My Khan Academy Pedagogy

I first wrote about how I was using Khan Academy with my students in late 2014 here. Then earlier this school year I wrote a response to another blogger’s post about why online Math practice tools aren’t good, here. Since that first 2014 post, Khan Academy has changed & improved quite a bit and so has how I use it with my students. So let me share a little of my Khan Academy pedagogy.

From here on out, KA = Khan Academy

Students and teachers can use KA anytime they like without having an account or without joining a teacher’s KA class. However, by making an account, the student’s progress gets tracked & saved in KA, allowing the site to better offer next steps of Math for them to work on. And by joining the teacher’s class, the teacher has the ability to assign practice problems & check student progress. I highly recommend using it as a class like this.
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Step 1: Create a class

If you haven’t yet, make a KA account yourself. I often log in from my chromebook & so I love the simplicity of the red Google button that automatically logs me in using my school board Google account.
Then head to your “dashboard” https://www.khanacademy.org/coach/dashboard & click on “add new class” (on the right side). Enter information for your class – I like to name it by period & course code – or choose the “import from Google Classroom” option if you already have all your students connected to Google Classroom.

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You will be prompted to tell KA what Math subjects your students are learning. I choose “World of Math”.

Step 2: Get students in your KA class

Two ways to do this:

  1. Invite students by email address (or by email but via Google Classroom). The advantage here is that you will see a list of invited students on your dashboard & KA tells you which students have not yet accepted the invitation; makes tracking the sign up process simple.
  2. Give students the Class Code. This can be found by starting from your dashboard choosing the class & then clicking on Roster. Top right you will see the Class Code. I used to write the code on the board in my classroom & students go to khanacademy.org/coaches to enter it & join the class.

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If at any time you’d like to change the name of your class or change which subjects you attributed to the class at the beginning, you can click on the class name in your dashboard & then choose Settings:Capture

Step 3: Find content & Assign it

So let’s say that today we did a 3 act math task or problem-based learning activity involving surface area & tomorrow I want my students to do some individual practice on surface area. I use the search bar at the top of KA to search for that topic. I click on “Exercises” to filter it so that I only see the practice sets:Screenshot 2018-01-30 at 11.27.59 AM.png

Once you click through to the exercise set, along the top you have the “assign” options. You can choose to assign the set to one or more of your classes. By default “All students” is chosen but you can click the drop down in order to assign to only some of your students if you like (useful for differentiation). Choose the due date & time (students can complete it after the due date still but it will notify them that it’s overdue. When ready, click Assign.Screenshot 2018-01-30 at 11.32.58 AM

Step 4: Students do the practice set

I provide class time to practice independently on KA after each activity we do in groups. What they can’t get finished in the provided class time becomes homework to complete at home.

Students log in to the website (khanacademy.org/login) or download the app & sign in there. The assigned work will be on their dashboard in a list of assignments to do. They click “Start” next to the assignment title. I have my students work on paper so that if they get stuck they have a trace of their thinking so far for me to help them find their error or sticking point. Once they have an answer, they choose the answer (if it’s multiple choice) or type it in (paying attention to how KA wants it submitted; rounded to the hundredth or as a precise fraction instead of a rounded answer). They click “Check” and KA either tells them they are correct, or incorrect & try again.

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If students are stuck they have the option near the bottom of the screen to watch a video or use a hint. The KA videos are pretty traditional teaching and often involve tricks like FOIL. But they are better than no help at all when a kid is at home & stuck on a problem. Hints are literally the next step in the problem given to them. They can keep pressing hint until the whole solution is shown & explained. But using any hint results in KA considering the question incorrect & so the student will have to restart trying to get a certain number of problems correct in a row to finish the assignment (usually anywhere from 4 to 7).

This always frustrates my kids when they get a mistake on the last one in a set of 4 or 5. They sometimes ask me to tell them if they have the answer right before clicking “check”, but I refuse – I tell them I do not have the time to pre-check everyone’s answers to their practice problems, I have to help those that are really stuck & need help. If they do get the last one wrong & are frustrated, I’ll suggest taking a break & coming back to that practice set at a later date to try again.

Step 4: Checking their work

KA tells students immediately if they get a question right or wrong. Students cannot move to the next problem until they’ve entered the correct answer for the current one. So students get immediate basic feedback about right or wrong.

From the dashboard for a given class you can see the current assignments as well as past ones (whose due date is past). If you click on the number of students that have completed an exercise next to its title (ex. 3/15), you can see a list of students and their scores. You can sort by date, number of attempts, score, etc. This can also be downloaded as a CSV file (which opens as a spreadsheet in Google Sheets or Excel or similar programs).Screenshot 2018-01-30 at 11.56.55 AM

If you click on View Report next to the assignment title (not the one next to each student in the above image), you can see which questions the students had the most trouble with:Screenshot 2018-01-30 at 11.55.27 AM.png

Step 5: Assigning further homework & Differentiating

I have created a list of all the KA exercises that meet the curriculum needs for each course I teach, divided by overall expectation. You can see an example here:Capture

I list the practice from easiest to hardest (or in the order in which we will study it). When I am assigning the 2nd or 3rd practice set from that list to my students, I will use the “Progress” tab for each class & I will click on “Within mission” in the top gray bar & search for the list of practice sets for that expectation (you can see this screen below). Any student that is still in the “needs practice” or “struggling” column will be reassigned the first homework. Any student that is “practiced” or above on the first homework gets assigned the 2nd homework, and so on until each student has been assigned the next practice set for them to work on according to their completed work to that point. I find this helpful to not overwhelm students with a practice set they are not yet ready to tackle individually.

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Step 6: Mastery

When students are done all of their assigned practice early, they have three options:

  1. They can redo old practice sets to increase their score on them if they weren’t happy with how they did. They can find these under their “completed assignments” list in their account or by searching the title of that practice set.
  2. They can do KA’s “mastery” quiz which gives them a mix of 5 or 6 problems from topics they’ve been practicing. The mastery serves to check if students retain their abilities over time; can they still find surface area 2 weeks later?Capture.PNG
  3. They can work ahead on practice sets that we have not yet assigned by choosing from the list on our Google site.

Step 7: Using the spreadsheet of data

There are two main things I do with the data that KA provides for me; communicate with parents & guardians as to their child’s progress on KA skills and use it as backup evidence at the end of a semester when I am determining whether or not a student has shown sufficient achievement of an overall expectation for the course.

On the “settings” tab of each class, you can download the student data as a CSV file:Capture.PNG

I save that CSV file to my Google Drive & open it in Google Sheets. I move & hide columns to meet my needs. I use the IFERROR formula to compute their best score yet (not the score at the due date) for each practice set & display “incomplete” if there’s no score. I sort by student and copy & paste their table of data into an email to them & their parents.
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I try to do this every few weeks. I download a new .CSV file each time so I have their up to date best score to honour when they go back & try again or do mastery to level up. This is purely for feedback to them & their parents at this point.

At the end of the semester I do a final spreadsheet where I do one extra step: I sort the exercises by curricular expectation, for each student. When determining a final grade or whether or not to grant the credit, this can serve as backup evidence of their skills in the case where they have difficulty with the more complicated problem solving on our formal evaluations.

PHEW! I think that’s about it.

Have you used Khan Academy? How do you use it with your classes? Let us know in the comments below!

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

 

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#DitchSummit 2017 #Sketchnote RoundUp!

This month was the 2nd annual digital Ditch Summit; 9 talks given via video, available for a limited time to watch until the end of the month, hosted by Matt Miller. Inspired by Jen Giffen’s sketchnotes from each of last year’s Ditch Summit talks, I decided to give it a go myself this year. So here they are:

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– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

How we #Kahoot!

In a short couple of years, Kahoot has become a pretty commonplace activity in many classrooms. Kahoots can be used to preview & teach material, to practice skills, to solidify vocabulary, … you name it! I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a teacher that hasn’t at least heard of Kahoot, let alone played it.Want to learn more about Kahoot? Check out my introductory blog post here.

Kahoot

I’ve been working with my 2 student teachers this semester and as I’ve been sharing with them my ideas of the pedagogy of Kahoot, I thought it might be worth sharing here also.

My most common way to play Kahoot is to use a bank I made of almost 100 questions covering the most basic skill sets as laid out by the curriculum for each course I teach. There are some options that I like to pick to make the game run well for us:
answer streaks get displayed & rewarded
name generator (so I don’t have to worry that the names they pick in another language might be inappropriate)
podium allows us to see the top 3 players at the end … I give out a sticker to each of the top 3 (yes, grade 10 students still love a good sticker!)
– randomize the questions & the answers (we don’t play the whole bank of 100 questions at once)
– display game pin throughout so that students arriving late can join easily & if the wifi kicks someone off, they can rejoin (albeit losing their points).

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The most important thing, since we use this as a question bank, is that I randomize the order of questions & answers both. So of my bank of almost 100 questions we might play 10 or so questions at a time. Since the questions involve some calculating, it can take us up to a half hour to play through those 10 or more questions.

As my students join the session, I remind them to have paper, pencil, calculator & course pack out on their desk:98D987A1-CBC2-4020-A2FD-480B9F7F8687
I do this to stress that they should solving & calculating; not guessing.

We play through the questions, they are timed according to the difficulty of the question; the harder or longer the problem, the more time they get to find an answer (up to 2 minutes max). After each question, Kahoot displays a graph of how many students picked each of the answers:Screenshot 2017-12-15 at 2.33.11 PM

When most students have the right answer, we simply move on to the next question. When roughly half or 2/3 of them get it right I will do a little direct teaching up on the board, asking students to explain to me the justification behind the correct answer. When few students get the correct answer (like in the graph above) I will send them to their boards to solve it in small groups (in my class we sit in daily random groups of 3; VRG & do problem solving on vertical chalk- & white-boards; VNPS ). Even though my students are allowed to talk & help each other during Kahoots, something about getting out of your seat, going to the VNPS & working with your group members, seems to get the juices flowing & it’s usually not long before every group has the correct solution shown on their board (without any direct teaching on the topic from me).20171215_092556-01 (1).jpeg

We can play Kahoot this way, with this bank of problems, because I spiral/cycle my courses – not teaching unit by unit:

This means teaching every expectation in the curriculum over the first few weeks, albeit in an introductory fashion. Then we cycle through all the material for a 2nd time, delving deeper. And then again a 3rd or maybe 4th time through depending on time. Mary Bourassa has a good explanation here of spiralling.

At the beginning of the year, I use the “skip” button in the top right corner of the game to skip questions we haven’t covered yet. At this point in the semester (mid-way through 4 of the 5 months) we’ve covered all the skills needed in the course because of spiralling. Now we’re left to work on more complicated application problems. So when we played Kahoot today we did not have to skip any of the questions in our game.

So that’s how Kahoot works best for me & my students. How do you use Kahoot? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

 

#LearningInTheLoo – #HourOfCode

Hour of code is next week so I decided to make a new Learning In the Loo poster about the event & why a teacher might want to participate. A big thank-you to Sylvia Duckworth & Brian Aspinall for allowing me to include their great list of reasons to teach coding in sketchnote form:

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Want to share some Learning In The Loo posters at your school? Here are my archives!

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

#LearningInTheLoo – Classroom Screen #edtech

Last week I stumbled across this tweet that caught my attention:

I checked out the @ClassroomScreen twitter feed full of retweets of how teachers are using this tool in their classrooms & it seems pretty handy! It needs no account or login, it’s free & loads pretty quick. So it became this week’s edition of Learning in the loo!

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Give it a try: http://classroomscreen.com/ and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Want to post some Learning in the Loo posters in your school or make your own? Here’s my archive!

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

#LearningInTheLoo – Google Drawings

My latest Learning in the Loo poster is all about how to get started with the Google Drawing tool:

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As a companion to this week’s how-to-use Google Drawings edition of the Learning in the Loo in a toilet stall near you, I wanted to provide some examples of ways you can use Google Drawings … what can you do with this awesome tool?

Make diagrams for your handouts/tests/slideshows:
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Create an infographic from scratch:
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Create a collage of photos for a custom Google Classroom header image:
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Posters (like this overview of course curriculum) for your classroom walls:
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In addition, an article “10 ways to use Google Drawings for Learning”: http://blog.whooosreading.org/use-google-drawings-for-learning/
Want to give it a try? Go to http://drawings.google.com/create
If you try making a Google Drawing – I’d love for you to show me what you make!

Interested in sharing these posters in the staff washrooms at your school? Here’s the archive.

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

Keyboard Shortcuts #LearningInTheLoo

This week’s Learning in the Loo edition is up at my school. It’s all about keyboard shortcuts inspired by & sourced from Matt Miller‘s recent blog post on the topic. Have a look!

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The archive of all the Learning in the Loo editions I’ve put together are available here.

Which keyboard shortcut do you find the most useful? Have I missed any? Leave yours in the comments below!

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

Learning in the Loo: Google Classroom edition

Today I prepared the year’s first edition of Learning in the Loo for my school all about what’s new in Google Classroom this year. The topic was inspired by the most recent episode of the Google Teacher Tribe podcast (worth subscribing to if you’re into podcasts!).

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– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)