8.26.2011

Confession...I'm planning to use Khan Academy this year

It seems Khan Academy (henceforth referenced as KA) has a pretty bad rap in some math teacher circles.  I understand that the videos are somewhat lacking in the engagement factor, and motivating students with points and badges can seem somewhat elementary.  I also see that KA tends to focus more on a procedure/pattern than actual problem solving. 

All that said, I will be using KA this year in my resource classroom.  I have a group of students that are in my class for numeracy skill building/strategies instruction.  I'm supposed to be teaching them 25 mins/day and allowing them 25 mins/day to work on their homework or classwork.  I have students of all grade and ability levels in one resource class, so lesson planning becomes difficult.  Twenty-five minutes is not a long time when you think about it, seemingly less when you think about real problem solving tasks.

Enter KA.  Each student can be working on exercises related to what their individual math course is or will be addressing.  I can monitor their progress as a "coach" and assign them individual tasks.  My district uses Google Apps for Education, so all the students have email addresses that they use to log in.  I can, in theory, email them instructions for which exercises or videos I would like them to do during their 25 minute instruction period.  Two days in, some students are more engaged than others.  That is to be expected.  When assigned topics directly related to material they were working on in their math class, the students were more engaged.

I'm sure that things will change throughout the year as we continue to develop this strategies portion of the resource class, but for now, KA is a useful tool.  Just sayin'.

p.s. I (obviously) made it through week one at the new school.  Yay!

8.09.2011

Transitioning...

For those of you that don't know, I'm about to start teaching at a new school in a new state.  I will be still be teaching high school math to students with special needs, but those special needs are not necessarily deafness or blindness.  I am very excited to work with a math department as opposed to one other colleague (even though she was fabulous).  All in all, though, it's a lot of transition.

Here are some things I have learned in the process:
- I'm not as good at transitioning as I like to think I am
- I have a difficult time making any kinds of decisions when there are so many unanswered questions and uncertainties ahead
- It's really difficult to transfer certifications between states
- I'm not sure I entirely know what I'm getting into, but I'm still excited
- I am *not* a detail person

I went to a workshop hosted by the district I'll be working in.  It was great to collaborate with teachers from the different schools and create materials.  I should get back to working on my post-workshop assignment, but I hope to start up blogging again this year.