Penzu - Classroom Journaling

Thursday, March 24, 2016 No comments
Penzu is an online diary and personal journal that focuses on privacy. It has a unique and compelling user experience, it makes writing online as easy and intuitive as writing on a pad of paper.

Penzu’s goal is to merge all the goodness of a real-life journal and all the usefulness an online format can offer:

  • Visual interface feels like writing on “real paper” (ruled, margined notepad).
  • Easily insert images with captions that do not interfere with writing field.
  • Public and private settings; publishable URL available or email sharing.

Getting Started with Penzu

  • Go to
  • Select, “Sign Up” and follow the directions.
  • You will receive an email in your inbox confirming you have signed up for Penzu 
  • Once you sign in, you will be able to start constructing your first journal entry.

New Entry: Click on this button when you are ready to start another journal entry, and it will take you to a new, clean sheet.

Save: This will save your work that is on the screen. Remember, Penzu has a feature that automatically saves your work after 30 seconds.

Print: If you want to print your entry, press on this button and you will have a hardcopy of your entry.

Insert Photo: Want to put photos from a classroom visit? All you have to do is attach the photo to the document from a file on your computer or directly from a Flickr account. The photo appears small, but if you drag your mouse over the photo, it becomes enlarged and gives you more choices in enlargement or removal of the photo. You can also add captions to the pictures.

Share: This is a unique and easy way to share your "locked" journals with others, thereby making them viewable but others cannot edit your journal. All you have to do is click on the share button, type in an e-mail address, and add a message if you want. Presto! Your journal will be shared with those people. They can only view your journal, not change anything, so your journal is safe!

Lock Entry: This is a feature that is used to lock an entry so it is extra secure. After clicking this button, you can either give the journal a basic lock or an encrypted lock. You then will enter a password and hint that only you know. The journal can be opened anytime by you, but no one else will be able to open the document.

Format: Want to change the formatting of your journal entries, such as size, color, font, underline, or bullets? Use this button.

Leave feedback comments on your journal, or others' you view.

Tag: Tag entries together and organize journals. This makes finding an entry much easier so you can access it in an instant. To tag an entry, simply click the tag button, make a new tag album or find a previous one, and tag the entry.
Available after purchasing Penzu Pro.

Versions: View previous versions of your journal responses. Available after purchasing Penzu Pro.

Customize: The background of entries can be changed to make it more fun and unique! Available after purchasing Penzu Pro.

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Muddiest Point - Active Learning Activity

Tuesday, March 1, 2016 No comments

Students write about a concept or idea from the lesson that was muddiest for them. The exit slip becomes a formative assessment when the educator (or the student) uses the responses to determine the next steps in the learning process.  

The technique consists of asking students to jot down a quick response to one question: "What was the muddiest point in ________?" 

The focus of the Muddiest Point assessment might be a lecture, a discussion, a homework assignment, a play, or a film.

Technology Option 1 - Todays Meet
Create an Todays Meet room and allow students to respond with their "muddiest points". Students input their names and the response to the question. You can save the chat and post the script into your LMS if you would like. Your Todays Meet chat can also be embeded into your Moodle/LMS course which keeps from having students leave out of the Moodle/LMS session.

Technology Option 2 - AnswerGarden
Create an AnswerGarden and allow students to respond with their "muddiest points". When setting up your Answer Garden you can choose from 20 or 40 character responses. When you hover over a response, it will let you know how many students have inputted that answer. When complete you can export your word cloud to a fancier word cloud program to make is more appealing. AnswerGarden results are great discussion starters. Your AnswerGarden can also be embeded into your Moodle/LMS course which keeps from having students leave out of the Moodle/LMS session.

Here is an example of my AnswerGarden exported to Tagxedo.

Technology Option 3 - Moodle/LMS
Create a "Forum" and allow students to respond with their "muddiest points". If you want their responses to be anonymous, you can choose the "Feedback" tool within Moodle. Each option will give you the desired results.