Sunday, September 2, 2012

Khan Academy

A big part of my job is collaborating and co-teaching with mainstream classroom teachers, so I always try to keep an eye out for technology that could be helpful for English learners (as well as other learners) in content area classes, such as math, science, social studies and language arts.

I happened to turn on the TV for a few minutes this afternoon and I caught a good portion of 60 Minutes, which was featuring Khan Academy - an edtech site that hosts thousands of free educational videos on (what seems like) any subject you may be interested in learning. I have used Khan Academy a several times with elementary and adult ed math classes, and have had positive results.

I see Khan Academy fitting into math and science instruction with English learners for a few main reasons:
  1. Students can learn at their own pace - they can stop, rewind, or fast forward to hear and see the information as many times as they need to really understand the concept.
  2. The videos provide modeling of both the new concept, as well as of the processing language necessary to explain and describe the new concept.
  3. Students can practice various concepts with practice problems, and are offered a corresponding video to watch if they get stuck on a problem. A personal tutor...just a click away.
  4. Teachers can track students' progress on Khan Academy by creating a free account and then creating a class list (students log in using a Google Apps account, and then add the teacher as a Coach). Once a student begins working on a set of practice problems, data about the # of problems right/wrong, as well as a record of the type of problems attempted are all accessible by the teacher/coach. This allows teachers to closely monitor progress and confer with students in a meaningful, specific and individualized way.

This year will be the first year I'll have students add me as a coach so I can track their progress. I'm pretty excited to see how well it works and will definitely report back!

For the record, the categories of topics covered by Khan Academy videos are (as of right now):

  • math
  • science
  • computer science
  • finance & econ
  • humanities
  • test prep

Have you used Khan Academy or some other screencasted video lessons? If so, which ones, and would you recommend them to other teachers?

Thanks for reading and happy Labor Day weekend! Hope the start of the school year goes smoothly for everyone!


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