Prodigy Success Story: How Two Teachers Transformed Maths

Prodigy Success Story: How Two Teachers Transformed Maths

The hurdles

Significant funding cuts, a shortage of 1,000 computing and 1,850 maths teachers, limited access to functional devices, average class sizes of 36 pupils: this is the stressful reality in which educators in state schools across England — and the UK — live. What’s more, they face the ever-present challenge of motivating and providing differentiated instruction for maths pupils.

Some educators feel as though they’ve tried everything to remedy these issues, whilst  others may be unaware of the solutions available that can:

  • Effectively engage students in Years 1 to 6
  • Succeed on a limited budget or, better yet, at zero  cost
  • Encourage maths practise in a secure digital environment
  • Boost learning outcomes for pupils of all economic backgrounds
  • Meet the needs of a diverse pupil group with a wide range of proficiency levels

A surprising solution

Fully aligned to England’s National Curriculum, targeting Key Stages 1 and 2, one such solution is Prodigy Maths — a zero-cost, adaptive maths platform loved by more than one million teachers and 50 million students worldwide.

And two teachers, in particular, have found great success since implementing Prodigy into their daily maths instruction.

Meet Year 5 and 6 teachers Katy Piper (left) and Sophie Simmons (right) from Gorsewood Primary School!

How it works

Since 2017, Miss Piper and Mrs. Simmons have used Prodigy to:

  • Revise or pre-teach maths content
  • Help pupils build and hone prerequisite skills
  • Pinpoint pupils’ problem areas with adaptive learning
  • Obtain live data and reports on pupil usage and progress
  • Create Plans and Assignments for the whole class or individual pupils
  • Increase attendance and improve punctuality for disengaged, unmotivated pupils

Five pupils from Gorsewood Primary School using Prodigy Maths in breakfast club

Like many educators, Miss Piper’s Year 5 classroom dynamics are quite diverse. Whilst 25% of her pupils are working above their expected year level, around 20% require more support, with 8% of them performing at a Year 1 level.

Year 6 is incredibly important due to the End of Key Stage Tests and Assessments (SATs), so Mrs. Simmons faces a slightly different set of challenges.

With a boy-heavy class of 30, many of her pupils have behavioural issues, which often cause missed maths lessons and greater knowledge gaps. Another big issue is children who stroll into class 45 minutes late because they’ve little enthusiasm for maths — or school in general.

Children’s attitude towards maths has transformed

A Year 5 boy from Gorsewood Primary School playing Prodigy Maths in class

In her 18 years at Gorsewood Primary School, Miss Piper has witnessed firsthand the rise of information and communications technology (ICT). She has tried many different platforms, too, but “Prodigy has stood the test of time and they are still engaged.”

The more Miss Piper played Prodigy herself, the more aware she became of its capacity to pique interest and increase engagement in maths instruction amongst pupils who struggle with traditional teaching methods.

This game-based learning approach uniquely encourages, she says, a “growth mindset because children are seeing success through battles. They’re more inclined to keep working at it and inevitably get better. You can see enjoyment coming through — in maths.”

Sophie Simmons' Year 6 girls using Prodigy

In preparation for the Year 6 SATs, Mrs. Simmons uses Prodigy as a personalised revision tool. Using the Planner — a useful tool that assigns targeted in-game content related to your lesson plan — she has “unlocked its potential.

What’s more, the immediate data she and Mrs. Simmons receive in their teacher accounts allows them to track individual pupil progress.

Engagement goes up and so do their grades

A Year 5 girl from Gorsewood Primary School standing in front of the Prodigy Maths leaderboard in preparation for Math Madness

Pupils will play Prodigy for 20 minutes a day, though there are other opportunities to practise maths skills, including three clubs (e.g., breakfast, lunchtime, and after school).

Miss Piper and Mrs. Simmons also assign Prodigy questions for homework. Before introducing Prodigy, children would rarely complete their homework. But the combination of engaging game-based learning, healthy competition, and their tangible success has increased maths abilities across the board. What’s more, these results are true regardless of year level.

Miss Piper, who taught Year 6 the year prior, described one girl who had low maths confidence yet high potential. Her ability to play Prodigy helped so much so that she saw a 20% increase in her standardised test scores!

We have children with a range of needs that can prevent them accessing the curriculum properly including but not limited to visual and auditory memory processing disorders and dyslexic tendencies.

Sophie Simmons' Year 6 pupils play Prodigy at their desks

Similarly, some children in Mrs. Simmons’ class have missed lessons due to misbehaviour. A few others have a range of needs that can prevent them from accessing the curriculum, such as visual and auditory memory processing disorders and dyslexic tendencies.

According to national standards, many children are not performing at adequate levels. However, introducing Prodigy has helped pupils make giant strides of progress that weren’t present before, as well as close individual learning and achievement gaps.

Prodigy gives time back to teachers

Sophie Simmons' Year 6 pupils playing Prodigy

Implementing Prodigy into their digital learning efforts has saved both Miss Piper and Mrs. Simmons “hours. Absolutely hours.”

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reported that English teachers work more hours than any other high-performing OECD country. On average, they work 21 non-paid hours per week.

Marking traditional tests by hand, for example, and manually inputting all the data into spreadsheets can be very time-consuming. But, as Miss Piper highlighted, “Prodigy does all that work for you.

Accessing the Progress and Usage Reports as well as “tools within Prodigy has been a huge time-saver.”

The ability to view pupils’ maths results immediately — without having to spend time on grading or data entry — enables them not only to teach more effectively, but spend more time enhancing their class’ educational experience.

The kids’ corner

Katy Piper, Gorsewood Primary School's Year 5 teacher's class having won the attendance bear and punctuality trophy AGAIN

In Mrs. Simmons’ experience, she has noticed her pupils know they’re doing maths, but don’t see it as typical pencil- and paper-based practise. Despite a class with mixed abilities, Prodigy’s adaptive technology helps keep both lower- and higher-level learners challenged.

Miss Piper’s experience has been similar. Because children aren’t limited to interacting with people of the same maths ability, “Prodigy’s game-based approach increases confidence and encourages a growth mindset in pupils of all levels.

But, what do the kids themselves think? Below we’ve included some quotes from their classes!

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Jordan Nisbet

Jordan crafts content for Prodigy — and wishes the game existed when he was in school. He's interested in education and passionate about helping build up the next generation!

2 thoughts on “Prodigy Success Story: How Two Teachers Transformed Maths

  1. This is a great article. I’ve had some of the same experiences this year. I have multiple students that have performed poorly over the last years. One in particular is a fifth grader who will leave us this year and move on to middle school. He had many behavioral issues – some of which were due to not performing well on tests and classwork. He had given up and didn’t think he could like math. Once he started to play Prodigy, he realized how much fun it was. He is now answering an average of 200-250 math questions per week and his skill and accuracy level is improving. He says he LOVES prodigy! I love seeing him engaged in math. He has asked me to keep him in the class next year even though he will be moving onto 6th. I like knowing that I can still help him through the Prodigy tools.

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