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09 Mar 2015
Comments: 4

App Smashing with Thinglink… Yes I Can…va!

On the heels of my most recent Canva/Thinglink App Smash, “4 Things Every Student MUST DO to Preserve Their Work“, I thought I would share what I hope to be a quick dip in to the App Smashing pool. Truly, my intentions are to demystify this process and provide some inspiration and courage for taking the plunge…

I have had a fair amount of inquiries in regards to my graphics and custom Pinterest boards recently so I wanted to share my secret recipe to whet your app-etite for what is to come…

What Can You Create by App-Smashing Canva and Thinglink?

Before I get too deep into a lengthy narrative on the process, I thought I would share a little inspiration. I have used Thinglink’s Channel feature (which is similar to pinning content to a board) to curate 10 examples of how Canva can be App-Smashed with Thinglink

  • What Am I Looking At? The ten designs I selected range from infographics and custom SAMR models to collections of professional development resources and collages to assemble student-created work.
  • How Were the Images Created? I prefer thinglinking custom original images rather than stock images so Canva is the perfect platform for that. Each of the 10 designs was created within Canva on my computer. With the exception of the most recent infographic (which was custom dimensions), all of the other images were created with either the poster (highlighted in pink) or the presentation template (highlighted in blue).
  • How Were the Thinglinks Created? Once the image is downloaded from Canva, it is easy to upload to Thinglink and link away. I try to be very strategic with my linkings and choice of icon nubbins to strategically place content and still deliver an aesthetically pleasing and easily navigable final product.

Canva App Smashes

If you would like to see all 10 of these in action… navigate through this interactive slideshow here or view these interactive images in list view here.

What is the Benefit of App-Smashing Canva and Thinglink?

But seriously… what is all of the hype about? Why would App-Smashing Canva and Thinglink be useful? Well, as mentioned before, I like to create custom visual maps, infographics, and collages using Canva as a base for my knowledge quests and multimedia collections of resources. Rather than sell you on this idea, let me walk you through each of the 10 resources and what I was able to include in each… I hope they speak for themselves:

  • Miami Device EPIC PD Recap: This one is a collage of pics from the event layered with my Evernote notes and a smattering of other media I gleaned during the week.
  • Amelia Bedelia Primary Book Report: This is a collage featuring student drawings app smashed with audio recordings and Tellagami’s.
  • TechChef4u Epic PD Recap: This professional development recap is one of my favorites in design and functionality (stay tuned later in the week for a blog post on it). It highlights both the sessions I attended as well as the ones I presented with links to Smores, Tackks, blog posts, collaborative, Google presentations, and pics from the event.
  • Digital Transitions: This is one of my first infographics with Canva and was designed to support students and teachers with the process of managing their own content. It includes portfolio samples as well as direct links to the apps I mentioned. Note: A few of the icons used I purchased at the Noun Project and then uploaded to Canva.
  • SASSY SAMR: This one served as a map for a professional development session and includes Quizlet decks, videos, and links to samples.
  • Outlander SAMR: Many educators desire more than just SAMR… they want examples so I like to play with the themes of my creations. This one included a stock photo from Morguefile that was embellished with Canva and then app smashed with Quizlet and other SAMR resources.
  • Designing Thinking with Thinglink: This one also served as a professional development map for participants at a event. I used the numbered nubbins in Thinglink to guide attendees through a pre-assessment Padlet, collage of examples, a Smore of support resources, and a post-assessment with Todays Meet.
  • Kids’ Journal as an Exit Ticket: This was a reflection piece that I did to summarize a lesson I observed in Laura Wright’s elementary class. I used Canva to create the collage and then added explanations of each photo using Thinglink’s pop-up nubbin feature.
  • Technology in the Early Grades: This was also a professional development resource for an event. My session covered 9 different elements ranging from preparing devices for young learners and screen time to inquiry and e-portfolios. The collection included blogs, support resources, student examples, slide decks and more.
  • Rainbow Loom SAMR: This final example was another whimsical way to highlight SAMR in a completely different context. This resource includes a stock creative commons image from Flickr, Quizlet decks, and even a case study.

I know this isn’t an in depth tutorial, but I do hope that it allows you to feel more comfortable diving in to this process.

What’s New with Thinglink… Ulla?

Yesterday, I got to finally meet Ulla Engestrom, CEO and Founder of Thinglink, in person at SXSWEDU’s Education Expo. While we have been in contact virtually for over a year, this was the first time we got to meet face to face. I had an app-ortunity to share my app-thusiasm for the product at the booth with our teachers and students and even got the inside scoop on what’s new with Thinglink:

  • App: Thinglinks iPad/iPhone app is NOW rated 9+ (not 12+). Perfect for middle schools that have app age restrictions! And… safe search is now enabled so students can only see content images created by other teachers and students. The updated version of the app also includes student and teacher signup options with invitation codes which ultimately makes it easier to manage these district accounts (see more info below on that topic).
  • Verified District Accounts: Thinglink now offers verified district accounts. This process of establishing authenticity of an organization provides districts with an invitation code which associates students and staffs with the district, provides them with a dashboard to easily manage teachers, students, and groups, and ultimately makes it easier for teachers and students to share, curate, and create.

Ulla_Canva copy


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09 Mar 2015
Comments: 3

4 Things Every Student Must DO to Preserve their Work

This has been a topic heavy on my heart and mind all year. More and more students are creating and collecting content on their devices… and this is a good thing. However, when we have to swap and/or turn in their iPad due to damage, graduation, or migration from the district… we start running in to problems. Most of these issues can be resolved with student education and a smattering of forethought and planning.

WHY Must WE Support Our Students With Managing and Archiving their Content?

Before I reveal “Digital Transitions: What Every Student Should Know”, let me just give you a window in to an all too real scenario. A student has damage to her iPad (dead spots to the screen that make it utterly unusable). She has done an iCloud back-up but would like to manually back-up content and media just in case. During our iPad Swaps, we discovered that if all apps are not updated and the iOS is not updated, sometimes all of the content within the apps does not return during the restore. So back to my very real media transferring chain of events…:

  • Plug in iPad in to her Macbook and pull off photos directly: this is a no-go as devices are managed and will be rejected by iTunes and other programs due to this configuration.
  • Upload Photos to iCloud: this was also a no-go as the device needed an update and would not “talk” to her Mac until that update was complete.
  • Upload to iFiles (Novell): we could have gone this route but the app was not set up with her Novell connection and having to turn the iPad 90 degrees every few seconds due to the dead spots on the screen proved less than desirable.
  • Google Drive: thought this might work but we kept getting network errors due to our filter glitch with Google and having to turn the iPad 90 degrees every few seconds due to the dead spots on the screen to troubleshoot the connection proved obviously less than desirable.
  • eBackpack: so we ended up using eBackpack (our current district workflow management system) and uploading photos and videos to the home folder there – somewhat less desirable as there is no bulk upload feature so we uploaded each photo and video one by one.

I truly hope and moreover believe that having a back-up and archive process in place (and training our students on this process) will alleviate the issue of students losing content as well as scrambling to back up content last minute.

WHAT Are the Types of Media, Content, and Apps Students Use Most?

So, I thought about the main types of media and content that students create and collect and also the apps that students most use and that we provision within our system. With that I created a quick infographic in Canva and then added a layer on instructional support using Thinglink and Voila…“Digital Transitions”:

HOW Will I Disseminate this Information to Teachers and Eventually Our Students?

It was painfully clear when I popped in to all classes participating in mandatory iPad swaps this year (due to the necessary enrollment in the updated MDM system) that professional development for students is a must. Multiple students in each class stared at me with very confused looks when I mentioned iCloud back-ups. Obviously, telling secondary students to complete a task is not enough… we need to show them how. This infographic is the first step to preparing our students to be effective managers of their own content:

  • Step 1: Collect my thoughts on this content management dilemma and prepare a resource that maps out the process.
  • Step 2: Meet with all Senior classes (starting with Seniors as they have to turn in their iPads at the end of the year) and walk them through the process of transitioning and archiving their content.
  • Step 3: Eventually meet with all underclassmen to do the same process.

I sincerely hope this information is helpful and I will keep you posted on this process as it develops. Would love any and all thoughts on the need for student professional development in the arena of preserving content.


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24 Feb 2015
Comments: 1

App-Smashed Benjamin Franklin Biography

I guess this is what happens when your mom is both an educator and an Ed Tech…

My second grader recently brought home a bottle biography project. We finished the written portion a few weeks ago knowing that we still had the craft module to complete. Now before I continue with my story, I want to clarify a few points:

  • By no means am I saying that all student projects should be digital.
  • By no means do I believe that projects shouldn’t be sent home.
  • By no means do I think projects shouldn’t involve crafts.
  • By no means do I think the whole assigned project lacked merit or purpose.

Purposeful Crafts

Please know that I definitely enjoy doing projects with my son and I think it is great bonding time… I just believe that craft assignments should be purposeful in nature. No matter how many projects like this we get assigned, I find that the “craft” module of the project falls mostly on the parent to select and purchase the supplies and even assemble them. Now don’t get me wrong, my son helped locate rocks to fill the bottle to stabilize it and did assist with some of the assembly and design but ultimately most of the bottle project ended up in my lap. I then have to ask myself, “what did he ultimately learn from this craft?” So, this got me thinking… what could we do with this bottle craft project to elevate and extend the learning and utilize and incorporate the craft project?


Research and Extensions

I will say that we gleaned a lot through reading the biographies together and completing the provided biography inventory. Because I felt like my son had learned more about Benjamin Franklin than he displayed in both the bottle and the handout, I decided to add a few more guidelines to the project (based on the 2nd grade standards). Many of these extended the written, visual, and oral requirements for the project:

  • MindMap of 5 Adjectives: This included a hand-drawn image from my son as well as component of typing and allowed him to display his research visually. (used Popplet Lite app)
  • Locating Origins and Birth Places: This was simple but addressed a geography component and the ability to locate places of significance. (used Google Earth app)
  • PostCard to Benjamin Franklin: This creative writing assignment  focused on expository text standards as well as addressing important contributions of historical figures. (used Bill Atkinson PhotoCard app)
  • App-Smashed Assembly: As Toontastic is now free (since it was acquired by Google), and it had a Benjamin Franklin toon within its suite, we decided this would be the perfect tool for app-smashing the aforementioned content. Not only was this a great tool to assemble all of the digital media, it also addressed the standard of creating visual displays to convey research results and touched on the component of expressing ideas orally as well. (used Toontastic app)

Within the App-Smashed Assembly, we included a few more elements:

  • Reflection on Process: I am a huge proponent of reflecting on the process – not just the final product so I made sure that my son included how Bottle Ben came to be with pics of the final product and a delineation of the materials.
  • Citations and Multiple Sources: While I am currently stationed at a HS, I have to tell you that I had my stint in elementary as well and have a special place in my heart for children’s literature. As some of the books that my son self-selected from the library proved to be above his reading level, I picked up a few from Amazon. In doing so, these books reiterated the content that we had read from his initial research and provided a diverse landscape for his learning.
  • Publishing: Publishing and Sharing writing is a a big component of the standards and I can’t tell you how excited and proud my son gets when he finds out that other schools in the district (and schools across the nation) want to share his project with their students. In fact just this morning he smiled and said, “just say ‘yes’ to anyone that asks you.”  😉

Ben Franklin copy

Final Project

So here is the final App Smashed project… One of my favorite parts is that the analog creations (e.g. Ben biography bottle and hand-drawn images) provide a introspective and unique landscape to the digital creation that could not be achieved through digital elements alone.

I have to say that had we to do this over again… I would make a few tweaks to the project:

  • Include all Original Artwork: I would have had him design a setting for Benjamin Franklin (hand-drawn) rather than using the Toontastic stock background.
  • Assemble a Timeline: I might also have suggested a timeline of major contributions or events created with Popplet Lite or RWT Timeline.
  • Dramatize a Scene: I would also have him recreate an actual scene to meet dramatization standards.

Authentic Audience

Nothing warms my heart more than to know that my son’s work is well received and that he has an authentic audience for his learning.

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 7.46.06 PM

Invest in Knowledge and Involve Me…

So I fortuitously happed upon this bottle of wine at Walgreen’s and in doing so learned that Benjamin Franklin had a repertoire of wine quotes as well. As none of these quotes were particularly app-licable or app-ropriate, I decided to share one of my favorite Benji (yes, we are now on a first nickname basis now) quotes about learning:

Benji Quotes.001 copy

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05 Feb 2015
Comments: 3

Curating and Creating with Care

I am often crippled by my need for perfection and to share what I feel is a thorough, complete, and exhaustive resource. For some reason, I also decided to dive very deep down the Lego Rabbit Hole and staged all of my slides with Lego MiniFigures as well.

Curation and Creation.001

Why the Need for Curating and Creating with Care?

I have to say that this session is definitely a long time in the making. And I really wanted to address the need for such a session and a resource:

  • Increased Access to Content: While students’ have a wide array of access to devices, it becomes very easy to simply nab or screenshot an image without even thinking about citations or appropriate use.
  • Increase in Digital Assignments: Furthermore, more and more student assignments and projects are transitioning from analog to digital and with that more student authored content is floating around online. With the flux of student creations and better ways to gather digital creations, there becomes an even greater need to teach students to protect their work with Creative Commons licensing.
  • Fire Hose of Content: With the rapid amount of content being uploaded and shared via the global edusphere and beyond, there is a need for “trusted curation” to battle the fire hose of content. With curation comes a need to discuss best practices to preserve other’s work online as it is reposted, repinned, retweeted, relisted, rescooped, and relinked.

Creative Commons: It’s Not Just a License: It is a Lifestyle!

As I created my own images for this session, I wanted to make sure that as they were shared, there was some way to easily attribute these original creations back to me. After a brief Twitter Chat with The Daring Librarian (@Gwyneth Jones), I decided to Creative Commons all of the images and then upload them to Flickr.

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 9.51.22 PM

And BTW, if you have not visited the Daring Librarian’s site… it is most epic indeed and she also has an affinity for Legos. 😉

Curating and Creating with Care Lego Quotables

So… here they are…TechChef4u Lego Quotables

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 9.01.52 PM

Curating and Creating with Care Research and Resources

As many of these images are based on research I gleaned while preparing for the session, I have also created a Listly with all of the resources and research that I used.

Curating and Creating with Care TCEA 2015

And many thanks to my fellow iVenger Debbie Smith (@dsmitheisd) for snapping a pic of me during my session as I was delivering my flare for curation and custom creations!


If you are interested in the other 4 sessions I presented at TCEA 2015, check out my conference resources here!


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02 Feb 2015
Comments: 0

iPad Project Menu

As I will be attending and present at TCEA this week, I wanted to leave my campus with a small learning nugget to support them in my absence. I began thinking about most of the questions that I receive that are instructional in nature. Many of them focus on what the best apps and tools are to meet the task. Other inquiries focus on workflow and best practices for publishing.

iPad Project Menu

So… the iPad Project Menu was born. I have to admit that it is somewhat derivative of Tony Vincent’s Show What You Know infographic. I simply tailored the menu to focus on tools and apps that were free (or already provided for FREE to our students via Casper and Self Service), changed up a few of the tasks, and added a second page that addressed many of the questions that I receive when I am planning with teachers. I figured that some of you might enjoy or be inspired by this assembly of resources so I made it available for FREE on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 6.13.09 PM

The Chef is on Location

I am very much looking forward to cooking up my own recipe for learning at TCEA and will be on location there all week. If you too are geared up to #learnanywhere, then come check out one of my 5 sessions:

  • 2/2: Monday: 8-11: Cooking Up Augmented Storytelling
  • 2/3: Tuesday: 1-1:50: Curating and Creating with Care
  • 2/5: Thursday: 8-9: Activating the Device Neutral Classroom
  • 2/5: Thursday 9:15-10:15: WordPlay Shakespeare in the Classroom
  • 2/5: Thursday: 3:45-4:45: Lone Star Teachers Partner to Enhance Education


HAVE YOU SEEN THE LATEST TECHCHEF GAZETTE ISSUE? Preparing for Back to School and Beyond

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Contact TechChef4u to schedule Spring and Summer PD and Workshops: or request booking here.


12 Jan 2015
Comments: 3

Social-Emotional App-tivities that Really Work

WHS has embraced social emotional learning as a focus this year. Edutopia has done a fantastic job of delineating this topic further with “Self-Assessment Inspires Learning” and “Social and Emotional Learning Research Review“. Last week I posted a blog on the WHS Wifi site entitled, “Creative Risk Taking in the form of a Final” and shared it out with our parents and staff. This week I would like to go one step further and re-post this blog with a few more anecdotes for the greater edusphere…

Hybrid Exams

This past semester a few of the English II Pre-AP teachers offered a hybrid exam meshing both a paper as well as a digital presentation. As the presentation was not to be longer than a minute and to focus more on social-emotional self-analysis rather than the bells and whistles of a high end video production app, students selected the FREE Shadow Puppet EDU app to create their final product.

Digital Discoveries

I sat in on a few of the final presentations and took notes. Below are some of the digital discoveries that I gleaned:

  • Deeper Awareness of the Socio-Emotional: Meeting student’s social-emotional needs has been a focus with all content areas this year. While the video projects were all created using the same application, each one personally touched on a social-emotional self analysis with a text to self approach to Catcher in the Rye (the novel they had just finished). Many times we have students complete assignments but they don’t have ample time to reflect. As reflection and self-analysis were at the heart of this assignment, students had built-in time for students for self awareness. Within this forum, I noticed topical trends like transitioning, worry, future goals, stress, anxiety, lying, depression, isolation, introversion, bullying, perfectionism, adaptability, perseverance, performance anxiety, unrealistic expectations, responsibility, coping with change and death etc… and the coping mechanisms that many use to overcome these struggles. In HS, where these emotions and issues can seem heightened, I felt like this assignment really validated these sensitive issues. Some of the more poignant quotes were:
    • “Being a teenager is like testing the waters”
    • “You can’t change the future unless you change the now.”
  • The Power of Audience: Both Michele Benage and Lee Bergen mentioned that the power of sharing these projects with their classmates allowed for bonding and empathy (e.g. some students realized that they were not alone in their feelings and struggles and others felt like they had initially misjudged their peers without knowing the full story).
  • Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners: Due to the hybrid approach of this project (e.g. both an essay and a video), learners had the opportunity to articulate their voice in both written and visual form. I felt like this really met the needs of our group of learners. Some may be more articulate with words and others with visuals and this gave each student an opportunity to be successful in their own way. Additionally, those that suffered from performance anxiety – that would rather record their thoughts rather than stand and deliver had a venue to successfully convey their ideas behind the scenes rather than in the spotlight.
  • Polishing PresentationsWith any project, some presentations were better than others (both visually and content-wise). Truly, if we don’t give our students these types of presentations, they will never have an opportunity to improve in this arena. Additionally, by seeing their peer’s presentations, this allows students to note best practices for this form of content delivery. I also think there is power in providing an assignment that can not be easily pulled and replicated from an online source – a task that requires both self-analysis and the ability to create something that doesn’t already exist.

Student Exemplars

While observing the presentations during finals week, three students presentation stood out to share as exemplars for poignancy and creativity. Each of these students not only completed a thoughtful self-analysis but took a creative approach in the delivery… as they all included original artwork. Before I shared the examples I made sure that I permission from all 3 students as the content was of a personal nature:

Shadow Puppet


  • Catcher in the Rye: I loved that this student created all of their own illustrations in Adobe Illustrator and then incorporated them within his video.
  • It Takes a Listener: This student used a very creative and poignant approach to blending hand- drawn original images with 2D and 3D environments.
  • Hello Classmates: I enjoyed the questions that this one raised and the hand-drawn images.

Gleaning Creative Commons Images

Though most of the exemplars featured above include original art work, I did want to mention the power of the built-in Creative Commons image search available within the Shadow Puppet EDU app. It includes maps, landmarks, Library of Congress, Met Museum of Art, The British Library, NASA, NOAA, Web Images, Flickr Creative Commons, Wikimedia, and Open Clipart. When images are selected from the the built-in image search to be used within a project, Shadow Puppet automatically cites all of the images used within the work at the end of the video.


Collection and Submission Logistics

Since Shadow Puppet publishes to a url, I suggested the easiest way to collect, organize, and view all of the student submissions proved would be with a Google Form (see example posted below). As this was the first year using this hybrid approach to a final exam, students had the option to allow permission of their project to be shared so future classes could have a possible model for the assignment in upcoming years.

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 3.49.03 PM

Reflections and Strategies

While I do enjoy showcasing these projects, I can’t help but add the lens of Instructional Technologist and my own reflections for future professional development needs…  similarly to as I did in the “iPad Project Plan“. As I reviewed the projects, I considered a few tweaks for next year…

  • Limit Non-Original Images: while the ones featured above did include original art work, there were many others that blended personal photos and stock images. Providing a limit of images that are non-original forces students to look inward and utilize personal or original images for the bulk of the project.
  • Collaborate with Counseling Department: I hesitate a bit with this one as the nature of this project is very personal and introspective. However, many times a student’s perspective can help another student going through the same issues. One thought was to have students work in conjunction with the counseling office to design posters or pamphlets with a QR code to their video to add an additional layer of purpose to the project by supporting their fellow classmates through similar issues.
  • Fleshing Out All of the Themes: This was an idea from Carolyn Foote @technolibrary. As this project was a final, there was not dedicated class time to circle back on these projects and flesh out themes (e.g. stress, depression, anxiety). Provided there were time to do this, pursuing a class discussion of all of the themes addressed in the student projects and how they could be linked back to the book would be a worthy activity.

Many thanks to Lee Bergen and Michele Benage for allowing me to “crash” their classes and share these in depth reflections and to our students for letting me share their work with others in hopes that it might inform and inspire!

 Support Resources

I have to tell you that I was truly impressed by the quality of work and introspection that was infused within these projects and feel like Shadow Puppet was the perfect tool to illuminate this type of assignment. I would be remissed if I did not share some of the excellent support resources that Shadow Puppet offers on their site to complete app-tivities! From classroom stories and lessons to printables… they really have thought of it all!

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 8.38.03 AM



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05 Jan 2015
Comments: 2

21+ Things Every 21st Century Blogger Should Do in 2015

I have been struggling with a post that will set the stage for 2015 and serve as a worthy inaugural nugget for the new year… and I finally happed upon it. The inspiration came from a blend of Carl Hooker’s “21 Things Every 21st Century Teacher Should Do This School Year” and a tweet from a dear friend, Brianna Hodges, sharing her new site, “Educationally Techtastic” hot off the blog press. I found myself disseminating a few tips and best practices for blogging through a series of texts and next thing you know it I had drafted a list of 21 Blogging Do’s for the 21st Century Blogger.

Before I release the list, I wanted to share Brianna’s insight and a link to her own blog beginnings that I hope will serve as support and inspiration for you to create (or amplify) your own blog in 2015:

“I absolutely love being an educator and, as a lifelong learner, I am continually searching for inspiration & exemplars to incorporate in my classroom. One of those searches led me to TechChef4U and, there, I found my touchstone, my source of energy & innovation. I truly believe that we are at a pivotal moment in education and, in her blog, I found the perfect combination of creativity & practicality, sprinkled with a hefty dose of foresight & imagination. Moreover, Lisa helped me see that I can have a voice and a place at the EdTech table. I believe that we owe it to our students and children to help form tomorrow’s learning environment &, to do that, we need to share our experiences, ideas, failures, & successes. With that, my blog, educationallyTECHTastic, was born.” – Brianna Hodges

So here we go… can I get a drumroll? Or should it be a drumstick (#foodpun) 😉

Miami Device PD Recap (used with Evernote) #TechChef4u #iPad #Evernote

Truly, these are not in any order and not all necessary to accomplish at once. I do hope that they provide you with a festive feast of fresh ideas to make the leap to a blog or spruce up your own blog in 2015:

1. Choose a Template that you can Customize and Grow with…

When choosing a template and a blogging service, consider what widgets and themes are offered and if you can truly grow with the site over the years. Though my site has changed designs over the years, I am and will forever be a WordPress girl… this time I just had to shell out a little cash for their paid templates.

2. Buy Your Own URL

This is an easy thing to do. Sites like GoDaddy and 1 and 1 offer this service. Trust me plays a lot nicer on a business card than

3. Plugin Your Feeds

If you are social geek like me, then you most likely already have a Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Add these feeds using a plugin to your site so people that visit your site know how and where to connect with you further.

4. Test Your Contact Page

I say this with a bit of frustration as my current contact page had to be taken down and recoded and in its place is a Google Form. Contact Pages are very integral for people to communicate with you for a variety of reasons ranging from permission to use your work to possible collaborations. Always test your contact page (and have others do so too) and if it doesn’t work, then add another means to initiate email contact. It never hurts to add social media contact info here as well. (Truthfully, I am fifteen times faster at answering a tweet or DM than I am an email.) I really like Holly Clark’s contact page because it includes a form as well as additional means of contact.

5. Tag All Posts with Your Name

This is something I have “stolen” and adopted from George Couros. Many times we tag posts with relevant terms like #iPad or #EdTech but we don’t even think to tag with our own name. Tagging with your name helps with Search Engine Optimization as well as brand recognition.

6. Infuse Pictures of Yourself

I have read many a blog with paragraphs of text. Truly there is nothing wrong with text but I find the sites that share relevant content blended with pictures of themselves and their students during these projects tend to resonate better and deepen the text for those of us that are visual learners. These posts also pin better. 😉

7. Watermark your Images

I truly wish this was something I had done from the beginning. I have found my images floating all around the internet and Pinterest completely uncited with no way to find their way back to me. Matt Gomez does an excellent job of using the Signature Watermark Ultra WP plugin to add a special watermark using his own logo to each of his images. I also stumbled upon this Listly of 15 additional tools to watermark your images. Not only does this help with his branding but it allows people to find him and his work through his images as they are pinned and tweeted. Kevin Honeycutt takes this idea one step further and adds a personal quote to many of his images… they are called Honeyquotes!

8. Include a Disclaimer Statement

This is really key. When I started my first blog, it was considered “rogue” as it was not a district regulated website. To ensure there were no issues with my postings and my job, I added a simple disclaimer statement, “The content on this website in no way represents the opinions or beliefs of … district”.

9. Connect Content you Curate and Create

Many bloggers curate and create additional and supplementary content for their blog on other sites. Cathy Yenca not only blogs… she has a booming Teachers Pay Teachers store, an iBook, and a variety of Nearpod lesson bundles which are all directly linked from her site. People don’t automatically know what else you curate and create unless you share it so don’t be afraid to add this content as badges or even a tab on your site. Laura Moore of Learn Moore Stuff also does a fantastic job of connecting you with her other resources as she includes links to her bulb, Padlet, Smores, and much more on the right hand side of her site.

10. Add Links to Presentations, Videos, Podcasts, and Webinars

As you begin to prepare presentations and deliver webinars or even create videos for your class or school, share them on a tab on your site so others can get to better know you, your content, and your flavor. In the interim of cleaning up my site, I have posted all of my videos and webinars in a Pinterest board for easy access. If you don’t have speaking videos or webinars, consider posting video content that you have created. Both Carl Hooker and Dean Shareski do a most excellent job of blending their recorded speaking engagements with their own content ranging from Carl’s app smashes and iPad Orientations to music videos and to Dean’s workshop promos and success stories to his archived presentations and YouTube creation! The Langwitches genius, Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, includes her latest slide decks as a panel on her main site.

11. Creative Commons Your Work and/or Your Site

As you begin to blog and create content and resources, it will inevitably be tweeted, reposted, downloaded, and repurposed. Providing a Creative Commons Attribution license on your site allows your audience to know exactly what they can and can’t do with your work. One can provide a blanket statement for all content on the site or an individual statement for each piece of work. The Creative Commons site easily allows you to create these licenses and even populates a custom embed code for your site. Kasey Bell has an excellent example of the blanket statement at the bottom of her Shake Up Learning site and I have included a singular license for this list after #21. Beth Still provides and excellent write-up on how sites can be perceived when they do not properly attribute work within the Creative Commons framework.

12. Share Both Your Failures and Your Successes

It is easy to share and celebrate our successes but much harder to make public our failures or lessons learned. Everyone fails… let’s face it and embrace it. One of my favorite bloggers truly tackles the tough conversations – she is bold and honest and never sugar coats the truth and I simply adore her candid thoughts on life and education. Her most recent posts “From Midway Negativity to a Positive Ending” and “Facing Insecurities: You Are More Than Enough” frankly address the struggles and obstacles so many of us quietly face and endure.

13. Don’t Be Afraid of Lists

I often shy away from lists because my O/C gets the best of me and I feel the list must be comprehensive before posting. That being said, there is a real time and place for lists. For some reason, we are drawn to numbers and the potential to see if we measure up or can relate to the list and so the power of the list is maintained. I was inspired by Carl’s “Top 10 Things Not to Do in a 1:1 iPad Initiative” and “21 Things Every 21st Century Teacher Should Do This School Year” and recently wrote “11 Useful Tips for Managing iPads in the Classroom“, “6 Do’s and Don’ts for Secondary iPad Deployment and Support of New Initiatives” and “9 Must Read iPad Instructional Support Resources“. And I have to say there is nothing better than an infographic from the amazing talented Sean Junkins to revive or amplify even the finest of lists. I love how he put a spin on both Carl’s and my lists (scroll to the bottom of both posts to see the infographic). Another creative take on lists is the idea of dividing one in to reasonable time frames for completion as Ashley Cronin did with her New Things to Try in 2015: Things to try in 5 Days, 5 Weeks, and 5 months.

14. Break Up Text with Interactivity

As I mentioned in #6, images help others to connect with you and your content. With the fire hose of information at our very finger tips, we have become a society of scanners and skimmers. I find that I tend to glean more information from a blog that has some sort of interactivity to support or extend the content. Sites that embed beautifully into a blog and offer this type of interactivity range from Tackk and Haiku Deck to Thinglink and Listly (all embedded in posts linked above). Not only do those tools jive up your content, they drive traffic to your blog as they are also hosted on additional sites.

15. Provide a Link to your Blog on all of your Social Networks

This goes hand in hand with #3 and #10. Most of the traffic to my site comes from Pinterest and I want to ensure that people not only come to my site from the pins I post and curate but know how to connect directly from my boards. Any social network you maintain (e.g. Linkedin, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, Thinglink, Snapguide, should include both your brief bio as well as a link to your site so people can connect with your content no matter how they initially discovered you.

16. Build In Twitter Quote Widgets Within Your Posts

This is a recent development for me. I discovered the Tweet This WordPress Plugin on my brother-in-law’s site and have been itching for a way to begin incorporating it into mine. Essentially, the plugin allows you to build the content of a tweet for someone so all they have to do is go to your site and click on it and tweet it. If you build it… they may tweet it 😉 If you are interested in seeing this type of plugin in action, check out one of Book Creator’s most recent posts.

17. Proudly Display Badges

The design of my site makes it difficult to host badges next to my posts. This is something I am looking to remedy in the future. While bragging and boasting are bogus… celebrating accomplishments is important. An easy way to do this is to post badges. Jamie Forshey, Erin Klein, and Gwyneth Jones do a fantastic job of highlighting their achievements and badges on their sites. Badges can range from awards and nominations to blogs that you cross post too. An added bonus of cross-posting or blog tailgating is that you offer your content to a wider audience. Technology Tailgate is one of my favorite sites for this process and offers a special badge you can embed if you author content within their feed.

18. Provide Consistency with Images for Brand Recognition

For me variety is the spice of life and I tire easily with the same color schemes and fonts. Unfortunately, my need for diversity sometimes leads to confused branding and attribution. That being said, two of my counterparts have really carved out their niche within this realm. Kasey Bell’s Google Resources, Gwyneth Jones Comic TutorialsMathy Cathy’s Math Thinglinks, Brad Ovenell-Carter’s Sketch Notes, and Ryan Read’s App Dice are all recognizable and each contribute to a cohesively branded collection (wow – was that a nod to Project Runway?).

19. Provide Consistency with Content

People like to know what to expect and how frequently it will be posted. Richard Byrne does an excellent job with his Free Tech for Teachers site as most of his posts have a consistent framework which includes a summary and educational applications for each highlighted tool. Terri Eichholz is a shining example of consistency with  frequency of postings as her site Engage Their Minds typically releases a new post every day. While I am not a daily poster, I do try to provide some consistency to the time of day my posts are released by auto-scheduling them to publish at either 9:30 or 10:00 am CST.

20. Build Your PLN by Answering Where?

As people start to really connect and relish your content, they like to know where you will be (e.g. upcoming conferences or speaking engagements) so they can connect in person and or even attend one of your sessions. You can add this information on a separate tab or at the footer of your posts. Many conferences offer an “I’m Speaking at…” badge that you can add to your site as well.

21. Start a Trend or a Tradition

After blogging for a few years, I found myself in search of a little whimsy. Thus, I decided to start an alliteration collection of posts ranging from Marvelous Monday and Thought Leadership Tuesday to Wicked Good Wednesday and Freebie Friday. I didn’t post one of these each day of the week but I did try to post enough of them that people knew what to expect. In the same realm as a tradition of weekly alliteration, Technology Tailgate offers a Techie Tuesday Link Up where you can feature someone else’s content on your own blog and build off of it and then link back your thoughts to the main site.  Another fun trend in education is #hashtags. Consider starting your own or building off of a hashtag that can connect your content with others. Carl Hooker used #student4aday to share his reflections.

22. Share Your Why

This is a nod to Simon Sinek and a post I wrote earlier in the year. I started this blog almost 4 years ago and have crafted 315 posts since then. The blog has evolved as I have so this year I wanted to carefully craft my WHY for the blog and the content I share to ensure that I stayed true to the path and meant the needs of my audience in doing so. As you embark in to 2015, consider establishing a WHY or a mission statement for your blog to guide you in the future.

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Creative Commons License

“21 Things Every 21st Century Blogger Should Do in 2015” by Lisa Johnson @TechChef4u is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Bonus Blogging Tips

To be quite honest, I strived for 21 but ended up with a few extra so here goes: keep a notebook of ideas for posts, reduce the size of your images so your page loads faster, install a Pinterest widget so all of your images can be easily pinned, add a blog subscription so others can receive your latest scoop in their inbox rather than having to hunt it down, and make sure links within the post open in a new tab rather that redirecting your audience away from your post (this typically is a default for most WP blogs but that is not always the case for other blog hosting services). This list for me is a work in progress as there are a few I need to tweak in 2015 to amplify my own blog but thought there was no harm in sharing the ideas in advance of their completion.

Stop Being a Secret Genius…

As I am still on a bit of a professional development high from Miami Device and some of the epic quotables gleaned from that event, I thought I would leave you with a little inspiration from Kevin Honeycutt:

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