100% FREE TO USE

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.

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.

Estella Explainer

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

Chef Math Bear

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

How-to-Hound

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

Visual Vicuna

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

The coaches help children solve mathematical word problems, annotated with hints and feedback to teach a wide range of problem solving strategies to students of various levels of knowledge.

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.

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).

BROWSE MATH MODULES

NEW

Money

Grade: 3-6

Total problems: 11

NEW

Add & Take Away

Grade: 3-5

Total problems: 10

NEW

Rounding, Estimation & Place Value

Grade: 3-6

Total problems: 14

Fractions

Grade: 4

Total problems: 9

Geometry

COMING SOON

Data & Graphs

COMING SOON

More coming soon!

HOW TO USE WITH STUDENTS

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.

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, 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. Modules are best viewed in Slideshow mode.

How do teachers and students use each module?

Clicking on a module from the selections on the Modules Homepage, each user controls what happens during the learning experience. The goal is for students, by themselves, in small groups, or with a teacher, to unpack and analyze 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.

MEET THE TEAM

Sharon Edwards

Department of Teacher Education & Curriculum Studies

College of Education, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Sharon A. Edwards (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. Retired from public school teaching, she taught primary grades for 32 years at the Mark’s Meadow Demonstration Laboratory School, a public laboratory school in Amherst, Massachusetts. Sharon was the inaugural recipient of the national Good Neighbor Award for Innovation and Excellence in Education given by the State Farm Insurance Companies and the National Council of Teachers of English for her work with young children’s writing. She is the co-author of three books including Kids Have All the Write Stuff, Transforming Learning with New Technologies, Ways of Writing with Young Children.

Robert W. Maloy

Department of Teacher Education & Curriculum Studies

College of Education, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Robert W. Maloy (he/him) is a senior lecturer in the Department of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies in the College of Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Sai Gattupalli

Department of Teacher Education & Curriculum Studies

College of Education, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Sai Gattupalli (he/him) is a Learning Sciences doctoral student in the College of Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His research interests are broadly focused on learner culture, learning through game play and game design.

Sara Shea

Department of Teacher Education & Curriculum Studies

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.

Katie Allan

Department of Teacher Education & Curriculum Studies

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.

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