Fairbanks to Stockholm: Student Profile of Dustin Norton

Share this:

I grew up in Fairbanks but left to study mathematics in Idaho. While working as a math tutor though I realized I enjoyed helping others learn about math and started to think about the possibility of teaching. After graduating I spent a year abroad and realized that I really wanted to teach in the international environment.

Dustin Norton sitting on a dock.

I returned to Alaska to work and save money for my education in education, which is when I realized that getting my certification from UAF would be a good value, so I enrolled in the Master of Secondary Education Certification in 2010. I took face-to-face courses until I earned my teaching certificate and then transitioned to eCampus when I took a teaching job in North Cyprus.

For the past two years I have been working full-time as a teacher in Sweden, so I took about one course per semester, the last one being Online Pedagogy (ED F655). My greatest takeaway from this course has been a refocusing of my educational philosophy. I have been reminded of the importance of designing lessons that build on one another in a constructive way and have been more inspired to create units and lessons in which students use mathematical topics in meaningful, practical and problem solving-centered situations.

The culminating assignment in ED F655 is to develop a project-based lesson plan. Dustin created “Gimme Shelter,” a comprehensive unit for 9th grade geometry students that requires them to design an efficient yet also comfortable shelter for refugees and displaced people based on the mathematical principles learned throughout the course, namely volume and surface area. Dustin says this 9th grade project not only ties the unit content together more closely “but also endeavors to leave students with a different perspective of what mathematics is and how it can be used.”

Owen Guthrie, Dustin’s ED F655 instructor, was impressed with Gimme Shelter’s integration of math application and social responsibility. “This activity puts the student in a professional role and makes for a really relevant assignment,” he says. “Dustin designed an ambitious learning experience that is really inspiring.”



  • Karina Gonzales-Smith

    Communications Manager
    Karina has worked in higher education for over 14 years. Her passion for learning began at an early age when she learned how to speak English after moving from the tropic to the Arctic. Since then Karina has moved from one classroom to another — on campus, online, or overseas. She’s an alumna of UAF and UAA where she studied biology, psychology, and public health. Karina currently teaches for the Allied Health program in the UAF College of Rural and Community Development. She deeply values connecting with people, and her role as Communications Manager allows her to be an authentic, creative, and supportive champion of equity in education.

Recent Posts