards ceremony. You won’t be fooled by the suit now—you know the real Sal!

Onward!

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Figuring out how kids learn with #TeachWithKhan educator Tambra Kascic

In a recent interview, our Teacher Community Program Manager, Aviv, spoke to Tambra Kascic, an #alwaysgrowing educator with a special commitment to figuring out how kids learn and sharing her expertise in the #TeachWithKhan Facebook and Twitter communities. 

Aviv at Khan Academy: Can you describe your journey to becoming a teacher? 

Tambra:  Before I started teaching, I aspired to work in engineering technologies, and wound up working for a military-based supplier company. This is where I worked on various military equipment during Desert Storm and I got the opportunity to inspect the Atlantis space shuttle windows! I decided to re-attend college at age 48 to complete a degree in secondary education mathematics because I got tired of hearing teens say, “I hate math.” This is where I learned about Khan Academy from a grad student who was teaching a biology lab I was enrolled in.

Aviv at Khan Academy:  That’s an incredible journey! How did you address the I-hate-math attitude in your early years of teaching? 

Tambra: I first taught in Roane County, a rural farm community with a high need for math teachers and then at South Charleston High School, a school with a diverse population of under-resourced students. I taught classes from conceptual math to AP Calculus and implanted problem/project-based learning in all of my classes, much to the dismay of my fellow teachers. I asked to have the desks in rows and columns removed and found round tables so my students could work together and collaborate. Khan Academy became a tool for my students to use when questioning the process or their answers when they worked to complete problems in the classroom. 

Aviv at Khan Academy: Tell me more about how personalized learning fits into your teaching. 

Tambra: I decided to work towards my master’s degree in special education to better understand the teaching process for students with special needs. I wanted to use those skills for students who fell through the cracks in the general education classrooms. After receiving my masters, I accepted a position at the same high school to create an engineering program as well as teach the college dual credit classes and AP Calculus. The engineering project was to increase our students in STEM-related courses and careers and to encourage female students to continue in STEM courses. Our current level of 18% female students enrolled in engineering-type courses is well below the national average, and it is my hope to continue to increase this percentage each year. We are on the right track, and have increased our enrollment by almost 400%, have a 3D printing lab, and opened our first chapter of Skills USA for our school!

Aviv at Khan Academy: What are your plans for continuing to personalize learning for all students in the future? 

Tambra: While my master’s degree addressed many of the questions I had regarding cognitive learning and how it relates to curriculum, I decided to pursue my doctorate in philosophy with a focus on cognition and curriculum psychology in order to design and implement evidence-based interventions to better serve struggling students. 

It is my goal to get to the heart of I-hate-math statements and encourage my district to use strategies that change the mindset of students, so they will be more motivated to continue pathways that lead to STEM careers. 

I am currently working on a research topic relating to psychology, math and learning struggles of students in general education. Through this process, I have continued to use Khan Academy, going as far as becoming an Ambassador in order to train and encourage other teachers to use this amazing tool. 

Aviv at Khan Academy: Thanks so much for sharing your story with us!

Tambra: Thank you for the opportunity!

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After seeing substantial score gains in a pilot study, Khan Academy launches a new offering for school districts

Two years ago, Khan Academy started a pilot program with Long Beach Unified School District in Long Beach, California, to explore how to work with teachers and unlock student potential. Bolstered by the pilot’s success, we’re pleased to announce the introduction of Khan Academy Districts, a landmark new offering for school districts across the country.

In addition to Long Beach Unified, Compton Unified School District and Madera Unified School District in California and Seminole County Public Schools in Florida will use Khan Academy Districts this school year. 


Khan Academy and Long Beach Unified conducted a joint correlational study in the 2017-2018 school year of more than 5,000 students. Research shows:

  • Teaching with Khan Academy for one class period per week for at least 30 minutes was associated with students gaining an additional 22 points on the state mathematics assessment.
  • Long Beach Unified reported students who used Khan Academy gained twice the district average on the state assessment.
  • Findings held true regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, family income, or English language learner status.

Long Beach Unified is the third largest school district in California and serves one of the most diverse cities in the United States.

We hope that Khan Academy Districts will give teachers across the United States the tools to deliver meaningful learning gains for every student in their classrooms. We’re proud to partner with districts to unlock student potential, with a focus on underserved populations.

Khan Academy Districts provides tools, professional development, and data insights to help teachers, district administrators, and principals drive student achievement district wide. District leaders gain insights into student progress via reports on usage and impact. Students have access to materials at a level just right for them. Additionally, teachers receive year-round, wrap-around support. 

Khan Academy Districts is available for school districts everywhere for the 2020-2021 school year. Interested districts can learn more here

Onwards!

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Engineering principles help us scale to better meet our mission

Growth is a goal for every organization and company. At Khan Academy, our nonprofit mission is to reach all learners around the world whose lives can be improved with access to a free education. To give you an idea of our growth towards our mission, today 18 million people learn on Khan Academy every month, up from nine million in 2016. 

How have we been able to deliver more content, more features, and continually improved experiences for our users? Our VP of Engineering, Marta Kosarchyn, shares out a powerful and an often overlooked strategy for scaling growth. Read more in the Khan Engineering blog. Inspired by our mission? Be sure to check out our careers page.


Making the right shifts keeps things running smoothly.  Photo by Alok Sharma on Unsplash

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Meet the Best Presentation winner at the first-ever  Khan Academy Ambassador Summer Summit

Amy Forsythe is a high school math teacher as Mason High School in Mason, Ohio. Amy attended our inaugural Khan Academy Ambassador Summer Summit in July and we’re delighted to share this guest blog post!

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By Amy Forsythe

My experience at the the pilot Khan Academy Ambassador Summer Summit—#KhanCon—was amazing! 

My expectation was that I would learn some new tricks for using Khan Academy in my classroom and maybe even get some insider info on what changes will be taking place in the future, and that definitely happened. I not only heard things that will help me in my classroom, but I also got great tips on how Khan Academy can help others.   

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While those tangible learnings were huge, the real WOW moments for me were the connections I made with other Ambassadors and the Khan Academy staff. It is an incredible experience to be around others who share your passion for something. We realized how much we all have in common despite being from different states, different subject areas, different grade levels, and different types of schools.  

I was also overwhelmed by how much the Khan Academy staff wanted to talk with us and learn about how we use their resources and what challenges we face. I was asked my opinion on things so many times! I was constantly talking with Khan Academy staff during breaks, lunch, and any other times we could find! I didn’t anticipate that. 

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A theme that kept coming up was looking at student growth over time rather than assignment scores alone, meaning we collectively valued looking at where a student started off and tracking their improvement. With Khan Academy, different students can have different goals for growth and mastery of specific skills—working methodically from the foundation up to more advanced learning—that they can keep track of themselves so that all students are appropriately challenged. In the past, I’ve focused more on individual assignments. But coming out of the Khan Academy Ambassador Summer Summit, I’d like to do more with growth and mastery.

It was so obvious that the Khan Academy staff wanted to do more than just make a great product. They really want to help teachers have a great impact. Seeing people working so hard to help me do my job more effectively made me so happy!  

I left #KhanCon knowing more about how to use Khan Academy in my classroom and also knowing that there are so many people who really value what teachers do and want to help them reach as many students as possible, as effectively as possible.  

That is simply amazing.

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