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Prodigy's Guide to Free Math Games

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If you ask any member of the Prodigy team what we do, you’ll probably get a broken record response proudly declaring “we are building the world’s best math game!” But with an abundance of educational gaming options available, how does one decide which one is best for them? It’s no secret that there are hundreds of math games out there, many of which are fantastic and are changing the way students and teachers approach math. With the gamification of education becoming such a hot topic, it’s important to evaluate prospective programs before taking the plunge.What are educators looking for in a math program? At Prodigy I often have the pleasure of introducing our game to teachers and students face-to-face. I also run a series of free online training sessions, where I run teachers through a full demo of the program and educate them on how to use the program effectively. Through these interactions we gain additional insights into users pain-points, and we use this information to improve our product. Based on the pain-points identified by teachers (seen below) we have focused on building out a set of tools that better help teachers differentiate, manage student progress, and of course engage students. pain-points With these pain-points being sticking points for finding a product that is all encompassing, what should you look for in a product that meets them all? To engagement, and beyond! Gamification is a great way to engage students. I don’t know too many educators who would disagree.  However, does lack of student engagement represent the biggest pain-point among elementary school teachers? Not according to the results of our recent survey. There seems to be a misconception that teachers are on a never ending mission to find the holy grail of engaging support tools. But the fact of the matter is, teachers are looking for more than games that just engage. And let me tell you something, those games are definitely out there! At Prodigy, we have created a game that is so engaging that students practice curriculum aligned math problems on their own time. But we have also developed the game with teachers in mind, building out tools like virtual manipulatives, which teachers can use to walk students through solving certain problems. It’s all about creating a balanced product that speaks both to teachers and students. Do some testing, you’re good at that! When you are testing out game options, make sure you are testing more than just the game itself. Don’t get me wrong; finding a game that resonates well with your students is half the battle. But great educational games should also offer a solution to common pain-points you experience in your day-to-day role. Remember, you are trying to make your life easier, not more difficult! You are really looking for a program that understands you as a teacher. And what teacher doesn’t want to save time and create assignments that their students actually want to complete? Prodigy has created an Assignment feature that allows teachers to customize content and align the game with what they are teaching in class. We also integrate these questions right into the game so students have no idea they are working on an “assignment”!  Creating assignments has never been so fun and simple (no photocopying required). Data, data, and you guessed it, more data! Last month I had the privilege of attending MindShare Learning’s Ed Tech Leadership conference. Throughout the course of the day, various thought leaders revisited the same idea: educators need access to more student data. Data allows us to drive positive learning outcomes beyond just simple engagement.  When it comes to math, teachers want to know what questions students are struggling with the most and how much time it is taking them to master curriculum aligned skills. So when exploring game options why not find one that provides you with the most actionable real-time data? Prodigy’s real time reports give teachers access to the data they need to better inform classroom instruction and address problem areas on the fly. Check out our reporting and assessment tools here. It feels good to be free! Accessibility is often a huge barrier in education.  Unfortunately, education is well known for its strict budgets and drawn out sales cycles, making many math programs out of the question. Finding a good free math program can be difficult. While there are many out there, most of them are fairly basic and don’t align to the curriculum. Our goal at Prodigy is to spread the love of math to all students.  We have made our program free to ensure that our game can be easily accessed by anyone, from anywhere, at any time. As free users, teachers and students have access to all of our educational content, including all teacher reporting and assessment tools. Our membership option gives students access to premium features like certain hair styles, which makes the game more engaging without affecting the educational quality of the game. It’s time to take the plunge! Do your homework over the break and find a game that you and your students will love.
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