We are excited to share that the Usable Math project, an initiative empowering elementary math learners become proficient math problem-solvers, has been accepted to the 2023 MassCUE Fall Conference. Recognized as a preeminent event in the edtech field and the largest of its kind in Massachusetts, the Fall Conference is a colossal gathering of researchers, educators and industry experts from edtech, STEM education, and everything digital learning. MassCUE is an affiliate of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), and is known for its dedication to inspiring and guiding educators in effectively infusing digital learning into the curriculum, and their Fall Conference is a cornerstone event that fosters collaboration, thought leadership, and professional development.
For many years, we have regarded students as learners, especially in subjects like maths, where problems are presented, and the learners work towards solutions. But what if we turned the tables and made learners active designers of problems? This is the journey of the Usable Math project. This math education approach is steered by researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Education and supported by math teaching staff from the Discovery School at Four Corners in Greenfield, MA.
Since its launch in 2022, Usable Math has found a place in the hearts of both educators and students. The young fourth graders of Discovery School with their math teacher Ms. Marguerite Rancourt, have pioneered our initiative, utilizing the "tool" to construct, decipher, and discover the wonder within the math puzzles they create themselves. In 2018, Ms. Rancourt received the Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Award, and serves as the Usable Math consultant teacher. Our deepest appreciation extends to all the children who have been involved in this transformative process.
Usable Math’s modules each include between 5 to 10 math word problems. For instance, a module on measurement focuses on units such as inches, meters, time, and lengths. A team of four virtual math friends/coaches - Estella Explainer, Chef Math Bear, How-to-Hound, and Visual Vicuna - provide a diversity of problem-solving approaches through words, pictures, gifs, charts, and animations. Only recently, we hosted a workshop on the topic, and our readers can find it here.
One of the most remarkable elements of Usable Math's journey has been observing the surge of creativity from kids as they start to craft their own math design slideshows - something we plan to share more of in the fall gathering.
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