94.5 KBAY - Downtown San Jose
  11:07am PDT, 07/23/14

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KBAY Teacher of The Month

The July KBAY Teacher of the Month is Chun-Yao Chang who received a grant to purchase 3-D manipulatives for his high school Geometry classes.

Grant helps students visualize in three dimensions
Chun-Yao received a Wells Fargo Teacher Innovation Classroom Grant from the Silicon Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) to purchase ZOMETOOL Geometry manipulatives.
In most Geometry classes the teacher demonstrates geometric concepts by drawing them on the white board and explaining them to students. The students then use rulers, protractors, and compasses to construct geometric shapes to comprehend various math definitions or theorems. These practices work pretty well to help students visualize abstract ideas and then apply them to solve problems. However, when lessons move from plane, 2-D geometry to complex solid 3-D geometry, the learning process becomes more complex. Using manipulatives not only lets the teacher interpret spatial concepts but also lets the students build hands-on skills and understand them more easily.

 “The manipulative I used for this project is called ZOMETOOL. Unlike many existing tiles or interlocking cubes, this is a building system that can be used to construct everything from simple structures to complex DNA models. It has been used both for educational purposes and even advanced science research at NASA. My idea is to have students use it in the classroom as an exploratory tool to help them build concrete geometric concepts, and furthermore to inspire their learning by letting them create anything they can imagine. What makes this project innovative is that students can integrate what they learn in math with their talents from art, science, or other fields. My job as a teacher is not just to teach static formulas from textbook but to facilitate their learning. When students use the set to build projects, they feel happy about learning math. For example, I demonstrate how to use the system to build a triangular prism and measure the dimensions to find the surface area and volume of it. Students work as groups to first investigate what type of prism they want to build and how they can find out the answer before they try it on the system. I serve as a consultant to provide advice and suggestions when they work on the project. At the end, each group presents their model and explains to the whole class how they find out the answer and what difficulties they have encountered.  By doing so, I also hope students get real engineering project experiences such as working with limited time and resources (e.g. materials).”

Prospect High School
“Prospect High School is a four-year, public, comprehensive high school, located on the west side of the Santa Clara County. Our students come from the communities of San Jose (84%), Campbell (11%), and Saratoga (5%). Currently our school serves approximately 1300 students (Ethnicity: 6% African American, 19% Asian, 34% Hispanic, and 58% White). 

I teach three periods of Geometry and two periods of AP Statistics. Most of my Geometry students are either freshman or sophomore while most students in my AP Statistics are either junior or senior. So, I get a pretty good perspective of various students in my school.”

The ongoing classroom challenge
“The biggest teaching challenge I face every day is how to engage all students in learning while they enjoy and understand the math subjects. Many Geometric concepts are filled with formulas and students see them as boring things and not so useful to their life. As a result, this situation can easily turn down their learning appetite. 

I try to use various resources such as Internet/YouTube, hands-on projects, or manipulatives, to deal with this challenge. With the help of this innovation grant, I was able to acquire classroom sets of ZomeTool and each student can involve in creating their own 2-D polygon or 3-D polyhedron. They play, explore, and learn Geometry through leveled activities. That really helps not only me, but also my students."

About Chun-Yao
"This is my 3rd year as a teacher and also at Prospect High School. I taught Algebra I, Algebra I Recovery, and Geometry for the past two years. I’m teaching AP Statistics and Geometry this year.

"I was born in Taiwan where I grew up and earned my undergraduate degree from National Cheng Kung University. Then I went to Stanford University and earned a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. I worked in the semiconductor equipment industry and stayed in the same company for about 13 years before I switched my career to education."

 “What I like the most of being a teacher is that I can work with young people every day. Sometimes I see them just like the way I see my own kids. They are the next generation of our country and I would like to do my best to serve their learning needs and show them what today’s technology can do. My engineering background and high tech industry experience provide me with lots of stories and ideas to open their eyes and further help them engage in learning math subjects.”
Quote -  “My engineering background and high tech industry experience provide me with lots of stories and ideas to open their eyes and further help them engage in learning math subjects.”

 The Teacher of the Month received $1,000 Grant courtesy of Silicon Valley Education Foundation!

There are hundreds of teaching innovation stories in the Silicon Valley; stories of teachers who keep a solid foundation of learning in their classrooms, then go the extra distance to inspire kids in ways that will take with them into the real world. Check out some of the past recipients of $500 Teacher Innovation Grants:


Fadi Saba August 2012
Fadi Saba

Luther Burbank School District


Maria Tam June 2012
Maria Tam
8th Grade Teacher
Thomas Russell Middle school
Milpitas Unified School District


Susanne Pribyl May 2012
E. Susanne Pribyl
Physics and Chemistry Teacher
Gilroy High School
Gilroy Unified’s new Christopher High School


Ivy Nguyen January 2012
Ivy Nguyen
3rd Grade Teacher
Cherrywood Elementary School
Berryessa Union School District


Rick Carreiro December 2011
Rick Carreiro
11th-12th Grade Teacher
San Jose High School Plus
San Jose Unified School District


Kim Munoz November 2011
Kim Muñoz
Primary Grade Teacher
Blackford Elementary School
Campbell Union High School District

Click here to see more of our past Teachers of the Month!

About Silicon Valley Education Foundation

As a leading non-profit resource and advocate for students, educators and administrators, Silicon Valley Education Foundation is dedicated to elevating scholastic achievement. Since 2006, more than 750 Teacher Innovation Grants have been awarded to local educators to inspire student learning in and outside of classrooms. SVEF’s mission is to make Silicon Valley the leader in academically prepared high school graduates.

How Can I Support Public Education?

Our local community’s vision is a technologically, innovative Silicon Valley where public school investment results in a strong and sustainable economy and a future workforce is created from local talent. Today, nearly 50% of high school graduates in Santa Clara County are not eligible to attend a four-year California university. SVEF is working with schools to reverse this trend by offering critical math and science programs to prepare students for college and career success. Make a difference in the lives of Silicon Valley students by donating to these crucial programs.

The continued improvement of student achievement in public education relies upon the generosity of our donors and partners. To find out more about how you can help SVEF academically prepare more Silicon Valley students for future success, visit www.svefoundation.org.


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