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Khan Academy at Oakland Unity High School

Video transcript
I think what's fun for me is watching my students get excited about math. because I'm a math nerd. My students, at the beginning, were like, "Math sucks! I don't really like math." But more and more of them are getting excited and getting excited when they understand something. Both my principal and I, the very same day, heard the same piece on NPR, talking about Khan Academy, and they were talking about the videos and they mentioned the exercises. And we both had the same reaction. The what? Exercises? Khan has exercises? And once we realized that they had exercises, we said "We've got to look deeper in this." There's something here we could really use. We had experimented with online learning already with another program that wasn't working ... and I had gone onto Khan Academy and experienced it and saw how much better it was. How much students could learn. And so I was excited for students to learn in an online forum that would actually work. The thing that surprised us was the way Khan worked to help change the habits of these kids. Previously, when they thought a homework problem was difficult, they stopped. "I can't get it, I won't do it. " Something about Khan, "Well, you can't just stop, because then how do I move the bar forward, how do I make the progress?" It just seduces them into doing more effort. They start doing the effort, they start taking responsibility for their own education. High school students are definitely lacking a lot of foundations. There are some big gaps, specifically negative numbers, fractions, decimals. They come into ninth grade, and they're like "I've heard this speech before, I already know it." And so Khan Academy says "Actually, you don't know it, cause you just got this problem wrong." And so it confronts them with their own false confidence, and then they're like "Okay, now I need to learn it." And they learn it. Finally, for the first time. We test our students who are coming in every year. Before school starts, we give a test in Algebra. They've taken Algebra, but we want to know how much they know. And they unfortunatly know very little. The last two years, the incoming freshman average score on the Algebra Pre-Assesment was 17 percent. Exactly the same. Last year's class did not use Khan; this year's class uses Khan. Same lecture, same teacher. As brilliant as we are, we haven't really changed. Khan is the changing factor here. And our scores have been much higher. The average last year was 37 percent; the average this year, 72 percent. Some students took off right away. They realized they could actually go in and learn whatever they wanted, as long as they got got the required learning done. So I have students [who] are learning calculus already. And that jumped into geometry right away because they thought it was cool. Other students took a while to figure that out because they were still plodding through the required stuff. But as more and more of them are getting stronger, they're getting happier about making choices about what they get to learn. We actually have two different classrooms. In my classroom, there are no computers. Then, I have a computer lab, where about two or three times a week, they're working exclusively with a computer. When they're with me, I'm explaining problems, they're doing problems. What's different in my room, is this. My kids are more engaged. They're getting more help on the basics of solving equations, factoring quadratics, graphing parabolas. It's almost as if, they weren't doing homework before, now they're doing homework. But it's Khan homework. Khan is changing the one thing that needs to be changed with these kids, which is their learning habits. It finds a way to get them to take more responsibility. Khan is helping me win that battle. And that's the battle I could not win by myself. Now that they're fully engaged, I actually have more of a challenge being a math teacher. Now I have to find a way to really take them deeper, into more complex problems... solving more difficult word problems. Because they are engaged and they're ready for it. I think the biggest change I've seen in our students is their idea about how learning happens. Students felt that when a teacher told you information and magically you understood it and you did well. And Khan Academy has really changed that. Now the students realize that it's their job to figure it out. And there are supports for them, but they'e responsible for understanding it.