Website review by Pamela Brittain, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2019

Prodigy

Adaptive math practice wrapped in role-playing adventure

Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 223 reviews
Privacy rating
87%| Warning Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Grades
1–8 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.
Subjects & Skills
Math, Critical Thinking

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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 Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

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 Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

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 Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

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. 


Common Sense reviewer
Pamela Brittain Researcher

Community Rating

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Featured review by
Emily Kimberly R. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Burchard A Dunn School
New Gloucester, United States
Making math fun for kids and helpful for teachers!
I absolutely love this program and I have gotten several teachers in my school on board with it. It gets the students so excited about math and they beg to play, what more could a teacher want? Any teacher who thinks that it is just a game should try playing it for a few minutes, and they will quickly realize how much math the students actually are doing. Definitely recommend Prodigy!
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Data Safety
How safe is this product?
Users can interact with trusted users and/or students.
Users cannot interact with untrusted users, including strangers and/or adults.
Profile information is shared for social interactions.
Data Rights
What rights do I have to the data?
Opt-in consent is requested from users at the time personal information is collected.
Unclear whether users can control their information through privacy settings.
Users can create or upload content.
Ads & Tracking
Are there advertisements or tracking?
Data are not shared for third-party advertising and/or marketing.
Traditional or contextual advertisements are displayed.
Behavioral or targeted advertising is not displayed.

Continue reading about this tool's privacy practices, including data collection, sharing, and security.

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