Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Engage 21st Century Writers with Penzu

This is Kristin from iTeach 1:1 here to share a new Web 2.0 tool that I can’t wait to try in my classroom this year.  Penzu is a free online journal in which students can record their thoughts, inspirations and knowledge.  It is customizable and even allows you to upload pictures.  What a great way to make writing more interactive and engaging for students!

Penzu differs from student blogging in that entries are private by default.  However, the writer can choose to share specific entries with the teacher or peers by email or by generating a public link.  I tested this out by emailing my own post to myself and it provided a link that took me right to the post.  

Penzu can be accessed from any place that has an internet connection, so it might be an option for homework or for kids who enjoy writing at home.  I’m sure parents would love to see what their kids are working on at school.

Penzu is very user friendly and clean with no ads.  It’s easy to sign up, however, students do need an email address.  There is a free version, a pro version, and they just added a teacher version for $49 a year.  I will probably end up using the free version with my students since it has everything I’m looking for. 

I can see myself using Penzu daily for writer’s workshop in place of a spiral notebook.  Here are some other ways in which I plan on using Penzu with my students:
  • Taking notes and gathering information about an ongoing research topic
  • Responding to reading
  • Reflecting on an exciting event, such as a fieldtrip
  • Recording in a daily science observation journal
  • Sharing ideas for book clubs, literature circles, or other collaborative projects
  • Communicating with parents about what we are learning in the classroom
  • Documenting student growth (parent-teacher conferences)
  • Free writing if a student finishes assigned work early
  • Presenting information to the class, such as a book report or research project
Here is my fake student example of a journal entry about a field trip. 
If you are interested in learning about other Web 2.0 tools to make writing more engaging, feel free to visit my blog post HERE.
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