Anachan's Corner

One woman's journey through marriage, motherhood, and the classroom…

All Hail Mr. Khan!

Written By: Anachan - Mar• 09•14

Next school year, I hope to bring my 12-yr-old daughter up to the high school where I teach and enroll her as a freshman.

“Now, wait a minute,” I hear you say.  “How can you do that?  Isn’t she in 7th grade?”

Well, truth be told, she is now in whatever grade I want to call it: she’s being homeschooled.  And, as part of her homeschooling, I am teaching her freshman-level grammar, through Dailygrammar.com, and she is learning algebra via Khanacademy.org.

I discovered Khan Academy some time ago, in previous homeschooling forays.  While I was delighted at the material available to anyone wanting to learn (or relearn) something for free, the navigation didn’t reflect a natural learning progression in each area.  That is, if someone didn’t really know what they were doing, they could get horribly, terribly bogged down in the vast array of information in a subject and not realize they might have missed something along the way.

But since then, the site has undergone a transformation.  Drop-down menus guide the user into planned progressions according to math level, from 3rd grade to differential equations.  In addition, video tutorials are interspersed with learning exercises to reinforce learning and challenge the student.  And, to top it off, students earn points with each video watched or exercise completed, allowing them bragging rights and avatar changing privileges.  There are even “badges” to be earned for exceptional achievements.

To top it all off, a teacher (or parent) can enroll their child as a student, which brings with it the added benefit of being able to check up on said child’s activity and accomplishment on the site.  Educators can view a chart showing the student’s viewing activity, as well as view the problems with which the student struggled.

As a homeschooling mom, this is an absolute godsend.  Much as I trust my daughters, it helps to be able to verify they’ve actually done what I asked and see that their achievement in the exercises shows a certain amount of understanding.

The last day of the school week, I take advantage of another feature available on Khan Academy:  Mastery Challenges.  Once a student has practiced an exercise, it can be placed on a list of items from which Khan Academy will draw for random review.  Mastery Challenges pull exercises off this list for the student to do, advancing their level as they display consistent mastery of each given topic.  By assigning three Mastery Challenges the final day of each week, I can ensure that my daughters don’t completely forget what they’ve already learned before we reach the end of our curriculum.

With 620 available exercises in the “World of Math” Mastery Challenge mission, even Mom, acting as a student herself, can have fun challenging herself to see how far she can master the individual exercises.  (I’m at 20% mastered of the “World of Math”, so far.)  It’s oddly addicting.  I find myself going through random math exercises, just to make them available in my Mastery Challenge list.

Many thanks to Mr. Khan for such a valuable and fun resource!

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