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Please complete the following poll before beginning the coursework for this class:
What is your level of Genius Hour level of knowledge?
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I'm a Genius Hour newbie.
I've heard of GH, but want to learn more
I'm a Genius Hour expert.

Rather than using these apps for brainstorming a genius hour idea, I chose to explore them as an alternative to taking notes in my biology class. I have been exploring a new way to take notes in class that breaks from the traditional lecture/note-taking format. At this stage, I would use Mindmeister over coogle because it is easier to use and more simplistic in its topic to topic format.

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Tools for Curation of Content

Padlet is an impressive curation tool for students. Padlet is a virtual wall that students can use to collaborate. Padlet has ready-made templates that are beautifully designed and easy to use. It is in the “drag and drop” style of operation. Students can post digital media such as: images, videos, links, etc. Additionally, students can “backchannel” or dialogue with each other regarding the digital content. Padlet is free and easily shareable too.
Students can create a free account and even log in with their Google account. The interface is clean and simple. Students can easily navigate the dashboard by clicking the button “+ Make A Padlet” From there, students can choose to work from scratch or choose from six different styles of navigation (Wall, Canvas, Stream, Grid, Shelf, Backchannel). There is also the option of using a ready-made template. Once students have made their selection, they are directed to their Padlet. On the right hand side, students can title their Padlet and either choose from the available wallpaper or upload their own image. Now, all a student has to do to add content is click anywhere on the page and a toolbox will appear. In the toolbox, students will have the option to add text, upload content from their computer, add web links and videos. Padlet is fun, intuitive, professional-looking and best of all, all additions and revisions save automatically. Students can access their Padlets from any device that has internet connection.
I would use Padlet with my students to enhance a variety of inquiry-based projects. I am especially looking forward to introducing Padlet to our 12th grade social studies classes. In the past, students have used a collaborative Google doc to share resources for our end-of-year genealogy research project. Padlet is the perfect place to corral images, weblinks, primary sources, etc. Not only is Padlet a neat and safe place to store research resources, but it is aesthetically pleasing as well. Students who are visual learners will benefit from having their resources organized and readily available in a central location. Padlet will keep students focused and on task.
Padlet’s best attribute is the ability to quickly generate chat with collaborating partners. Students are very fond of this feature, and as a teacher I am comfortable with allowing students to use this component. Padlet has a special filter that teachers can activate which will convert offensive language into friendly emojis. Though I do not often have this problem at the secondary level, it is still nice to have this feature should we ever need it. It’s a win-win.
There is one aspect that I am not particularly fond of. To rename the Padlet, one has to click on the title and then change the text on the opposite side of the page. I found this to be especially odd, because all of the other text boxes do not require this rigmarole. I found this frustrating and I know students will too.
Overall, Padlet is an excellent curation tool and I look forward to implementing it in my library soon.

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Of the two mind map medias, I prefer Mindmeister. I found MindMeister to be easier to use as compared to Coggle. Though Coggle had useful keyboard shortcuts on the left-hand side of the page, I was having difficulty using the “delete” shortcut (CTRL + X) and that’s a dealbreaker for me because I can anticipate that it would be extremely frustrating to a student during a lesson
Pros of MindMesiter- It’s simple interface.The design page is not cluttered and it is easy to drag and move content. I prefer the toolbar on the right hand side of the screen. It is also easy to ‘X” out the toolbox as well as bring it back when it is needed. I like the easy-to-find tools such as maximize, minimize, recenter, icon search, font color, box color, share, etc. My favorite feature is the ability to create a slideshow presentation simply by clicking the icon on the bottom left hand corner. You can control the speed of the slideshow and even export it. The slideshow feature is very much in the style of Prezi. I like that MindMeister gives you more “bang for your buck” (though it’s free!) with this handy feature.
Pros of Coggle- Coggle has a comment and chat feature that I know collaborating students will enjoy using. Lines stemming from the main idea are automatically generated in different colors which I found to be more visually appealing than MindMeister. I liked that it is relatively simple to add images into this mind map.
Cons of MindMeister- you can only create 3 free mind maps, then you have to upgrade to a paid account.
Cons of Coggle- The presentation mode only presents the project in full screen mode. This was disappointing, especially after experiencing presentation mode in MindMesister which is far superior. I also found the mini tutorials with every click a bit annoying. It slowed down my progres and I can imagine that students would be similarly annoyed, as they often prefer to play and figure it out for themselves instead of read multiple tutorials.
I would absolutely use these tools with my students for “Genius Hour.” Of the two, I would prefer to use MindMeister. I would demonstrate how to access and navigate the media for my students and then send them off and running. MindMesiter is great for collaborative use. I like that users can create folders within MindMesiter to store related mind maps. I would specifically use mind mapping with our Freshman Seminar class. For this project, ninth graders brainstorm innovative technology for the environment, transportation and medical fields. In the past, we have used a Google doc for collaborative brainstorming but MindMesiter would be a much better improvement. I’m looking forward to using this with my students!

Driverless Cars
Driverless Cars

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Student Research Tools

Newsela is a website that contains reading articles and current events articles for students grades 3-12. Students can browse for articles of interest or be assigned articles by their teacher. Articles are leveled by reading ability and range in content area from biographies, literature, social studies, science, technology, law, politics, etc. The purpose of the website is to allow students of varying reading ability to have the capability to read the same articles as their more proficient peers. When a student selects the reading level, the vocabulary is adjusted but the main idea of the article remains the same. This allows students of lower reading ability to participate in a discussion or answer content questions as an equal to their peers. Newela levels the playing field for all students.
To work the website, students log in with individual accounts. On the homepage they can see current headlines and articles of interest. At the top of the page, students can search for articles by keyword or subject area. Under “Binder” they can see assignments from their teacher. Under the teacher account, teachers can create classes where they can assign reading articles to students as well as annotate, create and assign comprehensive questions. Teachers can search for or create “Text Sets” to group related articles together.
I would use Newsela for student research by first demonstrating how to navigate the website and then allowing students to search on their own. As a library media specialist, I typically assist students with individual research so I would not be assigning articles to a class. For my demonstration, I would focus on teaching students how to save their articles, change reading level, share articles and locate related articles.
The best attribute of Newslea is it’s currency. Newela is an excellent newsource for students. All of the articles are culled from reputable news agencies. Students can then adjust the level to their preference. This allows all student to feel as though they are part of the learning community. Another fantastic attribute of Newela is the option to search for Library and News articles in Spanish language.
I do not like the fact that Newela uses “behavioral/ interest based advertising” for all teachers and administrators’ accounts.

New York Public Library has a website for virtual access.
This is a valuable resource for students’ research because it contains a digital archive. The purpose of this website is to virtually connect patrons to library materials, research databases, programs and digital content.
To access this website, one only needs internet access. However, for some limited content, a library card is required. If a patron (not just students!) who lives outside of the five boroughs desires a NYPL library card to access research databases, all they need to do is apply online for free as a New York State resident.
This website works by providing users with a navigable homepage that links to various resources. For example, users can click on links to: articles featuring “Author Talks and Conversations,” “Staff Picks,” and “Local Exhibitions” to name but a few. The “Research” tab links to a designated webpage that allows users to search the research catalog along with valuable links to: Articles and Databases, Archives Portal, Prints and Photographs, Digital Collections.
This tool is valuable to student researchers in that it is an excellent forum of primary source material. There are loads of digitized material of photographs, manuscripts, maps, and so much more. For instance, I would use this website with my student researchers who are exploring art commissioned during the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Through the NYPL website, students can view rare prints from 1935-1943. This website is worthwhile for all student researchers.
The best attributes of this website are the filtered searches in the digital collections page. Students can limit returns by: topic, name, collection, place, genre, division, type, and date. These boolean operators allow student researchers to limit and refine their search. The ability to customize searches saves valuable research time.
I do not like that the page for Digital Collections does not have any way to return to the NYPL homepage. This is a curious oversight as every other research page is free of this issue. However, this minor inconvenience does not detract from the value of this resource.

Discussion Board 5:

Assessment and feedback are essential in class. I like providing my students with thorough feedback so they understand their strengths as well the areas they need to improve. I chose Screencastify as my assessment app because I think it’s an efficient tool to provide clear feedback for my students.

Screencastify is a free Chrome browser extension that records your screen, face, voice, and more. To use Screencastify, find its icon in the Chrome toolbar and choose one of the recording options: record a single tab in your web browser, capture all screen activity, or use your webcam to record or insert a video of yourself. Teachers can use the app to record themselves to create a flipped classroom, explain difficult concepts, recap the day's main objectives, and/or to demonstrate an idea. In addition, students can use Screencastify to demonstrate what they've learned or how they solved a problem, give presentations, catch up their absent peers, make and read ebooks, or practice reading aloud in a foreign-language class.

I would use Screencastify while grading my students’ e-projects to provide feedback via the tools available. Teachers can choose to write, draw, erase, or spotlight a section on the screen. One issue that I would have with Screencastify is that the free version only allows up to 50 recordings per month - at 5 classes with 30-33 kids, I would need to upgrade my account.

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Discussion Board 4

I’m a big fan of Google Slides and all it has to offer. I think Google Slides in conjunction with Screencastify would be a great combo for a genius hour project presentation. Google slides are great for many reasons. For example, I think I could enhance the learning experience for the class by using the sharing feature and having students provide peer digital feedback..

Google Slides is a reliable and free presentation app. It has strong collaboration capabilities, including the option to take audience questions as you present, but is missing a few features found in PowerPoint. Via Google Slides, you can create a new presentation, choosing a theme, adding and editing content, and customizing slides. Some more pros and cons are:

-Collaboration is easier
-Commenting is good so you do not lose track of changes and edits
-Automatically saves work

-Really basic functions and not as many features like in PPT
-Working offline can be a problem sometimes

genius hour
genius hour

Discussion Board 2:

I like for my students to know what is going on in the world and encourage them to read the newspaper. One way I incorporate this into my classroom is via a website called, NewsELA. NewsELA is fantastic because it offers up-to-date articles that can be leveled - many are even offered in Spanish. This is a great resource for differentiating instruction while keeping the class all on the same topic.

Teachers can create classes on the website and specify a grade level for each of their classes. When articles are assigned to the class, NewsELA automatically delivers a version of the article appropriate for the grade level. As students start reading and taking quizzes, their progress provides feedback to Newsela on how well they understood what they read. Based on this information, Newsela adjusts the reading level for individual students. Newsela tracks each student’s progress and informs the teacher which students are on track, which students are behind and which students are ahead.

I think NewsELA is another great starting point, like FactMonster, for students to begin the research journeys. With this website, they can skim through articles and texts that may spark an idea or an interest in particular topic.

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Discussion Board 3:

I enjoyed learning about and using Smores. I have heard about it before but never actually used it. I found it be user friendly, had a good amount of options to customize and it was fun to create. I think this app would be appealing to my students and I could use this app with project such as PSAs in class. Smore is an easily learned app available for use on laptops, tablets, and phones allowing students to be engaged in their learning.

I researched another curation tool called Diigo. Diigo is great! Diigo is ideal for a genius hour project because students can use it for collecting, commenting on, and sharing information online. Users add the Diigo bookmark - "Diigolet" - to the browser's bookmark bar and then use it to save pages to a personal library section on Diigo. When you find a webpage worth bookmarking, just click on the Diigolet button to add a sticky note to the page, highlight certain words in one of four colors, and save it to your Diigo library. Users can also designate the page as something to read later or share it with other users via Facebook, Twitter, or email.

I like the idea of giving my students the option of 2 curation tools to choose from and have them decide which they prefer. It would definitely be a cool way to organize information for any sort of project. Or, using both tools would be beneficial as well. For example, I like beginning with Diigo because students can organize their sources and annotate them! Then, they can use Smores to make a more finalized group of sources.

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Discussion Board 1:

Mindmeister and Coggle were comparable to me in the sense that I find both useful. They organize information in a fun and appealing way that students would find engaging. Mindmeister has some pros such as a shared collaboration online. Students can project plan, manage meetings and sketch out ideas online with their peers and/or colleagues all in real time. In my opinion, Coggle was equally engaging as Mindmeister. It’s another platform for creating mind maps. On Coggle you can create notes and very easily share them.
I teach high school global and US history. I could use apps like this for multiple in class assignments and projects. My students are always debating, discussing, etc. - they could make use of either app to organize and sort their ideas and information, brainstorm with their groups, prepare and plan for projects.
Social Issues
Social Issues
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