What is a Khan Academy contest?

Khan Academy’s missions can be a fun way for students to practice math skills at their own pace. Each math mission on Khan Academy provides comprehensive coverage of a certain grade level or subject. The more your students learn, the more points, badges, and avatars they earn. By holding a contest, students can have an added motivation to tackle the appropriate mission - either in or out of class.
Check out how Julianne Russell, a teacher in Boise, Idaho, uses "Khantests" to encourage her students to challenge themselves on Khan Academy.

Hold a contest

Before you start, make sure that:

1 )  Find an appropriate mission for your students.

Here are suggestions from some teachers:
  • Students who need remediation: If you have students who are performing below grade-level, missions such as Early Math, Arithmetic, or Pre-Algebra can help solidify their math foundations first.
  • Students who are at or above grade-level: These students can use their corresponding grade-level or subject-level missions to reinforce what they’re learning in class and/or prepare for the end-of-year standardized exams. They can similarly benefit from missions such as Arithmetic or Pre-Algebra to strengthen foundational skills.

2 ) Create a culture around missions and the growth mindset

Make sure students understand how exciting it is to take on a mission and how rewarding it is to finish one.  Explain that a mission is a big, inspiring challenge that you tackle a little bit at a time. With each step you take on this adventure, you get closer to your goal.
More importantly, teach them about the growth mindset- the mindset that intelligence is not just something that you are born with.  Based on research by Stanford Professor Carol Dweck and her colleagues, we know that students with a growth mindset have higher levels of success than those with a fixed mindset.  Teaching your students about this concept has the potential to make them grittier, more positive, and more successful in their career and everyday lives.
Below are a few resources to get you started:
  • Growth Mindset Lesson Plan
    This plan was created as a collaboration between Khan Academy & PERTS, Stanford's research center on academic mindsets.  It includes activities, videos, and links to helpful resources.  Feel free to adapt and edit the activities provided to meet the needs of your students!
  • MindsetKit by PERTS
    This website houses a variety of resources for teachers to use with their students, including videos, articles, activities, and more.

3 ) Set goals

Short- and long-term goals can foster healthy competition and encourage students to complete their missions. Here are a few examples:
Short-term goals:
  • Create a leaderboard to show how many mission-level skills each student has mastered. Each week, reward the student who mastered the most skills that week, or give a shout-out to the top 10 students.
  • Make a poster in your classroom to celebrate students who have completed 10% of their mission, 20%, 30%, etc. Use your Student Progress report to keep the poster up to date.
  • Give students a prize every time they master 10 new mission-level skills.
Long-term goals:
  • Whenever a student completes their mission, give them a prize.
  • Give out certificates to students at an end-of-year celebration that recognizes students who’ve completed their missions.
  • If you teach multiple classes, throw a pizza party for the first class to have all students complete their mission.

4 ) Tips from teachers

Here are a few things that might be helpful to remind your students about:
  • Although you’re free to explore any skill you like on Khan Academy, only mission-level skills count for this contest.
  • Khan Academy will recommend skills from your mission for you to complete, and you’ll see them on the right side of your dashboard. If you’d rather choose skills yourself, click Show all skills on the left side of your dashboard and select a square.
  • To “level up” on skills and achieve mastery, you’ll need to do mastery challenges!

5 ) Track student progress

View our guide to monitor student’s progress here.
Additional Tip: At the bottom left of the Student Progress report (#3 on the image above), you can see the number of skills each student has mastered within the class mission by looking at the blue column. Click the blue square to sort students by the number of skills mastered.