HMH Fuse: Algebra 1 App for iPad
By Margaret L. Niess
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s HMH Fuse: Algebra 1 app for iPad redefines our notion of the textbook and challenges us to consider how digital textbooks might
shape instruction in the modern mathematics classroom.
I must admit, as I launched this app for the first time,
I thought, oh no, this is just a digital version of the paperback. It looks just like the pages of the textbook, and the
iPad acts just like a Kindle. Was I ever wrong! I identified
significant differences between the paperbound version
and the digital version that actually caused me to rethink
what a textbook is and how it is used for teaching Algebra I.
The app has chapters with typical algebra titles, such as
equations, inequalities, and linear functions, just like the
hard copy. However, the iPad version is multidimensional.
The content appears to be the same, but the iPad presents it
in dynamic ways that address multiple learning styles, including visual, verbal, auditory, and tactile. Throughout the
app, students proceed by actively swiping the pad to move
to the next step in a solution or an example. This active
process has the capability of focusing their attention on the
ideas and the problem-solving processes they are exploring.
Active engagement with problem solving clearly aligns
with the Standards for Mathematical Practice in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSS-M,
2010), which requires students to “make sense of problems
and persevere in solving them.” Multiple features in the
digital textbook support this engagement.
Lesson Tutorials offer videos for each chapter with an
actual person teaching the lesson. The videos allow students to review ideas from the class instruction, progress at
their own speed, and pause and rerun the videos until they
understand the ideas. The videos provide access for absent
students and even parents who need refreshers. When the
teacher is absent and the substitute is not a math teacher, she
can use the videos to introduce concepts and processes.
The Practice and Problem Solving pieces contain links to
check answers and get extra practice and help. The Homework Help button gives hints for specific problems and
directs students through the steps of solving a problem.
Math Motion is a feature that allows students to investigate a problem/solution, one step at a time with individual
HMH Fuse: Algebra 1 includes embedded instructional videos that reinforce lesson concepts and feature actual teachers solving math problems.
swipes of the screen. They are able to proceed at their own
pace, progressing their way systematically to comprehension of a solution, rather than seeing the entire answer presented in a single step.
The Notes tool at the top of each page links to a space for
students to either record their ideas with a keyboard or by
The Tools link helps students address CCSS-M standards, particularly the standard for learning to “use appropriate tools strategically.” Throughout the textbook, students must select the appropriate tools for each mathematics problem in ways that help them “explore and deepen
their understanding of concepts.”
Graphical representations, such as the Linear Explorer, provide students
with a way to change variables within a mathematical equation and see
how they effect lines on a graph.