You Only Have to Know One Thing #You Can Learn Anything

The Kahn Academy is a non-profit organization whose mission is, “to provide a world-class education for anyone, anywhere.”  Khan Academy

Khan developed an interest in education while tutoring his cousin, Nadia. Initially communicating via an internet tool, Khan began posting his mathematics tutorials on YouTube in 2006. The videos attracted millions of viewers. In 2009, Khan quit his job as an analyst to devote himself full-time to the set of videos that formed Khan Academy. The academy provides free online instruction to students across the world. Salman Khan Biography.

The following link shows a short video about how we all begin this life the same. As we read, practice and persevere, our brains develop and help us learn. We are all capable of learning and when we learn we exercise our brains! I have shown this video to my class and we had a wonderful discussion about the brain and it’s capabilities. It was also a wonderful complement to the Mind Matters Program, which I am currently using in my class. The program teaches children how our brain controls our emotions and how we can be resilient and deal with our anxieties and stresses about learning.  You can learn anything!

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We Are Always Learning!

What appeals to me about the Khan Academy is the fact that it is a non-profit organization whose main goal is to educate and help students, parents, educators and anyone who wants to further educate themselves. In chapter 5 of, Entrepreneurial Mindset,  Martin and Osberg’s view is, “social entrepreneurs, are aiming for large-scale, transformational benefit that accrues either to a significant segment of society or to society at large”(pg. 3). Khan didn’t start out with the concept of creating an on-line learning academy that would be used by globally, but the obvious need was there, and thanks to the power of YouTube and the generosity of many donators and various foundations, this wonderful academic resource expanded to become a global classroom for all.  The resources of this global classroom are being translated into 36 languages. The fact that this on-line resource was created out of a desire to reach as many people as possible because of a problem being identified, shows the entrepreneurial mindset working as it should. Sal Khan is a risk-taker who saw an opportunity and was confident enough to use his abilities and achieve results.

Creative and Innovative

The Khan Academy incorporates the kind of  innovation spirit and ingenuity that defines social entrepreneurship. I say this because, Khan had the skills and mindset to create a new job, based on a need in society. There is a lot of emphasis on standard testing and homogenizing what children will learn. I thought about these factors as I was researching the Khan Academy and had the question, is it just another way to teach common curriculum outcomes?  I realized that Khan achieved what Martin and Osberg tell us, “that entrepreneurship is quite widely associated with the ability to recognize and seize an opportunity”(pg. 2). The variation in learning resources, wide range of uses within the site and the fact that it can be accessed for free offers diversity for students because they now have access to mentors outside of the school environment. Some suggestions that Zhao (2012) offers in order for schools to contribute to a culture of creativity and innovation are: provide a school environment with more freedom and flexibility for students to be decision makers, offer diversity in physical space and access to learning facilitators. In answering my question, I say no, I believe that children need a wide variety of learning opportunities and resources that can support their learning styles and interests. The Khan Academy is another way for students to acquire knowledge and confidence in their ability to learn.

In Sal Khan’s TEDTALK he shows how the Khan Academy can be used to help kids work at their own pace, develop mastery in a subject area and take charge of their learning. Teachers can create a dashboard to show them the students who need further instruction and those who fully understand a concept.

“Don’t waste inspiration”
Salman Khan

In the Classroom

Students love to learn when the can use their hands, relate their thinking to the real-world and be involved in the learning process. As educators if we can incorporate these concepts into  the child’s learning experiences we will be instilling a love of learning. As much as we may or may not be comfortable with the use of technology, our students are engrossed by and infatuated with it. Social media and its use is a large proportion of our students daily lives and how they are able to learn, as a student has said, “social media is like an ocean, you can help us navigate it or watch us drown.” Helping children use the internet for ‘good’ via, educational websites, twitter, YouTube, and Facebook are ways in which we may inspire them to be creative, think globally and learn beyond their circle of friends.

The Khan Academy is a learning tool that can be used by the classroom teacher in a variety of ways. The teacher is able to create a link that allows them to import their students names and add certain areas they want that child to access and watch. The student and parent can access it from home. It can also be used to supplement a class lesson. Children are engaged in videos that are short, easy to understand and by seeing a variety of strategies it may help a variety of differentiated learners. I like the math videos and will use them in my class. I have viewed the following video on patterns and found it to be an easy to follow lesson for fourth graders. Toothpick Patterns

When teaching my students about persuasive writing I found a YouTube video by Teaching Without Frills. It incorporates 6 mini-lessons using a cartoon format. It helped me implement another way to help my students understand the skill of persuasive writing. Not only were they able to see a different approach to learning something, they saw how we can use social media to help us learn.

Their are so many educational websites that are being used in schools, but many need a license and can be quite expensive. Our division uses a digital Math program called, Dream Box. This program is geared toward grade one and two students and the license is paid for by each school. I like the Khan Academy website because it is free, teacher, student and parent friendly site. Anyone can have access to a variety of learning resources and videos in many subjects, including sustainability, entrepreneurship and world issues. Learning this way is not for everyone, but I think that having options and different perspectives of a concept is a powerful way to reach many different learners abilities, especially when taught with a passion for the subject.

“I teach the way that I wish I was taught. The lectures are coming from me, an actual human being who is fascinated by the world around him.
—Salman Khan”

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References:

O’Brien, C. (2016). Education for Sustainable Happiness and Well-Being. Taylor & Francis/Routledge.

Zhao, Y. (2012). World Class Learners: Educating creative and entrepreneurial students. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

School and Division Initiatives

Source of Vigour

The following source vigour is a compilation of some of the social and sustainability initiatives that Robertson School and the Winnipeg School Division have incorporated into the classrooms and schools, division wide. The Winnipeg School Division is comprised of  77 schools with approximately 33, 000 students. The division has always been a strong advocate for inclusiveness and personal expression. The Winnipeg School Division’s motto for sustainability is, ” It is our goal that our students will become informed and responsible decision-makers, playing active roles as citizens of Canada and the world, and will contribute to social, environmental, and economic well-being, and an equitable quality of life for all, now and in the future. We want to prepare our students to live sustainably and to establish life-long sustainable development practices.”

Gender Equality

The Winnipeg School Division Board of Trustees adopted a motion to distribute the Safe and Caring Policy – Trans and Gender Diverse Students and Staff to parent councils, student councils, employee groups and staff. See video on Safe and Caring Schools.

I am very proud to work for a school division that puts so much effort into recognizing the importance of student identity and acceptance. The issues around the world involving trans and gender equality have become significant political and personal topics. To be an advocate in helping children that are dealing with identity is important to me. Also, to educate others in compassion and acceptance of others is essential. I realize that not all school divisions have the same policies. I feel that I am fortunate to able to have discussions and lessons with my student’s around the subjects of identity and different family dynamics.

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While there are several different recognized Pink Days throughout the year, WSD has adopted the International Day of Pink—held annually on the second Wednesday of April—as our day, moving forward, marking bullying-prevention and kindness throughout the division.
The roots of the national event go back to an anti-bullying campaign Central Kings Rural High School in Nova Scotia started in 2008. Students at the school wore pink shirts as a show of support for a fellow student who had been bullied for wearing pink. On April 13, original Day of Pink co-founder Travis Price was at Gordon Bell High School to help the Canadian Red Cross and WSD to launch the event. Schools from across WSD took part in the event. Luxton School had a Day of Pink pancake breakfast, while Sister MacNamara School debuted a music video with 101 ways to make a difference.” Winnipeg School Division Website

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Robertson School Initiatives

I chose to incorporate the projects that are on-going in our school and those that have been undertaken because of Earth Day. I wrote about these initiatives not only to celebrate what is being done, but to further investigate, what more could be done.

Earth Day

Classrooms are getting ready to celebrate Earth Day and learn about it’s importance. Some classrooms are incorporating art and writing projects to show their understanding of Earth Day.

Batteries

The grade 5 students at Robertson School have started a battery recycling plan. After applying for and receiving a $1000.00 Education for Sustainability Grant, the students decided to buy containers and distribute them to families. The containers were also sent home with literature about where to recycle and why recycling is important. The containers will be returned to the school when they are filled and the school division will pick them up for recycling. The students researched the importance of recycling batteries and also purchased books on sustainability for the school library. They hope to carry out this program each year. There are various recycling programs in Manitoba offered to schools.

Green Club

At Robertson School the grade 5 and 6 students belong to the Green Club. The Green Club meets weekly and the students decide what environmental issues around and within the school need to be addressed. This year the students began a milk carton recycling program. The students collect the milk cartons after lunch and clean out the storage bins. The Green Club plants flower gardens in front of the school each spring and participates in the Take Pride Community Clean-Up each school year. In the future the club would like to start a school compost which are supplied by the Winnipeg School Division.

Plastic Grab Bag Week

The grade 4 students are taking part in Plastic Grab Bag Week . All of the students in the school have been asked to bring in all of their plastic bags for recycling. At the end of the week the bags are counted and a photo is sent to Take Pride Manitoba. There are cash prizes for the most bags collected. There is also a prize for the school that is most creative in posting there week of bag collecting on social media, such as twitter or Facebook. We have been researching the effect of plastic bags on the environment and where many bags end up, including the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch and other ocean gyres.

Aboriginal Perspectives

Within the school division there is a department called, The Aboriginal Academic Achievement Department (AAA). I have been very proud to be the AAA liaison for my school for 14 years. The AAA department has initiated a K-12 training program along with teaching kits to help teachers educate their student’s about the Treaties and Residential Schools. The Winnipeg School Division has a strong investment in the education of Aboriginal perspectives and Aboriginal students. I hope to take the teachings of the elders and educate my students about the sustainable practices of the Aboriginal People, past and present.

The time will soon be here when my grandchild will long for the cry of a loon, the flash of a salmon, the whisper of spruce needles, or the screech of an eagle. But he will not make friends with any of these creatures and when his heart aches with longing, he will curse me. Have I done all to keep the air fresh? Have I cared enough about the water? Have I left the eagle to soar in freedom? Have I done everything I could to earn my grandchild’s fondness?

Chief Dan George

Personal Reflection

As I was looking around within our school and the division, I felt positive about the many initiatives that were being undertaken regarding Sustainability. Although many of these projects take place all year round, there seems to be greater participation and learning done around the time of Earth Day. It is my hope that within my school I can bring more awareness about the importance of sustainability all year long. There were classrooms not taking part in Earth Day because of either time constraints or lack of teaching knowledge and resources regarding sustainable practices. This leads me to believe that more professional development opportunities may be needed along with resources being shared among teachers. It is important that sustainability practices are being taught school wide and not made to be the responsibility of a few. Creating a committee to discuss school wide sustainability initiatives and having an administrative team supportive of year round sustainable practices and projects seems imperative.