Excellent math, science, history tutoring - free!
by Kathy Slattengren, M. Ed., Priceless Parenting (sign up for monthly parenting newsletter and receive 20+ printable charts for kids and parents)
A number of parents have shared their frustration over watching their kids struggle with math and science. There's now a solution!
I recently learned about the Khan Academy from my husband who is an 8th grade science teacher at a private school in Seattle. As part of the teachers' ongoing education, he attended a workshop where he heard Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy
Starting the Khan Academy
Khan began tutoring his nieces and nephews in 2004. Since he was in a different city than they were, he talked them through the problems while using Yahoo!'s Doodle notepad to show them what he meant.
He was excellent at explaining math concepts and soon he had more students than he could easily handle given his fulltime job as a hedge fund analyst.
A friend suggested that he capture what he was teaching in Youtube videos. This was the beginning of what is now a library of over 2,600 videos available free at the Khan Academy.
According to their website, the Khan Academy has "the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere". Given that over 84 million lessons have been delivered, they are well on their way.
Mastery, Not Muddling Through
One of the basic concepts built into the Khan Academy is the expectation of mastery. In traditional classrooms teachers teach the same concept to all students and then test the students on their understanding. Regardless of how well students do on a test, they move onto the next subject along with the rest of the class.
This model ensures that students will have gaps in their knowledge because they will move on before they completely master a topic. In contrast, students are not considered to have mastered a concept in the Khan Academy until they can get 10 problems correct in a row. When students miss problems, they can learn what they did wrong and how to correct it.
The beauty of all these short, recorded lectures is that it allows students to watch a given video as many times as they would like. Students can receive additional instruction until they master the concept. Unlike asking a teacher to explain the same concept multiple times, there is no embarrassment in watching the same video over and over.
The Khan Academy site also can keep track of which videos a student has seen, how long they watched and how they've done on their example problems. This type of information can be fed to teachers who can then quickly spot which students need additional help in which specific areas.
Some teachers are using the Khan Academy to change how they approach teaching. Instead of lecturing in class, the teachers assign their students to watch a Khan Academy lecture as homework and then spend class time discussing problems and mentoring each other.
Learning About Math, Science, Finance, History and More
There is a rich set of content available - everything from adding single digits together to doing calculus. The videos are typically less than 10 minutes long and quite engaging. Khan's calm voice carefully explaining each concept makes it easy to watch and absorb.
You may find yourself enjoying these videos too! One man told Khan he had always enjoyed math and science but had not done well on those subjects in high school so he didn't pursue his dream career in engineering. After finding the Khan Academy lectures, he was able to finally understand the concepts that had eluded him earlier and he successfully pursued a college degree in engineering.
There's a lot to learn and the Khan Academy makes it fun!