In the early years of Khan Academy, I shunned his videos along with progressives who value conceptual numeracy and coherence as opposed to mindless memorization of steps. Over the last few weeks, however, I have begun to value Khan in ways I could have only dreamed before.
I assigned 20 skills to my students to review as we move toward finals. As the students waded in, it became obvious Khan was one of the most valuable assignments from the entire semester because Khan addresses the issue of accuracy head-on, one-on-one, relentlessly, while the students cheer each new accomplishment. If we believe in the importance of Standard for Mathematical Practice #6, then we should value accuracy.
It is impossible to consistently correct 150 students as they practice solving standard problems. There is no way to point out every time they lose a negative. Even error analysis exercises do not “fix” an entrenched habit of inattention to detail; but with Khan’s help, I have observed significant progress. Because Khan stops the students to give them an opportunity to re-evaluate their conclusions, I can usually tell whether students are clueless or simply making arithmetic errors. I could not do that with 150 homework assignments every day. Khan grades the ones that are accurate. I only need to look at the ones that are not.
As my classes move forward in exploring problem-based-learning, Khan lets me know through the Mastery Challenges which students have forgotten a basic skill. I can send assignments to individual students and monitor their remediation. I’m planning to pre-assess some of my units with Khan so I don’t have to run around scaffolding those who cannot remember what a dot plot is.
I am a big fan of 3-Acts, open-middle, Fawn Nyguyen’s patterns, etc. Sometimes I feel like I’m guilty of aligning to Twitter, but Khan has come a long way from plug-and-chug video. His “always-sometimes-never” questions have stumped me on occasion.
In my opinion, it is time for the math rock stars to pat Khan on the back and be thankful for what he does well.