Atrium School

Excellence with Joy

Atrium School Summer Math Institute

for Middle School Teachers

Inaugural Program, August 7–9, 2019

You are: A middle school teacher (public, charter, independent, parochial) committed to evolving your practice and refining your pedagogy. You seek resources beyond your school’s math curriculum and a collegial environment of like-minded faculty for collaboration and community. You seek effective and exciting growth this summer.

Work With: Three innovative math educators and teacher coaches from across the US with a combined 75+ years of teaching and professional development experience. We span public and private schools, as well as all levels of middle and secondary education.


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Henri Picciotto: Nationally-known math education consultant and curriculum developer. Forty-two years in K-12 teaching in CA. Has led hundreds of workshops and seminars. Passion: puzzles and pedagogy.


Jessica Breur: Math Instructional Coach, Mounds View Public Schools (MN). Desmos Fellow and Desmos Certified Presenter. Eighteen years in 6 -12 teaching. Passion: uncovering student thinking and problem solving.


Liz Caffrey: Atrium’s Middle School math teacher; Desmos Fellow. Presenter at: Twitter Math Camp 2018 and 2019, NCTM 2019, PEN National Conference 2017. Eighteen years in 6–12 teaching. Passion: interdisciplinary projects advancing social justice through math.

What you’ll learn: Three primary threads, including:

  • Visual Algebra: Access & Challenge for All Through Hands-On Approaches (Henri): A wealth of visual approaches to pre-algebra and algebra, including Lab Gear manipulatives for basic symbol manipulation, geoboard lattices for slope, a powerful parallel axes representation for linear functions, and intelligent use of technology. Participants will learn techniques that will allow them to serve their whole range of students better by offering: greater access, because of using multiple representations; greater challenge, because of expecting multidimensional understanding; and greater variety, because of using manipulative and electronic tools.

  • Using Desmos to Increase Engagement and Understanding (Jessica): Learn more about the Desmos Graphing Calculator and the Activity Builder. Whether you are just getting started or have used Desmos before, you will level up all of your skills and leave with activities ready to implement. Participants will enhance graphing calculator skills and consider how this tool can be used to bring a visual component to middle school mathematics. In addition, we will learn how to facilitate conversations and provide opportunities for student discovery by experiencing activities through a student lens. Effective use of the teacher dashboard will be used and practiced by participants. Finally, we will find, edit, and create activities by considering the Desmos design principles so that student discourse, engagement, and access to rich mathematics is increased.

  • Designing Projects that Challenge and Contextualize (Liz): What do students learn from projects that they cannot learn from quizzes? How do we create structures for open-ended exploration that allow students to dig deep and develop more complex levels of understanding? Explore how projects can be used within a unit to motivate engagement and content development, or at the end of a unit to extend and apply math concepts across disciplines and in a variety of real-world contexts. Special attention will be paid to using data to design projects around social justice topics such as the income gap, environmental justice, voting rights, and sustainability. Participants should come with a few topics in mind that they’d like to design a project around. Expect to leave with a new project to implement next year.

Institute Schedule

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Participants will sign up for one Major Strand workshop ahead of time. This will be a deep dive into one of the topics described above. In two shorter, Minor Strand workshops, participants will be able to dip into lighter versions or extensions of the above topics with any of the above presenters. These will be selected when you arrive. We will also participate in a daily Math Teachers' Circle together!

Dates, times, location, cost : Wednesday, August 7 to Friday, August 9, 8:30 am–3:30 pm. Light breakfast and lunch provided. Held at Atrium School, 69 Grove Street, Watertown MA 02472. Adjacent to Boston/Cambridge and easily accessible by MBTA public transit. $425 (Limited number of scholarships available for public school teachers. Graduate credit and PDPs available through Framingham State University).

Interested? Click here to sign up! Email for more information.