This post is a companion piece to a video we published earlier this year as part of our School Kit series. School Kit publishes a new teacher-specific how-to video each month. You can watch all the videos from that series here.

Unless you live under a rock in the world of ed tech, you’ve probably heard of Khan Academy. It’s pretty great for math teachers who need interactive ways to build student practice. Here are a few tips on implementing Khan Academy in your classroom, and a few things to watch out for.

Start by Signing Up Your Students and You

The first step, like most things, is just signing up. Khan Academy is completely free software, so what’s stopping you? Our teachers suggest using Gmail (also free) or Facebook accounts to sign students up. Did we mention it’s free?

Create Lists of Objectives or Skills

Once you’ve signed up as a teacher and added some students, you can build out lists of objectives for them to master. These can be differentiated based on students’ different skill levels, but they should have some sort of guidance around what they should do on Khan Academy.

Create an Investment Plan

Since students have to work independently or in small groups for this to work, you’re going to need an investment plan. You know your students best, but here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Make their performance a large part of their grade.
  • Make posters and visuals that celebrate progress and mastery.
  • Sign up yourself and other teachers, and compete with kids.
  • Allow students to opt out of a lesson (and continue working on Khan independently) if they have already mastered the objective you’re teaching.

Dedicate Time

If you want students to be successful, they have to have time to practice. We suggest devoting a minimum of 15 minutes a day to Khan (or more!) so that students have enough time to complete an objective.

Analyze Your Data

Anyone can put a computer in front of a kid. If you want to see students actually learn from the great technology in their lives, you have to do your homework too. Every day after school, look through Khan Academy data. Figure out what students mastered, and did not master. Then, you can conference with individuals to help them master a skill while the rest of the class moves on. This will hopefully prevent students from jumping way ahead or falling way behind in objectives.

Helping with Common Core Implementation

If you’ve started bringing Common Core into your classroom, I’m sure you can attest to the difference. Luckily, Khan Academy provides this page of resources to help you understand how to map Khan skills to Common Core.

What Khan Academy Doesn’t Do

Critics of Khan point out that this isn’t stand-alone curriculum and I agree. We’re not advocating you replace good math instruction with Khan. We think this software gives students a great environment to practice and maybe even master a new skill. Travis still does direct instruction and pulls small groups of students to work on problem solving skills.

Update – As The Verge and others report, the Khan Academy iPad app has finally added the ability to do all of there exercises right on the iPad. This is good news if you have access to both laptops and iPads that you share with other teachers. I hope you can find a useful way to use this new resource in your classroom!

If you’re new to Khan Academy, have questions, or can offer advice, we welcome your comments below.


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