Today I worked at Shoreline Middle School as an educational assistant with an amazing group of grade sixes. Ever since I worked last year with the grade sixes at Gordon Head Middle School, I've really enjoyed working with this age group. I spent the morning in the resource room, and was pleasantly surprised to see the teacher use Khan Academy to teach equivalent fractions to the class. I became really excited, since I had just learned about Khan Academy in my information technology class last term. It's always great to see different things we learn in university classes implemented in actual classrooms with children. The students spent about 15 minutes to try the program out for the first time. I didn't know this before, but if you create an account, you can actually create avatars which you can change as you earn more badges in the program. I noticed that this function seemed to drastically increase the students' motivation, since it gives the program a game-like feeling. The students were discussing with each other which avatar they wanted to get later on as they advanced in the program. When the teacher asked them at the end of the block how they thought about using Khan Academy, the majority of the students said that they really liked it because it was "fun" and "cool", and that they would use the program at home as well.
Although I believe that a computer program can never and should never replace an actual teacher, I feel that Khan Academy is a great empowering tool to enable students to work independently. I would recommend this program especially to students who need reviewing but are embarrassed to admit that they are confused in class. Such students would be able to watch the same video as many times as they need to without feeling rushed. Others who need more of a challenge would also benefit from it, as they have the freedom to move ahead, and choose topics that spark their interests.