Warden preaches "fun" at national conference

American students may be playing catch-up with the rest of the world in terms of math proficiency but Dr. Nancy Warden isn’t going to let them be bored in the process.

Warden, a professor of mathematic and education, attended the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Meeting & Exposition in New Orleans in early April to share some of her hard-earned secrets for getting kids engaged with math in the classroom.

“Math teaching is not as fun today as it was 30 years ago when I was in the high schools," Warden said. “Teachers have to stay so focused on preparing kids for testing. My hope was to share some of these short attention-grabbers with teachers that they could use to transition students over into the testing material with more interest.”

Warden presented a talk called “Get Their Attention. Get Them Engaged.” to more than 150 educators from all over the United States.

The conference, which represents mathematics teachers from all over the United States, boasted more than 7,000 attendees this year.

Warden said her presentation was well-received.

“The room was really packed and people seemed to be enjoying the lighter tone,” Warden said.

Warden’s presentation focused on a series of three to five minute exercises designed to remind kids that math can be fun as well as practical.

“My hope was to share some of these short attention-grabbers with teachers that they could use to transition students over into the testing material with more interest,” Warden said.

“I do a math magic trick where I get a volunteer to tell what month their birthday is in and then they let the rest of the audience know what day it is. By telling me, ‘Yes or No’ when I show them some cards with numbers on them, then I will tell them when their birthday is.”

Warden has served on the USAO faculty since 1980. Before coming to USAO, she was a teacher and chairman of the Secondary Mathematics Department at Chickasha High School for two years, a math teacher at Minco High School and a teaching assistant at the University of Oklahoma.

Warden received the Outstanding Service Award from the Oklahoma Council of Teachers of Mathematics in 2008 and received a Present Service Award from the Oklahoma Council of Teachers of Mathematics in 1999.

She received the USAO Regents Award for Superior Teaching in 1984 and 1988 and was awarded the Oklahoma 4-H Foundation's State Alumni Hall of Fame Recognition in 2006.