August 25, 2015

Why aren't you Tripppin yet?

I have the pleasure to introduce a guest post by a very talented Brazilian teacherpreneur, Mau Buchler. I met Maurício during my talk at the Braztesol Technology Seminar last July and was amazed to learn about his website and English course material "TRIPPPIN" (yes, with 3 ps). He has brilliantly put together three things nearly everyone loves: travelling, culture and games.

I take the opportunity to voice my admiration to his creativity and initiative.

"I remember the first English class I ever taught.
I had no experience and no training whatsoever, but my employers saw no reason why I shouldn’t start immediately.
It was a private class for one of the directors of Banco Santos. I was 18 years old at the time, and I remember being ushered into the man’s impossibly huge office. He sat behind an enormous desk, and the morning sun was shining through the wall-to-wall window behind him. He looked like some kind of corporate sun-god, who gazed down at me and asked in disbelief:
“YOU are my new teacher?”
I managed to utter a brief: “Yes.”
He snorted: “Well kid… have a seat then.”
I sat down and asked him what he was doing. He started explaining and I started correcting his grammar, which he quite enjoyed.
He went on about investment funds, stocks, bonds, assets and liabilities. I had no idea what he was talking about, so I asked questions. All I did was ask questions, listen to him explain and correct his mistakes. It was fun, he was happy, and we had several good classes together, but this technique couldn’t last forever.
Conversation classes are great, but sometimes people aren’t in a talkative mood (and some people just aren’t the talkative type). Plus, if you don’t follow or create a learning structure, progress may not be as expected, so after a while I decided to start using the textbook and CD that had been supplied to me, and forced upon him.
He hated it.
He hated the texts, the audio prompts, the exercises. Everything.
He said they were out of touch with reality, fake and therefore: useless.
I agreed, and looked for other books, but found none that could live up to our standards of “reality” because… well, the world is constantly changing, and reality changes with it. It’s difficult for books to keep up. Unfortunately, that’s the nature of books. Once they’re printed, they’re done. They can’t be easily updated.
As I couldn’t find what I wanted, I started creating specific material for my student.
Now, keep in mind that this was 1991 and the internet wasn’t really working yet, so specific material was hard to find. Basically, I worked with texts from magazines, and movie clips.
And by then, I already had several other students of different ages, levels and backgrounds, so making specific material for each of them was becoming a full-time job. I started thinking: “How can I supply personal, relevant material to EVERYONE?
EVERYONE is a lot of people, but if you’re going to make material, why not make it for everyone in the world that wants to learn English? What’s the unifying thread? What does everyone like?
Then it hit me: Travel and fun. Who doesn’t like travelling and having fun? 

I won’t bore you by detailing the years of research and work that followed, but it’s enough to say that after 2 decades of building prototypes and teaching English around the world, I developed

Tripppin is an English course material in the shape of a game and a TV series that covers the world. It extends the school/teachers’ influence beyond the classroom. You can use it as main course material or as a supplement. You can use it in classrooms, online classes and computer labs. Students can use it independently, wherever they are, on their tablets, computers and smartphones.

Tripping was made by an English teacher for English teachers and schools. Next time, I’ll show you how to use it in class, step by step, but I do believe that the best way for teachers to get familiarized with it is to use it as a student.
That’s why we’re giving away VIP memberships to teachers. All you have to do is

  1. Leave a comment below, so we know who you are.
  2. Sign up free at
  3. Go Tripppin!"

In a few weeks, Mau Buchler will be writing a follow up post explaining how he uses the website with his own students. So, keep an eye on LIFE FEAST to learn more. 

Have you gone Tripppin yet? I have. :)

August 13, 2015

Google Keep in the classroom and in life

One of the Google tools I use the most on my cell phone is GOOGLE KEEP. Funny enough, it's one of the least known Google apps. The objective of this post is to share some of the ways I use Google Keep in my personal life and how we can use it with students.

Google Keep is an app (for androids and IOS) and website which can be accessed from your cell phone or any laptop, once you log into your google account.

With GOOGLE KEEP you can create different kinds of notes: a text, a list, record your voice or take a photo. These notes can be shared with others so that they can collaborate with you. You can also add a note as a reminder which will pop up when you need it (based on time or location). Imagine getting to the supermaket and your shopping list popping up, or getting to the library and the names of the books you need to borrow come up on the screen.

IN LIFE, I use it to keep myself organized:

  • I take photos of flight reservation info for quick access when I travel. I believe it's much faster to find it instead of storing the photo on an email or  among so many other photos in my phone gallery.
  • I make shopping lists and  lists of chores I need to get done on a daily basis.
  • I register some WIFI passwords (from my mom's house, from ours, from my sister-in-law's). It's very useful when we change devices or for guests. It has been a lifesaver.
  • I register addresses I will need soon (hotel addresses).
  • In other words, instead of using the notetaking app, I use Google Keep for any note I need to keep.
What I haven't used yet:
  • Record my ideas with my voice which is then transcribed automatically. It's great for those moments when you have an awesome idea for an article.
  • Share a list with other people while planning an event and see when things are ticked and done.
  • My notes are usually white, but as we can add colors to them, they might be easier to find if we adopt a color system.
  • Used reminders based on location. 

How can we use it with students?

  • Students can use it to store photos they take of boards in class and use tags to organize them according to subjects.
  • Students can make lists of homework they need to get done and create reminders.
  • They can brainstorm topics for class sharing a list with classmates.
  • When doing group work and deciding who is doing what, they can make a list which is shared and everyone can see when each item is ticked and things are done.
  • Students can create study notes about any subject so that they can revise quickly before a test.
For more reading on GOOGLE KEEP and its features: