Think “Angry Birds” is nothing more than an addictive pastime?
Check out Matt Lohmann’s math class, and you’ll see otherwise.
The teacher at Prairieview in Waukee has used the video game of sling shooting birds at pig targets in explaining parabolas and what happens when you manipulate trajectory.
It’s just one example of how technology in the classroom has grown in the time he’s been a teacher, says Lohmann, who is in his 19th year with the Waukee Community School District. He also uses different software and tools to share information, including the iPad. Lohmann teaches algebra, geometry and algebra II.
The environment of teaching math has also changed over time, Lohmann says. Now, professional learning communities in the school give teachers the opportunity to work together so they can better meet students’ needs.
That collaborative spirit has trickled down to the classroom, with students helping one another more than before, he says. The class environment is also more comfortable, and students feel free to communicate with each other.
Still, math can be a hard sell for some students. One way Lohmann tries to address their apprehension is to talk about their mindset toward the subject.
“It’s something you can still learn, even if you don’t have an aptitude for it,” he says. He also tries to make math relatable to them, by doing things such as likening a basketball’s arc with a parabola.
Parents can also help by encouraging their kids to have an open mind.
“Don’t tell your kids you were bad at math, because it sort of enables them to say that, ‘I can’t do math,’ ” Lohmann says.
Growing up, math came naturally to Lohmann. He decided to become a teacher because he’s always enjoyed working with kids.
Lohmann likes working with the ninth graders at Prairieview because they’re old enough to have adult-like conversations, but are young enough where there’s still an opportunity to influence and help them.
“I like this age group because I consider them young adults,” he says.