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Strategies for using Khan Academy with students

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Setting up the classroom

Khan Academy is designed to work in conjunction with the other resources in your classroom. Teachers experienced with Khan Academy suggest the following approaches when preparing classrooms already equipped with devices and internet for using Khan Academy.
Headphones for students
As students work through questions on Khan Academy, they may choose to watch videos to help them better understand the skills they are working on. In a class full of students, all the video sound can easily become a distraction. Providing a pair of headphones for each student helps that student and their classmates maintain focus. If headphones are unavailable for your students, an alternative is to ask students to mute their video and use the closed captioning by selecting the CC in the bottom right corner.
Small whiteboards for everyone
Khan Academy provides a digital scratchpad for students to work through questions. However, many students find it easier to take notes outside the platform. Many teachers have found personal whiteboards with a dry erase marker and eraser helpful for students. Teacher tip: Buy a bulk bag of small, dark colored socks for students to use as erasers; they double as marker storage. If whiteboards are unavailable, pencil and paper are a good alternative.
Provide space for student collaboration
While each student may be working on unique questions based on their learning journey, most experienced teachers recommend setting your classroom up in a way that encourages students to support each other when they are stuck. This helps students become advocates for their own learning and provides them with the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding to peers, building confidence.
Student-driven goal-tracking
While Khan Academy provides some ways to track skill and course progress, we recognize that course level goals can feel a bit overwhelming for students. Teachers recommend setting smaller, interim goals and including students in the goal-setting process. (Check out this article for more information on goal-setting and monitoring.) Providing students with a goal-setting sheet (like the one seen below) and/or tracking student progress through a classroom display can help build student ownership in their learning and increase motivation to make progress.

In-class strategies

Teachers use a variety of different strategies to help students make progress on Khan Academy. Below you’ll find a few recommendations from teachers experienced with in-class use.
Whole class
Many teachers recommend having the whole class work on the same topic as a great starting point for those new to Khan Academy. Start by assigning the same course mastery goal to the class and provide time, at least 45 minutes per week, for students to work on that goal (more on setting mastery goals). Some teachers encourage the whole class to work on the same curriculum-aligned assignments. In this case, we recommend providing students with the same questions for each exercise in order to allow for class discussion and opportunities to address common mistakes.
Small groups
Once you begin to feel more comfortable using Khan Academy and students are beginning to make progress, try breaking students into groups to better address student needs. Use Khan Academy’s Skills report (shown below) to identify strengths and gaps in student skill sets. Then, assign specific skills to small groups of students, and allow them to work both independently and as a group to strengthen weaker areas. Many teachers use this time to work with a specific group of students who are struggling; this approach allows them to provide more individualized attention to students who need it while also providing the right content in the right moment to all students.
Station rotation
This approach is particularly helpful if you have a limited number of devices for students. Use Khan Academy’s Skills report to identify strengths and gaps in student skill sets, and then break students up into small groups. Set up stations around the classroom for students to work on. These could include application activities for integrating skills into real-world practice, review of content from the core curriculum, or small group sessions with the teacher. Be sure to include Khan Academy as one of the stations. Have students work at each station for a specified number of minutes and then rotate to the next station. This allows students to work on necessary content, keeps all students engaged, and reduces the need for all students to have a device at all times.
If you are confident all students have reliable device and internet access at home, assigning Khan Academy for homework may be a good option. By assigning a mastery goal and supporting assignments for at least 45 minutes a week, you’ll quickly have access to a good amount of student progress data. Then, use in-class time to discuss common problems, reteach specific skills, and celebrate successes. Using the Assignment responses report is helpful for identifying the most commonly missed questions, and the Progress reports (shown below) can be used to display unit and course progress for the entire class. You can even hide student names to celebrate progress while also maintaining individual anonymity

Other Tips and Tricks

Most teachers have a few tips and tricks up their sleeves for using tools in their classroom, and Khan Academy teachers are no different. Below is a list of tips from real teachers who have implemented Khan Academy in their classrooms.
How can I get more comfortable using Khan Academy?
Just like teachers often tell their students: practice. One piece of advice we hear frequently is to choose a course that interests you—the course you teach is a great starting point!—and to study it on Khan Academy. This way you get a chance to experience Khan Academy the way your students do and probably refresh a few skills along the way. Some teachers even share their mastery progress with students to reinforce the idea that they too are learners.
How many assignments should I give per week?
Three to five assignments per week is a sweet spot for most classrooms. Having clear, regular patterns around posting assignments and their due dates is also vital. For example, a teacher might post three to five assignments every Sunday night and make all assignments due by 3:00 p.m. Friday afternoon.
How can I group students to work together?
Use the Skills report to identify students who are at the same mastery level for a given skill. This is a great opportunity to create an assignment in which all students receive the same set of questions in order to encourage collaboration.
What should I encourage students to do when they get stuck?
We encourage teachers to establish their own classroom norms, and many teachers have recommended a three-before-me approach when supporting students who are stuck on a question:
Step 1: Watch a video—each question on Khan Academy has a corresponding video that helps the student learn the skill(s) needed to answer the question.
Step 2: Take a hint—each question on Khan Academy has the option to take a hint and walk step-by-step through the exact question. However, if students use the take-a-hint option, the question will be marked incorrect as the last step in the hint is the answer to the question.
Step 3: Ask a friend—this step encourages students to ask the question of a peer. In this situation the asking student embraces the idea of asking another student for help, and the answering student is given an opportunity to share knowledge and build confidence.
Step 4: Ask the teacher—Only after the student has engaged in steps one to three should they then approach the teacher for one-to-one support.
How can I involve parents/guardians in Khan Academy?
Communication is key, so take time to tell parents/guardians about Khan Academy. Here is a sample letter to parents to help get started.
Some teachers and administrators recommend having a back-to-school night session to help families better understand what Khan Academy is, how Khan Academy can support student success, and what families can do to get involved.
Help parents and guardians set up their own Khan Academy parent account to track student activity. Use this parent quick start guide to get started.
The fact that Khan Academy is available in over 40 languages (more on languages here) so families can learn at home in the language they are most comfortable with can be a huge selling point!

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