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October 23, 2023

Meet the New Mr. C: Your Student’s Personal Math Coach

Important updates to the XtraMath Student Experience  

Hello, educators and math enthusiasts! We are thrilled to introduce some exciting changes to XtraMath, particularly focused on our beloved character, Mr. C. This new character was designed to better foster a growth mindset and reduce math anxiety by coaching students through personalized daily practices. Since 2009, XtraMath has helped tens of millions of students develop the effortless and automatic recall known as math fact fluency. Now we have reimagined the on-screen character, Mr. C, as a dynamic, animated math coach.  

Mr. C is a Math Coach for every Student. 

A live-action video of the teacher, Mr. C, has been the friendly face of XtraMath since 2012. His role is to guide students through their daily math practice. We've listened to your feedback and decided it is time to modernize. The new Mr. C is not just a mascot; he's a math coach that encourages each student to progress in their "zone of proximal development." Think of him as an eager personal trainer that helps each student get the right daily exercise. 

To make this transition, we collaborated with Essence Cartoons, a seasoned 2D animation studio to create the character, and ElevenLabs, an innovative AI startup to develop the  programmable voice. Now we have the flexibility to bring a new Mr. C to life on screen. We will continue to revise this character based on community feedback, ensuring he stays an effective and engaging learning companion for tens of millions more students over the next decade. 

Mr. C Helps Students “Exercise their Math Brains.” 

Research shows the brain is like a muscle—it grows stronger the more you use it. Everyone knows that when you lift weights, your muscles get bigger. As a result, you get stronger. Just because someone could not lift a heavy weight at first, you know that with regular workouts that exercise those specific muscles, they would eventually be able to do it easily. That’s because your muscles grow stronger with exercise.  

Similarly, when regularly practicing math facts, the neurons and synapses in your brain grow stronger. Mr. C calls that, “exercising your math brain.”  With practice, it is easier and faster to remember math facts. Having strong core muscles helps your body do all kinds of more complex movements. Likewise, having strong math fact muscles really helps when your brain needs to do more advanced math like algebra or geometry. As a result, students that practice math facts have more confidence and capacity when facing bigger math challenges. 

A good personal coach will ensure well-rounded growth and development by regularly adjusting exercises. In the same way, Mr. C focuses on the specific math facts that each student needs to practice that day. He uses spaced repetition and timed exercises to give precise feedback and ensure the student has built the necessary neural pathways before moving on to new facts. Students do not compete with Mr. C or other classmates in XtraMath either; students are just focused on improving their personal best.  

Mr. C Models a Growth Mindset. 

We are inspired by Dr. Carol Dweck's research on growth mindset—the belief that skills can be developed through dedication and hard work. Jo Boaler, a mathematics education researcher at Stanford, further emphasizes that a “math brain” is not something just a few are born with, but the natural by-product of learning. Neuroscience tells us that our brains are malleable; they grow and become stronger with practice. The new Mr. C embodies our mission to help every student succeed in learning essential math, reminding students that consistent practice will help them become more confident, flexible mathematical thinkers.  

Our original script placed an emphasis on speed, but we now highlight the importance of progress. Most timed testing, like traditional “mad minutes,” has been shown to be ineffective, contribute to math anxiety, and require too much of the teacher without offering any insight into where students need more help. By contrast, XtraMath is about making small, daily improvements. This is possible by knowing exactly when a student has made enough progress on each fact by measuring their response time to questions. 

As a good coach should, Mr. C, still encourages students to demonstrate genuine fluency by responding within the set threshold (6 seconds, 3 seconds, etc.); however, he now celebrates progress over speed. He encourages students to focus on the growth they can track for themselves and to view mistakes as part of their learning journey. He provides students with real-time feedback on their work as they earn awards for making progress. This helps them understand their challenges and celebrate their successes. Mr. C encourages students to keep trying, helping them grow regardless of their starting point or speed of progress.  

Meet the New Mr. C Today! 

We invite you to experience the new Mr. C with your students and see how it helps them become more fluent in math. This short video clip is an example of what students now experience when using XtraMath.  

We're excited about this new chapter and cannot wait to hear your thoughts. Together we will help tens of millions more students grow their math brains!  

Happy Learning! 

Roy King, 

Executive Director 

XtraMath is committed to ethical AI practices and believes that actors, artists, and other contributors deserve fair compensation for their source material. Special acknowledgement goes to Chris, the original Mr. C, for his invaluable contributions to the development of XtraMath. We reached an updated agreement with him to recognize his contributions and enable us to improve the student experience.