Making Math Visible

Professional Development for Educators

Here is a list of teacher workshops (and appropriate student levels) we are offering:

Puzzle Me Math (all) --- One way to expose students to the joys of recreational mathematics is to have a culture of puzzles in the classroom. A well curated collection of puzzles immerses students in a universe of spatial reasoning, logic, and problem solving.  Playing with puzzles develops persistence, growth mindset, and intrinsic motivation.  When students go on to construct their own puzzles, their engagement is even deeper.  In this workshop, teachers will get a broad look at many ways to bring mathematical puzzles into the classroom.

Beyond Arithmetic (primary) --- Young students learn to count in a rote manner, often without developing a true sense of quantity and the relationships between numbers.  This workshop presents ways to create classroom environments that promote kinesthetically engaging hands-on experiences.   Using well-known manipulatives, such as number lines, hundreds charts, rekenreks, etc., on a large-scale, as well as having students build their own concrete materials, leads to a deeper understanding of number.  Teachers will also explore how to incorporate number-talks and daily number sense routines into their early-years classroom.

Platonic Solids and their Friends (primary, junior, intermediate) --- Just as students love to learn the names of dinosaurs, they take a particular delight in learning the names of polyhedra ranging from the tetrahedron to the enneacontahedron.  Beyond learning their names, even young students are surprisingly able to understand the attributes and relationships that characterize this geometric menagerie.  This workshop is designed to familiarize teachers with a rich area of 3D geometry that they will enjoy sharing with their students.

Zometool Geometry (all) --- Teachers will be introduced to the creative possibilities of the Zometool geometric construction system. They will learn about polyhedra and other 3D structures on both a small and large scale. The geometric ideas presented are appropriate for students of all grades, from making a geodesic play structure in elementary grades to exploring 4D geometry at the high school level.  This workshop is suitable for teachers with an interest in 3D geometry (we can bring materials for the day) and for schools which have or plan to purchase Zometool material for student use.

Paper Math (junior and up) --- Modular origami presents natural teaching opportunities to discuss many mathematical topics in a casual context, including symmetry, measurement, proportional scaling, angle bisectors, polyhedra, etc.  This workshop will survey the range of origami techniques and involve teachers in two basic modular origami designs they can use in their classes: the octahedral frame made of six water-bomb bases and polyhedral structures made from Sonobe units. 

Outdoor Math (primary and junior) --- As the value of outdoor education becomes widely recognized, more and more schools are taking their students out of doors and using the natural environment as a learning space.  Looking at mathematics in the outside world helps students see how it is all around us, e.g., finding patterns in flowers, leaves, or branches.  They become more flexible in their thinking as they realize it is not just a blackboard subject but that "nature knows math".  Teachers will learn how to show their students to look at nature with a mathematical eye and to build mathematical structures and manipulatives using natural materials and found objects.

Thinking in Binary (late primary and up) --- When students learn about other bases it helps them understand our base-ten place-value system more deeply.  Binary, in particular, is especially relevant because of its use in digital technology.  Through a series of fun activities, teachers will learn about representations and operations in all bases, including binary, to help their students become more fluent mathematical thinkers. 

Topological Adventures (junior and up) --- Topology and mathematical surfaces can be introduced to students at any age.  In this workshop, we will start by reviewing the well-known Möbius strip cut, then move on to a series of related topological wonders, including how to slice a bagel into two linked halves.  Optionally, participants will learn how to use wool to create and felt their own colorful topological surfaces that can be worn as bracelets or displayed as fiber arts pieces in the classroom.

3D Printing in the Math Classroom (intermediate and senior) --- 3D printing is a valuable tool for engaging mathematics students and providing them with motivation to master many technical topics.  Algebraic expressions are converted into 3D forms that are then created as tangible, low-cost, plastic objects that students can hold in their hands, take home, and/or pass around the class. These techniques empower teachers and students to create physical versions of anything that can be described mathematically with algebraic, trigonometric, and Boolean functions. They introduce students to the creative side of mathematics and provide a powerful motivation for learning the details.

Any of the Making Math Visible student workshops can be presented to an audience of teachers.