Rap It Up

July 25, 2006 1 min read
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Want to help your students remember tough concepts? Have you tried bustin’ some rhymes, professor? Alex Kajitani, an 8th grade algebra teacher at Grant Middle School, in Escondido, California, swears it works—at least for him. Donning a pair of sunglasses and an oversized necklace, Kajitani performs math-infused rap songs in class. His piece on the decimal point, for example, gets started like this:

Now what in the world is that itty-bitty dot? Yo, I just can't remember, and it's making me distraught. I saw it in the price of the item I just bought. It's the decimal point, yeah, now you're gettin' hot!”

Kajitani says the idea began as a kind of lark, but then he noticed his students were actually singing his songs. “Sure enough, their tests scores started improving, and they seemed to start understanding the material I’d covered,” he said. Inspired by his success in class, Kajitani recently recorded a CD called “The Rappin’ Mathematician, Volume 1,” which has apparently found its way into other schools and some students’ homes (and at least one mom’s car). Unorthodox as it may sound, Kajitani’s method makes perfect sense to some, building on a rich tradition of classroom mnemonic tricks. “A lot of math is memorization,” said one of Kajitani colleagues. “Those kind of little catchy phrases, they stick, and that’s the first step.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.


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