Online Diary: Penzu

ImageOne of the major goals, and struggles, of teaching English is the need to evaluate the students on an almost daily basis. This problem is even bigger when teaching in an intensive program, a situation I experienced last month during my third practicum. During my practicum I used a variety of strategies to evaluate my student daily, there is one, however, that I did not have time to try and it consists of having the students write a diary. Penzu would have been a perfect website to materialize my project. 

Penzu is an online private diary. It only takes a couple minutes to sign up to Penzu and it is absolutely free. The layout opf the website and of the actual journal is very attractive, the diary in itslef is fully customizable. Upon signing up, one can ask Penzu to send the user an electronic reminder to write down in the diary every day, week, month, whatever. You can link photos, pictures, leave comments, and many other features that cannot be done on a paper diary. are full of praises towards Penzu, giving the website an almost perfect score on their review. The review websites mentions that it is virtually impossible to hack someone’s diary as they all are encrypted the same way goverment documents are. Moreoever, it can be hard to go back a find an old entry if you write daily in the diary; Penzu solved the problem by ading a tagging option to the entries. Just write down some keywords and you will always find your way through old posts. But where Penzu gets a lot of points is for customization. You can change the way your diary looks, the way the pages look, you can change the font. You can highlight stuff to make it stand out in your text. Bref, you do whatever you want with your diary. 

App Storm is also giving Penzu good reviews saying it is an easy to use, user-friendly website that makes it very easy to share entries on different social media. One of the downsides presnted in App Storm’s article deals with Penzu’s security. As mentionned earlier in the text, Penzu encrypts your diary in a manner that makes it almost impossible to breach. If however you lose you password it is impossible for you to change it or get another one. Forgetting your password means you lose your entire diary and all that is inside. Bummer.

Penzu would be great in a classroom if you want daily input on your students. Have them write an entry on whatever topic after each day of each period and there you go!





Donor Choose

I am a part time tour guide for a company that specializes in educational tours. Every year I see hundreds of students and teacher coming to the province of Québec from the United States and English Canada; all these students are learning French as a second language! As an avid traveler myself, I understand how great it is to visit a country when you are learning a second, or a third, language. you are in their environment, you have to speak the language to be understood, you learn through interactions, it’s just plain great! I also know that educational trips are expensive and schoolboard are not always very enthusiastic about sending kids to foreign countries. There are ways to lower the financial burden put on parents through fundraising activities, there is also this neat little website called Now this website is only available for schools in the United States, the concept however is great and a Canadian equivalent should be developped, here’s why.

Say you are a teacher, you have a great idea for a project. However, you spent all your budget on photocopies and awesome posters for your classroom and can’t afford the project. gives you the chance to present your educational project online. Investors browsing the website can decide to financially support your project and act as a sponsor! You can propose all sorts of projects; buy new books, purchase school supplies, art material, field trips, renovations to the school, and what not. Charity Navigator, a website that ranks and evaluate charity programs gave an almost perfect score to Donor Chose, making it the single bestest educational charity program in the US in terms of transparency and actual efficiency. Since its creation in 2000, the website helped almost half of the United States’ public schools gather more than 52 million dollars for various projects (350 000 projects!). 

Java John also mentions how great a website Donor Chose is. Amongst the positive comments given in the article, the feedback you get from students and teachers is particularly heart-warming. You really get to help a class do something great or just meet basic needs and they thank you for that through pictures, letters, videos and so on. Java John also states that a lot of projects are backed by the website or other charities. Meaning that if you make a 25$ donation, they will double it giving the school a total of 50$

As a future teacher, I really want to bring my students on field trips. I don’t know where I will end up but I hope that when if I can’t afford something, there will be a site like Donor Chose around to help me out. Now, to keep working, Donour Chose has to take a cut on the donation which can be weird. Java John mentions that maybe schools should start looking towards Kickstarter for financing, a solution which is available in Canada.