Now you know WHY you should use Khan Academy to teach, but how exactly do you set it up for success? Sure, there are guides on the website, but I’m a real teacher who really used this platform to teach my very real fourth grade students.
First, you need to sign yourself up. It is easy and free. Then, once you are logged in, you need to add children or students. You can do this by clicking on your name in the upper right of the screen and choose to add students or add children.
Create Your Class
Before you can add students to your class, you need to create it. Once you choose to add students, you will be prompted to name your class. Choose something easy to remember for you AND your students. I usually go with Flanagan’s Fabulous or Fantastic or something else alliterative.
Then you pick your mission. All of the math missions are presented to you on the screen, or you can click on the button “This is not a math or programming course” to move to a different screen.
Last, add you kids! You can add them via email or without email. Students who have live school hosted email accounts OR who have a parent-approved email address are good candidates for the first option. Khan recommends that these students should be over age 13. For students under 13 OR who don’t have active email addresses, you can enter your preferred username and Khan will use that to create a unique username. Khan Academy takes the protection of minors seriously, so these accounts will be limited until a parent or guardian creates a connected account.
Get the Kids Involved
Before you let the kids loose in Khan, you will need to teach them the system and set some boundaries. Since you will need to build your own competency in this system, take some time to poke around and figure out how it works.
When you feel confident, walk your students through signing in. Have everyone go to their home screen on their laptops while you project your screen onto the smartboard or a flat white surface. Show them how to find their missions and their assignments from you.
Then, have all of your students take the comprehensive math assessment. It is adaptive and will give your students a good baseline for their performance. They should record their results and share them with you.
Making it Work for You
A tool is only as good as your skills with it, and Khan can be a useful tool. However, you need to use it well and with a purpose.
Since Khan is aligned to Common Core, more or less, it should be aligned with your grade level math curriculum. Students are assigned particular lessons or tasks individually. This can be a pain if you want to assign something to the whole class, but is pretty cool if you want to target particular students for specific topics.
As students use Khan, you can track their activity in your course center. You will be able to see when they log in, how long they are active, and what topics they work on. On the Student Progress, Skill Progress, and Grid tabs help you monitor what the students are working on. The Grid uses color coded graphics to show you the skill level in each topic for each student.
Right now, these are just data points. Until you actually act on it!
So now you have the numbers, and can use them to act.
Here’s what I did: I had students move through the fourth grade math program on pace with our curriculum, with a topic to topic match. If I noticed that I student was in the warning zone (red) or hadn’t been practicing, I would pull that child in a small group with others to practice those skills.
Seriously, it is just that simple.
For kids that were consistently achieving below grade level, Khan provided another data point in assessment meetings. It also provided the remediation, since it can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection.
The kids that are high achievers can go as far as they want, and can. Since you can track their progress, and learn along side the kids, you’ll be there to help them over any stumbles and assist every child in learning as much as possible or desired.
When and Where
Now that your kids know how to use Khan and you know what you want to use it for, you need to figure out where and when your students will use Khan.
Given that it is an online system, it can be accessed anywhere at any time. Which is way cool. I used it as a reward sometimes, and other times as a finish assignment. Since the kids loved it, and begged to “play Khan Academy” I used that to my advantage and held semi-weekly Khan Days in math where half of the time would be used at rotating targeted small group instruction and the other half was spent practicing skills on KA. I also used it as a fast finisher assignment in math. For kids that had successfully finished assignments, and demonstrated proficiency or mastery, they were allowed to continue their work online.
I also assigned it as optional homework, or sometimes just straight homework. Student could log in at home and work for not less than 10 minutes, and not more than 30 minutes, on the fourth grade math mission. They knew I could check in on them, so they were held accountable. For students without computer access, they were allowed time in class to work and were assigned short written homework.
How do you use Khan?