Connecting with Kinect

UW Bothell grad student innovates to inspire teens learning math

Josh Kwon

Josh Kwon, student teacher

Josh Kwon, a student teacher at Mariner High School in Everett, is willing to try just about anything to encourage his students to care about math. He performs card tricks for a quick lesson on probability. He adds music to his math lessons. And more and more, he turns to technology.

“Ever since elementary school, these students have had cell phones,” says Josh, who’s getting his master’s degree in Education at UW Bothell and has a Mathematics degree from the UW. “Because they’re in a world where technology is so prevalent, why not use it to our benefit to engage them?”

In the winter, Josh plans to engage his classroom even further with technology familiar to most teenagers: video games.

Supporting Future Teachers

After retiring from professional baseball, former Seattle Mariners star Edgar Martinez and his wife, Holli, headed back to school at the UW. “I did my undergrad work at UW Bothell, and that really was where my passion for building the foundation was born,” says Holli. The five-year-old Martinez Foundation supports teaching fellows at six universities in Washington state, including the University of Washington and UW Bothell.
In 2012, Holli received the UW Bothell Distinguished Teaching Award, and earlier this year, the UW College of Education awarded Edgar and Holli its Distinguished Service Award, the college’s highest honor.

He and his students will use Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect, a gaming system that uses your body’s movements instead of a console to control the action on the screen, for some math lessons, such as graphing lines. His mentor, UW Bothell Education Professor Robin Angotti, developed the application. Robin is a former high school teacher who’s researching ways to use technology to engage students.

Josh is the first to admit that technology is only a tool, albeit one that’s interested him since he was seven and dissected his dad’s old computer. But when it comes to being a new teacher, it’s important to have lots of tools at your disposal. One of the most helpful ones to Josh has been access to mentoring and training through the Martinez Foundation, which in 2012 awarded him a fellowship.

Founded in 2008 by baseball legend Edgar Martinez and his wife, Holli Martinez, ’08, ’12, the Martinez Foundation provides fellowships to students at a number of Washington state universities to support teachers of color in underserved public schools.

“Not only does being a Martinez Fellow help me make personal connections with other educators, but it also gives me a large network of people who are willing to support what I do in the classroom,” says Josh, who has wanted to be a math teacher since ninth grade, when he was inspired by his algebra teacher.

Make a Gift
Support more students like Josh and contribute to the UWB Martinez Foundation Fellowship for Graduate Teachers.

Support through the Martinez Foundation includes professional development classes, training retreats and casual gatherings. “When we started the foundation we knew from research that new teachers often feel isolated,” says Holli Martinez. “We wanted to create a community of support for teachers like Josh.”

That support translates to assurance for Josh. “From my ninth-grade teacher to Professor Angotti and the Martinezes, I am who I am because of all the people who’ve helped me through the years. It’s been an avalanche of support and inspiration.”

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Teaching with Xbox Kinect

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