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27 Mar 2018
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4 Reasons to Attend .EDU

This past week I had the opportunity to speak and attend .EDU in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. The event is held on a university campus Universidad Regiomontana and put on by university students for the 400+ attendees (teachers) and 40+ Apple Distinguished Educators at the two day event. And I just have to give them all a shout-out. They were so kind and supportive of anything we needed. Ana always made sure I had water and enough scissors for my session (so people could cut out the Communication Catchers from my book). And another was kind enough to ferry myself and Michael Cohen (the Tech Rabbi) around Monterrey so he could get kosher tortillas and I could visit a bookstore.


While this post is really a reflection of the .EDU event, it is also my own thoughts about what made this event special and things to consider when selecting a conference to attend. These are my Notes to Self. 😉

University Campus

To my knowledge, I have only attended one other event on a college campus… iPadpalooza OU. And I will tell you that I highly encourage it. After all if you are not a professor and/or a parent to a college student, odds are that you haven’t been on a college campus for awhile. As we are preparing our youth for colleges and careers, I think it is always important to have an idea of what that means. Perhaps, next year, I can actually catch a glimpse of a college class in session… but in the interim I can at least share with you some of the spaces. The ones below are a large learning commons that is divided into 6+ different classrooms that are mobile and are not defined by walls.

Note to Self: Consider attending an event held on a college/university campus.

Language and International Coverage

I did take Spanish in HS and college… most likely 4 or 5 years in total. Yet without opportunities to actually speak it, it largely got packed in a box somewhere in a cobwebbed corner of my brain. The cool thing about this event was it was held in a Spanish-speaking country so I was immersed with language from the people that I interacted with to my surroundings (e.g. visuals, signs, etc…). And I have to tell you that I loved it. I woke up the second day and for some reason, rather than “breakfast”, my mind said “desayuno”. While I am not fluent by any means, the Spanish did come back and I had multiple opportunities to use it. I should clarify, though, the entire event was not in Spanish. My sessions and about half of the others were in English and the others in Spanish. The keynotes were the same way. Some were in Spanish and others in English. They actually had an interpreter during those keynotes that would translate on the fly and those that wanted to listen to the English keynotes in Spanish could with headsets. I even had a moment to explore a bookstore close to the university. And I fell in love with a journal that I will now have to either learn to translate and/or be okay with Google’s Translations. And as it turns out Acarid Portal Arraez is a wildly popular author (she has over 1 million Instagram followers) AND my dear friend Felix Jacomino translated the complete title… “The Diary of an Illusion. This diary is not mine, it’s ours. A timeless agenda.” I mean wow. Check out my Instagram for a few more shots of the book’s pages.

I also found a Spanish version of Austin Kleon’s “Show Your Work” book which Felix Jacomino has informed me actually translates to “Learn to Promote Your Work”.

Okay back to things that aren’t books. 😉 The .EDU event had teachers from 3 different countries… United States, Mexico, and Colombia. I realize that we can’t all travel to foreign countries BUT we can consider attending conferences that typically boast an international audience. Conferences like ISTE, SXSWEDU, Learning and the Brain, and many of the ETT Summits have people come from all over the globe. The connections and learning from and with these people should not be understated.

Note to Self: Consider attending a conference with an international audience.


When I attended SXSWEDU a few weeks ago (blog post here), I spent a fair amount of time combing through the online schedule. I am happy to say that I didn’t attend one bad session and haven’t in the past 2 years. The reason being… I spend time researching speakers and/or the topic. For example, when I saw the session topic “Human Skills for Digital Natives”, I was intrigued. Then I noticed that one of the speakers was Manoush Zomorodi. Upon further inspection, I realized she was the host of the podcast “Note to Self” which I have listened to and loved so I was sold on this session and it did not disappoint. Additionally, when I saw that Dan Ryder and Amy Burvall were presenting, I know I didn’t even have to read the description because I read their book and knew that their workshop would be amazing! Please know that this is not to say that someone that doesn’t have a speaker bio would put on a bad session and/or that Manoush couldn’t have an off day. It is more to say that when you spend time looking at topics and speakers prior to an event (rather than the morning of), you get a better feel for which sessions and/or speakers will best meet your needs. If it is your first time attending the conference, then I would suggest following the #’s for the conference on Twitter and connecting with educators there and getting tips that way. For my first ISTE, Diane Darrow was absolutely invaluable. I looked at the ISTE catalog of sessions and was completely overwhelmed. As she was more familiar with the event and the speakers, she basically helped navigate me through those first few days and made sure that my time was spent on quality relevant sessions. And yes, I know it is a week away, but I have already started peering at the TLA session guide to see which ones I would like to attend.

Alas, I digress. What I think is really unique and special about the .EDU event is the fact that there were 40+ Apple Distinguished Educators in attendance. They teach and work at schools all over the globe and bring very unique stories and content to the table and I felt so blessed to connect and learn from all of them. If you are curious what sessions were offered this year, I am including a link to day 1 and day 2. Below is a list of the 2018 speakers. If you click on the image below and/or this link, it will take you to an interactive version of the image below so you can see all of the sessions and descriptions. And can you believe that all of these awesome speaker graphics were created in Keynote too?!

If you are interested in a quick overview of the event, check out this 3 minute video.

Note to Self: Consider attending a conference where you are familiar with a few of the speakers and/or look up speaker bios and session descriptions prior to the day of attending sessions. Another option is to follow the conference # and/or find/make a friend online that is attending and can steer you through it like a conference sherpa. 😉

Session Resources

First, as I mentioned the sessions were amazing. I have shared multiple links above in the Speakers session. Additionally, if you would like to see more about this event and the sessions…follow @EduCongresso on Twitter and/or sift through the #eduerre.

Second, this is more of a personal realization but I liken it to tweaking a lesson after 1st period. I have been speaking for the past 7-8 years and I have session resources all over the internet. Sometimes I build a session in Haiku Deck or Slideshare. Other times a, Smore, Bulb, or Thinglink. And what I started to realize after explaining the convoluted way to get to all of my resources was… there has to be a better way. So I spent the better portion of the weekend (after the kids went to bed) updating my site. It isn’t done yet, BUT I did manage to add all of the resources, links, and decks that correspond to the sessions and workshops I have been delivering recently. So whether you have attended one of my sessions, plan to attend one, and/or are simply intrigued by the topic… they are here for you.

Note to Self: When presenting content, create a central link for each session and a central repository for all session resources. This could be a Weebly site or a Blog. Pollinating the internet with great ideas is good too… just make sure they can get back to the originator. 😉



If you are interested in booking Lisa Johnson and/or would like to know more about her speaking history or professional development portfolio… visit the TechChef4u speaking page for more info or email

And… Check out her latest creation… the book “Cultivating Communication in the Classroom: Future-Ready Skills for Secondary Students.”



21 Mar 2018
Comments: 1

SXSWEDU 2018 Recap and Interactive Notes

I always get questions about SXSWEDU from fellow educators and how it compares to other conferences and events so I wanted to address that in this post.

Background on SXSWEDU

There really is no comparison to TCEA and/or ISTE. While SXSWEDU, TCEA, and ISTE are all essentially conferences for educators, they differ greatly in their scope and focus. TCEA and ISTE are perfect for learning about new tools and fun engaging ways to deliver content. SXSWEDU, however, is one of the only ones that I know that is at the cross section of K-12, higher education, entrepreneurs, and politicians. You won’t find sessions like “How to Use Kahoot” but you will find sessions with overarching big ideas and trending topics organized by track like “Cognitive Process” , “Employability”, “Equity”, “Leadership”, “SEL”, etc…  I don’t think one is better than the other… it is more just choosing the right conference for the right purpose. If I had to choose, I would actually do SXSWEDU and a conference like ISTE or TCEA on a rotating basis so I would get the best of both worlds. I am fortunate that TCEA and SXSWEDU both happen to be (at least for the time being) in Austin, TX, my home town. 😉

So with that said, I wanted to share my SXSWEDU recap for those that either didn’t attend this year and/or didn’t attend the sessions I took notes on.

Background on My Note-Taking

I have been taking notes again in analog for the past 3 years or so. I find it helps me stay focused and not get so distracted. I also tend to remember what I write more and I find I return to the notebooks more often than I did with my digital notes. The downside is that all of the notes are analog and I can’t easily share links to resources. Thinglink has been a godsend for that as it allows me to add pictures, text pop-ups, and links to slide decks, videos, etc…

I will be sharing my process in greater detail in an upcoming post. In the interim. I wanted to share my interactive notes. I should also mention that each note and/or link has a part 2 which can be accessed by clicking on the arrows on each image. Again… All of the images below ARE INTERACTIVE … if you don’t immediately see the interactive nubbins, hover over the image. 😉 I wouldn’t want you to miss any of the resources, links, and nuggets.

Balancing Learning with Analog and Digital

So without further ado… Here are my notes. I should also mention… while these aren’t the notes form every session I attended, they were the best and most informative/actionable sessions of the lot:
Schooling and Getting Schooled
Keynote: “Schooling and Getting Schooled” – This was live storytelling from Moth trained educators and was riveting and insightful.

Human Skills for Digital Natives

Human Skills for Digital Natives – This session was downright fantastic. I ended up buying the book. It was about the importance of boredom and how it positively impacts creativity. Very timely and lots of great data and information shared about regulation. Also, the speaker is the host of the podcast “Note to Self”.

Rigorous Whimsy: Understanding Through Creativity

Rigorous Whimsy: Understanding Through Creativity – I read this book last summer. It is written my two of my favorite people Dan Ryder and Amy Burvall. It is chocked full of great ideas to infuse creativity. I have also added it to my “18 Books Everyone Should Read in 2018” list with a slightly more detailed description.

Empathetic By Design

Empathetic By Design – This session was about designing learning spaces for students with autism AND they have a really interesting eBook on the topic too. Multiple photos are included.

Slam Poetry + Standup Comedy = Engaged Learning

Slam Poetry + Standup Comedy = Engaged Learning –  This session was downright fantastic and it dealt with mental health issues expertly with poetry, comedy, and writing prompts.

Designing Your Life by Stanford’s Life Design Lab

Designing Your Life by Stanford’s Life Design Lab – By far my favorite. 2 hours well worth spent. I have this book in my Amazon cart and this whole session would be fantastic for any Career and Tech courses and/or for any lessons and/or writing projects on colleges and careers.

I hope you enjoyed these notes. If you are interested in seeing more of these interactive notes from other events and conferences, my Thinglink profile is linked here and houses them all.


If you want to dig deeper into analog note-taking before my next post… check out these 5 posts:



If you are interested in booking Lisa Johnson and/or would like to know more about her speaking history or professional development portfolio… visit the TechChef4u speaking page for more info or email

And… Check out her latest creation… the book “Cultivating Communication in the Classroom: Future-Ready Skills for Secondary Students.”