Below are some of the most common scenarios that teachers encounter when using Khan Academy with their students. Feel free to go through them and consider how you would handle each situation, or use this list to spark discussions with other teachers.
After each scenario are examples of solutions that we've seen teachers use in the past. Of course, every student is different, and strategies that succeed with some may not work with others. We encourage you to adjust these strategies to suit your specific needs and to add your own ideas to the list!
Challenge #1: Racing ahead
You're about to teach a three-week unit on linear equations. Halfway into the unit, you realize all of your students have completed all the skills for linear equations, except for three students who each still have about five more skills to do. What can you do?
- Have everyone who's done with the unit work on a project that helps them apply and deepen their knowledge of the concepts.
- Use small-group and one-on-one sessions to work with the three students who need more help, or match them with peer tutors.
- Enable students who are ready to move on to the next unit to do so.
- Give students time to set their own goals and to learn something they are passionate about.
Challenge #2: Swiss-cheese holes
While teaching two-step equations, you realize that roughly 60% of your students are confused about negative numbers and fractions. The test is next week and you are concerned that your students will do poorly. How might you change your plans?
- Recommend that students who are struggling with negative numbers and fractions work on related skills on Khan Academy.
- Use one-on-one and small-group sessions to help struggling students master negative numbers and fractions.
- Use peer tutoring to enable students to help each other.
- Consider giving the test on a few different dates so that students who need more time can achieve mastery and those who are ready can move on.
Challenge #3: Classroom management obstacles
You have a handful of students who just listen to music and watch YouTube videos every time they are supposed to work on Khan Academy. How will you handle this situation? What can you do in the future to prevent it?
- Use YouTube for Schools to filter YouTube for educational content only.
- Use the Activity report to track how students are using their Khan Academy time, and use class incentives (grades, points, rewards, etc.) to motivate students to use this time responsibly.
Challenge #4: Cultivating a specific classroom culture
You have a student who is far behind the rest of the students—and he knows it. He is working incredibly hard on Khan Academy, but he gets disheartened when he sees his peers working on more advanced topics. How can you create an environment that values his hard work?
- Talk to your class about self-pacing. Bring in examples from outside school (e.g., sports, music, etc.) to make it clear that everyone learns at different paces, and that's just fine.
- Celebrate each student's individual success by praising students who work hard.
- Close class on some days by having students share something they learned, and praise students for their effort.
Challenge #5: Math is the worst
You have a student who absolutely hates math. He doesn't think he's any good at it, and he begrudgingly works on the Khan Academy skills you recommend to him. What can you do to invest and motivate this student?
- Teach him (as well as your other students) about the growth mindset. Find our lesson plan here.
- Look up his progress in your coach reports and praise his hard work, including any badges he has earned that might highlight his perseverance and success.
- Have him set his own goals on Khan Academy. Allow him to select any skills (perhaps even outside math) that he'd like to tackle, and praise him for showing initiative.
- Ask him to work with a motivated student on a project or Khan Academy.
- Identify whether he has gaps in his math background and enable him to fill those gaps (even if they are below grade level) so that he can become successful.
Challenge #6: Math is the best
You have one student who has mastered almost every skill on Khan Academy and is hungry for more. She is well beyond your curriculum. What can you do to continue challenging and engaging her?
- Encourage her to move on to more advanced content on Khan Academy. Track her progress and praise her motivation.
- To reinforce her knowledge, ask her to help her peers with topics they're struggling with. Just make sure she still has time to learn new concepts!
- Challenge her with interesting projects and interdisciplinary learning opportunities, such as Khan Academy's computer programming tutorials.