A Peek Inside the Classroom: Mr. Leone & Khan Academy

A Peek Inside the Classroom: Mr. Leone & Khan Academy

There are two new pieces to instruction in Immaculata Hall Room 219, the first is the teacher, Mr. Robert Leone, and the second is his embracing of Khan Academy as a means of facilitating instruction.

Mr. Leone joined St. Mary’s this year after 20 years working in Catholic and public high schools in the Brooklyn Diocese and most recently in Midwestern Pennsylvania.  Mr. Leone, a native of Long Island, returned to his hometown this year and seized an opportunity to work at St. Mary’s High School as a mathematics teacher.  St. Mary’s prides itself on embracing technology, particularly as a fully one-to-one computing school via the iPad, and Mr. Leone brought a similar appreciation of technology.

Instruction in Mr. Leone’s class is enhanced by his usage of Geometers Sketchpad software which facilitates visual displays in geometry.  Student’s note it is especially useful in demonstrating how the rules of a transformation are maintained when it is shown through this program.

But, what has become a cornerstone of Mr. Leone’s class is Khan Academy.  Khan Academy is an online learning environment, originally built by a Harvard graduate Sal Khan to assist his niece in reviewing mathematical topics.  The program was then embraced by Bill Gates who is now underwriting expansion into the classroom.

Mr. Leone has had all of his students create profiles and they are required to complete weekly challenge assignments.  The student’s will complete assignments in class or at home.  Mr. Leone said, “The beauty of Khan Academy is if the students are working at home, with one click they can see a video demonstrating the topic to assist or reinforce their understanding.”  The students have come to embrace these challenges, in a positive competitive nature.  They can see how many points they have accumulated and are challenged to be the best performers in their classes.  The points are not just based on correct answers, but time on task as well, therefore rewarding student’s effort.

Students explore Khan Academy.Alexander De Rege ’17 states, “It is a new way of learning.  The videos can be more engaging than a traditional textbook.  It is great when you are studying for tests
and need a little review.”

Mr. Leone will create some healthy competition amongst the students as points are earned for completed assignments.  Trevor Salerno ’16 said, “Mr. Leone has a highest point challenge that motivates some healthy academic competition.”

The integration of Khan Academy into Mr. Leone’s classroom has certainly proved fruitful.  As Mr. Leone continues at St. Mary’s he is hopeful that Khan Academy will be a critical piece of all his classes.  In his short time here he has certainly shown himself to be a 21st century educator in a 21st century school.