Digitize journal writing! Teachers have encouraged journal writing for years. This has always been a key component to any Language Arts program as it enhances critical thinking and reflection. Journal writing encourages students to self-assess their own understanding of concepts and potentially extend their construction of knowledge on a topic. For teachers, journals give key insight into student understanding and provide a great way to formatively assess student progress. They can further be incorporated into any subject since reflection is a key component to learning no matter what the topic is. Whether you are teaching math or drama, journals are always a great teaching tool/strategy to encourage student reflection.
HOWEVER, what student wants to sit for 20 minutes and write about what they learned in a little school notebook? Let's get real. Although journals are great for teachers, are students really utilizing them to reflect and engage with the journal writing process? As we move more and more into the 21st century, teachers need to start thinking of ways to make learning more meaningful and relevant to students in this digital age. As technology rapidly shoots into schools, teachers should find ways for EdTech to enhance their current teaching methods. Lets filter out the old ideas and replace them with new!
Penzu may have an answer for teachers. I have recently shared this app in the Cube for Teachers database as a technology writing tool. Although high-tech tools like tablets can be daunting to teachers, Penzu's simplicity is easy for any teacher to begin incorporating digital tools into the classroom. This app offers a digital platform for students to write journal entries and add "paper clip" pictures to the entry. As shown below, the app looks like a simple piece of lined paper (much like the ones in school notebooks) where students can type their journal responses instead of writing with pencil and paper. This simple interaction with a digital tool is usually enough to hook and motivate our current generation of students. As mentioned before, this app can further be used across the disciplines and is not a content specific app. It is extremely versatile, which makes it a very useful app to download on your school's tablets!
Some other fantastic features of Penzu include:
- Organizing journals based on classes
- Grading and commenting features
- Managing entries by marking them as read or unread
- Sharing entries with your entire class
- Managing individual student entries
- Creating and sending assignments to students within the app
- Submitting entries via email
- In App Notifications of entries