Over the past few years, Khan Academy has grown from a few simple YouTube videos into a fully-featured, interactive educational system that allows students to learn and measure their progress at their own pace. It has drawn the attention of big names like Bill Gates and is being used in some form at hundreds of schools nationwide. In short, it’s pretty hot right now, and you’d be remiss as an educator or a student not to check out what it has to offer.
Whether you want to use it as a study tool for your own education or bring it in as an alternative way for students in your classes to learn a subject, it’s simple and free to get started with Khan Academy. This is perhaps a large part of the reason why it’s proving so popular nationwide. Here, we’ve highlighted some of the many schools that are using Khan Academy’s instructional videos to teach, learn, share, and grow from elementary school to high school. You may just find inspiration to start using Khan Academy on your own!
Los Altos School District:
If there’s a model of a school using Khan Academy, it’s this Silicon Valley-adjacent school district. The district is participating in a pilot program in partnership with the developers at Khan Academy, and the results of student experiences with the videos and learning tools are being closely monitored. So far, things seem promising and the school has recently expanded the Khan program to all schools and a wider range of grade levels. Khan videos and materials are most often used in math courses to supplement and support existing lesson plans. Administrators haven’t found significant differences in test scores in students who use Khan (Los Altos is already a high-performing school district), but many report seeing a newfound enthusiasm for learning in students that they don’t get through traditional textbooks.
Franklin Elementary School:
Franklin Elementary in Franklin, Connecticut is seeking out new and innovative ways to bring online learning into the traditional classroom. In 2012, the school began using Khan Academy in their sixth, seventh, and eighth grade math classes. So far, both teachers and students have been happy with the results. Teachers feel it has helped them to better assess student abilities and focus on helping students where they need it most. Students have reported that the Khan programs have helped improve their math performance and have made math fun for them. Online learning programs have also helped replace language teachers at the school, which had to be let go due to budget shortfalls. Students can now work through math problems using Khan Academy and learn a language through LiveMocha, all at their own pace.
Minola School District:
With the launch of the new iPad app for Khan Academy, it’s easier than ever for teachers to bring the resources it has to offer into the classroom. One school district making use of both the tablets and the online education site is Minola School District in New York. Elementary and middle school students within the district are using Khan Academy on their iPads to watch videos and play math-related games that earn them rewards as they progress. Students get goals from their teachers to work on using the program; once they’ve achieved those goals, they can then progress to new goals at their own pace. It’s been a big help to many students, both those who need a little help with math and those who want to work ahead, with one student moving into some serious algebra well ahead of his 5th grade class. Test scores have also supported the program, with students using Khan often outpacing others in their math comprehension.
Envision is one of four charter schools in Northern California that’s experimenting with Khan Academy in its academic programs. Last summer, the school ran a small program for remedial algebra students using Khan materials, a pilot which was largely successful. The school’s chief academic officer, Brian Greenberg, says students respond so well to the Khan material because they get “instant feedback” through tracking accomplishment and progress and by earning badges. During the summer program, students only spent half their time on algebra, with the rest spent on building lower-level math skills, yet the students in the program still outscored those in the traditional class that only focused on algebra. Many teachers feel that this is because allowing students to work on these weak spots takes the fear away from math, and makes it fun for students to learn in a way that many haven’t experienced before.
Apple Valley School District:
The Apple Valley School District is using Khan Academy in its math classes, but they’ve chosen to combine it with another teaching tool, Accelerated Math, to get even more out of the videos and programs offered. The combination allows teachers to connect videos and lessons from the Khan Academy site directly to district and statewide objectives for learning, making it simple to use the free materials at Khan without skipping over anything central to standardized test prep. In addition to using Khan Academy, students are also encouraged to embrace Google apps, wikis, and other forward-thinking technologies for education.
Mt. Ararat Middle School:
Based in Topsham, Maine, this middle school is embracing Khan Academy in a pilot set of math classrooms this year. Students will be using the math videos posted at Khan to learn new concepts while also completing problem sets, both in the classroom and at home for practice. The school is encouraging parents and staff members to sign on as coaches for students, helping them to stay motivated and get the support they need to succeed. If the pilot program is successful this year, students at Mt. Ararat could see a lot more Khan in the classrooms in coming years.
Bubb Elementary School:
Gayle Dyer is bringing a host of online and high-tech tools into the classroom for her fifth grade students at Bubb Elementary School to use. Students can play and learn on iPads and through educational content on YouTube and Khan Academy. Dyer is one of many teachers taking part in a pilot program through Khan Academy and she is having a great experience so far, saying, “The kids are highly engaged in it. When they do it on the iPad, it’s fun. So they’re practicing more.” Dyer says that using the iPad for Khan lessons has been effective because students can work at their own pace and because they can showcase their progress through earned badges, boosting their self-confidence and interest in math.
Summit Preparatory School:
Summit is one of a number of California charter schools making Khan a part of their everyday classroom experience. The school is splitting up lessons between those that are teacher-led and those that are computer-based, allowing students to get feedback from both their teacher and the online Khan programs. Unlike many of the other schools participating in Khan’s pilot programs, Summit is from a far less affluent community, with 40% of students qualifying for free lunches and a high level of gang violence. Many students don’t have a computer at home, but through the help of the school and the Khan Academy, many are improving their test scores and doing well in their studies.
Hope Technology School:
This private school in Palo Alto uses small classes (only 12-13 students) and the latest technology to help both typical learners and those with special needs thrive in a classroom setting. One of the newest tools being tried out in Hope classrooms is Khan Academy. Hope is unique among schools trying out Khan because nearly 40% of its students have special needs and require special accommodations in the classroom and during testing. Yet that hasn’t held them back, as students at the school generally perform at or above grade level. With students able to learn at their own pace through Khan, it makes it simple to accommodate the needs of just about any type of learner. The long-term effects of Khan at Hope have yet to be seen, but it is so far proving to be yet another valuable tech tool in the school’s arsenal.
Mt. Lebanon High School:
Math classes at Mt. Lebanon are fully embracing the idea of the flipped classroom, with students watching lectures as homework and getting help from their teacher to work on problem sets in class. A big help to this process has been Khan Academy, which was the inspiration for teachers to create their own Khan-like programs for students. While students don’t always use Khan material in class, it was the model provided by the service that inspired several Mt. Lebanon teachers to flip their classrooms, developing their own video lectures and online content. Students and teachers alike are loving the new model, with many really appreciating being able to go back and watch videos or review material that was confusing at first glance.
Fitzgerald Public Schools:
Students at Chatterton Middle School in the Fitzgerald Public School District are using Khan Academy to work at their own pace in math classes in a program called Tier Math. Students begin the course at their own level and work through at a pace that is comfortable for them, progressing through lectures and problem sets using Khan Academy resources online. It seems to be working, as assessment scores have been steadily increasing in students in the Tier Math program. Students in the first Tier Math class were even asked to become teachers themselves and show students in later classes how to use the online tools, an experience teachers report as being highly successful and that will likely continue in future years.
Acton Academy is making great strides in bringing adaptive educational technologies into the classroom. The school not only uses Khan Academy, but also Manga High and Jili Math to help students work at their own pace and review material that they may not have grasped. Students at Acton begin using these programs in their early years, a process that seems to be paying off. Students at Acton are on average 3.5 grade levels above age and accelerating, thanks largely in part to the interactive and leveled materials they get from these adaptive digital technologies.
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