Dec. 11,  2013

As we mentioned in last month’s newsletter, our work here at UC Curriculum Integration brings us into contact with so many dedicated, creative, and brilliant California teachers, we created this Teacher Spotlight feature so you could meet some of them!

This month the spotlight is on John Dewey, who has taught modern languages for 20 years and currently teaches Research Methods to high school seniors as well as serving as a school administrator at Garden Street Academy in Santa Barbara.

John has a doctorate in education and his research focus is organizational theory, with a particular focus on examining teacher team dynamics. His interest in the UC Curriculum Integration program stems from a desire to learn more about the course-design process and to help teachers and administrators as they create new courses by bringing together the knowledge and resources of subject knowledge specialists.    

"The team approach to problem solving in curriculum design is the best way to attain high quality, rigorous course descriptions that teachers statewide can employ in the classroom. I am fortunate to be able to contribute my own experience as a developer and facilitator in this project. The collaborative process that allows teachers to integrate applicable technical knowledge into their subject areas is remarkable."

John took part as a developer at the Spring 2013 UCCI Institutes, working on a team that integrated Spanish 3 with the Patient Care pathway of Health Science and Medical Technology Preparate a Servir. He took what he gained from the experience back to his school and embarked on creating two courses for his high school with his colleagues.

"We had already looked at ways of integrating careers into our courses, but the challenge is generally that you can’t layer this knowledge on top of an approved ‘a-g’ course. We wanted to promote entrepreneurship in music, and culinary skills in Spanish class, and the UC integration model gave us the tools to achieve that."

Both courses are now approved and under way. Business of Music is a course developed by Ian Putnam, Meaghan Caruso and Matt Kissell, integrating performing arts with the Entrepreneurship career pathway of the Marketing, Sales and Service CTE industry sector. Students further their music studies while also gaining exposure to the culture and business of music. They meet with musicians, attend concerts and visit instrument factories, recording studios and radio stations.

Comida y Servicio was developed by Melissa Garcia and Alexis Alegria. It is is an innovative language class that primarily uses the teaching kitchen to cover career knowledge related to kitchen safety procedures, correct storage and handling, preparation of food and desserts, and other components of the restaurant industry.

These courses provide relevant, hands-on education using real-world applications. Students benefit from engaging and rigorous curriculum and an exposure to authentic and challenging issues that require advanced levels of problem-solving and collaboration. Our students are far more in tune with identifying relevant real-world applications than we could imagine, and they are completely driven and motivated by the concept of being able to put their skills into practice, or deriving some type of reward from their industry. The biggest challenge is being able to meet the demand for this type of course, because once students enroll in these CTE courses, they are already thinking about the next one. They are less enthused by a textbook-only course at that point.

John participated in the Fall 2013 UCCI Institute as a facilitator, helping to guide a team focused on Integrated Math 2 and Biology. "The process of designing the course was complex and provided many challenges," he said. "With all team processes there are gains and losses. The key is to remain focused and maintain a certain amount of belief, and tie the members to the project by playing to their strengths. I enjoy it because it's an innovative way of viewing curriculum. It's not every day that you are planning a geometry unit that covers in-vitro cell growth."

The work John has done at Garden Street Academy, applying concepts from the Institutes to the design of brand-new courses for his own school, is exactly the outcome we want for participants in our programs. Many thanks to John for sharing his experiences and thoughts with us!

Read more What's New posts.

Read more Teacher Spotlight posts.


“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