Who says learning math has to be boring? Jordan Orosco, a math teacher at Antioch’s Deer Valley High School, doesn’t think so. Orosco has been rapping his way through lessons about math concepts like sine and cosine, graphing lines, and the Pythagorean theorem. And his rap videos have gone viral — the beloved teacher has become a local celebrity of sorts for his nontraditional method of making math more entertaining for his students.
Orosco, in his fifth year of teaching algebra and geometry at Deer Valley High, where he also graduated, uses the moniker “That Math Magician.” His rap videos and math tutorials can be seen on social medial channels like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, where he is gaining a following of subscribers.
Orosco’s first rap videos were posted last summer, and in the months since, they’ve not only had thousands of views on social media but the rapping math teacher has been featured on local news segments and The Drew Barrymore Show.
With his enthusiasm, approachability, and gleaming rap star smile, Orosco has become a popular figure at the high school with his new and unique way of engaging students. He even filmed a rap at Antioch’s Fourth of July Parade last summer and performed at a PTA Founder’s Day event.
But it was his students who first encouraged him to make a TikTok account when the app became popular. He chose the name “thatmathmagician.” Then COVID-19 hit, and he started posting math tutorials for his students, who were distance learning. Orosco has a year’s worth of algebra and geometry tutorials for his students, who can access them as refreshers after a lesson has been taught. With the rap songs, he has taken his online presence to a whole new level — and has had help from his students with the video filming and production.
The rapping started almost by accident. One time Orosco joked with his students that “anyone can rap about math.” He soon found himself taking his own words more seriously and put some effort into writing some lyrics. When he posted his first math rap video he braced himself for trolls and students making fun of his work. But he found the opposite. His students thought it was pretty cool. “It just kind of snowballed from there,” Orosco told NBC’s California Live in an interview.
He has created several other videos since that first one. In his Algebra Anthology, posted recently, he raps about concepts like the MX+B equation and roots — “All right, it’s time for quadratics, granted that can be a bit traumatic, but the roots are beneficial, two points, the end and the initial” so the rap goes.
His students say they have been enjoying the raps, adding that they are not only fun to listen to but have helped them learn and remember concepts that some had been struggling with. The students seem to agree that their teacher has found a way to make typically boring math subjects more entertaining.
“I just hope that my tutorial videos and my math rap music videos just help students kind of navigate the scary role of math,” Orosco said in the California Live interview. “It can be really intimidating for them, and I wanted to be a teacher because I can help the students in my class here in my community.
Orosco added that he gets comments on YouTube from around the world. “It’s been really fun to just kind of throw math out there in a new, fun way,” he said.