About the Blog
I started HotLunchTray in 2010 after transitioning from classroom teacher to an eLearning Specialist in the Technology Department of my school district.
Recently, I was asked about my blog name. I think back I am in 4th or 5th grade in the cafeteria of Hilltop Elementary in Cedar Springs, Michigan. This was a school my great grandparents attended as their high school and it is a beautiful building. I do not remember if I consumed an inordinate amount of “hot lunch” in elementary school. However, I can hear the lunchroom helpers telling students to pick up, take care of, return their trays. Their hot lunch trays.
I called those trays that in three different states to many students, maybe it is one of those local colloquialisms? But they are hot lunch trays to me.
And nothing says Public School to me like a hot lunch tray.
On HotLunchTray.com I provide insights into educational technology, teacher professional learning, and fresh opinions on education. I hope to continue to reach my people.
I am Penny Christensen. Originally from Western Michigan, I have taught and lived in Florida, Georgia, and Michigan. I am a lifelong educator, I am still not sure what that will look like in the future for me. I have formally taught 4th-7th grades, specializing in mathematics, science, and content literacy.
After teaching for 11 years I moved into the Technology Department in 2009 as an eLearning Specialist. I help educators implement educational technologies. This technology integration thing is just like acquiring any literacy, one should acquire it and then not need people like me to help. Let’s see.
I have some firm beliefs:
- public schooling can be an act of social justice
- doing well in school does not mean doing well in life and vice-versa
- teachers can at any given moment be the one who makes THE difference and they will rarely recognize that opportunity so always be prepared
- standardized testing is data, just like my BMI
- a person is smarter when they access people from a variety of places and backgrounds
2015-05-28 at 4:04 pm
Hope you’re having a great day!
I’m doing an expert roundup on my site and I think many new Science teachers using education technology products in their classroom like me would love to know your answer to this question :
If you could only use 3 Education technology tools/apps/sites for your teaching which 3 tools would you choose? e.g. Schoology, Remind, and KhanAcademy.
Thanks in advance!
As soon as I’m done compiling the results, I would inform and link back to your blog.
2015-05-29 at 9:24 pm
Thanks for asking. If you limit me to *just* three tools I they will be broader than just science. Still, great edtech tools for any teacher, let alone a new teacher!
#1 – MasteryConnect for assessment: The free version allows you to create and give ten question assessments. I would have used these as tickets out the door weekly/as needed for formative assessments. The data is pretty great.
Check it out. You might be lucky and talk someone in your district into buying this!
#2 – Google Drive for efficiency: Maybe your school is a GAFE school, maybe you use your own account, but nothing comes close to the power of Google for collaboration. If you do not feel comfortable using with your students it can be a powerful teaming tool for you and colleagues. If you are a GAFE school learn more about Google Classroom and Drive right away.
#3 – Twitter for learning: For you this is your lifeline, your professional learning channel, and where people are who will help you infinitely. For your students this is a great, chunked source of learning from wonderful places like NSGS, NASA, NOAA, National Archives … get overwhelmed here: https://cybraryman.com/twitter.html
Let me know what others contribute!
2015-08-25 at 3:08 am
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2015-12-03 at 11:18 pm
I just read a comment that you made on Mr. Gonzalez’s Classroom four years ago. I am finishing my second course in content area literacy and was researching reading strategies in science when I came across his post. Basically, he admitted that he used to teach literacy, but due to time and a lack of interest, he had gotten away from content literacy. Other respondents agreed with him. I appreciated your challenge when you said, “Technical vocabulary permeates classes such as science. If you are not helping the students to accurately access content you are not opening science up to them.” And then you went on to encourage him to consider teaching vocabulary. I especially appreciated the spirit with which you engaged him, and I loved the list of resources you gave. I agree with your conviction and I think this is the way we should address our peers. Thanks for your encouragement.
2017-07-13 at 9:12 pm
I just reread this and it is as encouraging as when you originally wrote it – thanks!
We all need encouragement. 🙂
2015-12-03 at 11:20 pm
I forgot to include the citation for his post.
Gonzalez, A. (2011, 31 October). Reading Strategies in Science. [Weblog]. Retrieved 4 December 2015, from
2017-09-15 at 7:30 am
Thank you for the wonderful thoughts you share here!
2017-11-08 at 2:37 pm
I vaguely remember reading a blog post about a one column rubric where the criteria is in the middle and there is space on either side to note how the student exceeded expectations or achieved below. Does this sound familiar? I seached your blog, but can’t find it.
2017-11-08 at 2:48 pm
Hi Stacy, that does not sound like something I wrote, but if you can give me more details I can tweet it out and we can see what we can find!
2019-07-08 at 8:58 am
Hi, Penny! The last two days I haven’t been able to get to the current blog challenge post – I made a quick video for you showing you what happens. http://youtu.be/_9qkY5qmK0E?hd=1 I now see, however, that I can get to it from THIS page, which is fantastic. I wonder if you added ads and it’s not working right now?? Maybe it’s on my end, though. I’m going to restart my laptop. THANK YOU for the #8weeksofsummer blogging challenge – It’s kept me writing this summer!