Synapse Math Institute

Students inspect the newly built geodesic dome in the playground

We are thrilled to announce Synapse's inaugural Math Institute for educators!

Join us in June for a deep dive into new ideas in Mathematics Instruction. This institute is aimed at educators at Elementary School and Middle School levels. Attendees may choose between an Elementary School focus 3-day workshop (Math for Joy) or Middle School focus 3-day workshop (Visual Algebra), with an option to add on a fourth day of instruction in building Project-Based Mathematics Curriculum, Synapse's specialty and taught by Synapse teachers. The Project-Based Mathematics workshop is open to educators of any grade level. 

Scroll down to read descriptions of our workshop offerings and to registerWorkshops may be canceled by May 13 if enrollment is too low.


3-Day Workshop Offerings


Visual Algebra (Grades 6-9)

In this three-day workshop, taught by Henri Picciotto, you will be presented a wealth of visual approaches to the teaching of algebra in grades 6-9. These approaches include: 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 the whole range of students better by offering: greater access - because of using multiple representations; greater challenge - because of expecting multi-dimensional understanding; greater variety - because of using manipulative and electronic tools. The workshop will be aligned with the Common Core State Standards, both in content and in mathematical practices. CEUs from the University of Southern California will be available for this workshop. 


Math for Joy (Grades 2-5)

In this three-day workshop, taught by Synapse's Director of Mathematics, Federico Chialvo, teachers will learn how to create a joyful experience of mathematics for their students through student-centered routines, rich tasks, hands-on activities, empowering visual representations, games, authentic problem-solving, and investigations.

Participants will explore how to present the big ideas in elementary mathematics by providing a vision of mathematics that is open, creative, and joyful. Teachers will learn techniques to help each student find their mathematical voice, develop powerful visual models to support deeper understanding, and present authentic real-world and mathematical contexts in ways that leverage students' natural curiosity. The workshop will be aligned with the Common Core State Standards, both in content and in mathematical practices.


Project - Based Mathematics (Friday Only)

In this one-day intensive workshop, teachers of all levels will be introduced to Synapse School's approach to project-based mathematics curriculum and have support in developing project-based lessons and units for their own classrooms. In the morning, we will present an overview of how to develop project-based mathematics lessons and units, and share examples of mathematics projects from K-8 at Synapse School. In the afternoon, participants will have the opportunity to workshop project-based lessons and units for their own classrooms with the support of Synapse's veteran PBL curriculum specialists and teachers.

You may register for the one-day-only Project-Based Mathematics workshop without having registered for either three-day workshop. 


Level 2 students working with mathematics manipulatives


Join us!

When: June 25 - 28, 2019

8:00am - 3:15pm each day

Where: Synapse School

3375 Edison Way, Menlo Park, CA

Price includes breakfast, lunch, and all materials for all four days.
CEUs (Continuing Education Credits) will be available for all workshops. 

Early Bird pricing available before April 21:

 3-day  $375
 4-day  $450
 Friday Only  $125



Standard ticket pricing (after April 21):

 3-day  $400
 4-day  $480
 Friday Only  $150



Tickets are available for either of the 3-day workshops (3-day), a 3-day workshop + Project-Based Mathematics (4-day), or only the Project-Based Mathematics day (Friday Only).

Contact Synapse School with any questions. 


Your Workshop Leaders: 

Henri Picciotto

Henri Picciotto is a math education author and consultant. He has retired from the classroom after 42 years of teaching at every level from counting to calculus. He is the inventor of Lab Gear, a hands-on environment for algebra, and is in fact a leading authority on the use of manipulatives and geometric puzzles in secondary school. He has been an enthusiastic (and skeptical) user of electronic learning environments since the early days of the personal computer. He shares his ideas about teaching, and much curriculum, on his Math Education Page ( and his blog ( His cryptic crosswords appear in The Nation every week.

Federico Chialvo

Federico holds a BS in mathematics and an MA in education from the University of Arizona. He believes all students deserve to experience the thrill of mathematical discovery and to feel empowered to understand and change the world through mathematical thinking. His journey as an educator started 14 years ago teaching math at City High School. Later he taught K-8 in Micronesia, then managed a non-profit in Costa Rica while completing his masters degree. Prior to joining Synapse in 2012 as a Math and Science Specialist, Federico worked at The Nueva School for two years as a math specialist in both the lower school and middle school. He has been Director of Mathematics at Synapse School since 2012, and also serves as the school's Ultimate coach.


Katie Morgan

Now in her ninth year at Synapse as an instructional leader and Level III Lead Teacher veteran, Katie works outside of the classroom driving our curriculum creation process, as Senior Director of Teaching and Learning. Katie works with students in each level, leading literacy efforts, advising staff, and acting as Synapse’s master teacher. A transplant from Virginia, Katie taught 4th grade in a public school in southeastern Virginia and then moved to work as a research associate at The University of Michigan’s Autism and Communication Disorders Center (UMACC) for two years. Katie has a BA in Psychology and an MA in Reading, Language and Literacy from The College of William and Mary. In her free time Katie enjoys playing with her new baby, as well as reading and traveling. For years her bio has said that she “is working to enjoy running.” That hasn’t happened yet, but there’s still hope.

Eben LaPier

This is Eben's sixth year as a Synapse teacher. After three years in Level III, Eben joined the middle school team as the lead 7/8 math teacher. He graduated from the University of Puget Sound in 2010 with degrees in Mathematics and Medieval Literature and received his credential from Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont in 2012. Eben is happiest when teaching his students to not fear math, or running simulations and hands-on projects. Some sample projects Eben has run in class include an all-school Mascot Election teaching statistics and the mathematics of voting, designing and building a 10-ft tall Geodesic Dome, and Alaska Pipeline problems on rates, proportions, unit conversions, and scientific notation. When he is not teaching he enjoys riding his bike, playing tabletop games, and "marching" with his tuba in the Stanford Band.