Jonathan Schwartz

March 9, 2017

Every month in our UCCI newsletter, we feature one of the extraordinary educators we have worked with at the UCCI Institutes and in the UCCI Teacher Exchange. We started this feature so that we could have a way of publicly showcasing how creative, innovative, and smart California teachers are. We archive every issue of the Teacher Spotlight here, on the UCCI website, at our Teacher Spotlight page.

This month the spotlight is on Jonathan Schwartz, Math/Woodshop/CNC Teacher at Colfax High School. Jonathan is one of the recipients of the UCCI Course Resources Development Grant, and he will be debuting the instructional materials he created--including a comprehensive set of YouTube video tutorials!--at our upcoming UCCI Conference on Integrated Curriculum.

You were one of the recipients of the UCCI Course Resources Development Grant.  What prompted you to apply for this Grant?  
My mission as a high school teacher is to give all students an appreciation of the usefulness, power, and enjoyment of mathematics. I have spent my career designing lessons that draw students in to investigate mathematics independently and explore relationships within the subject.

I feel UCCI is a fantastic program that allows math and CTE to be intertwined to help students apply the math they are learning. When I saw the grant applications, I realized it would be a perfect fit to create curriculum and have others use that curriculum for Constructing Algebra 2.

How would you describe the curriculum you have created for Constructing Algebra 2?

This curriculum is a set of engaging wood projects that combine the skills of a wood manufacturing lab with the academics of a math class. The projects are easy for every shop teacher to build and have curriculum that every math teacher will love.  All projects are easily accessible on the web page Make Something, Learn Something and come with video tutorials and curriculum. The projects are designed for a woods or math teacher to do together or can be done individually by either teacher. These wood projects meet the content standards of high school common core math class and the content standards of Algebra 2.

You have put together YouTube tutorials for some of the projects in this course as part of the course materials you are developing. Please talk about why you took this approach and your experience with putting the tutorials together.

When I don’t know how to do something, the first thing I do is look up a YouTube video as a tutorial. It doesn’t matter if I am trying to solve a math problem or fix a car, my most valuable resource is a video on YouTube.  I learned this skill from my students, so it seems a good fit to have videos on how to build the projects as well as how to solve the math problems.  

What was your background prior to your current role, and how did you decide to become a teacher?
I graduated from the University of California, Davis and worked in industry for years before returning to Harvard University for a Masters in Math Education. I have taught math for twenty years and started teaching woodshop and pre-engineering twelve years ago.  

Did you have any experience with integrated curriculum prior to developing materials for the UCCI course Constructing Algebra 2?
I have always tried to combine math with making and the UCCI grant allowed me to finally put together what I have always wanted to do: combine my math class curriculum with my woodworking class skills.

What are your top three resources (online or otherwise) that you have found most useful in teaching Math?
My three favorite resources are: YouTube, CTE Online, working with my site and district staff.

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“I've gained more from this institute in regards to curriculum development than any other program I've been associated with in my 12 years of teaching.” 

- Aaron Lemos, Spring 2013 UCCI Institutes