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Chris Roe: This session is about inspiration and were very pleased to have with us a couple of really inspiring people. First were going to switch the order a little bit and have Alex Kajitani come up. Alex is the 2009 California Teacher of the Year and was named as a finalist for National Teacher of the Year. Looking for a way to connect with his inner-city students, he began combining rap music with the math he was teaching. After teaching middle school math for eight years, the Rappin Mathematician now coaches teachers throughout Escondido Union School District. So Alex Kajitani, welcome. Alex Kajitani: Thank you very much. Its an honor to be here. My name is Alex Kajitani and I am on a mission to make math cool. Thank you one person over there, thank you. I have to confess I wasnt always a Rappin Mathematician. Several years ago I was a brand new teacher just absolutely struggling to survive in my classroom. I couldnt get my students to pay attention. I couldnt get them to sit still in class and I certainly couldnt get them to remember the math rule that I just taught them the day before. And what I realize though is that a rap song would come out on Monday and by Tuesday they seem to have every single word memorized. I see a lot of nods out there and the problem with this of course is that they were coming in rapping about drug use and violence and abusing women, and so one day I just absolutely had enough. I couldnt take it anymore and so we were studying, adding and subtracting decimals at the time. So I wrote a rap song called the Itty-Bitty Dot about decimals, and I went home and I searched on the internet, free hip hop rap beat and actually found one and so I practiced all night in front of the mirror and I thought to myself, okay Im going to be the man when I come in tomorrow morning and so, I got there really early the next morning. I got everything set up and the students came in and I hit play and I busted out the Itty-Bitty Dot. It was a complete disaster. I have never been so embarrassed in my life. My students began laughing at me. In fact I can still picture a student, Josue, he was laughing so hard he started clutching his stomach, he fell out of his chair and hit his head on the carpet I had to send him to the nurse for an ice pack. And so I thought to myself okay that was a disaster. You know I see exactly where this is going. Yesterday my students wouldnt pay attention to me. Today theyre laughing at me. Tomorrow Im going to be on the job market and so I just said, ah forget it I blew it off, and went about my day, but then a very interesting thing happened. I went to the teachers lounge for lunch and I walked by the lunch tables and all the students were singing the Itty-Bitty Dot, even the ones who werent in my class were singing along with the ones who were and something which had never happened to me happened the very next day. My students came in absolutely excited to be in my class. They were saying things like, Oh Mr. Kajitani are you going to rap again? Yesterday was the best day ever! And Josue actually asked me if was going to quit teaching and be on MTV full time. So they havent called yet but at the end of week my test scores shot through the roof and so I like to say Ive been math rappin ever since. And so this is so very embarrassing but Im just going to put myself out there like I was willing to do for my students. Here it is the Itty-Bitty Dot. I promise my dance moves have gotten much better since then. Okay they havent gotten better at all but here it is the Itty-Bitty Dot. [Rap Song Playing] [Applause] Alex Kajitani: Thank you very much. Thank you. [Applause] Alex Kajitani: Thank you. And so what I did was this, I started to see individual achievement rise in my own class. I started to research rap music and its role in society and what I found out was fascinating and disturbing at the same time. What I found is that teens who regularly watch these gangster rap videos are three times more likely to hit a teacher, two times more likely to have multiple sex partners and two and a half times more likely to get arrested all before the age of eighteen. And thats when it occurred to me, rap music is the greatest instructional strategy ever created because in two-minute increments it is teaching our kids how to talk, how to dress, and what they perceive is reality. And so at that point my mission became very clear. What I wanted to do is I wanted to take Standards-Based Concepts that I was already teaching and instead of taking two days to teach parallel lines, what if I could introduce it in two minutes. And so what I did was I made another song called So Many Lines and gave it to our after school video club, and the students conceptualized, filmed, edited and produced this video all by themselves. And this video actually went on to win the IVIE or Innovative Video in Education Award in San Diego a few years back. So, heres just a short clip of So Many Lines. Lets see if you can really get a good picture of what parallel lines are, instead of in two days, in two minutes. [Music playing] Alex Kajitani: Alright, oh thanks again. Youre too kind. [Applause] Alex Kajitani: Now its a little bit misleading because I say two minutes but actually embedded in this two-minute video is hours upon hours of our students innovating, collaborating, trying things and failing but really putting together the 21st century skills that they need in order to really bring our country to where it needs to be. Now yesterday I was sitting in the panel discussion. Somebody asked a great question. They said, what is the potential risk to implementing the Common Core Standards? And I thought that was a great question but let me invite you to think about the question a different way. What is the potential risk to not implementing the Common Core Standards? [Applause] Alex Kajitani: Because in 2006 Los Angeles Unified determined that the number one most failed class among high school drop outs is Algebra 1. We talked all the time about how Algebra 1 is the gateway class to get into college, but what were not talking about is that it is the gateway class to dropping out of school altogether. Likewise a quality of life in Los Angeles 2008 State of the County Report update found that just 15 percent of Los Angeles County ninth graders are proficient in Algebra 1. So, we all understand in this room that 15 percent is a pretty low number, but let me show you what this looks like in real life. Out of approximately 100 of our students there are fifteen of them inside that circle, leaving everybody else outside that circle to compete for the jobs which do not require at least proficiency in Algebra 1, and you can imagine how small that circle gets as we move towards Calculus. It gets smaller and smaller and smaller. And so yesterday also when I was, you know, listening to the panel I heard Matt Lonner from Chevron say that what Chevron and other companies need is they need students who can think and act with applied real world Mathematics. And so as we look at the common core mathematical practices that are going to be required of our students, where do we start? Lets start with just the very first one. The first practice thatll be required of our students is to make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. The way that theyre going to be able to do this is to be able to have applied knowledge of real world mathematics and mathematics in the real world, but let me remind you there are two real worlds that exist. Theres the real world that we as parents and as adults and as working professionals think exists, and then theres the real world that our students think exists. And those sometimes are completely different worlds. And the way that we can really get them to make sense of problems and persevere and solve them is quite simple. What weve got to do is stop forcing our curriculum into our students lives and instead take our students lives and fit it into the curriculum. If we dont, were going to be here ten years from now wondering, how come the Common Core Standards didnt work? Our students have got to have the real world knowledge and that can start at any age. So I want to close with a little game that I like to play with my students. Its called the Math Professor and I apologize to any math professors out there who think this is a complete over simplification of the job that they do, but I work with little kids, right? So heres what we do, I pretend that Im the math professor and I claim that there is nothing that does not have something to do with math, and if they can think of something that has nothing to do with math they can win a prize, and if they can stump me they can win a prize. And so at first the students were really excited to play this game. And I got to admit year after year they come up with the same stuff right. Someone will always say ketchup and I say, oh great this is an opportunity to talk about proportion and about ratios and Heinz 57 and calories and things like that, and I will admit also I was almost stumped once. A student raised her hand and said, Oh Mr. Kajitani I know something that has nothing to with math, and I said, What? And they said, Love, and as I was scratching my head sweating another student raised her hand and said, I know! When youre in love that can get really expensive! [Laughter] Alex Kajitani: And another student raised her hand and said, I know, I know! Usually when youre in love or usually one plus one equals two, but when youre in love if youre not careful one plus one can equal three. [Laughter] Alex Kajitani: Thats where I cut it off right there. Thats where I cut it off. And so heres what happens, at first the students are really eager to play this game and after a week or so they start to go, oh I know something that doesnt have to do with oh wait, wait, no never mind, never mind. I got it. I got it. Oh I thought ofoh no, no, no. I thought itand after awhile they dont want to play anymore. And thats when we know weve got them. When our students say things like, Okay fine! We give up! Everything has something to do with math alright. Lets do something else! Thats when we know that weve got the real world application beginning to grow inside them. When they see everything in terms of their world and how it relates to math, only then can we begin to address that mathematical practice of making sense of problems and persevere in solving them. I would love to come and talk to your group organization more about this. So please feel free to contact me anytime. Let me know how I can help but of course I wouldnt be the Rappin Mathematician if I didnt close out this conference with a little rap Ive been working on. Its going to take a little participation. Were going to get you out of here thinking about somebody who is very, very important to you. You might not have thought of this person a long time, but I want you to think of one teacher who had a significant influence on your life right now. Think of one teacher and when I say, My teacher hero is, I want you to shout out their name. Its probably been awhile since you thought of this person. Are you ready? My teacher hero is--- [Audience Shouting] Alex Kajitani: Come on, my teacher hero is--- [Audience shouting] Alex Kajitani: Ah yeah its the Rappin Mathematician saluting all the teachers because you know that is the mission. With CSLNet and the common core, listen up yo, we got a lot in store, because my teacher hero is--- [Audience shouting] Speaker2: Come on my teacher hero is--- [Audience shouting] Alex Kajitani: My name is Alex Kajitani and Im on a mission to make math cool. Thank you very much. [Applause] Chris Roe: Well that was great. I wish I had a math teacher like that. That was not the name that I called. That was my math teacher by the way. So, its my pleasure next to introduce a woman who is a long-time mentor and colleague. Ive known Jan for gosh I dont know seven, eight years probably. Although Jans official title is Executive Director of TIES I like to think of her as the godmother of STEM in a good way, a godmother in a good way. Shes advised national governments including not only our own country but other countries around the world in, probably at least ten or more states on STEM education. Shes really a woman that I have tremendous respect for. So Im really pleased that shes here and shes going to offer us some words of wisdom from her vantage from TIES. So Jan please come up. [Applause] Jan Morrison: Okay so my good friend Jennifer Jess said well, thats a hell of an act to follow. [Laughter] Jan Morrison: Right? Okay, not an act. The real question is, how do you make this work? Weve all been treated to an amazing conference, an absolutely amazing conference and I shouldve been mic-ed, I think, because Im not going to sit there. Okay, we know that. We have found over the last day in a half two days, that it does matter that were talking STEM, that it isnt just an education issue that we care, that were talking about population growth. We care that were talking about climates and we care that our kids are working on biotech problems and have the kind of projects that they have inside. It isnt just education. It is STEM leading STEM education. That has to be engrained here as we walk out because we loved it. Were in this and here and we all commented yesterday and the day and the evening before, because we adore the fact that thats why were here at all. Thats where we started with those questions. The second thing that we heard is that its going to take all. Its going to take a revision of the system, we talked about cultures, we talked about all kinds of aspirations that we have, real work, real jobs, models, not information but what we do with it and on and on and on, statistic after statistic after statistic. Do you think Alexs kids care about those statistics? Not an ounce. Theyre the living statistic. So if we start from that we have to know that, and we have to plan for that, and our decision making has to be driven by it. We have to know what we know in order to be in front of our kids, but if thats what they hear and if thats what our communities hear, were dead on arrival. Nobody wants to know what the problem is. Everybody wants to be rapping. Everybody wants to figure out what Kareem can do. Everybody wants to know what the project is. Everybody wants to know how to deliver it. So if were walking out of here and we dont have a plan, thats a problem. So, in your minds eye before you leave the table, whats the single thing youre going to do that you have never done thats going to make a difference in the work that you do, thats going to make a difference for those who you work with? How do we do it? Weve heard about slipping it under the door. Weve heard about you finding your own coolness. There a lot of takeaways from this conference. I just started to collect them and jot them down. You have to find your own coolness. Thats what we connected here. Our kids are different than we are. I was at a conference not too long ago and somebody said to me, Mrs. Morrison which was a problem right off, Jan does everybody in STEM have to have gray hair? I had to take a step back. Okay I do. Got it, but thats a really good question because that person who is very young looked around the room and said, wait a minute I dont see me crafting the solution. So those of us who are veterans and who had been here forever and I am one of them. I mean I first saw the first standards. I saw the third standards and God willing were not going to have another set. This is going to do it. If we do not bring our prodigy with us theres nobody behind us. And by the way theyre digital natives and were not and that counts. It counts in which you heard at this conference if loud and clear, is its planning for tomorrow. It is not rehashing what weve done. We did not go back to Sputnik. One word on it, it was gratifying. I loved it. We dont have to wish for a Sputnik. Weve got it now. Weve got what we have to live. We have to live the earth. We have to listen to our kids and what they count, what they think. We have to alsothe challenge to us all that we also heard loud and clear is to advance our own story. If it stays the way were doing the work right now, it is the way it is. If we take on the challenge of the future and create and develop our own story then our kids come with us because theyre all about stories. Thats the grab. The grab is the once upon a time. Its the story you can tell about. That teacher that you yelled out loudly, about the school that mattered, about the experience, well thats what our kids are crafting now as well. So this conference has been all about giving you the opportunity to now start and to craft your own story. What are you going to start with, with once upon a time? But the thing for me thats so important about us all being here, is the fact that we are a community other than for California STEM Learning Network, we would not be together. Look around the room. These are not folks you spend time with. These are folks that you now are learning to spend time with and yesterday I watched and you were not sitting with just folks you knew who made you comfortable because you came with them on the plane or you work with them, you were sitting with everybody else, and you went out to dinner last night with everybody else and I said, Ah hah, the network is starting to do work. The network is actually starting to do the thing it was meant to do, and that is to make a single community a practice. So when you walk out of here and youre telling your story, it starts with I am part of California STEM Learning Network, which will as a result of me or but for me would never have happened. So, the challenge that for all of us in this is to create at TIES we call our butt force, but for me it would not have happened. But for my kids it wouldnt happen, but for the California STEM Learning Network which is all of us, not just Chris, not just Marcela, and their staffs, its all of us now because weve crossed that line, that we know now that we can do our work to a greater degree because the network is here. I have a colleague and friend whos a great systems engineer who says, Networks are only as good as the work they do so get to work. So thats the charge to us, enough talking and weve thought together, weve had a good time together but the real test of this is the work were going to do together. And thats the challenge as you walk out, thats what you have to feel right here because Californias got lots of kids and you know it, and those kids are depending upon us. Thanks. [Applause] Chris Roe: Thank you Jan. Wow that was inspiring! Those are big, its a big charge but shes right. We can only do this together as a, as a group and you are all part of CSLNet. When I tell my story about once upon a time, I think to, once upon a time I met a woman by the name of Marcella Klein Williams, who under good guidance I decided to hire as my Chief Education Officer. So Im very pleased to welcome her to the stage. She is my inspiration for the work that I do. So Marcella take it away. [Applause] Marcella Klein Williams: Well Im delighted to go after Alex and after Jan and I think Im feeling a little bit from both of them in my closing words for this. So these are my closing words but theyre not the closing words for you as we still have more to come. Im really looking forward to the luncheon of sharing the stage with incredible women in STEM in the state of California. So Im going to close with a story thats a little bit of my story and its a story about my dad, but first lets start with the math. So heres the Math Alex. Its just for you. So vision plus leadership times partners plus collaboration equals the California STEM revolution. So thank you for your participation in the California STEM Summit transforming ideas into action, and through your vision, your leadership, your innovation and your courage to step forward, we have the opportunity to become the STEM workers, leaders and innovators of tomorrow. So whether you come from business and industry, from K12 education or youre a board member for CSLNet or on the advisory or perhaps the part of The Power of Discovery: STEM 2, or if youre simply here because you love children. We are in it to win it and were in it together. So youve seen the mismatch between our current education system and here in California we have the best and brightest STEM economy. We should have a matching STEM education system to go right along with it and, you know, yesterday when I was listening to Sugata Mitra in the breakout session, the last question was about teacher preparation and he said, You know, people come to Newcastle University because Im there but these big institutions they move slowly. We dont have course work about the research that Im doing. Theres a little piece of me that thinks, were going to kick some British, because we know how to move and we know how to respond to that, and the next time he comes well be able to say to him, you know that teacher preparation issue, in California we have it figured out here. So you know that through quality STEM teaching and learning, our students will gain the knowledge and qualifications to step into challenging jobs. And the icing on the cake is those challenging jobs have a better wage to go along with it, and as families and leaders and those with a little gray hair, isnt that what we hope and pray for, for all of our children is they do better than we did beforehand. So quality STEM education will mean that the top companies in California and the nation will recruit our students and join the workforce because we are providing the best and the brightest. So the time is up and our time has come. And thats why youre sharing the room here. And heres a little story about my dad. So I was born to a woman who followed her grandmother into education and my mom became a teacher, and my dad followed his dad into the movie industry. So his dad worked painting ships for World War II and move from painting ships in the shipyard to running the paint shop at Universal Studios. And my dad went there to work for Universal Studios and he was in the sign shop. So I remember asking him, daddy what to do you do? He says I paint signs. You ever see those signs? So the tools that he was using when he was working in the sign shop at Universal Studios were X-acto knives and films and it came in a black box that would open up, kind of, like a fishing tool kit. And during his tenure there is when computers came in and in the movie industrydo all of you remember Jaws? Do you ever giggle when you watch it now? Its adorable. So moved from the sign shop to the graphics arts department, and the man who taught me how to move and taught me to be nimble and move with the next thing, this is what hed say to me when Id stand side by side with him in his shop, at the big shop in the backyard, he says, You got it now? Did I teach you everything you need to know? Okay, my jobs done. Now get to work. [Applause]