I have posted about how I have implemented Khan Academy when working with small groups and when differentiating instruction, and we have received comments asking for more Khan Academy know how. I am certainly not an expert, but after tinkering around with it for about two years, and seeing what has worked and not worked, I have a few tips for using Khan Academy in the classroom.
TIPS FOR USING KHAN ACADEMY
1. Hold Students accountable for their work on Khan Academy
Duh, right? It might be tempting, but you cannot sidestep this one. My first months I used Khan, I didn’t even check that they were accomplishing anything on Khan Academy. To make matters worse, I allowed students to listen to music when they were working (rookie mistake), so they then spent 25 minutes making a playlist, and .0008 minutes working on math. I was so frustrated with myself that I almost abandoned it. Then, I remembered that stickers solve all classroom woes, and developed this very official and fancy sticker chart.
When students got 5 in a row correct, they raised their hands and got a sticker for this category. If I was working with a small group, I assigned a student to walk around and give stickers. If you have a well trusted classroom, you could implement some sort of honor system or have students snap a picture of their “5 in a row” to earn a sticker.
I also held students accountable by watching their time on task. Khan Academy allows you to check how long students have been working and engaged. I would project that screen and refresh occasionally to see if there were any students who were not getting their work completed. I would kindly let them know that they needed to get _______ more minutes complete to earn a _________. There was also a separate prize (usually getting to be sticker person next time) if you had the most time on task. 🙂
2. Tell students EXACTLY what to do
You must tell your students exactly what to do, and make sure that it is crystal clear. I snipped this image below from a document that many of the teachers at my school (myself included) used while implementing Khan. I gave the directions on how to get to Khan website and the assignments every. single. time. They will not magically remember how to do this. I used Khan once a week, and they managed to forget every single week.
You could make a poster, and save yourself paper, but this was a template on my computer, so I would just need to change the recommendations. Also, over plan. In the image above, I gave them 6 recommendations to master – mastering means getting 5 questions in row correct. I gave them 6, prioritizing whatever was placed at 1 and 2. Giving 6 recommendations, prevented my wonderful students from asking what to do now that they were finished. If you have higher level students or a higher level class in general you might consider assigning a few key skills and then allowing students to pick something that interests them.
3. Make Sure to Vet the Recommendations
When you are assigning recommendations to students for practice, you are able to type in any skill! It is amazing! In the picture above, I began typing ‘adding fractions.’ Before I assign this recommendation, I make sure to look over an example problem or two to decide if this is what I had in mind (you can do this by hovering over the I icon). You want to make sure that students can be successful at the rigor that Khan will provide. The purpose of Khan Academy in my class room was for students to be able to solve problems they have already learned as practice independently. If you are assigning recommendations that do not really align to the objective or the level of rigor that the students know, then you will have 25 hands in the air, and your small group plans will be thwarted.
Khan is an incredible resource that when used effectively can result in more “at bats” than any other resource. Do you have any tips for using Khan Academy in the classroom?