Sign-up for Summer 2016 PD with Sara VDW

Hello Friends!  I am happy to announce I am offering four 1/2 day Professional Development Sessions in June 2016.  The information and links to sign up for the courses I am offering are located below.  First a bit of information:


All teachers who work with mathematics who can find their way to South Minneapolis in June are invited to attend.  I only have space for 40 each session, but beyond that all are invited.


  • The PD is free for all Minneapolis Public School Staff members.  I am not being paid and this is my gift to you.
  • For non-MPS attendees  I am charging a small fee in the form of classroom supplies (I know weird, right? – but this would be a big win for me). For each session you attend, please bring $10-$20 of school supplies.  My favorites are Kleenex, Paper Towels, disinfectant Wipes, Glue Sticks (I use these a lot), Markers, Colored Pencils, Cardstock – 8.5×11 inch – any color, and really anything else you want to bring.


South High School, Minneapolis, MN Room 224.  South is located at 3131 S 19th Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407.  Park and enter on the south side of our building and enter the door off of the parking lot – Door 1.  Follow the signs to room 224.


The dates for the 4 sessions are listed below.  All sessions will start promptly at 9:00am.  I will be there on or before 8:30am, so feel free to arrive early.  We will end on or before 12:30pm.   After each session there will be an optional lunch opportunity if you want to continue the conversation at a nearby restaurant – most likely from 1-2:30pm. (there are tons of restaurants to select from near South).

What to bring?

  • Computer or iPad – though not necessary (except for the Desmos session)
  • Writing Utensil
  • Anything that will make you comfortable – food/beverage/pillow to sit on …..
  • Feel free to bring your child (children) if you like – just give me a heads up so I have enough space.
  • Memory Stick (optional) if you want to steal any of my stuff.


I am doing this because I love leading PD and I have been asked by many people to share some of the things I am passionate about.  In future summers I will most likely charge much more money if I offer sessions, but for Summer 2016 the costs will be low .

Signing up:

To register for one of the Summer 2016 sessions, click the yellow links below and fill out the google form it brings you to.  I will send a follow up email letting you know I got your registration within a week and also send reminder emails the week or two prior.  PLEASE let me know if you plan to cancel your attendance.

Session Information

  1. Tuesday, June 14, 2016   Finding the BEST Math Resources.  How does Sara VDW find current standards based math resources? Sara will spend an hour teaching you how to find the best math resources available for free. We then will spend 2-3 hours finding resources for the courses you will teach in the fall. Invite a colleague – who teaches the same course- from another site to attend with you (though this is not necessary). Sara will be available to help you in your search. Attendees will leave with lots of resources to use next school year as well as the skills to find more resources in the future. (Definition of resources: lessons, pictures, warm-ups, vocab resources, gifs, Desmos lessons, video links, skill practice….). This will be a work session so bring your computer (and maybe a memory stick) and a copy of the standards you teach.
  2. Wednesday, June 15 2016   DESMOS Lesson Planning. Sara will do a quick basics training of Desmos and then teach users how to create graphs (and find graphs) to use for lessons. Sara will also teach participants how to find Desmos activities and also how to build activity’s in Desmos. This session is for new and advanced (well not as advanced as Christopher Danielson) users of Desmos. It will be a work session. We will send the majority of our time finding and/or making resources to use in the courses we teach in the fall. Desmos is useful in all grades 6-12 (maybe 5th grade too!).  It is my firm belief that if math teachers are not using Desmos in 2016 they are missing out on the best tool we have for connecting algebra to a visual representation.  It is highy recommended you bring a computer or iPad to this session.
  3. Tuesday, June 21, 2016   Engaging & Empowering students with Backwards Bikes, Persistence, Googling, and student math reference materials. Sara will talk about all the non-mathy stuff she does to get students to engage in mathematics and turn students into students that know how to advocate for themselves.  Sara will share a host of ideas that really are simple tweaks to what teachers are already doing.  Participants will have an opportunity to map out small things they can do the first week of school, the first month of school and throughout the year to increase student engagement and confidence in mathematics.
  4. Wednesday, June 22 2016   Seamlessly embedding Number Talks into the 6-12 classroom.  The single most important thing math teachers should be doing right now to increase their student’s fluency with numbers is to incorporate regular number talks into their core instruction.  This session will give practical ways to incorporate these into your practice without taking time away from what you already do.  There will be time for participants to practice delivering a number talk and also plan NT’s to use in their own classroom.   If time we will talk about Number/Problem Strings and more.

I hope to see you this summer at one of my sessions.  After each session I will add a few resources to my blog.  Feel free to check out what you missed there if you are unable to attend.  If you have questions, tweet me @saravdwerf or email me at  Enjoy the end of school and your summer.





Sara VanDerWerf

I am Sara Van Der Werf, a 24-year mathematics teacher in Minneapolis Public Schools. I have taught math in grades 7-12 as well as spent several years leading mathematics at the district office. I currently teach Advanced Algebra at South High School and I'm also the current President of the Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM). I am passionate about encouraging and connecting with mathematics teachers. I'd love to connect via twitter.  Join the community.  Tweet me @saravdwerf.

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