Today I want 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. 

How do YOU get your students motivated to write?


  1. What a cool tool! Does every student in your class have access to a computer at the same time? I'm so jealous of all the technology you have in your class. My goal is to use more technology this year, but we don't have much. I love all your tech posts to help get the wheels turning. Thanks for sharing. I posted about Web 2.0 Tools back in June and would love your input.

    The Teaching Thief

    1. Thanks, Amanda. Yes, all of my students have their own MacBook laptop 100% of the day! Insane, right?! I had that with my first graders this past year, and I'm so excited to move up to fourth grade because there's way more they can do. I just commented on your Web 2.0 tools post.

  2. So glad that I found your blog. I, too, am involved with piloting for our district's digital conversion. I teach 3rd grade, and my students use netbooks. While it has been exciting and fun, it has also been a lot of work! I am a new follower. Check out my blog if you get a chance. I often post about technology finds.

    Lifelong Learning

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. I recently started following your blog. Love all your techie posts!

  3. I love this post! It's chock-full of info I can actually use... thank you!!

  4. Thanks so much anything that gets the kids excited about writing is wonderful!

  5. WOW! Thank you for sharing these! Yet another way to engage learners who find technology a wonderful tool to help them shine, express themselves, and be creative!

  6. Yep, awesome list of resources! Thanks for posting this, cannot wait to check them out! :)

    Reaching for the TOP!

  7. Wow! What a great resource :)

    Look Who's Teaching