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26 Oct 2015
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Curations and Creations

Curations and Creations

TechChef loves to craft and concoct curations and creations. To ensure a full service menu, all links are posted below.



10 Apr 2013
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15 Jan 2020
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Tracking What Matters


This session levels up reader’s notebooks by infusing ideas from the planner, bookbento, and bullet journal world to provide engaging strategies to make the reader’s notebook an authentic tool for the present and future. Starting with assessing values for goal-setting and then delving into how to develop healthy habits using habit trackers that can track study and personal habits, mood, sleep, productivity, mental health and more, the reader’s notebook truly becomes a lifelong learner’s notebook.






Want MORE ideas for Reader’s Notebooks? Check out Creatively Productive book and the resources on the companion site as well as the Creatively Productive boards with additional resources on all of these topics. You can also preview a chapter before you buy. 😉

I should also mention that I have lots of FREE trackers and templates that could be printed and put in a reader’s notebook. They can be found in the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker. Just sign up using the form below and you will receive a link shortly with a secret link to the site and password to nab your freebies.

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17 Feb 2019
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Creatively Productive

Creatively Productive RESOURCES

Below are resources mentioned in each of the chapters. For access to additional Creatively Productive digital downloads (e.g. companion journal, more habit trackers, editable reading trackers, a weekly planning sheet, custom desktop organization wallpaper, etc…), use the sign-up form below to get the passcode to the Digital Doc Locker site.

Chapter 1

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Creatively Productive PRAISE and PRESS


These are individual images that can be used in conjunction with the Awesome Amulet checklist at the end of each chapter to badge students or staff.

There is also a template that can be used in conjunction with an Avery 22805 label to be print badges.

13 Nov 2018
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On the Dot 2018 Recap

I have been trying to figure out the best way to encapsulate all of the awesomeness that was jammed into one day of “On the Dot”s inaugural “See it to Be It Success Summit” and I think the best way is a list and a blog post. First, I feel like I should mention what this conference was NOT. It was not a conference designed for educators per se, nor one that directly focused on students or education. What this conference DID HAVE was a gathering of women focused around supporting each other and achieving success.

As I work at a high school that is focused on CASEL’s Social Emotional Learning skills and partners with Stanford’s Challenge Success program AND I spend a fair amount of time supporting students in our CTE (Career and Technology Education) courses like Mentorship and the Incubator, I felt like this conference had some answers to questions that we might be asking in education… but may not find in traditional events designed by educators and geared solely to educators. That is not to say that I don’t attend educational conferences. I do and I thoroughly enjoy them and learn so much from them. I have posted links to many of my recaps of those events here. What I am saying is that broadening our scope and connecting with businesses and entrepreneurs allows us to interact with people and ideas that we may not have been able to glean otherwise.

What follows is a little inspiration, a little instruction, and a little insight from some of the amazing women I connected with. And so, Lisa’s Listicle of Lovely Learning commences… 😉

On The Dot

First and foremost… you have to visit On the Dot’s site. They have amazing blog posts with tips on a variety of topics ranging from entrepreneurship and STEM to Health/Wellness and Politics and Activism. They also have two kick butt podcasts. “Four Minutes with On the Dot” and “On the Spot with Melinda Garvey”. Both highlight successful and inspiring women and provide a large range of topics to binge on. If you are social, follow On the Dot on Instagram and Twitter.

Quips, Tips, and Quotes

There were so many great tips, lessons learned, and quotes and I have been struggling to find the best way to share those out in a meaningful way. Recently, I started playing with Adobe Spark Post to highlight some of my favorite quotes from the books I have read this year. This seemed like a great way to share out some of my favorite quips, tips, and quotes as well. And it gives you a broad range of people and ideas to connect with. Feel free to share these quotes and images on social media or print them and post them around your classroom or campus to brighten someone’s day. The link to all of these graphics is here.

I am also including their social media info if you would like to connect with them that way too and/or to support women owned businesses:

Own Every Room

Lisa Mitchell did a fantastic workshop. She is a Body Language and Communication expert as well as a Certified Forensics Interviewer. You can connect with her on Instagram and Twitter and find her website here. She shared a couple of tips for interacting with people (versus transacting). While they were mostly geared towards businesswomen, I think there are some take-aways that could be meaningful to our educational practice:

  • Be Intentional: Set Your Intention – If I were to meet you in 30 seconds, what 3 words would you want me to use to describe you. For me, it might be competent, trustworthy, and creativity or kind. Lisa also mentioned that there might be 3 different words if you were walking into work vs. your house. Her tip was to set these 3 words before you walk into a room and think about what those mean for your interactions.
  • Take Control of Your First Impression and Gain Their Trust – Within 7 seconds of being seen, a first impression is made. Are you a threat? A friend? Neutral? Would someone have confidence in you? Something as simple as smiling, acknowledging others, keeping your head high, and not being on your phone when you walk into a room (or a classroom) are simple ways to gain trust. And speaking of trust… Lisa talked about keeping your hands visible (as opposed to behind your back). These seem obvious but I work in a support role with students and staff so these were a nice reminder.

Millennials and The Future

The year you were born corresponds to a label. For me, I am smack dab in the edge of  two of these labels… Gen X and Millennial. Perhaps I am a Xennial… who knows? I digress (if you want to fall deeper down this rabbit hole, here is an article that delineates this better). Millennials are very much in the work force and in education. Generation Z would basically be one of my children (the one in middle school) and the younger… Gen Alpha (the children of millennials)… which are in our classrooms as well… though mostly in elementary. I swear I am getting to a point. Deloitte did a survey of 10,000 millennials across 36 countries and 1,800 generation Z’ers from 6 countries.

  • Parents Shape Students: The students in our classrooms (elementary and middle school) are the parents of these Gen Z and Millenials and we all know that parents help to shape the values of their children so I think at the very least an awareness of what those values is important.
  • Importance of Flexibility and Business Ethics: Some of the findings brought to light that these generations are more concerned with the ethics of businesses and flexibility within the workplace than in previous generations.
  • Lack of Soft Skills Preparation: They also feel less prepared for work in Industry 4.0 and are looking to businesses to develop soft skills like creativity and interpersonal skills.

Their quick video does a better job of describing these findings (linked here) and embedded below. This will come as no surprise to any of you that incorporate social emotional learning skills, flexible seating, problem based learning, or design thinking into your classroom BUT it is a helpful reminder nonetheless.

I am fairly certain this won’t be the last time you hear me talk about On The Dot, soft skills, or college and career readiness skills. I hope this post inspires you to connect with these amazing women, ideas, and resources. And please feel free to reach out to me if there are additional topics you would like me to dig deeper into or share more of on

But Wait… There’s More…

If you are interested in additional conference recaps, I have provided some links below:


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.”

19 Jul 2018
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2018 Worldwide Apple EDU Recap

So much learning is baked into a week of an Apple Distinguished Educator Worldwide Institute. And this year 38 countries assembled in one location… Austin, Texas… my hometown. Cathy Yenca @MathyCathy and I shared a room and it was great getting to catch up (even though we are in the same district… we don’t always get time to hear about the awesome things each is doing at our campuses and beyond) so this was a real treat.

To capture all of the learning from the week, you can sift through the #’s #AppleEDUchat, #ADE2018, and the most recent #EveryoneCanCreate.

Though the #’s are present, they are jam packed with goodies so I really wanted to drill down into some of my faves. I have taken several notes, explored a plethora of tools, and been inspired by innovative ideas that I absolutely plan on sharing back with my campus and district. BUT…As you know, I have always been a proponent of curation and sharing beyond district lines to the greater edusphere so a blog post seemed to make the most sense to collect all of this in one place.


We each attended 3 workshops of our choosing so I am providing my analog notes as well as the links and resources for each below the images (I would normally do that with Thinglink… but it is a long story so this will have to do for now).

“Capture the Moment with Clips”: I am fairly late to the game at perusing the FREE Clips iOS app BUT it really does have some good stuff in it. Picture a simpler iMovie with some graphics, stickers, labels, emoji and a way to do live transcripts on videos. So many classroom applications for this. To see all of them, follow the #classroomclips. To see the first one I created, click here. I have actually wanted to do more personally and professionally with video but wasn’t quite sure what the best tool would be for that. I think I found it though. So stay tuned for a new video series on organization, calendars, time management, goal-setting, bullet journals… via my @NoteChef4u Instagram account.

“Connect Math and Science through Creativity”: This one was excellent as well. Basically, they used a Numbers template to teach students the correlation between reaction time and sleep. The Numbers document had multiple colored tabs (corresponding to each of the numbered activities I mention below) which were useful for easily locating an activity BUT also great if you are using Apple Classroom with students so you can see what part of the project they are on. In addition to the Numbers spreadsheet, they also used the Reaction Timer game app to compose the data and record it in the table in Numbers. They mentioned a few support resources for Numbers that I wanted to share as well… Numbers for iPad Starter Guide AND Numbers for Mac Starter Guide.

“Improving Student Efficiency and Productivity with iPad : Though I had already designed some professional development around iOS 11 updates for my staff this year, I found some new ideas. I really liked the theme and the way they designed activities. They likened iOS updates to the evolution of music (e.g. record to 8 track to cassette to CD) and I found that to be a really nice metaphor. Some of my favorites were:

  • Timer: Do a long press on the timer in the new control center and it pops up this really nice slider so you can easily set a time.
  • Camera: I knew this one but it bears repeating because it is awesome. The camera scans QR codes.
  • Maps: You can see inside buildings, malls, airports, etc…

They have an additional # for their session #iOS11learning.

Wow: Amazing People and Ideas and Updates

The week isn’t just workshops though, there are developers that share updates to some of our favorite apps and fellow Apple Distinguished Educators that do showcases which are short 3 minute presentations “showcasing” an awesome thing they are doing with their students. And then there was the ADE Playground and lots of inspiring informal conversations. So… I scanned through my notes and my noggin and wanted to list out some of the highlights:

  • Stephanie Thompson: I was blown away by Stephanie @traintheteacher and the Equity Maps app. Wow. This app basically helps you see and adjust for gender equity within class conversations by creating a platform to document time spoken, times spoken, directions of conversations, etc… Seriously, I was sold (yes, it is a paid app but technically you would only need one copy for your classroom). AND she even has a video of her students talking about how they use the app and the impact it had on them and their class. AND if that isn’t amazing enough… she has a blog post too!
  • Brendan Kelly: I got to meet Brendan Kelly @MrKelly027 in my homeroom group and absolutely loved hearing about how his students are creating and 3D printing braille puzzles for a fellow student in their class. I am not going to do this story justice but this video he shares does.
  • Rhea Flohr: Rhea @RheaFlohr was also in my homeroom group and seriously she ROYGBIV’s her apps in folders on her iPad so I instantly knew we would be friends. 😉 She also built this amazingly color-coded app site to list and categorize and provide info about each one for her teachers. I have been looking at doing something similar and you know I love me some color coding so this was just the inspiration I needed.
  • Joe Welch: Wow! Joe Welch’s @nhsdwelch Middle School Students have published 4 iBooks based on oral history primary research projects. Here is a link to the first book!
  • Sketchnoters: I am constantly in awe of amazing sketch-noters. Some of my favorites from this week were Sharon Drummond @Sharon_Drummond, Ingvi H. Omarsson @IngviOmarsson, Faye Nicole Ellis @fayenicole, and Karen Bosch @karlyb just to name a few.
  • Podcast Mic: I learned about a noise canceling podcast microphone, Samson Meteor, and the podcasting app Anchor from Martin Coutts @mcoutts81 and Rachel Smith @lanclassarach. And Martin recently published a FREE iBook to walk people through the process of starting their own podcast.
  • Merge Cube: Got a Merge Cube from Dr. Theresa Cullen @DrTerriC and couldn’t wait to download the AR Adventure app 57 degrees North.
  • Battle Mania: Shaun Booker @lostarefound created a 5 minute video highlighting some of the best hidden tips and tricks from the iPad Battle Mania and it is most epic indeed! I mean… did you know you could move multiple apps at once?
  • Joy of PL (Professional Learning): I adore Kurt @meesterkurt and Christine Klynen @ckklynen. While I knew they and their team offered all of these awesome FREE iBooks, I had no idea that they also offered a full catalog of analog board and card games too like the Hashtag EDU game, Apple Teacher Dice, Urban Dice, School Character Cards, Team Role Cards, and Teacheropoly just to name a few.
  • Creativity Resources: Apple offers two new iBooks designed to inspire creative projects with video, photography, music, and drawing. The books include “student work samples, learning objectives, and ideas for adapting the activities to subject-specific topics.” Here is the FREE Teacher Guide and the Student Guide.
  • Pages: The Pages app now has SMART Annotation, Audio Recoding, Presenter Mode (which essentially turns your device into a teleprompter).
  • GarageBand: I had no idea about the toy box educational sound effects pack that includes sounds from wild animals, vehicles, soundscapes from outer space, or counting to 10 in a variety of languages.
  • Keynote: As you know,  I love me some keynote BUT wow… the draw and tap to fill and the animated drawings are beyond amazing. And oh the masking live video… I am over the moon. Rather than wait till I get home to create examples of these (as my son has commandeered my iPad Pro which has my iPad Pencil and used it to play Fortnite whilst I was away), I borrowed some from my amazing Apple Distinguished Educators via the thread #EveryoneCanCreate. Seriously, the drawing tools, the live animation, and the magnificent magic move… can’t wait to share these with our students this year!

While this list is in no way comprehensive, I hope it does inspire you to explore some of the updates, links, and resources, and connect with some of the awesome people I have mentioned throughout the post. I have included Twitter handles and direct links to their profiles to encourage the conversations and exchange of ideas beyond this week. I too was inspired to create my own project… a way to really hone in on the instructional design and thought processes that go into designing mass professional development for our students. Here is a link to the infographic I created for that purpose. And linked here is a Clips video I designed to introduce it.

But Wait… There’s More…

If you are interested in my typically interactive notes or additional conference recaps, I have provided some links below:


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.”





















18 Apr 2018
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8+ Creative Ways to Use to Old Library Cards

As you well know, I love books, art supplies, and journaling. Recently, I started offering a session called “Notable Note-taking”. It is a mash-up of bullet journaling and a reader/writer’s notebook and I blend both analog and digital tools. One of my favorite analog tools is the library card. In the art journaling and mixed media realm and on etsy, this little gem is quite the hot commodity. In fact Heidi Pitri has just published a book entitled “Permanent Record” using this kickstarter campaign that features artfully embellished ones. She refers to these cards as “borrower cards” or “signature cards” and has created original pen and ink drawings on these cards from classic titles and authors. Check her out on Instagram @heidipitreart. Oftentimes these library cards are referred to as ephemera (e.g. collectible memorabilia). And if you have a few hours, search “ephemera” on etsy. You will discover 200,000+ results. And a search on etsy of “library cards” provides well over 7,000 results.

Let’s Love on these Library Cards…

So… I thought I would share some ideas for using these library cards in the classroom… The idea would be to let students choose a card that speaks to them by the title alone and then…

  • Compose a Poem
  • Generate a List
  • Create a List of Suggested Books (like Amazon)
  • Compose a Soundtrack for the Book
  • Jot down the first and last Sentence of the book
  • Determine what questions this book Answers
  • Chart out the chapters this book would include
  • Draft the cover of the book
  • Imagine Who would Check Out this book (e.g. current, historical, literary, fictional)

And here are a few examples of how I have used them in the past in my own journal:

Truly, the sky is the limit for these and how they are used. And remember these can be app smashed with pretty much any tool to create something really amazing. Oh wait… I think I gave away the next part…. 😉

Let Me at those Library Cards

Of course the problem with these signature or library cards is that they are indeed ephemera and at some point, they will run out… so I decided to scan 50 or so of my favorites and upload them here. The beauty of making them digital is that we will have them preserved forever AND now they can be mixed with digital elements. They can be annotated in apps like Notability, collaged and embellished in apps like Pic Collage, and augmented in Thinglink. I hope you enjoy. And if you come up with another idea for these and/or would like to share yours or your student’s creations… please email me at or tweet me @TechChef4u.


Literally Ephemera is Legit

I really try. But I am literally incapable of ending a blog post without leaving you with just a bit more… If you like this idea of ephemera and creative writing, let’s take a quick jaunt. I have curated two Pinterest boards of digital ephemera goodies here (Fuzzimo and Ephemera). These should be FREE downloads of digitally scanned in goods and papers. And if you are like me and want to wholeheartedly tumble down the rabbit hole, I will leave you with some other sites to soften the blow. 😉 These little analog… now digital gems are perfect for visual research papers and assignments as well as some pretty stellar creative writing projects too.

  • The Ephemera Society: They include an item of the month with a description and sometimes historical relevance.
  • Vintage Images Gallery: There are thousands of images included her and classified by section (e.g. labels, ads, movie posters, fashion, etc…)
  • Inspired Barn: There are many freebies on this site. Some of my favorites are the book covers and vintage mail.
  • Artefacts: This site is a treasure trove.
  • Clearly Vintage: Also fantastic. I love that she shares pictures with descriptions.

Sometimes I share fully baked ideas and sometimes I like to provide all the ingredients and see what you cook up. In this case, I have opted for the latter. Dig into these digital goods and consider how these historical artifacts can and should impact and inform our current art, writing, research, storytelling, and ideas.



If you want to get a head start on all things #ScrapNotes before my next post… check out these 5 posts and stay tuned for more:


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.”





27 Mar 2018
Comments: 0

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.”



26 Mar 2018
Comments: 0

PD Recaps

Professional Development Recaps

This series is perpetual and perennial… As I attend conferences and events, I always try to share back what I have learned with the greater edusphere. Below are blog posts that include links, resources, and my notes for the following events.

Interactive Professional Development Recaps

Sometimes I don’t have time to generate a full blog post BUT I do share my interactive notes here (see below). They are also all pinned on this board “TechChef Take-Aways”.


24 Mar 2018
Comments: 0

Notable Note-taking


Session Description

I’m just a normal girl. That sank when I went digital. My notes need to be paper. No Evernote… #scrapnotes rule. Without washi tape and Papermate pens… I can’t remember a darn thing. Maybe notes could be Instagrammed. Like to share and inspire away. Do you lose things in Evernote and Google Docs? Do you lament when you can’t sketch note with actual pens, paper, and washi tape? Do you need a better way to organize your thoughts, ideas, book summaries, and notes? Then this session is for you. Let’s go analog and learn how to life and productivity hack your note-taking practices. But wait… there’s more.. you can take the analog and digitize it too…! Bring your pens, paper, and iPad and dive in to the world of notable note-taking

📲Entrance Ticket

📄Note-taking Templates and Goodies

Download (PDF, 5.71MB)

📊Lecture and Professional Development Note-taking

📓Reflection and Journaling Note-taking

📗Reading and Reader’s Notebooks Note-taking

💼Additional Resources

Prof. Dev. for Students: This series includes a variety of topics and formats. Many of the posts also include FREE downloads of guides and templates.

5 Strategies to Deliver PD to Students

iPad Base Camps for Students

Note-taking Skills for Students 

Presentation Skills for Students

Managing their Digital Lives: Tips for Students

Lunch and Learns for Students

Bullet Journaling for Students





Note-taking for Professionals: This series is still being written… It starts out with my process for taking analog notes and how I make those interactive and includes a post on supplies as well as some of the current trends in the bullet journal world.

#ScrapNotes 1: How to Begin Your Journey Down the Rabbit Hole (101)

#ScrapNotes 2: The Complete Guide to Book Summaries (102)

#ScrapNotes 3: The Complete Guide to PD Note-Taking (103)

#ScrapNotes 4: The Savvy Supply List (104)

#ScrapNotes 5: The Complete Guide to Analog Inspirations (105)

#ScrapNotes 6: The Complete Guide to Bullet Journaling, Planning, and Visual Notes for Educators

18 Awesome Analog Things to Try in 2018

Riveting Reads and What to Do with Them












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.”

08 Dec 2017
Comments: 1

18+ Books Everyone Should Read in 2018

I recently created an Amazon recommendations page for books and office supplies. For some reason it reminded me of a post I wrote on “Amazon Literacy” back in 2015. One of the things I mentioned in that post was the idea of trust and curation. Mark Cuban, on an episode of Shark Tank, makes the statement, “I think trusted curation is the future”. And I hope that in the last seven and a half years I have proved myself to be a trustworthy voice in the edusphere. While most of my blog posts and resources focus on iPads in education, summaries of professional development, and most recently note-taking and how to teach students college and career ready communication skills, I have a few avenues of interest that I haven’t really shared (on this blog) as of late… professional development reads and office supplies… which I share ad nauseam on my new Instagram account NoteChef4u. 😉 Whilst I was doing some bullet journaling, I decided to make a list of books that I read in 2017. That led me to the realization that I was one book short of 17… which was quickly remedied. Thank you Amazon. I was thinking about doing a post “17 Books for 2017” but then I realized I really have never done a post like this… so I decided I would just do a book list of my favorite books over the past 2-3 years. What you should know about the list is that I have read each and every one and would not put it on the list if I didn’t think it had value. That being said… not everyone likes mint chocolate chip ice cream so just because I like it… may not make it your beloved flavor. But all of the books on the list are also highly rated on Amazon and you always have the Look Inside feature… so there’s that. I have also done sketch summaries of most of these books on my Instagram… so feel free to check out the highlights there too.


As not all of the books have obvious professional development impact (and we are currently experiencing a “snow day” today in Texas), I thought I would share (and had some time to) a quick snippet of information about each… so here we go:

  • The Secret Lives of Color – I happed on this book after reading the two below. It looks at 75 different shades of color and discusses their historical, cultural, and literary origins and meanings… as well as how they were made and which artists used them. For example… the pigment Prussian Blue was first used in blueprints and green appears in the flags of predominantly Islamic countries because “paradise” is synonymous with “garden”. Other facts I gleaned were Emerald green was originally the cause of many deaths as it contains arsenic, in Shakespeare’s day… green costumes were considered bad luck on stage, and French soldiers serving in Africa were given absinthe to ward off malaria. This book would be great as a companion for an Art History course or a way to enlighten or highlight a World History course or content students are reading in an English class.
  • Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks – I seriously loved this book. I mean… as a kid… I did enjoy diagramming sentences so there’s that… but this was just such a fun book to read and that is all due to the author. The chapter on the ampersand starts with “Born in ignoble circumstances and dogged by a rival character of weighty provenance, the ampersand would spend a thousand years of uneasy coexistence with its opponent before finally claiming victory.” I loved the personification and the fact that there were 67 pages of references at the back of the book. It is said that you have to understand our history so as to not repeat it… I think it can also be said that the better we comprehend the history of language and symbolism, the better we can use it to make meaning.
  • The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter – If you follow my new Instagram account (@NoteChef4u), then you may have noticed that I devote that account to all things analog… including note-taking. I discovered this book and I truly felt vindicated. The first part of the book highlights the history and rebirth of vinyl, paper, film, and board games. I absolutely loved learning all about the history of the Moleskine notebook. Part 2 focused on print, retail, work, and school. The part on school was so-so but the rest of the book I really relished. As many things in life are recursive, I think this was such an excellent read.
  • A Book That Takes Its Time: An Unhurried Adventure in Creative Mindfulness – I stumbled upon this book in Barnes and Noble. It is the perfect mash-up of analog, creativity, and mindfulness. I read the book fairly quickly and was pleasantly surprised to find that it held multiple tips and research studies… not just fun paper goodies (e.g. 2 journals, 16 postcards, 40 stickers, and more). It has great ideas that could also be adapted to a Writer’s Notebook for students too! It should also be noted that they run a wildly popular creativity and paper crafts magazine. I haven’t had a magazine subscription in over a decade… but this might just be worth it.
  • Reinvent Yourself – I am going to admit that I typically read books out of the edu field as I don’t like to silo myself. This book really is easy to read as each of the 47 chapters are truly just lessons learned from an interview or topic/theme (e.g. “The Twenty Things I’ve Learned From Larry Page”, “What I Learned from Chess”, “Five Things I Learned from Superman”, and “Seven Things Star Wars Taught Me About Productivity”). The format is great to emulate for writing and I really enjoyed the variety of tips and best practices gleaned from so many different industries.
  • Flawd: How to Stop Hating on Yourself, Others, and the Things That Make You Who You Are – This book I ended up highlighting in chapter 6 of “Cultivating Communication in the Classroom: Future-Ready Skills for Secondary Students”. The book is written by a girl that was bullied, ended up becoming a bully, and then recovered and decided to write a book about it. I really enjoyed this book. She is wise beyond her years. One of my favorite quotes was “strong beliefs are just the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself.”
  • Long Story Short: The Only Storytelling Guide You’ll Ever Need – If you are familiar with the MOTH live storytelling, you will love this book. So many tips for writing and speaking. It is a creative writing gem and I absolutely loved her voice and perspective. Margot trains people to develop and tell live stories and to that end she offers multiple stems and questions that encourage storytelling.
  • The Creativity Challenge: Design, Experiment, Test, Innovate, Build, Create, Inspire, and Unleash Your Genius – I have a problem with teal and turquoise books… the problem is that I am instantly drawn to them and they just magically end up in my hand and/or Amazon cart and then of course on my home shelf. What I loved about this book is that each of the 150 creative exercises was divided into one of 5 categories (e.g, convergent, divergent, lateral, aesthetic, and emergent). If you are looking to add some creativity to your curriculum, there are great ideas to spark your interest and they are easy to adapt.
  • The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression – If you are focusing on social emotional learning in your district, this book is a must. While designed for writers, it highlights 75 emotions ranging from disbelief and insecurity to regret and sympathy. Each emotion includes the corresponding body language, thoughts, and visceral responses. I should also mention that this is a series. I also own “The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to City Spaces” and almost bought the “The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Personal and Natural Places”.
  • There Is No Good Card for This; What To Say and Do When Life is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love – Again, I love reading books outside of the edu genre and this one popped up in my feed and then in my cart and then at my house. It is written by two authors… one is a social worker and grief counselor and the other is a writer and illustrator that of Empathy Cards. The book was excellent as it provided ideas for appropriately handing a variety of scenarios and offered lots of tips to be a better listener. It even delineated types of non listeners, types of listeners, and gave a list of go-to phrases to support people. The Gesture Wall and “Try Not to Be That Annoying Person” instead of this (e.g. “I felt ______, when I ______ .”), try this (“what’s than like for you”) were exceptional!
  • 10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades (while studying less) – One of my teachers told me about this book. His psychology class had jigsawed it. You can get the PDF of the book FREE from the College Info Geek site but if you want the hard copy, you can order it from Amazon. A quick read but some really great stuff.
  • The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy – This book is about a man that spent a year researching and trying productivity hacks and writing about them. Some good tips in the book. The book’s topics range from time management and attention to mindfulness.
  • Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody ToldYou About Being Creative – I have talked about Austin Kleon for years and absolutely love his books,. They are quick reads but offer so much to think about. While they may not have as obvious direct applications to the classroom, when you really dig into them, I think you will find there is much to learn about curation, creation, and getting to the heart of what makes you you.
  • Show Your Work! – Another gem from Austin Kleon. If you are working with CTE or mentorship students, this is a great book to have in your arsenal. With chapters like, “Think Process, Not Product”, “Teach What You Know”, and “Don’t Turn into Human Spam”, there are lots of life lessons and gems included.
  • 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success – The author of this book is a licensed social worker and has written a version of this for parents too. Basically, the book focuses on 13 life lessons ranging from “Don’t Focus on Things You Can’t Control” and “Don’t Shy Away from Change” to “Don’t Give Up After the First Failure” and “Don’t Feel the World Owes You Anything”. Each chapter also ends with some action items.
  • The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users – This is a gem from Guy Kawasaki. I gleaned some helpful tips about social media from this easy to digest book. If you are manning the social media for your school or district, this is a good read to help boost and spread your message.
  • The Art of Creative Thinking: 89 Ways to See Things Differently – Rod Judkins is a lecturer at Central Saint Martins. He talks about creativity all over the world. Each of the 89 vignettes in the book focus on gleaning creativity tips from renound leaders in creativity like Coco Chanel, Matt Groening, Frida Kahlo, and Frank Lloyd Wright… to name a few.
  • Show and Tell: How Everybody Can Make Extraordinary Presentations – This book is a mashup of storytelling, visual literacy, sketch noting, persuasive design, and presentation skills.
  • Draw to Win: A Crash Course on How to Lead, Sell, and Innovate With Your Mind – If you are in to sketch noting or ideas for presentation skills, this book and the the one above are must reads. I ended up drawing from both of these (this one and “Show and Tell”) to develop some student-friendly tips for visual literacy and presentation skills in chapter 3 of “Cultivating Communication in the Classroom: Future-Ready Skills for Secondary Students”. This book gets into the 7 basic building blocks of shapes and how to use the art of persuasion via drawings and storytelling.
  • The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever – I also discovered this book during my teal/turquoise/blue period. I got tons of great ideas for coaching from this gem. I also truly appreciated all of the research. He mentions the 3 P’s (Projects, People, and Patterns) and each chapter chapter focuses on an overarching question (e.g. Kicktstart Question: What’s on Your Mind?, Focus Question: What’s the Real Challenge Here for You?, Strategic Question: If You are Saying Yes to This, What are You Saying No To?).


While I do read a lot of industry books, I also like to learn from my peers and others doing amazing things for teachers and students in the educational industry. The 6 books below are the educational ones that I read that I would also like to recommend to the batch or bushel:

  • Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World – This book is ever so timely. It is very much the essential guide to navigating the ephemeral and transactional communications woven into the language of social media online and IRL. I loved all of the exercises and practical applications. I can’t tell you how many times I have pulled from or referenced this book over the past few months.
  • Intention: Critical Creativity in the Classroom – First off. The authors of this book are Amy Burvall and Dan Ryder… two of my favorite people. If you are looking to infuse your class projects with creativity… this is the book for you. The book is quite dense with exciting challenges like “phrankenword”, B Side Ideas, One Word a Day Diaries, and so much more. The book is perfect for any English or World Language classroom. But honestly… every classroom will benefit from their thorough compilation of creative dishes.
  • Along Came a Leader: A Guide to Personal and Professional Leadership – You know I have to say I am not one for books on leadership because they tend to be heavy-handed, dry, or overly prescriptive. While this book did provide several ingredients, it was the author’s voice, experiences, and personal anecdotes that were thoughtfully baked in that really made this read a true gem. I found myself highlighting and jotting down quotes… and stopping frequently to ponder his thought-provoking and insightful questions embedded within each chapter. I know that I will be returning to this content throughout this coming year and really reviewing my own growth and experiences. Kelly also did a great job of including practical tips for maximizing meetings, solving problems and even introducing colleagues.
  • Hacking Project Based Learning: 10 Easy Steps to PBL and Inquiry in the Classroom – I haven’t really delved into PBL so this book was a fresh and not overbaked read. I appreciated all of the practical approaches and easy way to get started into PBL… that don’t take 20 hours. Ross and Erin tackled a complex topic and created a simplified straight-forward approach for any educator to dip their toe into PBL. I especially liked the “Overcoming Pushback” sections in each chapter where they addressed areas in instruction and assessment that might prove difficult to morph to PBL and shared solutions for each. This was a quick read and I am excited to put their ideas to action… especially their “Progress Assessment Tool”. I am also super stoked that Ross Cooper provided extra resources on his companion site like posters and question cards.
  • #FormativeTech: Meaningful, Sustainable, and Scalable Formative Assessment with Technology – Monica’s book is in the same vein as the Hacking PBL as you can pick it up and use it TODAY. It highlights multiple formative assessment tools that can be used across a variety of content areas and grade levels and matches them to sound pedagogical practices. The way she weaves in academic vocabulary makes the resource easy to access for a first year teacher or a veteran. QR codes are embedded within to instantly access resources and tools. Every step in the formative assessment process from data collection and evaluation to parent involvement is touched on and highlighted with tried and true staples of technology like Padlet, Kahoot, Nearpod, and Google Forms. My favorite resources were the examples of strong feedback and anchor charts for “how to make a quality comment” and “in a backchannel, my job is…”
  • Cultivating Communication in the Classroom: Future-Ready Skills for Secondary Students – While I am including my latest publication here, I will not say any more about it here. There are 30 thoughtful reviews on Amazon as well as 16 endorsements from educators all over the world within its pages. If the content speaks to you and you end up taking a gander and picking it up, please connect with me on Twitter or Facebook or via email… I would love to hear from you. 😉

I should mention that the header image only showcases 20 of the 26 books. I really wanted to have all of the books neatly displayed on an actual shelf but I am a bit OCD with my bookshelves and creating a shelf for this post would have totally messed with my fine-tuned system (color-coded, genre, see my complete organization strategy here) so I had to go digital with a cover collage like you see in the header. But just in case you wanted to see my system… I included a Thinglinked version below. 😉 Thanks so much for reading. Please remember to share your own book recommendations for 2018 too!


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.” SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave






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