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Youth Voices

Mindprint Rating

Tags

ELA: Reading ELA: Writing ELA: ^Other ^Music, Art and Makerspaces ^21st Century Skills Social-Emotional Learning Middle/High School Website

Skills

Flexible Thinking Self-regulation Expressive Language Organization Verbal Reasoning

Mindprint Expert Review

Pros

  • Students may enjoy the social media aspect of connecting to peers nationwide.
  • Guides provide over 50 fill-in-the-blank templates for different kinds of writing.
  • Teaches self-directed learning, thoughtful expression, and supporting points with with legitimate sources.

Considerations

  • Outside of individual teachers, there is no filter. Content may be questionable and adults will want to supervise most students' use.
  • The amount of reading and instructions may be too much to expect students to handle independently.

Mindprint Expert Review

Youth Voices is a unique site that provides a forum for students to express their thoughts through essays and poetry on current events and topics of interest. It is designed to motivate students to write for an audience and provide them with the foundation tools to do so effectively and thoughtfully. The site is designed for teachers in K-12, but mature, self-directed learners could use the site independently provided they can appropriately self-monitor since the site includes disturbing themes and complex lessons. Students must register with their school affiliation to post, but any student can read and browse. There is a lot of information on this site to navigate, so it is recommended to start with the “Play” link where learning to use the site is explained like a game. After creating a personal profile, students choose five challenges from four subject areas: English Language Arts, History/Social Studies, Arts/Media, Science. The challenges include “Citing Evidence in Conversations” or “Text Dependent Research.” Each challenge explains in detail how to publish an original work or comment on an existing post. Each topic has 15 challenges of different levels and completing challenges allows the user to apply to peer reviewers for a badge and ultimately to become a power user. A rubric is provided for teachers to determine how different challenges align to Common Core standards. A very helpful instructional feature of the site is the selection of guides which provide fill-in-the-blank writing templates for over 50 different types of posts including “Comment on a Work of Art,” “Response to Wikipedia Article,” etc. Overall, this is a great tool for teachers to use to engage their students to write for an audience. Students using this site independently could learn a tremendous amount, but they will need to be truly interested in the subject matter and mature enough to handle some of the more adult themes.

Academic Benefits

Improves academic skills

  • Provides sufficient and varied types of practice problems to maximize understanding and generalization of the targeted skill/concept
  • Manufacturer claims alignment with Common Core/Known Standards
  • Presents educational concepts accurately
  • Explains answers so students can learn from mistakes
  • Better for teaching the skill to new or struggling learners
  • Better for practicing or refreshing the skill
  • Skills are practiced through authentic, meaningful problems (not just rote practice)

Fun

Engaging for the Mindprint recommended age range

  • Appropriate for a broad age range to use and enjoy
  • Subject matter and problems are relevant, interesting and authentic to students
  • Visually appealing to children in the target age range
  • Provides virtual rewards or incentives after meeting specified goals or objectives
  • Provides a "break activity" between academic problem sets
  • Offers ongoing, progressive challenge
  • Overall - Enjoyable. Given the option, students would choose this option

Easy to Use

Understandable for children in the Mindprint recommended age range

  • Has a free or trial version
  • Provides teaching guidance for adults to support the child and set appropriate goals
  • Provides an age-appropriate tutorial/first time users can work independently
  • Student should be able to use independently after first use
  • Has a multi-player option to foster in-person collaboration or cooperation
  • Multiple users can save a profile
  • Student graduates to the next level or topic only after meeting a benchmark
  • Can play without sound and not distract others
  • Students can save work between sessions
  • Can effectively understand and monitor student's progress (email report or in product)
  • Requires registration before using the first time
  • Provides options to play in languages other than English/Good for ELL
  • Presents information in multiple formats (voice over, pictures and text, etc.)
  • Overall - Easy to use

Cognitive Concerns

May not be advisable for students with the following cognitive needs

  • Organization
    • Includes long written questions or text that students must be able to read on their own
    • Students might need support with navigation
  • Reading Comprehension
    • Includes long written questions or text that students must be able to read on their own
  • Reading Fluency
    • Includes long written questions or text that students must be able to read on their own
  • Self-regulation
    • Themes that might disturb sensitive students (death, blood, slime)
  • Social Awareness
    • Themes that might disturb sensitive students (death, blood, slime)
  • Verbal Reasoning
    • Assumes specific knowledge or vocabulary without "look-up" options
    • Includes long written questions or text that students must be able to read on their own