How I Would Teach a Class

I got to thinking about how the Kahn Academy has the ability to change so much and how I would use it to teach a group of elementary students. Here’s one lesson:

Students arrive and after attendance is taken we learn that Mike isn’t here. Mr. Teach checks his email and finds that Jimmy has a cold. Luckily Mike is able to sit up in bed; Mr. Teach turns on his webcam so Jimmy can watch the class through Skype.

Of course Mr. Teach knows that it is a good teaching practice to walk around the classroom, but Jimmy will never stare into an empty corner because of Mr. Teach’s Satarii Star.

Each student brings out their laptop, with less books to pay for the school district could easily afford basic models for each class (and over time, each student). At any point Mr. Teach can view any of his student’s screens on the tablet he carries, or project them up on the wall for the whole class to see.

The day begins with science. Each student watched a lesson from the Khan Academy for homework last night. Rather than teach the lesson himself Mr. Teach has a pop quiz first thing. Dividing up the class into four teams, he gives each a Microsoft OneNote file with a picture of a cell. Each team gathers around their team leader’s desk and label each part by working together.

Because each computer is on the same network, Mr. Teach can instantly access each of the group’s papers. He cycles through each one and the class collectively checks each cell. As the class goes through each part, Mr. Teach calls on a student at random to see if they know what that part does.

The students then do an activity where a few of them stand up and act out roles of each individual cell part.

Finally, a Google Doc quiz goes out to all students—this one individual. Mr. Teach can quickly check each one, and he pairs up students to tutor each other. Mike, who is still participating at home, tutors Molly through Skype as if they sit side-by-side.

Key Points:

  • This could happen right now, all the technology exists and is inexpensive (if not free).
  • About 20 minutes was saved by not teaching the lesson during school hours. Students had no physical homework to forget or lose. No paper was required, saving money for the school (and the environment).
  • Students were able to use both group work and one-on-one engagement, including Jimmy who was still in bed.
  • People learn through repetition. Each student was presented the parts of the cell at least five times, in five different ways. (Video, Group work, Whole class review, Acting out, Individual attention)
  • Parents can watch lessons along with their children, they have no excuse for not knowing the material and assisting their son or daughter if they need it.
  • The class could be live streamed to allow other teachers, principals, or parents to view the class at any point, without interfering. Any questions or suggestions could then be submitted to Mr. Teach.

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