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Khan Academy im Los Altos Schulbezirk

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Students are talking about math. They are talking about it in the hallways and on the playgrounds. They are wanting to go home and log into Khan Academy. It is really exciting. The question that high performing districts have to constantly respond to is 'Why change if things are going well?' And it really came down to: what our... our mission and vision were about. How can we make learning meaningful for each student at the individual level? In looking at Khan Academy, or any other tool, it really comes down to: what's the benefit for the student? What's the benefit for the teacher? In that order. Khan Academy got students the instruction, the learning that they needed, at the level they were at, at the time they needed it. The value for the teacher was: the data elements that were available. The teachers could know, at any moment in time, in real time, where a student was soaring successfully and where a student was struggling. The benefits allowed teachers to rethink instructional time. We're actually finding we have more time. Teachers aren't spending time on skills that students already know. They're able to adjust their time accordingly to truly meet the students' needs. So we started with 3 teachers, 120 or so students. And now, in our second year, we have over 1,000 students using Khan Academy as an online tool, and about 50 teachers involved in the project. >From the first time we started this, the kids were just through the roof about it. They just couldn't quit talking about it. They were excited. I could see that enthusiam. I could see that they were just wanting to spend hours and hours of time doing math calculations. Right there it's like a huge "woohoo" moment. Because kids do not want to sit down to do math calculations very often. We're able to move faster through the mandated curriculum. So we've had more time, actually, to pull in projects, to pull in other kinds of activities that aren't just out of your math book. Which is fantastic. Because that's where kids really learn. And that's what they love. They get excited about actually working on something to see how it actually is applicable to their world. But we couldn't have gotten there without, I think, having blended Khan Academy into our instruction. Well, I always wanted to do other things, I always tried to pull in projects, I always tried to find ways of hitting all the students at all their levels. And I just never felt that I was doing a very good job at it. So when Khan Academy came, within the first 2 weeks, I could see the kids that were struggling. Some kids were already passing module after module: moving into algebra, moving into places that I hadn't gotten to with them yet. I just looked at them and said: "oh my goodness, this is amazing". I was able to pull in small groups of kids to help boost them up find out where there levels were, that were way below where fifth grade was at the time. And, it finally gave me the freedom to know that I was teaching everybody. And that nobody at any time was bored. It helps in that I can pinpoint certain areas. Sometimes you can go for weeks and not know that a kid didn't get something from two chapters ago. So with Khan Academy, those things kind of show up a little bit more often and you can go in and sort of save the day. (laughter) Khan Academy has really had a great impact most of my students. There are those high achievers who use it to move ahead and they're curious about math and they're wanting to move on. They are wanting to explore new things and they have the ability to do that. Then we have the struggling learners who are still struggling with basic math that they never mastered in third, fourth or fifth grade and this gives them a chance to go back and fill those gaps in their understanding and move forward on a firmer foundation. These kids are actively engaged in their learning. These kids are applying their understanding of math to different situations. And they can have opportunities for one on one interactions with me or small group interactions with me where we can have math conversations that really contribute to their learning. In the past, I had to spend a lot of time collecting papers, looking them over, carrying big backpacks full of materials to and from school and getting paper cuts. And now, I have all of that data on my computer and it's so convenient because I can be up 10 o'clock at night or 5 in the morning or 3 in the afternoon, in the midst of my class. And I have it all there. I've gotten emails from parents that said: "they're having trouble on the homework", and I can go back and look at what that child was doing that night, find the exact problems that they were having issues with, and plan my lesson for the next morning with that child. My teaching is more informed and more targeted and I don't have to carry that big backpack around. The most exciting thing for me has been, just the idea of the door being open now to other possibilities. Because the tool's going to change what we are going after remains the same: optimizing the learning time that we have with these students. Teachers in this district have gone through a series of trainings this year regarding blended learning and implementation of the Khan Academy. We're seeing these emerging practices from our teachers that are incredible and they are doing wonderful things with the Khan Academy. with other tools for kids. So math instruction has really become richer and more engaging for our students. I inevitably am learning along side the students, and sometimes it's really uncomfortable but at the end of the day, I think it just is really a powerful experience because then the students are seeing someone in action being a life long learner. As a teacher, that's really what I want to show kids. That it isn't just about learning math today or learning science this week. it's about how do you learn for your whole life. Give yourself permission to not be the expert for a while, and to learn along side your kids. And that will create an amazing relationship between you and your students as you discover things together and as you celebrate accomplishments together.