The TRM Story
The Rappin’ Mathematician CD (available at www.mathraps.com) offers teachers and parents an innovative way to engage students of all ages with basic math concepts, from decimals to lines to fractions – and provide some valuable life lessons in the process.
The CD was born after middle school teacher Alex Kajitani, seeking ways to inspire his inner-city students to engage with math, started rapping about math concepts. The rap songs were a hit, students throughout the school started singing the catchy lyrics, and Kajitani’s district test scores shot up. After trying out his math raps in low-performing schools in two different school districts and finding the same enthusiastic reaction from students, teachers, and parents, Kajitani decided to trademark his math-rappin’ character, The Rappin’ Mathematician (TRM), and produce a professional CD.
The Rappin’ Mathematician CD offers songs with easy ways to remember pivotal math concepts, such as improper fractions (“if it’s bigger on the topper, it must be improper”) and adding or subtracting decimals (“line up the dot, and give it all you got!”). In addition, the CD includes lyrics and songs with values-driven social messages, such as making smart decisions and not believing everything on TV.
Kajitani, a rap fan with a Bachelor’s degree in sociology and a Master’s degree in educational curriculum and instruction, believed it was important to make the raps “authentic” to really connect with his students. This means that, along with the math, the songs include mentions of TRM’s neighborhood and mixed ethnicity, as well as stories of how he lives his life. “I knew it had to be real for the kids to buy into it,” Kajitani said. “The math is in there, but so is rap culture, which allows them to listen to it, learn and still feel ‘cool.'”
The Rappin’ Mathematician CD is the first of its kind on the market. Since its release last summer, TRM has appeared on KPBS, KUSI news, and in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Teacher Magazine Web Watch, NEA Today and more. Kajitani, who was just named Middle School Math Teacher of the Year for Greater San Diego, is hard at work on TRM Volume 2, which will focus on multiplication and will be out by Fall. To learn more, visit www.mathraps.com.