SANFORD - Most days music wafts from Genene Pearson's seventh-grade classroom at Millennium Middle School. But instead of taking singing lessons, her students are learning math.

"Numerator times numerator," sang the class one morning. "That's the way we multiply. Denominator times denominator, there's a shortcut we can try."

The catchy tune about reducing fractions is how Pearson teaches her students to remember their math rules and formulas. She stood before them as they sang, snapping her fingers or walking up and down each row.

"Look at the diagonal to see if we can find a way to cancel before we multiply," the class sang. "Numerator times numerator. That's the way we multiply."

When the song ended, the students tackled eight problems written on the chalkboard. All involved the multiplication of fractions, and the last two problems consisted of mixed fractions.

But instead of feeling overwhelmed by their tough assignment, most of the children dug into the problems with ease. Several repeated the lyrics to the song.

After a few minutes, Pearson called several students to the front of the room to write their answers so the whole class could see.

Dianne Ho, 12, was one of the first to the chalkboard. Her problem, 3/7 multiplied by 5/6, could be reduced before she multiplied her fractions to get the final answer. But Dianne stared at the problem for a moment, prompting Pearson into action.

"Is there a number that can go into both 3 and 6?" Pearson asked Dianne, then repeated the verse to the song. "Look at the diagonal to see if we can find a way to cancel before we multiply."

Dianne stared at the problem for a moment, then crossed out the 3 and the 6, replacing them with a 1 and 2.

"That's right," Pearson said.

Dianne finished multiplying the rest of the problem and came up with an answer of 5/14.

"Is she right?" Pearson asked the class. After a beat, she answered her own question, "Yes. She canceled the 3 and the 6, and that made her numbers smaller ones to multiply. Then she multiplied numerator times numerator and denominator times denominator. Remember? Just like our song."

A few minutes later, the class tackled the division of fractions. But first, they sang another song to keep from confusing the rules of dividing with fractions with the ones for multiplying fractions.

"I've got a fraction that I've found," the class sang. "I'm going to flip that fraction upside down. It's the reciprocal. Yeah! Yeah! It's the reciprocal."

This is the second school year Pearson has taught math through music at Millennium Middle School, which is a fine arts and communication facility. She introduced music into her curriculum to tap into her students' creativity.

"There has been a big improvement," Pearson said of her students' grades. "Some of my former students tell me they are doing well in their math class this year because of the songs they learned in this class last year. Many of our students have a musical intelligence, and that's their connection to how they perform in life. If that's their gift, then let's put it to a tune."

Several of her current students said they are remembering all the "tricky" rules in math.

"It's easier to remember the rhyme and the words to a song than the steps to a math problem," Dianne said. "It helps me in all my other classes, especially my science one when I have to work with formulas. I know math better know because of the songs."