How I Use It
Prodigy is a wizard based game that incorporates mathematics. In my school setting, we use Prodigy as an enjoyable tool for independent math practice. At my school, we teach math in small groups. Students move to 3 rotations (TAG) in a math block; T(teacher) A(at seat practice) and G(games). Prodigy is used during the game rotation at the desktop computers in the classroom. Once students watch the introductory video, they are given their login information. Each student is assigned their own username and password in which they can create the wizard of their choice. Once they have done the preliminary setup, they are able to challenge characters in the game using spells. In order to defeat the character in the challenge, the student must answer mathematics questions. Each correct answer helps defeat the offending character, although incorrect answers causes your character to become defeated. This works wonderfully in the classroom because students are highly engaged. They enjoy the idea of the game and are excited about doing math!
As noted in the headline, Prodigy doubles as a data collection tool. Teachers are able to assign tasks to students and they are aligned with the Common Core. For example, if we were focusing on place value, I could assign students questions that require them to determine the value of a digit. On the teacher dashboard, I would be able to see how well students performed on each question of the assignment. Not only are teachers able to see if students got the answer correct or incorrect, but you are able to see the specificity of their answer. The data aspect of Prodigy allows teachers to monitor trouble spots and to reteach students where necessary. It also allows teachers to provide enrichment if the student demonstrates proficiency.
Aside from the fact that students are highly engaged and practicing math, there is one downfall to the game. It is not entirely user friendly for students, especially those who are younger. It is not made entirely clear how to navigate the game to get to the challenges, which is where students are able to practice math. Unfortunately, students sometimes get stuck in the areas where they can change their pets or spells, and these components distract them from the true intention of the game--mathematics.
My overall opinion about Prodigy as a teaching tool, is that is useful in moderation. It has a great engagement factor and students love it. Prodigy's ability to provide the teacher with the opportunity to assign tasks directly related to the indicator and provide immediate data is tremendously valuable. However, Prodigy should be used in such a way that it is merely a supplement to the much deeper instruction happening with the teacher.
The assignments Prodigy offers usually do not necessarily promote higher order thinking skills, rather they are a way to assess proficiency in certain areas. Although it does not always require critical thinking, the game supersedes a worksheet or paper pencil task and yet it is achieving the same purpose. Prodigy offers excellent in game support for students. When students are answering a question, there is a toolbar provided on the right hand side. Inside the toolbar there are resources included that help students work out their answers, so it doesn't only require mental math. These resources include items such as base ten blocks, a pen tool, fraction bars, read to and a few others. The read to is especially helpful for younger students, ELL students, or those who are at lower literacy levels. One component of the assignments that I also appreciate, is that the questions are immediately self-checking. When students answer a question, they are able to see if they are correct, and if not it provides them with the correct answer. Providing the self-checking piece gives the student the immediate feedback they need to continue to independently practice successfully.
Prodigy could serve students better if it was a bit more user friendly. As noted before, students sometimes have a hard time navigating the game and getting to the challenges. This is especially true for other types of learners such as ELL and special needs students. If Prodigy had a way for students to clearly see how to navigate, I would improve my rating. The intention of the game is to do math and if they are unable to find the challenges it takes away the integrity of the game. Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoy integrating Prodigy into my small group math rotations because I think it is a valuable tool for both students and teachers. I will continue to use Prodigy as a fun independent math practice and data collection tool, and I will continue to be hopeful for an update on user friendliness.