Common Sense Review
Updated November 2015


Adaptive math practice wrapped in role-playing adventure
Common Sense Rating 5
  • Pets become useful fighting companions.
  • Develop math skills by battling forest creatures.
  • Take on other students in the arena.
  • Complete attacks by answering math questions.
  • The teacher dashboard allows you to assign questions and check on students.
  • Explore new areas and try new adventures.
  • In-game tools make solving problems easier.
Fun fantasy context and lots of teacher support keep students and teachers happy.
Lots of bells and whistles aren't available without a subscription.
Bottom Line
Sometimes kids just need some math practice to get things to stick, and Prodigy delivers in a fun format with great teacher support.
Caryn Swark
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 5
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 5

The fantasy setting integrates math with fun combat and gives kids lots of ways to customize characters. But without a paid account, you'll see a lot of "upgrade your account to use this item."

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 5

Kids answer math questions to land spells in combat. If they make mistakes, the game helps them figure out the right answer. Questions are adaptive based on kids' answers and abilities.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

Each activity is well explained, with extra scaffolded assistance for trickier questions. At times kids need to explore to figure out what to do next, but the game will also kick in with helpful hints to move things along.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

One of the nice things about Prodigy is how relatively easy it is to implement for students working at home or school. Since it differentiates well and features good in-game instruction, students can be off working at different grade levels and at their own pace, not worrying about anyone but the teacher knowing what they're working on. However, since Prodigy is focused mostly on practicing skills, it's best used as a review tool rather than a means to introduce new topics. To spice things up, teachers can create student tournaments and quests that establish new challenges and goals. The fantasy setting also lends itself well to extension assignments focused on narrative writing. Students could write background stories for their characters or elaborate on events in the game, creating deeper involvement and investment.

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What's It Like?

In Prodigy, an adaptive math-practice game (available on Mac, Windows, Linux, and as a Chrome app) set in a fantasy role-playing universe, students customize colorful, anime-style avatars and send them off to the Wizard Academy to prepare for battle. Students' characters travel the world; they chat with other wizards through a series of pre-written chat comments, challenge friends to fight in the arena, and brave the woods to take on monsters. As they progress in their math skills, so do their characters, learning new spells to use against enemies. To use these spells successfully, students must flex their math knowledge and answer questions that cover a lot of content and adjust to students' abilities. If students don't succeed on the first try, they get hints to help them out. As they level up, they earn more spells and face more challenging monsters, earning gold they can use to purchase armor and items for their houses. 

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Is It Good For Learning?

By mimicking the very basic elements of popular fantasy-based online multiplayer games, Prodigy is well tuned to keep kids' attention. They'll love the customization and the setting, and the multiplayer modes will keep them interested long after traditional math activities might lose their luster. Though it doesn't have the best pacing -- after a spell is launched, the action pauses and students must answer a math question -- this doesn't detract too much from the fun stuff, and it ups the stakes of the questions. Best of all, if students get a question wrong, they get hints and a walkthrough of the solution. Prodigy does a great job of both entertaining students and providing them with valuable math lessons. It also is excellent at constantly updating: There are always new worlds and special things to discover, and students will love the thrill of logging in to find something new.

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