Usable Math

(Formerly 4mality)

Online Math Problem-Solving for Young Learners

Usable Math provides interactive problem solving practice for 3rd through 6th grade students who are learning mathematical reasoning and computation through word problems.

a young child practicing number operations

Math Friends

Featuring four coaches Estella Explainer, Chef Math Bear, How-to Hound, and Visual Vicuna who offer reading, computation, strategy, and visual strategies for solving math problems.

picture showing Estella Explainer, a math coach

Estella Explainer

"I help children understand the language and meaning of questions using kid-friendly vocabulary."

picture showing Chef Math Bear, the second math coach

Chef Math Bear

"I provide computational strategies (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) for solving problems."

picture showing How-to-Hound, the third math coach


"I present strategic thinking clues (rounding, estimation, elimination of wrong answers)."

picture showing Visual Vicuna, the fourth math coach

Visual Vicuna

"I offer ways to see problems and their solutions using animations, pictures, charts and graphs."

The coaches annotate hints and provide feedback to help students with various levels of knowledge solve mathematical word problems using a wide range of strategies.

Math Standards Based

Usable Math aims to teach mathematics concepts and problem solving skills based on the Massachusetts Mathematics Curriculum Framework and the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.

elementary school children in classroom with teacher

Open Education Resource

Usable Math is an open education resource project developed in the College of Education, University of Massachusetts Amherst. An initial version called 4mality was developed with funding support from the Verizon Foundation and a grant from the US Department of Education, Institute of Education (IES).




Grade: 3-6

Total problems: 8



Grade: 3-6

Total problems: 8


A Jenny-the-Forester Adventure!

Grade: 3-6

Total problems: 8

Algebraic Thinking

Grade: 3-6

Total problems: 8


Grade: 3-5

Total problems: 7


Grade: 3-5

Total problems: 10

Geometry: Lines and Lines of Symmetry

Grade: 3-5

Total problems: 6

Geometry: Maps + Grids + Ordered Pairs

Grade: 3-5

Total problems: 6

Charts & Graphs

Grade: 3-5

Total problems: 10

Geometry: Figures, Shapes and Angles

Grade: 3-5

Total problems: 7


Grade: 3-6

Total problems: 11

Add & Take Away

Grade: 3-5

Total problems: 10

Place Value

Grade: 3-6

Total problems: 14


Grade: 4

Total problems: 9


Grade: 3-6

Total problems: 5

More coming soon!


Welcome to Usable Math. In this interactive website, you will find Learning Modules designed to develop mathematical problem solving skills among young learners in grades 3 to 7.

Our Modules explore standards-based math concepts including Fractions, Measurement, Geometry, Decimals, Money, and more. Usable Math is free to access using a computer, smartphone, or iPad.

Usable Math logo

What do we mean by Usable Math?

The word Usable can read as follows:

  • U Able meaning you can do math problem solving.

  • Us Able meaning together all of us can do math problem solving.

  • Usable meaning anyone is able to learn math problem solving - with practice, effort, and support.

What are the Usable Math Learning Modules?

Each learning module in Usable Math consists of a group of math word problems related to a specific mathematical concept. The problems are based on the Massachusetts Mathematics Curriculum Framework↗ as well as Common Core Standards↗.

Each problem within a module consists of a question, three to four possible answer choices, and problem solving ideas and strategies provided by our four coaches: Estella Explainer, Chef Math Bear, How-to-Hound, and Visual Vicuna.

How are the Modules Displayed online?

Each module has been developed using Google Slides.

A screenshot showing "Slideshow" button on a UsableMath math module

Click. Pause. Solve.

View each module in Slideshow.

How do teachers, students and families use each module?

Every module on Usable Math is user friendly.Clicking on a module from the selections on the Modules Homepage, each user controls what happens during the learning experience by clicking to open strategies and spending time thinking about them before answering the question. The goal is for students, by themselves, in small groups, or with a teacher, or a family member, to analyze and understand what the problem is asking them to solve before providing an answer.

  • A question appears without its answer choices or any problem solving strategies.

  • Click one time and Estella offers a problem solving strategy.

  • Click again and the Bear offers a different strategy.

  • Click again and the Hound presents a strategy.

  • Click again and the Vicuna has an additional strategy approach.

  • The next click gives the four answer choices, but not yet the correct answer.

  • The final click highlights the correct answer from among the answer choices.

Before going to the next problem, a motivational statement and gif appears offering encouragement to the users.

What is the purpose of the Motivational Statements between Problems?

Each motivational statement is intended to provide feedback and encouragement to students using the system.Following the insights of researchers into the use of praise and the development of growth mindsets in young learners, these motivational statements are designed to reward students’ effort, hard work, persistence, and belief in one’s self as a learner. We want youngsters to realize that they can learn anything with the right tools, the right beliefs, the right coaches, and their own work and practice.

Need more help? Or have a question?

Reach out to us and we will do our best to get back to you within 12 hours.


We believe that every child deserves a strong foundation in mathematics. Our platform is designed to provide engaging and effective math instruction to elementary school students, and we are proud to say that there is science behind the way we deliver this instruction.

UsableMath was formerly known as 4MALITY. As a result of our commitment to providing the best possible math instruction to elementary school students, we have rebranded our platform as UsableMath.com to better reflect our mission and approach to teaching mathematics.

Our platform is designed to provide engaging and effective math instruction to students in grades K-5, using a unique approach that emphasizes hands-on, problem-solving activities. We use interactive, multimedia elements such as videos, games, and simulations to help students understand key mathematical concepts and build a strong foundation of knowledge.

  • Collaborative Problem Solving

We believe in the power of collaboration and teamwork when it comes to learning mathematics. Our platform creates a learning climate that promotes collaborative problem solving, providing students with opportunities to work together and explore mathematical concepts in a supportive and inclusive environment.Whether you are a student, teacher, or parent, we invite you to explore our platform and experience the science behind the way we deliver math instruction to elementary school students.Read more about our work on the Journal of STEM Education↗

  • Growth Mindset Statements

As education researchers, we understand the important role that a positive attitude and motivation play in learner success. That's why we’ve integrated the use of growth mindset and motivational cues in Usable Math. After every math challenge, students receive messages that encourage them to adopt a growth mindset, reinforcing the idea that with effort and persistence, they can improve their math skills and achieve success.

  • Math Coaches

The use of virtual coaches that provides students with personalized support and feedback, has become increasingly popular in the field of math education. Research has shown that learning companions can be effective in improving student engagement and motivation, as well as helping students to better understand mathematical concepts and build a stronger foundation of knowledge (cite).UsableMath employs the concept of learning companions to help students succeed in mathematics. Our virtual math coaches serve as personal guides, providing students with individualized support and feedback as they work through mathematical concepts and problems. These coaches, or learning companions, are designed to be like friends or mentors, helping students to build their confidence, overcome challenges, and achieve their full potential.

  • Papers and Presentations

Math Learning Digital Choice Board (2020). ScholarWorks, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Maloy, R.W., Razzaq, L., & Edwards, S.A. (2014). Learning by Choosing: Fourth Graders Use of an Online Multimedia Tutoring System for Math Problem Solving. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 25(1), 51-64.

Razzaq, L., Maloy, R. W., Edwards, S. A., Arroyo, I., & Woolf, B.P. (2011). “4MALITY: Coaching Students with Different Problem Solving Strategies Using an Online Tutoring System” (p. 359-364). In J. A. Konstan, Ricardo Conejo, Jose L, Marzo & Nuria Oliver, User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization: 19th International Conference, UMAP 2011, Girona, Spain, July 11-15 Proceedings. Berlin: Springer Verlag.

Maloy, R.W., Edwards,S. A. & Anderson G. (2010, January-June). “Teaching Math Problem Solving Using a Web-based Tutoring System, Learning Games, and Students’ Writing.” Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research, 11(1&2).

Edwards, S. A., Maloy, R.W., & Anderson G. (2010, February). “Classroom Characters Coach Students to Success.” Teaching Children Mathematics, 16(6), 342-349.

Edwards, S. A., Maloy, R. W., & Anderson G. (2009, Summer). “Reading Coaching of Math Word Problems.” Literacy Coaching Clearinghouse. http://www.literacycoachingonline.org/briefs.html.


picture of Sharon Edwards

Sharon Edwards, Ph.D.

Department of Teacher Education & Curriculum Studies

College of Education, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Sharon (she/her) is a clinical faculty in the Department of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies in the College of Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Sharon is the big brains behind the development of Usable Math online math tutor.

picture of Robert Maloy

Robert W. Maloy, Ph.D.

Elementary Math and History

College of Education, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Bob (he/him) is a history and math senior lecturer in the Department of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies in the College of Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Bob and Sharon co-created 4mality, which is the earlier version of Usable Math.

picture of Sai Gattupalli

Sai Gattupalli

PhD Student in Math, Science and Learning Technologies (MSLT)

College of Education, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Sai (he/him) is a learning sciences doctoral student in the College of Education at UMass Amherst. He is a co-founder of Usable Math. Sai is a researcher at the Advanced Learning Technologies Lab ↗, where many equitable learning platforms such as Usable Math are developed.For research inquiries, contact sgattupalli at umass dot edu.

picture of Marguerite Rancourt

Marguerite Rancourt

Lead Teacher, Discovery School at Four Corners

Greenfield, Massachusetts

Marguerite teaches fourth grade at the Discovery School in addition to serving as Lead Teacher for the school. She has created and taught professional development workshop for other elementary school teachers. In 2018, she received the Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Award. Students in her class have been contributing to the design of system throughout the 2022-2023 school year.

picture of Sara Shea

Sara Shea

Graduate Student

College of Education, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Sara Shea (she/her) is a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is currently part of the university’s Collaborative Teacher Education Pathway program, working towards earning her master’s degree in elementary education.

picture of Katie Allan

Katie Allan

Math and Digital Media Research Assistant

College of Education, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Katie Allan (she/her) is a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is a math major with a concentration in education and passionate about math education.


We welcome ideas from teachers, students, and families about the Usable Math system.

Your responses will help us to improve how the system works instructionally and technically. Let us know your thoughts about the problems, characters, hints, gifs, mindset statements and more.

Usable Math logo

Thank you.

Your message has been received. We will get back to you shortly. The average response time is approximately 6 hours.