Common Sense Review
Updated May 2014

Khan Academy: Algebra 1

Algebra lessons get to the point, though sometimes slowly
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This module is part of the Website Khan Academy.
Common Sense Rating 3
  • Here's a screenshot from the Descartes and Cartesian coordinates video.
  • There's an explanation of how to do the FOIL method, as well as an alternative method.
  • Within the Missions, students answer multiple-choice questions with hints and videos to help if they get stuck.
Emily Pohlonski
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
How Can Teachers Use It?

Khan Academy's Algebra 1 content might best be used to help kids check their understanding once you've already covered a topic in class. The quizzes at the end of each tutorial can be used for homework or as an in-class formative assessment. Kids can use the Missions to reinforce foundational skills or work ahead. However, take note: Some of the instructional videos here are a bit slow-paced. Kids could get bored or distracted as Sal backtracks, reorganizing the way he writes FOIL, or during his discussion of why he doesn't like this method. As a comparison, Virtual Nerd's tutorial on FOIL covers the same topic much more succinctly. That said, Khan teaches the concept correctly, presenting the distributive property as an alternative to this method. It would just be better if it were clearer and more precise.

On the flip side, the fact that Sal takes time to emphasize the nature of mathematics is a great benefit. For example, the video "Descartes and Cartesian coordinates" highlights the importance of persevering through math problems; this would be an excellent video to watch and discuss as a whole class. For another cool activity, in “Understanding the process for solving quadratic equations,” kids are asked to look for flaws in a sample student’s work. This kind of exercise can help students become more metacognitive about their own mathematical processes.


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