Professional Development for K-12 Teachers


The mathematics department is committed to support teachers in their continuous professional development, in particular in aspects related to content knowledge. These workshops are offered with the support of BOCES. Check MyLearningPlan catalog for new offerings. If you are interested in a particular workshop for your school, contact Cristina Gomez (cgomez@ithaca.edu). Here are some of the workshops offered recently.

  • Mathemagic

    Tuesday, December 8th, 2015, 8:30 – 2:30 p.m.

    Ithaca Falls Room, Campus Center

    Presenters: John Maceli, Cristina Gomez

    Many mathematicians are interested in the relationship between magic and mathematics. Several puzzles used in magic have a mathematical foundation. Some well know mathemagicians include Persi Diaconis (Stanford University), Raymond Smullyan, Ronald Graham (University of California), Karl Fulves, Royal Vale Heath, William Simon, Martin Gardner and Art Benjamin, who was the keynote speaker for the 64th Annual Fall Conference of the Association of Mathematics Teachers of New York State last year.

    The enjoyment that comes from solving mathematical puzzles should be the kind of disposition that as teachers we cultivate in all students. As Gardner put it, “the best way, it has always seemed to me, to make mathematics interesting to students and laymen is to approach it in a spirit of play...Surely the best way to wake up a student is to present him with an intriguing mathematical game, puzzle, magic trick, joke, paradox, model, limerick, or any of a score of other things that dull teachers tend to avoid because they seem frivolous” (Gardner, 1975, p. 1).

    The Mathematical Practices from the Common Core (Common Core State Standards, 2010) evolved from the same principles. In particular, the development of a productive disposition (NRC, 2001), a strand of mathematical proficiency at all grade levels, involves particular attitudes toward students’ ability to work on mathematics and being able to succeed. Promoting a positive attitude towards mathematics requires experiences with different contexts where mathematics is used to make sense of situations. One of these contexts is the games and puzzles used by Gardner and others interested in recreational mathematics. In this workshop we will explore several of these puzzles. We will practice the magic and study the math behind. The activities will be accessible to teachers in all grade levels.

    Cost: $50. 1 hour will be provided for lunch, on your own. Teachers will receive 5 in-service hours.

    Questions: Cristina Gomez, cgomez@ithaca.edu, Phone 607-274-3058. Parking in Visitor Parking Lot 

  • Click here for more information.
  • Ithaca College Math Circles 

    Oct 6th, Nov 3rd, Dec 1st (First Tuesday of the month)

    4:00 – 6:00 pm, Williams 320, Ithaca College

    Math Circles are a form of education outreach and enrichment in which faculty and teachers work together on mathematical problems.  The group comes together in an informal setting, after school, to work on interesting problems or topics in mathematics. The Circle combines significant content with a setting that encourages a sense of discovery and excitement about mathematics through problem solving and interactive exploration. Ideal problems are low-threshold, high-ceiling; they offer a variety of entry points and can be approached with minimal mathematical background, but lead to deep mathematical concepts and can be connected to advanced mathematics. The work on these problems presents a clear opportunity to see in action the Mathematical Practices from the Common Core.

    We are starting our math circles this year! We want to begin two math circles, one for elementary teachers and one for middle school math teachers. We will be meeting at the same time with the option of the both groups meeting together sometimes. Everybody is welcome. The problems and activities will require minimal knowledge of particular math topics. The circles will meet on the first Tuesday of the month for two hours. All meetings will be at IC.  

    Click here for more information about IC Math Circles.

  • Conversations with Teachers

    Candidates in the teaching option and teachers meet to talk about issues related to teaching. This first year we have three meetings. All teacher candidates, teachers, and faculty are welcomed to attend.

    September 24  Using SmartBoards and other presentation devices
                  Presenters: Todd Noyes, Lisa Cochran, Raymond Cole, Ithaca High School

    October 29      Technology for communication
                  Presenters, Steve Weissburg, Ithaca High School, Travis Crocker & Paul Wiech, Dryden High School

    December 3     Making the grade
                  Presenters: Karen Seifert & Steve Weissburg, Ithaca High School

  • Workshop for Elementary Teachers, October 7, 2014
    The Bar/Tape Model
    Presenters: John Maceli, Matt Thomas, and Cristina Gomez

    This is a one-day workshop for elementary teachers focuses on the use of the tape/bar model at different grade levels. We review the common addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division situations presented in the Common Core Standards. We move into using the tape/bar model for each situation, and we explore the use of this model for ratio problems, fractions, percentages and early algebra.

    In the afternoon session, we will work with an alternative system to think about operations (dots and boxes) and explore how different operations work in this system.

  • Workshop for Middle & High School, August 22, 2014
    Geometry in the Common Core
    Presenters:  Teresa Moore and David Brown

    This one-day workshop for high school geometry teachers is designed to highlight the mathematics behind the new ideas presented in the Common Core Standards approach to geometry. We will discuss how the new approach differs from current textbooks and how it is designed to engage students as more active learners. We will stress the role of exploration and introduce ways to use technology in this exploration. In particular, we will work with GeoGebra, freely available dynamic software that combines the power of geometric visualization with algebraic manipulation. We will cover the basics of GeoGebra in a structured but interactive format, making emphasis on the applications to geometry. Participants will have time to practice using the software to create explorations and demonstrations that will engage their students and emphasize the Common Core approach. Bring your modules and any initial ideas of activities in which you might want to include interactive technology for exploration of geometrical ideas.

  • Workshop for middle school, December 11, 2013
    Expressions and Equations
    Presenters: Ted Galanthay, John Maceli, Cristina Gomez

    This one-day workshop for middle school teachers will focus on the Expressions and Equations domain across grades 6 to 8 from the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Using the Progressions document as a guide and materials from the modules, we will review some of the terms and concepts needed to expand the work from elementary school into these grade levels. The process of generalizing understandings developed in arithmetic to algebraic expressions is at the center of the work in grade 6. Applying properties of operations when working with algebraic expressions and using these expressions to solve real-life and geometry-application problems is the main focus in grade 7. Finally, in grade 8, students  apply the skills they acquired in Grades 6 and 7, with respect to symbolic notation and properties of equality, to transcribe and solve equations in one variable and then in two variables.

  • Workshop for elementary teachers, October 9, 2013
    Developing understanding of fractions
    Presenter: Cristina Gomez

This one-day workshop for elementary (1-5) teachers will focus on exploring the ways that students develop understanding of fractions. Following results from research on children’s thinking, we will study the types of problems and the types of strategies that support the development of meaning for fractions. At the same time, we will investigate the use of relational thinking to promote algebraic thinking in early grades. All these ideas align with the recommendations from the Common Core. Finally, we will use Oki-doku puzzles to support the development of fluency when working with fraction in later grades. These puzzles are easy to create and easy to differentiate according to your students’ needs.

  • Workshop for middle school teachers, May 10, 2013
    Model with mathematics
    Presenters: John Maceli, Cristina Gomez

This one-day workshop for middle school teachers will focus on model with mathematics. As one of the mathematical practices, model with mathematics includes processes and proficiencies that students need to experience while learning the content. In particular, this practice refers to students’ ability to use symbols and tools to represent real-world situation s and to move fluidly between different representations based on the questions they are trying to answer. The intent of this practice is to provide students with opportunities to make assumptions and simplifications of complicated real-world situations, to use mathematics to solve real-world situations, and to routinely interpret their mathematical results in the context of the situation. In this workshop, teachers will experience the process of modeling with mathematics exploring real-world problems. We will review the modeling process, the different types of mathematical models, and the process of constructing a model.  Finally, we will explore the characteristics of authentic tasks and strategies to bring out-of-school situations closer to the mathematical world of the classroom.

  • Workshops for math teachers, February 8 and 22, 2013
    Professional Learning Communities and Mathematical Practices
    Presenters: John Maceli, Cristina Gomez

This one-day workshop for k-12 teachers will address the implementation of the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice. The practices provide a vision of what the daily instruction should look like in a math classroom, describe what kind of activities the students are doing, how they are interacting with the tasks and with other students, what kind of processes and proficiencies the students need to experience, and what the students need to demonstrate to show mastery of the content.  Developing these practices is not an easy task and it is a new challenge for many mathematics teachers.  Through well-chosen activities and guided discussions, we will study the practices and how they relate to the work of professional learning communities.  Many schools are using the PLCs as a form of professional development. During the workshop we will explore the kind of questions that group of teachers should discuss with their collaborative teams to advance the work on the practices for all students in your building. We will stress the habits of mind that need to be developed so that both, students and teachers, see that reasoning and sense-making are central to the study of mathematics at all  levels.  Finally, we will explore some assessment tools to understand how the practices look in the students’ work.


  • Workshops for middle school math teachers
    Probability and Statistics in middle school 
    Presenter: John Maceli, Cristina Gomez
    November 2, 2012

    This workshop is an opportunity to continue the discussion that has been going on between middle school teachers about the Common Core Standards with a particular emphasis on the Statistics and Probability domain recommended for the 6-8th grade level. Activities are designed to actively engage teachers in the Probability and Statistics content standards with attention to the mathematical practices. The prominent role of statistical reasoning in the middle school curriculum requires teachers to provide opportunities for making sense of data, understanding variation, developing statistical reasoning, and understanding connections between probability and statistics. All these issues are explored in this workshop.

  • Workshops for middle and secondary math school teachers
    Teaching Mathematics with GeoGebra
    Presenters: David Brown & Dani Novak
    October 18, 2012

    These workshops are designed to introduce participants to GeoGebra, freely available dynamic software that combines the power of geometric visualization with algebraic manipulation. Two morning workshops demonstrate the functionality of the software and how to apply the abilities of GeoGebra to actual classroom activities. In the afternoon, participants develop their own interactive GeoGebra worksheets for activities that they can use in their own classes. To learn more about GeoGebra visit the website http://www.geogebra.org/cms/.

  • Workshop for elementary teachers
    May 21, 2012

    Understanding addition and subtraction 
    Presenter: Cristina Gomez

    In early grades, addition and subtraction compose a major area of school mathematics and the foundation for other important topics in later years. The different types of problems involving addition and subtraction are reflected in the way children think about and solve these problems. During this workshop we explore a classification scheme focused on the actions and relationships described in the problems. We also look at the children’s solution strategies and how they evolve over time. These solution strategies are closely related to the types of problems.  We explore in this workshop how the mathematical practices develop while working with addition and subtraction situations.

    OkiDoku Puzzles
    Presenter: Dani Novak

    OkiDoku puzzles are mathematical activities that can add both skill and fun to teaching math in a classroom.  The puzzles teach number sense and help develop intuitive feeling for numbers.  They also enhance and develop logical thinking and reasoning.  The puzzles are very easy to understand and yet the level can range for a vast rainbow of needs: From children who have little number sense to children who are very good at math.  In this workshop we introduce the OkiDoku puzzles and show how the teachers can create their own too. We also explore what mathematical practices are involved in working with these puzzles.

  • Workshops for elementary teachers
    January 19, 2012

    Number and operations  
    Presenter: Emilie Wiesner

    Number and numeration are central to children’s early mathematical work and lay the foundation for more advanced mathematical thinking. In this workshop we develop our own number systems and use them to reflect on the standard number system. This give participants an opportunity to explore the conceptual challenges that a student may face in coming to understand number representations, as well as the structural features that make our number system powerful.

    Algebraic thinking in elementary grades 
    Presenter: Cristina Gomez

    Developing algebraic thinking is one of the main goals for school mathematics. The Common Core Standards include Algebraic Thinking as a focus topic in every grade from Kindergarten to 8th grade. In this workshop we explore some of the algebraic ideas that have their roots in the work we do in early grades. Teacher’s understanding of these big ideas benefit students in different ways. Opportunities for generalizations, justification and use of different representations are present throughout the mathematics curriculum in elementary grades. 

  • Workshops for middle and secondary math school teachers, January 19, 2012
    Changes driven by CCSSM  
    Presenters: Eric Robinson, David Brown & John Maceli

    The transition to the NYS Common Core State Standards in Mathematics is not intended to be simply a cross walk to the next list of content topics that will be used as a new basis for conventional end-of-course high stakes testing. Rather, the intent is to transform the mathematics curriculum into a more coherent and focused school program that addresses mathematics both as a body of knowledge and a way of thinking.  Correspondingly, state level student assessments will be expected to address higher level objectives. The three workshop sessions in the secondary strand for this worshop focus on some of the changes in topical content and content perspective, changes in student expectations and learning outcomes, and the effective use of technology implied in the new Common Core Standards.




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