kitchen table math, the sequel: what's to like about Khan

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

what's to like about Khan

from the same article:
Khan Academy, for its part, teamed up last year with the Los Altos, Calif., school district to launch a pilot of the model. In it, students in grades 5-8 use Khan-produced online lectures as part of their math curriculum. The pilot has expanded from 150 students in five classrooms last year to 1,000 students in 40 classrooms this year.

“It’s not just about the kids watching the same lecture the night before. For us, the big piece is having teachers use data to make instructional decisions about their students,” said Alyssa Gallagher, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the 4,500-student district.

Courtney Cadwell, who teaches 7th grade math at Eagan Junior High School and serves as a math coach to teachers in Los Altos, agreed that the rapid feedback on her students has been the best part of the model. The Khan program allows teachers to track what videos and individual exercises students spend the most time watching and working through, and how long it takes students to correctly solve 10 problems in a row for any given math concept.

Last year, as one of the first teachers in the Los Altos pilot, Ms. Cadwell started all of the students in her remediation class on Addition 1, the most basic Khan unit, and asked them to work through all the units at their own pace while she watched using the program’s data-tracking system.

Students worked through those initial units quickly, but she could see when they hit their “pain points”—sometimes on material covered several grades earlier.

“In order for me to get that kind of understanding of a student, I would have had to sit down one-on-one and work through problems and see a pattern, which I’m happy to do, but it takes a lot of time,” Ms. Caldwell said. “This confirmed my suspicions and allowed me to remediate much more quickly.”

“I was able to identify those learning gaps in real time, whether it was from 3rd or 4th or 5th grade, and I was able to remediate and saw those learning gaps begin to disappear,” Ms. Cadwell said.

Before the start of the pilot, only 23 percent of the 7th grade remediation students were proficient on the state mathematics test, but after the first year, the proficiency rate climbed to more than 40 percent, according to district data.

“The math class that they dreaded became something they really loved,” Ms. Caldwell said.
Lectures Are Homework in Schools Following Khan Academy Lead By Sarah D. Sparks | Published Online: September 27, 2011
This is the aspect of "technology" that strikes me as extremely useful: the possibility of immediate, and reasonably accurate, formative assessment of student learning.

Speaking as a parent and a teacher of college freshmen, I have zero interest in a 'flipped' classroom. I don't think it's going to work, and while I normally avoid making predictions (even in private), in this case I have no qualms:
I PREDICT: The flipped classroom - hot! hot! hot! - is going to be yet another edu-flop taking its place in a 100-year parade of edu-flops. 100 years and counting.

COROLLARY: the flipped classroom is looking to be a big, bold, and brassy flop if everyone piles on before we have any indication whatsoever that a flipped classroom actually works. I.e.: before we have any indication that a) kids will actually watch the videos, and b) if they do watch, whether they actually learn anything.
The assessment question is different, I think. As a teacher (and a parent) I have a near-desperate need for more information on what students know and don't know -- and acquiring that information is easier said than done. I can easily imagine the Khan site (or any similar site) being an enormous help -- so much so, that I'm planning an 'online component' for my course next fall. (Though, again, we'll see whether my students can - or will - manage it. That is a subject for another post.)

Meanwhile C. is taking a physics course in which the teacher seems to have actually made "technology" work, also a subject for a separate post.


Anne Dwyer said...

I am absolutely not in favor of the "flipped" classroom at the level of remedial mathematics that I teach at my local cc.

However, I am in favor of "flipped" class sessions. By "flipped", I mean that students do problems in the classroom during class time. I teach a basic math class. Students at this level have problems with all of the topics I teach to a varying degree. But all students have problems with fractions. So when I am teaching fractions, I take two class periods (2 hours each after I have completely taught all about fractions) that I use strictly for fraction worksheets. I specifically designed these worksheets (3 in all). Each worksheet is 30 problems. They must get 27 out of 30 to go on to the next one. The last one is a mixture of all types of fractions. If they can get 27 out of 30 on that one, they have mastered the topic.

But doing worksheets during the class period is not 'fun'. It's tedious and exhausting. But the students who stick with me during these two classes have really mastered fractions.

SteveH said...

I wouldn't call that flipped. It's what I call "Do All Work In Class". There is no homework. There is nothing to flip. I know some teachers who have given up assigning most homework because they know it won't get done. They actually might end up with more learning compared to the insanity approach; keep assigning homework and keep assuming that it will get done. I just don't want to be told (as many do in math) that this model is somehow better for all students.

FedUpMom said...

I like the idea of doing math problems in class time, especially for my 8-yr-old. Unfortunately, the math problems she does in school aren't corrected, as I discovered after the teacher sent the workbooks home.

Learning From Your Mistakes

Catherine Johnson said...

I am absolutely not in favor of the "flipped" classroom at the level of remedial mathematics that I teach at my local cc.

Amen to that.

My students are all "developmental," and online learning is a big challenge for them.

That said, I had one student this fall who had taken an online course over the summer and seemed to have learned a lot. (I'm not sure what the course was on -- possibly grammar alone.)

I don't have any before and after data on him, but he constantly gave the impression of really having absorbed the grammar taught in the online course. He brought it up frequently & had the 'friendliest' attitude toward grammar of any student in the class (if 'friendly' makes sense ---- )

He was also one of the strongest students in the class & was planning to minor in religious studies.

So in his case he had probably been required to take a course in a confined and limited subject that he was naturally inclined to 'spark' to.

Catherine Johnson said...

Unfortunately, the math problems she does in school aren't corrected, as I discovered after the teacher sent the workbooks home.


That's the whole deal these days!

No one in my district ever "collects and corrects"; kids have no idea whether they got the questions right.

We spent years pushing the district to look at student HW. (fyi: I wrote a series of posts documenting my near-FOIL of the Teacher Edition of the math textbook. Because the teachers refused to check HW, I was doing it, and because I couldn't get a copy of the Teacher Edition I was having to do all the algebra assignments myself, then cross-check with C's answers. If our answers didn't agree, we both had to re-do to see which one of us had made a mistake. It was LUDICROUS.)

Catherine Johnson said...

I do zero lecturing. As much as I hate to associate myself with anything constructivist, I would have to say that I do, at most, "mini-lessons."

Lecture CANNOT happen with my student population.

I'm not sure it should happen in any event inside a composition class ---- BUT I can imagine learning a great deal from a lecture on syntax, style, etc. myself - and in fact own a copy of The Teaching Company's course on "Great Sentences."

Of course, I haven't gotten beyond Lecture number 2.