App of the Week: A genius tool for annotating texts

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated with help from the editors of, a free service from Common Sense Education. Click here to read the full app review.

What’s It Like? Genius is a tool for annotating text online. An outgrowth of Rap Genius (a longtime tool for collecting and annotating rap lyrics online), Genius lets users annotate and analyze texts from songs to literature to historical documents. Users can annotate any text with their own text commentary, images, and GIFs, and they can explore all other users’ annotations by clicking highlighted text and viewing text and annotations side by side on screen. Members can earn points per annotation to build their ranking on the site; points can lead to becoming a site editor or moderator. Authors and verified annotators help validate content, but quality and appropriateness can vary widely.

Price: Free

Rating: 4/5

Grades: 7-12

Pros: Educator’s tools make this sprawling site more approachable; the wide range of offerings expose kids to an array of perspectives.

Cons: This self-moderated, mostly user-generated site is bound to have some iffy content outside the teacher-created sections.

Bottom line: Students can collaboratively engage in the process of annotation and analysis with various texts.

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