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.
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
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
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.”
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
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.
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
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
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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