The students arrived at Envision Academy today and learned about the project they are a part of this summer. The first question they asked was, “so are we part of an experiment?”
The deployment of the Chromebooks was extremely smooth with the teacher, Ruth, collecting collateral (keys, wallet, cell phone, etc.) in exchange for each laptop. Students took the forty-five minute MDTP assessment in virtual silence. Their focus and attention was good, and it seemed that taking the assessment on-line helped. With this data, Ruth is going to be able to suggest starting points for students tomorrow within Khan. The data will also provide a starting point for comparing the gains of the control and treatment groups.
It was interesting to watch students’ enthusiasm and focus wane towards the end of the assessment. Forty-five minutes straight was pushing some of their attention span. One of the wonders of our team was whether the attention/focus will be stronger using Khan versus a fairly “flat” assessment. Students also took a long time to work on the fifty-problem MDTP assessment. In the forty-five minutes suggested, many students only got through half of the assessment. It’s a telling sign that some of their actual algebra skills are quite low.
One of the questions we are considering with Khan is whether we truly let students work on whatever content they need. Khan suggests that all students start at the beginning of their “star chart” with single digit addition and then build up steam as they get a lot of problems right, earn “energy points” and badges, and get comfortable on the platform. That said, what about the students who have big numeracy gaps in fractions, decimals, percentages, etc.? If they only have five weeks of summer school to remeidate algebra, we are pondering whether it is “okay” for them to focus on their numeracy gaps but not get as much of the algebra content. Our plan is to give them a week or so to focus on where they need it most and then monitor the data. But it may be that these students get more of a foundational shoring up rather than true algebra intervention.