Education Reimagined

An Oklahoma principal shares her takeaways from Khan Academy founder Sal Khan’s keynote presentation.

An Oklahoma principal shares her takeaways from Khan Academy founder Sal Khan’s keynote presentation.
By Julie Bloss
July 2018, Volume 41, Issue 11

Sal Khan speaking at his keynote presentation. Courtesy of Lifetouch Photography.

Today, thanks to Khan Academy, students, families, and educators have access to free resources—such as videos and software—that encompass almost all subject areas and provide endless opportunities for individualized learning support. By providing these resources, the speaker and founder, Sal Khan, reimagines learning. What can learning in classrooms look like without the stereotypical, traditional model? The answer is so simple, yet so empowering. Without the teacher’s focus on lecturing and delivering instruction to a whole group, he or she can zone in on differentiated instruction and true connections with students.

“Khan Academy is a not-for-profit organization that provides free world class education for anyone, anywhere. Khan resources are free, equitable, and effective.” —Sal Khan

One strategy I will implement immediately
I have used Khan Academy in my own household to assist my son with middle-school mathematic concepts. I had not considered using it at my school as a resource for classroom instruction. As we return to school in the fall, I will schedule time during an early PLC so that my teachers and I can research using its resources for our students. I will also include a Khan Academy link on my school website, and information in parent communications to raise awareness with families about this helpful tool.

One strategy that will help me with instructional leadership
With a limited budget, having high quality instructional resources available for my teachers, students and family for free is a dream come true! As an instructional leader, it will be important for me to continue to seek resources and be familiar with Khan Academy so that I can guide my teachers and our families.

One idea I want to learn more about
As an early-childhood principal, I want to see the learning resources available for students in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. I am excited to see the instructional materials that we can weave into the curriculum we currently use.

One surprising fact
Sal Khan began the Khan Academy as a favor to family members often providing nightly tutoring sessions to cousins on the phone. As he saw the success of this method grow, his passion ignited. Thanks to substantial funding from the Gates Foundation and Google, Khan Academy became a worldwide not-for-profit entity.

Reflections from Peers
Most of my peers that attended NAESP had heard of Sal Khan and Khan Academy. They were not aware of the free resources available, the diversity of subjects and languages or how by changing the focus of the instructor from whole group lecturing to differentiating and connecting can impact learning.

I can’t wait to tell my teachers about Khan Academy and how it can improve and impact their instruction. More importantly, I look forward to sharing this information with families who may have students in higher grades struggling with difficult subject material or may need preparation for college entrance.

Julie Bloss is principal of Grove Early Childhood Center in Grove, Oklahoma.

Top 5 Things to Know About Khan Academy

1. Khan resources such as tutoring “how to” videos are available in dozens of languages.
2. These resources cover a variety of subject areas and grade levels including: math, history, biology, grammar, SAT prep and College Board prep.
3. Khan assessments help determine gaps in student knowledge and then use that information to tailor instruction to “fill in the gaps.”
4. 30 minutes of Khan instruction each week can lead to substantial gain.
5. Be on the lookout this fall for a new Khan offering: “Learn Storm.”

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