Reflections from a Book Study – Khan Academy – #Engage109

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”
– Randy Pausch


bookstudyThere are many ways to lead professional learning for staff. Often there is a meeting of the whole staff, a team meeting, a department meeting, an in-service, a conference, online learning, etc. From time to time in our district we engage in book study experiences to learn together, share common experiences, engage and interact with one another, and participate on their own time.

Recently at Kipling School the principal Anthony McConnell invited me and some other central office administrators to participate in a book study with his staff for Sal Khan’s oneworldschoolhousebook The One World Schoolhouse. This is a professional learning activity in which members of team can engage at any time and at any place is an activity that inherently differentiated. I was happy to be invited and I was happy to contribute.

Every few days another staff member writes a post from one part of the book and several other staff members write comments about the postings. It’s really powerful learning to see, read, think about, and begin to understand the multiple perspectives emerging from the shared experiences of reading this book from an EduRock Star! Khan Academy programming is in use in our schools, in other schools where I have served, and quite frankly, all over the world. Khan’s experiences, origins, purposes, and mission motivates educators and educational leaders at all levels in all settings.

This is a link to the blog with the current post listed first; and then all other posts follow. My section was on an early part of the book: No Frills Videos, Focusing on the Content – cornerstones of Khan’s experiences, background, and methods. I’m sharing excerpts of this post below:

Khan started out tutoring his cousin and using basic technology for the purpose of assisting his efforts at tutoring. He did not set out to become a phenomenon, though he did! Khan aimed to bring back fun to learning. The chalkboard (represented virtually by the black background on which he draws) symbolizes perhaps a simpler time when school was fun. My hope is that school is fun everywhere and every day! My hope is that Khan’s influence in bringing fun and joy back to school permeates the walls of our district and districts all over.

Khan’s videos started out as “no-frills” in part because he was simply tutoring a few people and in part because he is a self-Khanphotodescribed austere person (page 27). What flows throughout the book (and not to get too far ahead of my part here …) is a research and evidence base. Khan’s work and the successes he and the Academy enjoy are actually grounded in research, evidence, study, and affirmation. Though he appears to start out whimsically, he shares small nuggets of evidence and research as the base for his decisions. For example, in this chapter, he spends a few pages identifying why the length of his videos rests around 10 minutes.

I encourage readers to check out the public book study (everything on the internet is public of course) as well as consider my endorsement of Khan’s book as a worthy read!

For more on my experiences with the Khan Academy, and our district’s future focus and commitment to innovation and change, please see earlier posts from this blog:

Online Learning Tool-The Khan Academy from 9/3/2013,

More on the Future of Education – What is School For? from 11/2/2015

The overall purposes of all of these blogs, study groups, books, videos, opportunities and learning is to improve educational opportunities for children and teaching opportunities for staff!


Let’s continue to push the envelopes of change and create new and better realities where we unlock restrictions on learning and we unleash the power of synergy in our classrooms, board rooms, and communities!


Through learning opportunities like this blogging book study, we get to learn with and from one another while gaining new perspectives on current trends. It’s a great experience and I applaud the leadership and staff at the school for letting me tag along on their journey!

4 thoughts on “Reflections from a Book Study – Khan Academy – #Engage109

  1. Mike-I am really enjoying the book and the blogging (although maybe a bit nervous for my chapter next month!). It is interesting to hear everyone else’s perspective on what Khan has written and how we are applying this to our daily teaching. I think it was interesting to know Khan Academy and LearnStorm and how those programs have helped our kids before I knew the backstory…made it even more exciting!

    • Amy,
      I’m confident your blog post will be a huge hit! I’m looking forward to reading it and to seeing how we can all revolutionize education and take charge of what we know is right!!

  2. Mike,

    Thanks for the shout-out on our little learning blog. I love what our district has done with Khan Academy as well as professional learning in general. The work of you, Jeff, Marci, Amy, etc. with Deerfield University and so on has really taken PD to another level.

    • Anthony,
      Thank you for your comment and for your partnership and visionary leadership.
      Together we truly Engage, Inspire and Empower.

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