April 24, 2017
By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Office of Community Resources
DIAMOND BAR, CA—Math teacher Dena Lordi knows what it takes to help students succeed in a 21st -century classroom.
The 29-year veteran educator brings a keen expertise of her subject and an approachable teaching-style to her Diamond Bar High School algebra students.
She also helps guide the Algebra II-Trigonometry Honors classes through uncharted math territories using an alter-ego she created from the Harrison Ford action series, Indiana Jones.
“Never fear, Indiana Algebra is here!” she announces to students who might be having trouble understanding an exponential or logarithm function concept.
Lordi uses the character to help the students get over their fear of trying and to help them see mathematics as a problem-solving adventure.
“Classroom references to Indiana Jones reflect the character’s perseverance as well as his reliance on what he has learned in the past to help him move forward,” she explains.
“He is a good, and surprising, role model for students!”
The creative educator was recently awarded 2nd place and $10,000 in the 2016 Rosenthal Prize for Innovation in Math Teaching competition.
The National Museum of Mathematics recognizes innovative, hands-on math lessons geared toward elementary and middle school students.
Lordi collaborated with Chaparral Middle School 7th grade math teacher Denise Loera and students to implement and videotape the “Where Can I Find a Weightless Stick?” lesson for the contest.
Students traced the changing balance point on a scale as weights were added in order to identify the mean value of a set of numbers.
“The lesson is not about finding averages. It’s about the conflict between the real world and the world of math. Students have to realize that to solve the problem,” she said.
DBHS math teacher Dena Lordi uses the character “Indiana Algebra” to help her students through daily adventures in class.