An interview with Ana Roca Castro, Founder and CEO of Genius Plaza
Q: Tell us about Genius Plaza.
A: Genius Plaza is an education technology social enterprise delivering culturally relevant, personalized learning content, working to democratize education as we work to ignite the genius in every child. We know that genius lives in every zip code with access the only barrier, which is why we want students from all backgrounds to relate to the content, including the stories, the characters, and the experiences. The default for educational resources offers character diversity of about 2%. We at Genius Plaza cham
pion in the richness of diversity and experiences in classrooms around the country, with more than 90% of our eBooks and lessons featuring diverse protagonists.
What kinds of services and educational products does Genius Plaza offer?
A: Genius Plaza’s educational platform offers access to thousands of multi-level, culturally relevant teaching resources. Working across all devices, and with math and language arts mobile apps, learning has no boundaries. Educators can personalize the reading level for each student, and in both English and Spanish. Our products offer co-creation, where educators and students customize the questions within our games, exercises, and eBooks, allowing students to become protagonists of their own learning journey. Re-teaching tools include five authoring opportunities: videos, eBooks, exercises, vocabulary sets, and worksheets. Some of our free apps include: eBook Plaza, Hangman Plaza, and Mad Minute Plaza.
How can teachers and parents use Genius Plaza to focus on whole child education and personalized learning?
A: Our Learning Bank of resources allows you to instantly find hundreds of books in English and Spanish, and related assessments for each individual student. It can often take a teacher hours to differentiate lessons for a class on different levels. We believe that lesson planning for the various levels in one classroom should be as easy as planning for one child.
How does the Genius Plaza platform method work?
A: When a district, school, teacher, or parent sign up for Genius Plaza, they have access to our resources for a calendar year. Students choose a career goal and an avatar reflecting a motivation for their academic success. We incorporate a learning, reflection, re-teaching, and peer review process built into our platform. With this method, we can ensure that a child not only absorbs important information, but also critically thinks about a lesson, becoming the protagonist of their learning by co-creating and through peer review. At each step of the way, we offer culturally relevant touch points in songs or lessons from our STEAM Career Champions.
How do educators with English Language Learners (ELL) /Multiple Language Learners (MLL) use Genius Plaza?
A: Genius Plaza works to combine modern advances in technology to bring the best tools for innovating ELL/MLL instruction in math and language arts. We believe that the proven benefits of differentiating learning should be easily accessible to ELL/MLL educators. Genius Plaza helps bridge the gap by showing educators metrics and resources at the right level for each student in both English and Spanish. A newcomer can be properly challenged in their native language and contextualized before embarking on the English version of an eBook at the right level for the language.