Khan Academy Part 1

I come to you today to share with you a great website that my kids are just eating up this year. We are all so obsessed with it, and I promise I’m not getting paid to talk about it, I just love it that much! The website is Khan Academy and it is like an online math coach, tutor, game and data tracker all in one.

I’m breaking the posts about this website into two separate posts. One will be from the student’s point of view and the other will be from the teacher’s point of view. This particular post will be the student’s point of view, and I swear I’m not even scratching the surface. There is so much more to this website that I have yet to explore. This is just an intro! ;)

Essentially, the website allows students to work at their own pace to explore any math concept. They have the option to watch videos, complete practice problems, create goals and review past concepts. While doing this, they earn points and badges, much like a video game or app. With the points and badges, they get to do little things in their profile like trade in badges for different badges, or change their avatar to be a silly little creature. The more concepts you master, the more badges and points you receive. So, the students view this as a game. They see it like they’re playing a video game or an app and they think it’s the coolest thing ever.

While the students are on the site working and “playing” there is a tremendous amount of data being tracked for me, the coach. I get real-time data on concepts that students are struggling with, concepts that students still haven’t mastered, which particular problem on a particular standard they got wrong, how many times they needed a “hint” in order to solve the problem, and how long it took them to solve a certain number of problems in a particular standard. It is absolutely incredible and I now have kids working on Khan Academy at home and begging to go on it and all times at school. I’ll save going into details about all of these data tracking goodies for the second post.

Let me take you on a quick tour:
-First things first, you need to create an account as the teacher. Once you create an account, then all of your students create accounts and add you on as their “coach”.
-To easily sign up, I allowed my students to have gmail accounts at school. Otherwise, you may have to sign them up as their “parent” then click all of the links in your teacher email to start their accounts.
-Once the students log in, they get this prompt, and they get to navigate around their personal profiles.

If you are unsure of what you are doing, or would like a tour, it will show you around and share all the cool features with the students. Trust me, I was overwhelmed and felt like I needed to learn it before I let my students go at it, but your students will end up teaching you more than you think! They do best when they can just jump in!

Once the students are in their profile, they can click their name to change it and play with their avatar picture:

They can see where to keep track of their personal badges. Students earn badges as they master certain math standards:

Their profile also shows all of their “vitals” or real-time data. Both the students and the coach (or teacher) have access to all this amazing data:

There are a few more cool features in the profile, but here is an example of one of my student’s profiles:

Now that we have that fun profile business out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty gritty! Each student has a “knowledge map” and this knowledge map keeps track of the concepts that students have:
1.) Not yet attempted (shaded gray)
2.) Attempted and mastered/are proficient (blue with yellow star)
3.) Finished and mastered, but then spirals it back in after a while for review (orange)
4.) Suggestions on what to work on next or currently working on (green)

Students can view their knowledge map in a real map-like format (outerspace-ish looking above) or as a neat list on the left side of their screen. You can see below that this student is working on a few different things right now and hasn’t “finished” or mastered any of them quite yet. I know she is a super high math student, though, so I am not worried about this.

When students click on a particular skill to work, this is what they might see:

You’ll notice (above) on the right-hand side the “Need help?” section. If a student clicks that, they get a hint or get to watch a video on that topic. It is noted in their data and the coach/teacher has access to this. Not a bad thing, but I tell some students that they don’t necessarily want to click the hint (can you imagine “hint”, “hint”, “hint” being clicked, just to get an answer). I tell my students to instead try to solve on their own, try to watch a video, and use the hint as a last resort. The hint should help them solve it and if it doesn’t, then they need to ask for help.

Students don’t always have to follow this knowledge map in order. They can click on any particular standard they want, and can even use the search function to search for a particular concept. I often let my very high students just go off on their own to explore some higher level concepts, but I may tell a small group of students that topic they must work on that day.

Another neat tool is goal making. A few weeks ago, my students took the STAR Math test as well as our algebra pre-assessment from our data binders. I handed them back some pretty great data from those assessments, and students went through and highlighted areas they were not proficient in. I then had them use these areas to create KHAN Goals. They can abandon goals, create new goals whenever they would like, and keep a list of goals they have mastered. I was surprised to hear all of the students that actually love this feature and asked if they could make their own goals after the ones I required them to make.

As you can see below, students can name their goals whatever they like (lol…).

Like I said, this doesn’t scratch the surface!  The beauty of this website is that when we go for our allotted computer lab time, I can sit about 5-6 students in one area of our large computer lab for interventions. I can peek over their shoulders and give quick mini-lessons when they need it on a particular concept. Then, these students take that mini-lesson, apply it on the spot, and get immediate feedback. All the while, my higher kids are off doing negative number lines and algebra and are learning concepts that are well above 5th gradethat I don’t always have the opportunity to teach them. This website spans from telling time all the way through college level math, it is incredible. Really, it is a win-win and all of my kids have a blast doing it.

I will be back for part two to show you all the super organized data this website provides for both the student and the teacher.

You know we all love us some DATA! Stay tuned…

See part 2 of this post HERE!


  1. I love Kahn Academy! It’s such a great resource for students that are struggling. My fifth graders refer to the website as “Dr. Kahn,” because they believe that all of the smartest people are doctors. Ha! I also think it’s a great resource for parents to bone up on their math skills to help their kids with homework. There is a lot to love about Kahn.

    Caffeine and Lesson Plans

  2. Haha! Dr. Khan! I love that! I’m so glad other people use it and love it too! It’s such a great website!

  3. I had just heard about this a week or so ago but haven’t had a chance to play with it! You have inspired me to do so! My 4th graders really struggle in math so this sounds like a great way for them to practice and for me to monitor what exactly is going on! Thanks for the detailed post and I look forward to the next one!!

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  4. I have heard about it but never checked it out. I guess I am going to have to now!!! This looks amazing. I am just concerned about time. I just can’t seem to fit it all in especially with the Everyday Math curriculum. Although this looks very worthwhile…. maybe it could be my Friday fun math day. What do you think?

    My Journey to 5th Grade

  5. @Amy- Too funny! I didn’t think about how adults could use it!! That is awesome!
    @ Amanda- Glad I could inspire! Ha! The data is obviously the best part! ;)

    @Julie- I would most definitely use this for a fun Friday, or as an incentive. Little do they know how much “work” they are doing! When I offer “free computer time” 99% of my kids go on Khan. What about when you pull small groups for interventions? Do you have any technology in your classroom? You could put a high group on Khan to explore and get enrichment, or you could put a low group on and peek over their shoulders to help them as they go through. I know sometimes my re-teach students get sick of the hum drum of me pulling them and working with white boards or just going over problems. Sometimes (even if it just 5 minutes on 1 computer) it helps to reenergize my kids! Hope this helps!

  6. Kristine–this looks very cool. I’m on break this week and trying to do as little thinking about work as possible, but I am bookmarking this now for when I get back. :)

  7. You mentioned having the kids make google accounts to sign up for the site. So, I can’t make a class list until they do this? Did you have any parents not want their child to create an account? How did you introduce this site to the parents for their permission to have the kids set up their google accounts? Sorry so many questions but I have parents who are very picky about using internet sites (which I agree they should be).

  8. @Heather- I promise your kids will love it! But, to save your kids from teaching YOU, you may want to sit and explore it. Lucky you have a vacation, I am jealous!

    @Patti- Don’t apologize for the questions! ASK AWAY! But, yes, that is correct, you can’t make a class list until they have logged in, but essentially the class list is made automatically when they link up with you ask their coach. Once they have their google accounts they first log in and then add you as their coach. I typically make my students keep their user name (because they can change their name once they are logged in) and I tell them what to make their passwords, because they tend to forget them.

    I send a letter home to parents explaining the website, and that their child will be creating a google account in order to log in. My students google accounts (gmail) are their names@(school district) The GMAIL account is simply so they can “click” a link to register themselves. They really don’t NEED to do this. Another way to log on that will not require students to have to create google accounts or use gmail, is to have the students sign up under the parent tab (on the left) and put your email in where it says “Parent Email.” The only drawback is that you will receive 30 or so emails that you will have to click in order for your students’ accounts to work. I’ve done this in the past for other websites and it isn’t that big of a deal to do. Does this make sense?! I hope this helps!

  9. Would you be willing to share your parent letter to introduce them to Khan and signing up with the Google account?

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