Guest blog post from the Khan Academy Implementations blog
by Alison Elizondo, 4th grade teacher at Burnett Elementary, a Title 1 school in Milpitas, CA.
Summer 2014
Summer vacation is here – a time to rest, recharge, and most importantly, reflect. Personally, I find myself thinking about the goals my students and I set at the beginning of the year. Although I’m sad to see the school year end, there’s still lots to celebrate. Not only did my students and I have fun learning together all year, but we also accomplished almost all our goals!
On the first day of instruction for the 2013-2014 school year, each student made one long term goal on a Khan Academy leaf (available here in Coach and Classroom Resources!). When we were disassembling our leaves from the ‘We <3 2 Learn’ bulletin board on the last day of school, we noted that 91% of the kids met their yearly goal! This was cause for celebration. In addition, I created and met the goal of beginning Khan Academy on the first day. After that was achieved, I added the goal of continuing with KA until the last day of school. This was easy because this class LoVeD Khan Academy. It is evident in the data. As a class, they mastered 4,432 modules. Energy points were very motivating for my 4th graders. Collectively, they earned over 14,295,000! Usually, their homework consisted of spending 20 minutes on the site mastering skills on the playlist. Consistently, they invested many more minutes than were required. All together, ‘my’ kids spent more than 160,272 minutes (or 4,338 hours). My highest girl progressed all the way to writing expressions and my highest boy mastered measurement precision. I love Khan Academy for this reason. High performing students can progress as fast as they can.
This was my third year using Khan Academy as the platform of my blended learning rotational model. I can confidently say, that KA has been the best tool, motivator and model for my students and myself. My ‘We <3 2 Learn’ continues to be an 80 minutes math ‘program’ that allows me time to coach individual students on skills he/she is struggling to understand. Peer coaching took off this year. It was a treat to see how my 9 year olds could create and communicate new ways of solving math problems.
For me, this was the most motivating year so far. There was literally a buzz in our classroom during math time. Students were engaged and excited to learn. The highlight of the year for me was my visit to Brazil. After two observations by the Brazil folks, I was asked to speak at their innovations in education conference: Transformar. Remember, I am a fourth grade teacher, not a public speaker. After I quickly got used to the 800+ faces looking at me, I just spoke about my passion for Khan Academy and for my blended learning rotational model.
I set five personal development goals for the year.
1. I challenged myself to increase the rigor of my performance tasks. Check.
2. I had the obligation to change my Board Math template to Common Core Board Math. I used KA’s Common Core map to find the most rigorous practice problems to include in my weekly board. Check.
3. It was important to me that Khan Academy was utilized every day of class. Check.
4. I wanted to use KA in a different way. I had never used playlists, so I added this method. I really liked it! Check.
5. It was important that I share my ideas with anyone interested in observing. Check. We had more visits than I can remember!
Khan Academy is constantly evolving. Khan Academy models exactly what I want for my students. Together we have achieved so much. Burnett students took risks, learned how to coach classmates, opened their creative minds, learned many new skills and became experts at collaborating. These students organically set long and short term goals for themselves. I genuinely believe that the students in Room 303 love to learn. This is a gift that Khan Academy and I gave to each one of my amazing students.
As the summer progresses, I know that many more creative scenarios will be designed for the 2014-2015 school year; We <3 2 Learn will be better than ever!