Why I blog

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Back in January, I made a resolution that I would try to connect with teaching professionals through Twitter and my blog. I have used Facebook for a few years now for my personal connections, but I felt I needed a professional outlet where I could share and learn along with other teachers on a variety of topics. I doubted that I had anything valuable to share since there are so many great people out in cyberland who are better and more knowledgeable than me.

I took some time to ‘lurk’ on Twitter before deciding to dip my toe in the water in January. Since then, I have been able to participate in Twitter chats, discussions, and even shared a picture or two. I can’t believe that I have shared over 3500 Tweets in that time and written 93 blog posts. My blog has been a work in progress as I felt out what I wanted to share in more detail. My blog has turned into more of an education technology site where I share webtools and ideas on how to use them in the classroom. This is not unusual since there are so many other great sites out there that do a better job than I do. My focus is on giving new users the assistance they need to use the tools in their classroom by giving step-by-step instructions, called tech recipes, that they can even print out and give to their students or post in the staff room. I don’t pretend to be an expert in anything, but I do want to share what I do know with those that are more proficient in other areas.

There are two things that I am trying to communicate here. I am not in competition with other bloggers who are so much better at sharing what they know, and I do not pretend to be a ‘digital guru’ or ‘tech expert’. I am just a normal guy who hopes that he can give back a little to those who are able to give so much. I appreciate my online colleagues and the valuable information and support each one of you give to me each day. You have no idea how encouraging it is to me to get a Tweet or comment from you. I just hope I can return the favour.

Thank you.

TweetChat: Simple chat participation on Twitter

http://tweetchat.com/

 

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of participating in a roundtable discussion for ELT administrators who were interested in using Twitter as a means of professional development. In my excitement of being there, I failed to mention TweetChat.

For those not yet familiar with TweetChat, it is a site that makes it easier to participate in Twitter chats by only showing this items with the designated hashtag and attaching that tag to the end of each message you send. There are some other nice parts to it such as user control and auto pausing when you scroll.

It is a pretty easy tool making it something anyone can use without a lot of experience in using Twitter. Give it try. You might find it makes the chat feel more like a conversation without all the distractions of other messages.

Gzaas: Fullscreen message fun

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Sometimes you come across a website that doesn’t seem that useful at first glance, but after a while, you can see where it might come in handy. One of those sites is gzaas.com. Gzaas is designed to make a colourful, funky style of display message that you can send as a link to someone else. I used it the other day when students were coming into class. I displayed a message on the Smartboard telling them to go to the computer lab. I could have use a Notebook slide or something else, but this was so quick and simple. Also, it could be used to send a more interesting reminder to students such as this example: http://gzaas.com/VbXb2

For those on Twitter, it could be a fun way of sending a message to someone – kind of an extended tweet. There is also a launcher that can be used as a lead in question before displaying the message.

So, not earth shaking, but interesting for the language classroom.

For students, they could write their favourite quotes, or write questions for other students, or almost anything else that is relatively short.

It is free and doesn’t require any registration.