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I will be meeting with DD's 2nd grade teacher soon to discuss DD's math development, since DD has quickly mastered regular math material through 5th grade. The teacher wants to have DD use Khan Academy in the classroom, and she will be a "testcase" for the school since she will be the first kid to use it in her class, and possibly the first at her K5 school. Since this is a first for the teacher, I have a chance to establish from the beginning how the program will be used for DD. I would love to hear from anyone with kids who have used Khan Academy, and how it has worked for them.
For DD, Khan Academy will be a supplement, rather than an alternative, to standard 2nd grade math, as the school system requires DD to participate in the regular 2nd grade math instruction time, and to take the end of unit assessments with her class (about once per month). The school uses FirstInMath.com for kids to practice their math skills online at home, mostly in the form of games and quizzes. Last week DD's teacher purchased the Challenge Math books for DD to use. We will be also be discussing the best way to use those books when we meet.
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I'm not clear how it will be used for your DD. She will be using it during class, but it will be a supplement to the class? How much will she be participating with her class and how much will she be interacting with her teacher?
If she's that far out of sync with the class, she should be tested for a subject acceleration (or 2 or 3).
After seeing three attempts to offload the teaching of my kids to something besides a classroom with a teacher, I've become very negative about a whole sale replacement of inclass math instruction with the computer. Some kids are really motivated by this. For others, it's a frustrating experience. Our family now has experience with ST Math (the best of the options out there, but with major problems especially for the highly gifted and highly motivated), ALEKS, and Khan Academy.
Khan has some gaping holes in video content and in problem type. A child cannot learn math effectively wellextended beyond the classroom material without access to instruction from the teacher. For instance, there are videos on translating degrees to radian and back, but there is not definition of radians or why one might use it. It's also presented before the abstract algebra concepts where 'pi' can be used to stand in for a number. These are minor gaps if the child is going to see it in a classroom or have a teacher present. These gaps are additive and contribute to frustration if there's no teacher around.
Khan doesn't offer children the opportunity to show their work on paper, either. Very quickly, Khan ends up resorting to multiple choice questions to put in the answers. If your DD is working at a 5th grade level, that means multiplying and dividing large numbers, manipulating fractions, and working with triangles. This is a key time to be developing the skills of presenting orderly work before the transition to algebra. I also worry that the small subset of problems required to prove "mastery" is small enough to leave some misconceptions. My kids are shockingly gifted in math, but my DD still needed more than 10 long division problems to really understand and cement the process. Not having the reinforcement of a teacher showing her how to lay it out on a page (and to correct her early attempts) would have been difficult to recover from.
Even though my kids are difficult to educate, after a year of my DD being set aside and ignored to work on her own (ALEKS + textbook), we're discovering how bad an idea it has been, and the consequences are likely to be severe. We will be pushing our schools from here on out to be placing our kids in an appropriate classroom where they can work with a teacher. This is going to require coordinating schedules across grades and across schools. We've discovered a 2 year acceleration is harder to coordinate than a 1 year acceleration, and we are now talking to the school about ultimately a 3 year acceleration for my son (2 now, another to come from gifted placement when he hits 4th grade math). However, computers don't give kids access to the student's thinking, and students lose out on access to the teacher's thinking.
We really like Khan Academy here ... but as an occasional supplement particularly to aid in review and gapfilling, not as enrichment or as a full curriculum. Geofizz is right about the holes and the shallowness of the applications. It's dry and boring and insufficiently varied at the arithmetic level unless you've already really mastered the skills and are just checking retention. The whole site is a great concept, but the "course of study" hasn't really been thought out in a holistic pedagogical way, since it grew organically from a few help videos to the huge site it's become. It's a little more robust at the high school level, but again, it's fairly hit and miss in covering things in ways that suit a particular learners' needs.
Miranda
Mountain mama to one great kid and three great grownups


We are partway through Art of Problem Solving's PreAlgebra text, I am really impressed with how rigorous and thorough and thoughtful it is compared to the other things we have seen for late elementary (Singapore, Fred, Challenge Math, lots of living math, Khan). There are not a lot of problems, but they are elegant and intelligently sequenced. I think it's seventh grade rather than sixth. Would something like that be a possibility?
Personally, I think Khan is fantastic for occasional enjoyment, or for an alternative way to explain a sticky concept, but not the best standalone when there are so many great resources. In the OP's case, I'd rather see (a) a really amazing formal program so the child can work at level or (b) delightful living math can explore interesting tangents, something like Historical Connections in Mathematics, or, ideally, both.
Khan is free and easy for them, and probably better than the gradelevel text, but isn't designed to be a gifted enhancement.
Heather
Thanks for sharing your experiences. It's very helpful to hear this. I feel more prepared for the math meeting already. Now I just have to figure out what to say, and how to say it. :)
To clarify about math time in class  I'm told DD has to stay with her class for regular 2nd math instruction and 2nd grade math assessments, except when she misses one math class per week to attend an advanced writing class with a few other kids. She could do Khan or other math supplements during less structured class time, such as one of the extended reading blocks scheduled several times per week. DD does not have the regular 2nd grade math homework. Her teacher gives her different homework, but doesn't provide instruction for that homework during class. She said she is willing to stay after school if DD has questions about her homework, but DD has only taken her up on that a couple of times.
I ended up teaching DD most of the math she knows, without a curriculum, mostly by answering her questions as they have come up, with what I call "kitchen table math." And for some reason, topics such as exponents, probability, and the differences between a mean, median and mode do come up at our kitchen table. (I just saw there is a series of books called "Kitchen Table Math," but I haven't read them.)
I think it's probably time to put together a more formal outline of elementary math, review it with DD for the remainder of the school year to make sure we didn't miss anything, and then take the prealgebra plunge this summer, or maybe in the fall. With or without the school's help.
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We are partway through Art of Problem Solving's PreAlgebra text, I am really impressed with how rigorous and thorough and thoughtful it is compared to the other things we have seen for late elementary (Singapore, Fred, Challenge Math, lots of living math, Khan). There are not a lot of problems, but they are elegant and intelligently sequenced. I think it's seventh grade rather than sixth.
Threadjacking here. I love the AoPS books we have, but they were too much for my then10yearold middle dd who had just completed Singapore Primary Math and was wanting to work entirely independently. The prealgebra book wasn't available back then. She did the first 50 pages or so of both Algebra and Geometry and then lost interest. I think it was just too much for her to deal with at that age on her own. But I was very impressed with the depth in them, and the presentation. They would have been perfect for her a year or two later, or with some teacher or parent support. I hope my younger dd gets the chance to use them some day.
My younger dd finished Singapore Primary Math a couple of months ago and has just got busy with Challenge Math. She loves it ... but is gallivanting through it at quite a clip. She's done about a quarter of the material just in the last three weeks. I'd hoped it would be enough to keep her busy for a year or two until she was old enough and mature enough for a robust high school program like AoPS, but that now seems unlikely. Though perhaps things will slow down once she gets into the sections introducing trig and calculus. So far most of it has been review, albeit with a bit more depth and a slightly different spin.
Anyway ... would AoPS PreAlgebra be worth doing for a kid who has finished Singapore 6B and also finished Challenge Math? Or would it be mostly review as well? I confess I'm not entirely clear on what prealgebra is, because although it's part of the US course structure that all you Americans seem familiar with, it's not a discrete subject that I can understand as a Canadian. We just call all this stuff math and learn it incrementally each year in school. To me geometry means the stuff of space and shape and position that's taught every year from KG to the end of high school, not an academic course normally taught to 15yearolds, kwim? So I'm wondering whether you think the AoPS prealgebra book would contain enough new material beyond the scope of Challenge Math and Singapore 6A/6B to be a challenge for her.
Any thoughts welcome!
Miranda
Mountain mama to one great kid and three great grownups
Why is this? And who told you this?
If this is a public school, they must have an acceleration policy for both subject and whole grade acceleration. They are often vague, and we've noticed that the evaluation is "make it up as you go along" in some cases, but there must be a policy in place. If the school is telling you that your DD cannot be accelerated as a matter of policy, call the district office and ask for a copy of the policy. If a child can test well on each unit test before the unit begins, then the child is poorly placed and poorly served. Having a child sit through an hour a day of inappropriate instruction is torture, and it taught my oldest to hate math and dread school.
Considering what you've said about the fact that they say she has to participate with the class, that she already gets challenge homework, and has other things in place, I'm not sure where Khan would fit in here. Considering that you two seem to have a good relationship working together at the kitchen table, I wouldn't bring in a screen & automated program to replace that. Human teachers are superior to electronic ones.
do you know what your state guidelines are about this issue? to me this sounds ridiculous.
does the school even know how far ahead she can do in math? it seems ridiculous that YOU are her math teacher. essentially you are homeschooling in math. have they seen some of the work she does.
if your dd is ok with your situation i would not push it too much now, but this cant be her life at school. she needs to go to a different grade for math at least next year if not now.
i feel terrible that a 5th grade level child is having to sit through 2nd grade instruction. and take 2nd grade assessment. unless she has found her own way to entertain herself.
Our state is still trying to come up with a policy for gifted/advanced learners.... Locally, the district's placement policy distributed to families only refers to grade placement in terms of repeating grades, and says nothing about skipping grades. It does say they do not allow students to start 1st grade unless they are 6 prior to September 1, and that there are "no exceptions to this rule." They offer a compacted curriculum beginning in 4th for students who test above a certain level on a Terra Nova test in 3rd grade.
In the first week of 1st grade, the teacher had the students fill out a worksheet that said "In first grade, I want to ______________" and DD wrote "learn complikated math," and drew a picture of a teacher and child looking at multiplication problems on the blackboard. The teacher never did a thing to differentiate math for her, even after I asked her midyear what she could do for DD (and still nothing changed), so I started to teach DD what she was asking to learn.
We were told that bit about having to stay with her classmates for math instruction and assessment last spring, near the end of 1st grade, when we met with the principal and 2nd grade teacher to come up with a more appropriate plan for DD. We had asked for a full grade acceleration into 3rd, but we were told 2nd grade was much more rigorous than 1st, with much more opportunity for differentiation, and we agreed to give it a try. DD is young, with a birthday 6 weeks before the grade cutoff, so that kept us from insisting on moving her up a grade.
As for what the school knows about her math level, as far as I can tell, they don't pretest material, or test to find the student's actual level. They test for proficiency after each unit of instruction, to see if anyone needs more work on what was covered. I do think DD's teacher now has a better idea of DD's abilities. She has given DD progressively harder homework as DD shows what she can do. Now that the school uses an online math skills program that covers K8 math (firstinmath.com), DD tried out fifth grade math on her own, and her teacher can see what she works on. She also knows DD participates in a weekly afterschool math group, but I don't think she gets that the group is focused on math topics that aren't covered in elementary school.
DD is very frustrated with math at school, saying it's like she's had to sit through kindergarten math every year. Since it's a spiraling curriculum, it probably looks to her like the same material again and again. I recently asked her what kind of math she wants to learn next, and she said "more reallife math." Then she said "Actually, math IS life." With that attitude, how can I leave it up to the school system to teach her on their timetable?
These responses have made me realize that I need to make this meeting about the big picture of how to handle DD's instruction more appropriately now, and next year, rather than focusing on the details of how to use various supplements. I'm glad I can come here to get a reality check from people who get what I'm talking about.
i will advice you to take this to the school, district and state level if you have to. dont bend down. you'll be very surprised what persistance does. keep at it. try finding out GT moms in your district and see what they have done.
but i am sorry. i have a dd in 4th grade. K was hard enough for her with the boredom factor. i cant imagine her sitting thru first and second with the boredom continuing. your dd has already gone thru k and 1st. i think you are going to 'lose' her if nothing happens soon or at least for 3rd grade.
OP, I hope the meeting went well!
Miranda, I am wondering the same thing from the other sidewhat to do after we finish the AoPS book. We didn't do the upper levels of Singapore, but glancing through 6B I'd say AoPS prealgebra is definitely more thorough. Harder to say with Challenge Math. I misspoke; we did the elementary challenge math last year, which is substantially easier than AoPS. Glancing at Challenge Math, which I had in mind as one possibility for after AoPS, I'd guess it's more the approach and depth of AoPS than the material covered that might be useful, and some of it will be review. AoPS seems deeper, in general, more interested in lingering on why things work and how they are connected. Instead of giving the formula for a triangle's area, for instance, AoPS sets up a few different problems that explore the area of a triangle compared to a rectangle, and kind of discover the formula. The third excerpt on the website is probably most characteristic of difficulty level.
Heather
Thanks so much for the overview and comparison, Heather. I can tell now that AoPS prealgebra would be an excellent next step if we decide to move into a US algebra program, but would be redundant if we're moving into a Singaporean secondary (i.e. 7thgradeplus) program because it covers the same ground. We'll probably do the latter, since it aligns much better with the Canadian scope & sequence. Which is too bad in a way, because I really do love the depth of AoPS, but I think Singapore comes a close second in that respect. Your input has been very helpful!
Miranda
Mountain mama to one great kid and three great grownups
DD had a 104.6 temperature on the day of the scheduled math meeting, which turned out to be from pneumonia, so I'll have reschedule. We have school vacation this week, so I have another week to mull it over.
When we do meet, I am going to try to keep the focus on what the school can arrange for DD for next year. Once we have more appropriate instruction planned for the fall, we can use the remainder of the current year to help DD make the transition. I'm planning to ask the principal for a full grade acceleration for DD for the fall (skipping 3rd), with additional acceleration in math. Her school is K5, and the 4th and 5th grade classes have coordinated schedules in order to allow more abilitygrouping in different subjects, so I think that could be a better fit for DD. Maybe DD can spend some time with the 3rd grade over the next few months, to further demonstrate she can do the work, and to see how it goes with the older kids.
If it looks like we can't get something set up for DD with this school, we do have some transfer options (to a large K8 school), but in order to get a spot for next year, we have to apply for a transfer in midMarch. I think DD would stay in 3rd next year if we transfer her. She would be eligible for more advanced classes with a compacted curriculum at the K8, beginning in 4th, but I really don't want to keep her in limbo for yet another school year with the promise of more accelerated work a year after that.
I took a look at the AoPS website, and saw that in addition to the textbooks, they have a free "online learning system" called Alcumus, and instructional videos. It looks like a better setup than Khan Academy, if DD will be doing independent work in math. I created an account for DD so she could take a look at their PreAlgebra materials.
We have used Khan Academy at home when the math at school was too slow. Apparently my DS's school has the same policy: he has to do whatever math they are doing in class, even though he keeps testing ahead of all the other students in math achievement and ability. He's not significantly ahead in other subjects, and he does need to develop some of the executive function and wordproblem solving he's getting from the school curriculum. Khan Academy is one of the good tools I have to ensure he can keep learning new things in his favorite subject.
It's not a pedagogically innovative program and there is nothing exciting about it. For an elementary schooler, it's pleasant to have a nice man teach you something with chalkandtalk for about ten minutes. After each very short unit, there's a very short problem set. It's not too long, the amount of material in each video is very manageable, and the student can choose to do as many as he or she would like. If a child is gifted, that can mean taking a peek at higherlevel geometry or algebra or whatever. If you look at the Khan Academy website, you'll see that anyone can click on any video at any time. (Not sure whether the school will use them that way, though.)
Khan Academy was a great fit for my DS because he could work at his own pace and it didn't require him to have reading skills to match his mathwhich he doesn't. It sounds like your DD is ahead in all of her subjects, and the school is providing enrichment in her other subjects. This doesn't surprise me, mind youI'm just noticing how much easier schools find it to do enrichment in reading and writing. I don't know whether I would have wanted Khan Academy to be enrichment for my son at school. Though Sal Khan is a gifted teacher, he's not standing on his head or anythinghe's teaching math. I'm not sure why schools seem to find the idea that someone might like math so bewildering. It's a subject they all have to learn in school!
On the other hand, the enrichment model with math is pretty sure to backfire. My son was told he could do more advanced math once he finished his class work, and then his teacher complained that he rushed through his review arithmetic and made mistakes. WELL DUH, LADY. Sometimes I wonder how people get to be teachers who don't seem to have ever met a kid before.
Anyway maybe the solution is going to be for your DD to skip a grade, since it sounds like she's equally ahead in all subjects.
Divorced mom of one awesome boy born 232003.
OP, maybe the Keys To... books would also work; they are very inexpensive and seem to be workable for independent learning.
Miranda, I definitely would not do the prealgebra as an intermediate step for the next Singapore. Glad you have something that works.
And this one just made me smile, then shake my head. Seems like this attitude crops up so much more for math than LA:
On the other hand, the enrichment model with math is pretty sure to backfire. My son was told he could do more advanced math once he finished his class work, and then his teacher complained that he rushed through his review arithmetic and made mistakes. WELL DUH, LADY. Sometimes I wonder how people get to be teachers who don't seem to have ever met a kid before.
Heather
I am not sure about Khan Academy. I am looking into its use in my classroom of 3rd graders. I already use Math Workshop (minilesson, independent work, review). If you see Math instruction as the spiral it is instead of a ladder of different skills, then, you realize that it is extremely possible to challenge kids in any classroom. Algebra begins in Kindergarten  as Algebra is the study of equations. When a child learns to add 2 amounts, they are creating an algebraic equation and building the foundations. My family is full of extremely academically advanced children. When my brother was young, he skipped a grade. This actually hurt him socially  as he later attended a school in which the teachers frowned on gifted students. He was not treated well. It took him years to recover from it. My nephew understood multiplication and division before entering Kindergarten. My brother had a hard time getting the teachers to challenge him  so, my nephew was moved into private schools.
I teach in a public school. I do challenge the children in my class  to the best of my ability. Unfortunately, there is so much pressure to recognize the students who are struggling  recognize their needs and get them extra help  that the gifted students aren't challenged as effectively. That is the result of testoriented instruction  driven by NCLB. So, going back to the spiral, when teaching equations, you can structure your minilesson to cover the grade level expectations  would be a review of the basics for advanced kids. Then, you can vary the independent or partner work according to the needs of the students. More advanced students would work with more complex numbers or equations. Those struggling would review the building blocks in small groups and then, move further in the skill. Khan Academy might be used by the teacher to challenge your child in this way  allow your child to move deeper during the independent work. As far as testing, they may be referring to the statedesignated tests. We have tests that all students must take 3 times/year  along with the final NCLB testing. Those tests are given to all students in that grade level. As far as formal and informal assessments that are used instructively by the teacher, I'm sure she can be tested according to what she is learning.
When we were children, we were invited to take classes in other grade levels. So, while in 3rd grade, we might have taken Math or Reading in a 4th or 5th grade classroom. That is also an option found in some schools. We do that with some students in our school  usually through teachers cooperating.
Some schools have pullout gifted programs. The students take all of their core courses with their class, but are pulled out daily to do more challenging activities with other students who are also more advanced.
So, I guess my message is that it really depends on the child, the teacher, the school, and the school system. Gifted is defined nationally as a special need and therefore, must be serviced by the school systems. The catch is that school systems do not test for 'giftedness' until 3rd grade. There is a good reason for this. Sometimes, students are more advanced in primary simply because their parents worked with them from a very young age. They are really not gifted. They are just welltutored. In 3rd grade, as higherthinking skills are required, these students tend to level off within the classroom. Truly gifted is not knowing more than other students  It is an ability to think and work at higherthinking levels (see Bloom's Taxonomy). In 3rd grade, students are given an IQ test that is supposed to test their ability to think abstractly.
One of my brothers is challenging his kids (who at 2nd & 3rd grade tested higher in Math than anyone in their elementary school  including the intermediate students) using Tabtor. He just showed it to me over the weekend. It does cost money, but it seems to be very effective and very interesting to the students. You need an IPAD to use the program.
I'm sure I just muddied things for you a little, but I thought something here might help. Bottom line, you are your child's best advocate. My father was for us. My brothers are for their kids. I would find out who is in charge of the gifted program for your school district and seek advice from them. I'd also network with other parents of gifted students in the school system.
I wish you the best.
M.A.
Fwiw, the Khan Academy interface has improved a lot since this thread was initiated. I don't see much improvement in the pedagogy, especially in the elementary / middle school part of the curriculum. There's such an opportunity for a robust system of virtual manipulatives and symbolic demonstrations by video  but it's all still just [virtual] chalk & talk & drill. I hope they really dig in and improve their K7 offerings because I think the model and the interface are excellent.
Anyway, I read through my contributions to this thread from almost two years ago, concerning Art of Problem Solving prealgebra, and thought I'd just update on what we ended up doing. Dd is now 10 and after finishing with Challenge Math she decided to just use our local public school's math curriculum. It's a Canadian program called "Math Makes Sense" and it's similar in approach and emphasis to Singaporean programs I've seen. She is now half way through the 9th grade curriculum and is still enjoying it, understanding it easily and scoring near perfectly on unit tests. The main draw for her was that it would allow her to join the class at school and have an actual math teacher and a classroom of fellow learners. As it turns out the school is using an independent learning model so she's not getting much of either of those things, but the program is a good fit for her and that's worth a lot, and she likes having the external accountability of schoolbased tests and exams.
And she still likes using Khan Academy occasionally for supplementation.
Miranda
Mountain mama to one great kid and three great grownups
Welcome, mallis! We love having teachers around here. You are a fantastic resource to give a perspective of the classroom teacher. Question for you, particularly as you attempt to extend your students in math. I've read in a few places about the differentiation materials that come with published curricula. Can you explain why it's hard to implement? Why is it such a struggle for us as parents to coax a teacher, who recognizes that our kids need more, to implement those materials? How far above grade levels do those materials go?
Also, are you in a Race to the Top state? In my state, teachers and schools are ranked on both "closing the gap" (reducing the distance between the top and bottom students at that school) and extending the gifted students (an A grade goes to students who average growth is more than 1.5 years per year). How do you thread that needle?
Please stick around and read up on giftedness and some of the struggles parents encounter. You have a number of misconceptions (it's not a federal mandate as a special need; there's a bit difference between gifted and hothoused). My personal pet peeve on gifted programs in schools is that those with pullout programs don't seem to acknowledge that my kids are gifted all day, not just the two hours where they go off and solve logic puzzles.
I have no experience in this but you mentioned that the teacher offered to help her after school with math but she rarely takes the teacher up on it. Is it possible that if you got DD to seek help from her teacher very commonly, even every day, the teacher would be more motivated to help find a better solution?
Two proud daddies and our little monster
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this is just a moment in time, step aside and let it happen
All three of my kids use Khan academy. However, they do it at home to learn math and science at their own pace instead of waiting for teachers to teach the concepts. I find it very informative and I have used it few ties to clarify something or to learn how to explain a concept better. Its a awesome tool. In class scenario too I think it'd be better than what curriculum teaches the kids.
My 6th grader has just started using it. I hate it. He sort of views it as a video game but tends to get extremely frustrated because nothing is explained very well and then he has to come up with answers...he doesn't want to work the problems out on paper, because video game, so he just guesses and then gets pissed and threatens to assault the computer. LOL
I should say that ds has special needs WRT mental illness, specifically mood instability, but he is doing well lately on medication and his tolerance has improved greatly. Except for when he's on KA.
Our school has provided Dreambox for accelerated math students, which IMO isn't really a curriculum replacement, though it's very good for what it is. We also have Dreambox account at home and both kids (9 and 5) like it.
We have math via giftedandtalented.com  but we have the old, original EPGY math curriculum, not the new Redbird one which I've mostly heard negative things about.
Mom to ds1 (ASD) born 2004 and ds2 born 2007
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