Review by Pamela Brittain, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2019

Prodigy

Adaptive math practice wrapped in role-playing adventure

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • Math

Skills
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
1–8
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (199 Reviews)
Privacy (See details)

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Pros: Fun fantasy context and lots of teacher feedback keep students and teachers happy.

Cons: Paid memberships are heavily promoted to students; many features are limited to paying members.

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.

One of the nice things about Prodigy is how relatively easy it is to implement for students working at home or at 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. Some teachers use it as part of their math stations or math workshop. 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.

The biggest selling point for Prodigy is that parent and teacher accounts come with highly useful dashboards that provide feedback, set goals, and reward students for progress. However, students themselves can't see their own progress aside from badges for completing various skill sets. 

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In Prodigy, an adaptive math-practice game 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 multiple themed worlds to take on monsters and special bosses. Wizard spells are powered by math problems. As students 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.  

Teachers can select from a variety of curricular standards when setting up their classes, including Common Core, Ontario Math, NCERTS, and National Curriculum (England). Then they can select the specific skills they want their students to be working on. Kids can use the web-based version on computers or tablets or the Prodigy Math Game app for iOS and Android.

By mimicking the very basic elements of popular fantasy-based online multiplayer games (with a nod to early '90s games like Zelda and Final Fantasy), 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. If students get a question wrong (after some initial assessment questions), they get a detailed hint, which can sometimes be a bit too detailed in that it becomes a step-by-step answer. But students can then get another chance to successfully cast their spell. 

The main drawback is that students are constantly presented with options to become members (especially when playing from home), and special items are available only to those with a subscription. This can lead to unfair advantages for students who have paid accounts versus those who don't -- and may frustrate students who work hard yet cannot get the same types of rewards as those who pay for them. But overall, Prodigy does a great job of both entertaining students and providing them with valuable math lessons. It's also excellent at providing updates, as there are always new worlds and special things to discover, and students will love the thrill of logging in to find something new.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

A beautiful design and fantasy setting integrate math with fun combat and give kids lots of ways to customize characters. But without a paid account, there are a lot of features you can't use.

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

Kids answer math questions to land spells in combat, and 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?

Students have access to detailed hints, though some are a bit too detailed and nearly give away the answer. Teacher/parent dashboards are chock-full of feedback on student progress. 


Teacher Reviews

(See all 199 reviews) (199 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Sarah H. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Carroll Academy
Houston, United States
Fun and learning all in one
I love using Prodigy! It keeps students engaged by having it be in a game format. In my room they battle each other, and actually help each other to get answers! For ELLs and low readers, there is an audio option that will read it to them. Teachers have a variety of reports to view to see how students are progressing. They can assign standards and questions to students that either need help or need to be challenged. Parents have the option of creating an account to see how their child is progressing and ...
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