Series: Edutopia Tech2Learn

Using Khan Academy as a Math Engagement Strategy
Lesson Objective: Practice math concepts using Khan Academy
Grades 9-12 / Math / Technology

Thought starters

  1. Through Khan Academy, students have opportunities to get help before asking a teacher. How does this allow for effective differentiation?
  2. What elements of Khan Academy are responsible for student engagement?
  3. How does Mr. McIntosh use Khan Academy as an assessment tool?

1. This allows for effective differentiation by allowing all the children to effectively learn the material. Not every student learns the same, so this method allows some students to learn how to get the final product without needing the teacher's assistance. 

2. The technology on the internet is responsible for the students' engagement. The teacher provides the students with effective technology to help him get them engaged. 

3. The teacher uses Khan Academy as an assessment tool by pulling up the percentage of children who got the answers right, how well they are progressing, and who used hints etc. 

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I am impressed with the accessment program that KA uses.  It makes it where you can talk to any student and be able to pinpoint their defiency.  Students looked to be engaged in the process and the ability to have 3 different approached to getting help directly is a wonderful plan.

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I Am beginning to use Khan for my Physics Classes in HS. Part of my repetition process to help students hear different ways to approach a problem and different voices and visual processes in solving the problems
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Khan seems like a wonderful experience to bring into the classroom.
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I am starting to use KA in my high school classroom. I teach Integrated Math III for juniors and Transition Math for seniors. By the time students get to my class there is such a huge range in ability levels, that a differentiation tool like KA is essential to keep them all moving forward. The thing I am hung up on the most now is grading it. So far I have just asked my students to work on an Algebra 1 mission, but I know that my students do not readily do work just to get better at math; they need a grade behind it. I am finding this tricky since I want them to have this differentiated experience so I'm not assigning them all the same practice or lessons, but I want them to be accountable for doing their work. Any suggestions on that?
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  • Using Khan Academy as a Math Engagement Strategy Transcript

    McIntosh: For whatever reason, kids come to us with some significant gaps

    Using Khan Academy as a Math Engagement Strategy Transcript

    McIntosh: For whatever reason, kids come to us with some significant gaps in their math. But more importantly, they come to us with some poor math habits. What we're using KHAN for basically is, it's a way of reengaging them in the math.

    [TITLE - "TECH 2 LEARN"]

    McIntosh: [TO STUDENTS] Leave that up there. Use that as your model if you need it. Go into KAHN ... System ... Elimination 0.5. If you can do that one easily, if you finish that, move on to Elimination 1.0 ...
    McIntosh: [TO CAMERA] These are primarily sophomores who have taken algebra before and did not pass. We started out with some relatively easy problems, systems of elimination, so it's 0.5. There's a model on the board for them to sort of follow; talk to each other if they need a little bit of help; ask me if they need a little bit of help.
    [00:01:00] When they're in KHAN, basically a problem is presented, and they can choose to watch a video or, more often what they'll do is choose to see Hints. Hints are basically the steps of ... It's not uncommon for a problem to be broken down into five or seven or eight steps, with some brief explanations about what each step is.
    M: So, what I do is take a Hint. So, it basically says, "Beginning by moving the Y term in the second equation to the right side of the equation ..."
    Castillo: You can ask for a Hint. You can watch a video. You can ask a peer. So, you have three opportunities to try and help yourself. And then after that, you raise your hands. The teacher's working with the students that he or she needs to be working with at that time, and other kids for the most part are engaged in doing what they're doing. So, it really changes the dynamic between the teacher and students in the classroom.
    McIntosh: And I can see where they're proficient, where they're not.
    McIntosh: The teacher has access to something called "Coach Mode," and it allows us to go in and see a variety of things. At a glance, I can see for the whole class how many exercise they've completed; who's progressed; who hasn't. And there's a variety of other ways I can go in and get a quick assessment of where our students are.
    [00:02:16] If I want to pick a particular exercise, I can go in here and see this student has some difficulty; watched a video; took a number of Hints.
    [00:02:28] When I work with a student one-on-one, you can go even deeper and see the specific problems they've tried. I can see the steps that they took. I get some sense of where they went wrong.
    McIntosh: [TO STUDENT] So, write down the problem ...
    McIntosh: [TO CAMERA] Historically, it was really hard to get the kids engaged. They couldn't get the help right where they wanted it. There was no immediate feedback if it was right or wrong. It was easy for them to sort of get lost and just sort of drift in class. But now, they have to keep moving because they know we're keeping track of the problems they're finishing, and they want to see the progress bar move; they want to see themselves become proficient in the exercises.
    F: I'll plug it into X.
    McIntosh: Yeah, you plug it into ...
    F: [sounds like:] Right now (??).
    McIntosh: [INAUDIBLE (??)] You got it.
    McIntosh: [TO CAMERA] Previously, we had a hard time getting the kids to do homework. But now, with KHAN, it's a little bit easier to get them to do that work. There's less wiggle room for them to sort of back out 'cause they've got Hints they can take, or videos they can watch, and you're measuring the work they're doing, and they're doing many, many more problems this year than they did last year.
    [00:03:24] And there's no substitute for practice.
    M: The good thing about it is that it tells us when we need to review it. We could go back and take Hints again, or you could just keep on going.
    McIntosh: Their behavior, their habits were changing. We started to notice as kids were staying engaged. We'd look at screens of our coaching data and see kids repeatedly trying; watch the video here; he's taking some Hints; they're taking ownership and they're developing more of an attitude of, "I'm going to figure this out."
    McIntosh: [TO CLASS] ... move on to Adding Segments. I'll have one of those shortly too, okay?
    McIntosh: [TO CAMERA] But then, what we started to notice, too, was a real difference in their test scores. The average score is up about 30-40 percentage points. And many, many more students in the Advanced range.
    McIntosh: [TO CAMERA] Everything's multiplied by -2.
    McIntosh: [TO CAMERA] What is it about KHAN that works? Part of it is the fact that it simply ... it's a computer and there's something engaging about anything on computers. I think there's an important part of it that it's one-on-one; the fact that they can get help right now on this problem at this step, so that immediacy, that individuality, is a big part of it.
    [00:04:32] But I think something about the design in KHAN in particular. You know, it's not multiple choice, so you can't guess your way through. The problems are randomly generated, so you can't copy from another student. You have to do the work.
    M: I was doing the top line, but ...
    McIntosh: Okay.
    M: ... I did the final one right there.
    Castillo: It shows us that every single student, when given the chance, wants to learn; they want to be successful. We're seeing students [sounds like:] just turn on (??) left and right.
    McIntosh: We see more focus. We see more attentiveness. We see more engagement. We see the kids this year less apt to give up in the first couple seconds. And the basic skills are also better because they've been engaged, they've done the work. And that's the real magic.


School Details

Oakland Unity High School
6038 Brann Street
Oakland CA 94605
Population: 337

Data Provided By:



Peter McIntosh


Teaching Practice

Project-based Learning, PBL, Projects, Engagement

Teaching Practice

All Grades/ All Subjects/ Culture

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Subjects / Culture

TCH Special

Grades 6-12, All Subjects, Civic Engagement