I wanted to share a quick experience I had today with Khan Academy. My 8th grade students were in the lab today working on their Khan Academy lessons. I walked over to a student, who has had some major struggles in school, both academically and behaviorally, and I was shocked by what I saw on his screen. No, he wasn't on facebook, twitter, or gmail. He was working on logarithms.
I asked him why he was working on that, just out of curiosity. He said, "I just wanted to know what they were." I asked him if he understood what was on his screen. He said, "no." I asked him what could he do to find out more. He started clicking the hint key. A few seconds later he said to me, "Is that really all you have to do?" I told him yes, and he started working through the problems. I checked on him a few times, and he started his streak over several times and looked at the hints again. A few minutes after that, he said he had correctly answered 9 questions in a row. A student has to get 10 right in a row to be considered proficient on that lesson. I stood there and watched as this student got his 10th problem in a row correct on adding, subtracting, and multiplying with logarithms! This is something that is introduced later in high school.
The most compelling thing to me, was that he learned this, not because it was the next section in his book, but because he saw something he didn't understand and wanted to know what it was.
To find out more about Khan Academy, check out my previous post, or visit their website.