Call us toll free: 210-710-2434
Best WP Theme Ever!
Call us toll free: 210-710-2434
14 Nov 2019
Comments: 0

Free Gratitude Trackers for Students

One of the things I find to be so valuable is reflection. More specifically, reflecting on what is important and what is meaningful and how that impacts my mood and my day.

If you have been following me lately, then you will know I have been on a bit of a tracker kick as my last blog posts have all been about tracking and included templates. You can find both of those linked below:

Chapter 4 of Creatively Productive is all about goal-setting and habit tracking and Chapter 5 is all about gratitude and reflective journaling. I have talked about my battle with anxiety and depression in other posts. What I haven’t talked about is how tracking, reflection, and gratitude are really helpful tools to have when navigating those circumstances.

Gratitude 411

Before I get too deep into gratitude trackers, I wanted to share a few articles and practices. If I were doing any activity like this with students and/or adult learners, the why is important. There is much research to support a positive correlation between gratitude and physical and mental health. This article, “14 Health Benefits of Practicing Gratitude”, would be a great place to start.

The gratitude trackers I share below are very much open-ended. If you would like to practice gratitude with your students, your faculty, or personally or professionally and you would like some more scaffolding, I am including a few additional resources:

  • How to Start a Gratitude Habit: This article gives some more examples for doing a 21 day challenge or even just building in the habit.
  • Tiny Prints Gratitude Challenge: Love! Love, Love this! It is a 21 day challenge but you could just select a week or a few of the prompts. Love that they split the prompts into sections “be grateful for what you have”, “be grateful for everything around you”, “be grateful for who you are”.
  • Weekly Reflection Questions: This is a template you can print and share/use or just borrow some of the inspiration from. (e.g. “What or who are you grateful for this week?, Who or what is keeping you motivated this week? What’s something positive from this week that you can bring into next week?”)
  • Doodle a Day Gratitude: The Doodle a Day activity is one that I share in Chapter 5 of Creatively Productive. I do this activity any time we have a long break (e.g. winter, spring, summer, etc…). It is a way for me to find and document something I am grateful for each day with a doodle. Here is an example of one I did this summer.

Activities like this could be easily incorporated into a reader’s/writer’s notebook or a unit on health.

THE TRACKERS

One could track gratitude without tracking mood but I feel like these things are related so having the option to track both in tandem seems to be helpful. I should also mention that our mood typically fluctuates throughout the day so how we are feeling in the morning may not be reflective of how we are feeling later in the evening so that is why I included a space for am and pm.

For mood and gratitude tracking, I created 2 digital editable versions and 1 PDF version.

  • Numbers: The Numbers version is editable and designed for MacBook, iPad, and iPhone. It is pretty simplistic in nature as I really wanted you and your students to have the opportunity to modify it as you see fit. It does include a drop down for mood that has text alongside emojis. As this tool is editable*, it is easy for students (or you) to modify the moods or add additional months.
  • Google Sheets: The Google Sheets version is editable* and almost identical to the Numbers version.
  • PDF: The PDF is intended to be printed and written in. As this one is a PDF, I don’t have the editable version. The PDF version is intended to be color coded (note the box of 5 squares that is intended to be a key at the bottom of the page) rather than tracked by emoji so one would choose a color to represent each mood and shade those in at the bottom and them track them accordingly throughout the month.

All 3 versions are available in the Creatively Productive Doc Locker (linked below) for FREE! 

* Editing. I wanted to make a quick note on editing the Numbers and Google Sheets versions. In Numbers, click on the cell and then Data Format. In Google Sheets, click on the cell and then Data Validation.

TRACKERS EXAMPLES

If you like the idea of trackers, more of these resources can be found in the Chapter 4 and 5 sections of the Creatively Productive companion site.

And I am also including a few completed examples of Mood and /or Gratitude trackers I gleaned from the Insta as I know completed examples are always helpful and because some use clever mood classifications.

FREEBIES AND GOODIES OH MY!

And Don’t forget ALL 3 Mood and Health Trackers as well as lots more templates, digital downloads, goodies 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.

Receive Access to the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker

* indicates required

WANT TO COOK UP A NEW RECIPE FOR LEARNING?

1. Insta With Me | Pin With Me | FB With Me | Tweet With Me 

2. Get Weekly Tips for Being Creatively Productive

3. Have Me Come to your School, Event, or Conference

4. Explore My Books


23 Oct 2019
Comments: 0

FREE Mood & Health Trackers for Students

One of my favorite things is to create and curate content for others. In fact, that is one of the major reasons that I created TechChef4u almost a decade ago. For some reason it makes me think of my mom… she loves to bake for others and gets enjoyment out of knowing that they relished their goodies. I feel the same way. I love to create content that others can use with their students or even personally or professionally.

I have been on a bit of a tracker kick and so it just makes sense to continue with that trend. Chapter 4 of Creatively Productive is all about goal-setting and habit tracking. Last semester, I worked with our campus Challenge Success team which was made up of admin, curriculum specialists, counselors, teachers, and students to highlight how mood can be improved by things like sleep, drinking water, exercise, spending time outside, and even listening to music.

THE ACTIVITIES

This type of tracking is a great activity for a science or health classroom but could also be an awesome activity to weave into a writer’s notebook as they could track how they feel and their thoughts, feelings, and reflections to each day’s activities and how they may or may not correspond to their mood. I have always heard that we are poor historians of our past so tracking things like this and being mindful is such a great reflective activity to really pay attention to how certain activities may impact mood and just being aware of your moods throughout the day and even the week… possibly even noticing trends or correlations.

To promote each day’s focus, we created an activity to anchor it:

  1. Monday: Power Naps in the Principal’s conference room. We dragged a bunch of beanbags and brought in some scented oil and calm music. I didn’t have anyone show up… so we will have to rethink this one. It would be cool to get a bunch of hammocks but not sure on the feasibility or safety issues involved with that. I would advocate that you have a quiet study room available on campus somewhere that students could utilize throughout the day though.
  2. Tuesday: Drink More Water stickers. Now this one was fun. I had the awesome Fred Benitez, fellow Ed Tech and Freelance Graphic Designer, create a logo and then I used Sticker Mule to print a bunch of stickers that came on rolls (see pic below). We divided up the stickers and gave them to student helpers and they handed them out to anyone they saw filling up their refillable water bottles at the water fountains. (Use this link and get a FREE $10 sticker credit at Sticker Mule). BTW – I should also mention that Fred’s sad food work is kind of adorable and amazing!
  3. Wednesday: Hula Hoops and Yoga. This one was fun too. We had someone certified to teach yoga volunteer in the library during lunch and then we had hula hoops in the courtyard. I will say once you get a few students using these and laughing, many more will come.
  4. Thursday: Live Bands. This one unfortunately got rained out but we have done these before and the students really like it. Typically, you can always find a student led band that would like to play. You could also just play music during lunch.
  5. Friday: Sunlight and Popsicles. This was by far the most successful. It also turned out that at the same time we scheduled this, theater had bubble machines, music, and chalk in the commons. Seriously, kids loved going outside and were delighted to get free popsicles. Only thing to remember is that these popsicles take FOREVER to fully freeze so freeze them a week in advance and don’t stack boxes on top of each other in the cafeteria’s walk-in freezer. We learned that the hard way.

THE TRACKERS

One could totally do this activity without the trackers. I think it is more meaningful to use the trackers alongside the activities so students can see if there any correlations and really to just encourage mindfulness of the activities we build into our day (e.g. going outside, listening to music, exercise) and the biological imperatives (drinking enough water and getting enough sleep).

For this activity, I created 2 digital editable versions and 1 PDF version.

  • Numbers: The Numbers version is editable and designed for MacBook, iPad, and iPhone. It includes a drop down for mood, a stepper for sleep, a slider for water and exercise, and a pop up menu for music and time outside. As this tool is editable*, it is easy for students (or you) to add or delete columns or change intervals/increments. One column that might be interesting to track could be free time or even pleasure reading.
  • Google Sheets: The Google Sheets version is editable* and almost identical to the Numbers version with the exception that the sleep, water, and exercise are fill in the blank and the listen to music and time outside are check boxes. One unique feature of the Google Sheets version is that I played with conditional formatting so the sleep, water, and exercise cells will change to green, red, or yellow based on the number that one inputs. I based these on national averages but obviously as it is editable, feel free to make changes accordingly.
  • PDF: The PDF is intended to be printed and written in. As this one is a PDF, I don’t have the editable version. As it is so similar to the Numbers and Google Sheets version, you could just edit by removing the data formatting and print those out as a PDF and achieve a similar result.

All 3 versions are available in the Creatively Productive Doc Locker (linked below) for FREE! 

* Editing. I wanted to make a quick note on editing the Numbers and Google Sheets versions. In Numbers, click on the cell and then Data Format. In Google Sheets, click on the cell and then Data Validation. Also, if you are planning on changing the conditional formatting in Google Sheets, right click on the cell and then Conditional Formatting.

If you like the idea of trackers, more of these resources can be found in the Chapter 4 section of the Creatively Productive companion site.

Keeping TRACK of STUDENT ACTIVITIES and LEARNING

As you know, I love working with students. Over the years, I have offered a variety of sessions, activities, and experiences. Here are a few more blog posts that detail some of these:

FREEBIES AND GOODIES OH MY!

And Don’t forget ALL 3 Mood and Health Trackers as well as lots more templates, digital downloads, goodies 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.

Receive Access to the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker

* indicates required

WANT TO COOK UP A NEW RECIPE FOR LEARNING?

1. Insta With Me | Pin With Me | FB With Me | Tweet With Me 

2. Get Weekly Tips for Being Creatively Productive

3. Have Me Come to your School, Event, or Conference

4. Explore My Books


16 Oct 2019
Comments: 0

3 FREE Reading Trackers for Students

As you well know, I love crafting and creating content and tools for others… whether it be iLesson recipes or templates.

Over the past few weeks, our campus instructional team has been visiting with many of the ELA PLC’s. One of the topics we have been discussing is pleasure or independent reading. More specifically, how often it happens per week, how students complete reader responses, what pathways are being sued for book talks/recommendations, and how teachers are doing student conferences.

Within this discussion, how students are actually tracking what they read also came up. As you also know, I love habit trackers. What you may not know is for the first time in I can remember, I read 43 books last year… and I have to credit that accomplishment to keeping a running tally of the books I had read as well as a reading next list. Both of these tools helped me with momentum and progress… so I decided to create 3 different versions for you and your students to explore.

3 Versions of Reading Trackers

Some students and classes use analog trackers and others digital ones. Some track the different genres they read. Others track the number of pages. And some use a spreadsheet as a bookmark to note where they left on their book. As I can’t possibly address all of the use cases and variables with a tool like this, I created 3 different versions and made sure 2 were editable so you could with them as you see fit.

  • Numbers: The Numbers version is editable and designed for MacBook, iPad, and iPhone. It includes a drop down for genre (which can be modified) as well as a touch star rating system. As this tool is editable*, it is easy for students to add or delete columns easily based on how many books they read.
  • Google Sheets: The Google Sheets version is editable* and almost identical to the Numbers version with the exception that the touch star rating is a drop down. Again, the tool is editable, so feel free to make modifications and/or have your students do so.
  • PDF: The PDF is intended to be printed and shaded in. As this one is a PDF, I don’t have the editable version. I was assured for secondary, that 3 books a 9 weeks would be plenty. If you find that you like this version but would like more books added to it or like it for a 6 weeks, just let me know (techchef4u@gmail.com) and I can create some alternate versions. I should also mention that there is a key at the bottom so students would choose a color to represent each genre and then shade books accordingly after they have read them.

All 3 versions are available in the Creatively Productive Doc Locker (linked below) for FREE!

* Editing. I wanted to make a quick note on editing the Numbers and Google Sheets versions. In Numbers, click on the cell and then Data Format. In Google Sheets, click on the cell and the Data Validation.

What Else?

I never like to leave you without a +1 or a Yes… And… so here goes…

Hope this helps you with your travels down the rabbit hole of all things reading journals, notebooks, and trackers…

FREEBIES AND GOODIES OH MY!

And Don’t forget ALL 3 Reading Trackers as well as lots more templates, digital downloads, goodies 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.

Receive Access to the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker

* indicates required

WANT TO COOK UP A NEW RECIPE FOR LEARNING?

1. Insta With Me | Pin With Me | FB With Me | Tweet With Me 

2. Get Weekly Tips for Being Creatively Productive

3. Have Me Come to your School, Event, or Conference

4. Explore My Books



15 Sep 2019
Comments: 0

12 Time Management Tools for Students

Time Management is by far one of my favorite topics to discuss. I have always been fascinated with lists, life hacks, and productivity processes but over the past few years, I have really noticed that this is a skill that students desperately need support with as well. That’s why I felt so adamant and passionate about adding it as a whole chapter in my latest book, Creatively Productive. When I was asked to put together a session for students this year, I was elated for two reasons. One because I love talking about this topic and two because I love working with students.

As you know, I love curating resources as well as creating templates and goodies so I thought I would spend the rest of this blog post doing a bit of both.

Why is Time Management Important?

I always like to start with the Why. Before I put together any additional resources, I did a little more research and discovered two recent studies that both cited Time Management as one of the top 5 soft skills.

What is Time Management?

After I set the case for Time Management, I think it is important to define it, so we talk about all of the different skills and processes that are impacted by and/or are directly related to time management using this awesome article here. Some of the biggest take-aways are the ability to goal-set, prioritize, break down tasks, really know yourself, and audit and readjust.

Another fun activity is to take a quick quiz to get a feel for how one’s current time management skills measure up. Here are a few of my favorites:

What Tips and Tools Do You have for Time Management?

Tips and tools are really important as everyone schedules their time differently, so we talked about batching tasks (e.g. categorizing and grouping similar types of tasks… researching, creating, phone calls, social media rather than switching from individual task to task), and time blocking (e.g . blocking out time ahead of time to complete a task or project at a certain time of day). From there we dove into analog and digital tools.

Tips
  • Time Blocking: Time blocking is really just being aware of what needs to be done, how long you think it might take, and when in your day you will have the most energy to complete certain tasks and planning your calendar accordingly. Also, see “Time Blocking 101” and “Become a Timeblocking Champ with these Practices”.
  • Batching Tasks: Batching tasks is the idea that you take similar tasks and group them together rather than switch from one task to another. For me, I try to bundle all of my creative tasks in one chunk of time, my email in another, phone calls in yet another so I am not switching in between tasks randomly. It isn’t always possible but it is great to be at least be mindful about how your focus may drain throughout the day and plan accordingly. “How to Batch Tasks with Google Calendar to Increase Focus and Productivity”.
Digital Tools

Not gonna lie, y’all… I am more of an analog person when it comes to do lists and planners and such. I use a pairing of Google Calendar and a Passion Planner. That being said… I would never dictate or assume that one tool or type of tool is the best fit for everyone so I tend to share a variety of both analog and digital tools with students and suggest they explore, test them out, and decide what works best for them.

  1. Google Calendar: For this, we talk about time blocking and using Google calendar to set reminders (e.g. 2 days before a project is due, 1 day before a quiz, etc…)
  2. Wunderlist (now Microsoft To Do): This one is great as you can create folders, lists, star items, add sub tasks, create reminders, and add images and files.
  3. Google Keep: Google Keep is fantastic as you can label and color code notes, add drawings, have paper backgrounds (e.g. blank, square, dots, ruled), create checkboxes, utilize speech to text, and even convert images of text into text using OCR technology.
  4. Screen Time: iOS 12 released Screen Time. While this is not a to do list tool, it is great for students that need to set downtime and manage their distractions throughout the day.
  5. Forest: This is the only paid one in the list. It is like a gamified version of Screen Time. You set a timer to stay off of your phone and while you do, your tree or foliage grows. If you fail, the tree dies. If you succeed, you start building a forest. There is some altruism built into this too which I love.
  6. Self Control: I used this during my 30 Day Social Media Detox but it is really great to use anytime you just need to focus and you don’t want to rely on your own dwindling self control.
  7. Stay Focused: This is a Google Chrome Extension that works similarly to Self Control.
Analog Tools

I am a planner girl all the way. I use a blend of a bullet journal, planner, and reader’s notebook and I love exploring analog options… mainly because they force me into an environment in which I find less distractions and more focus … and somewhat because I love my Sharpie fine tip pens and washi tape. All of these ideas are shared in the time management chapter of Creatively Productive in greater detail but I wanted to summarize them here as well.

  1. Productivity Bingo: This is one of my favorites. The original idea is from lalalauren.creates. It is a gamified to do list where one places their tasks in squares and rewards oneself when they bingo. Her example here shows how you can break tasks into subtasks as well. Here is a student example and one of my examples here and one more here.
  2. MindMapped To Do Lists: Many times I need to either batch tasks by focus (e.g. creating, troubleshooting, planning, etc…) and/or include subtasks. This is a way for me to do that. (Example linked here and here).
  3. Things To Do Weekly Planner Template: This is one of my favorites. As you know, I love planners. Some of our students have them and others would prefer something simple and targeted to them so I created the custom template below. The front is fairly self-explanatory. The back includes a month display and a list of questions to support students with mindful planning. (FREE download can be found below in CP Digital Doc Locker).
  4. Project Planner: This is an idea I adapted from one of my teachers. It is really used to teach students to break down tasks and plan accordingly when they are assigned a group project. (FREE download can be found below in CP Digital Doc Locker).
  5. Time Management Forms: These have been adapted from the examples in the Overloaded and Underprepared book. It is really a way to support students with looking at how they spend their time during the evening and on weekends, what their commitments are, and how much time that will leave them for homework, sleep, etc… We have been using these at the high school level for the past 3 years or so. (Example linked here).

I had several students ask for the slide deck and I have been asked to come into another one of our CTE courses and share this lesson this week so feeling like this content resonated with them. Would love your thoughts. If you do something like this, please email me at techchef4u@gmail.com to chat and/or post in the comments.

STUDENTS NEED PD TOO!

As you know, I am a firm believer that Students Need Professional Development too. Here are a few more blog posts that detail topics and tips I share with students:

FREEBIES AND GOODIES OH MY!

Oh, OMT… The Things to Do template and Project Planning Guide and lots more digital downloads and goodies 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.

Receive Access to the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker

* indicates required

WANT TO COOK UP A NEW RECIPE FOR LEARNING?

1. Insta With Me | Pin With Me | FB With Me | Tweet With Me 

2. Get Weekly Tips for Being Creatively Productive

3. Have Me Come to your School, Event, or Conference

4. Explore My Books


04 Sep 2019
Comments: 0

Fake Instagram Template

It seems somewhat fitting that after my last posts on my 30 Day Social Media Detox that I would write about social media… well sort of. Also, most of my time that I do spend on social media… happens to be on Instagram @NoteChef4u so there’s that too.

As you know, I love to create digital and analog goodies. There are many for FREE available for download on the Creatively Productive companion site. At the beginning of school, one of my teachers asked me to help her with a fake Instagram template as a get to know you activity for students. She was building it in Google Docs. I knew the power, potential, and possibility of creating it in Keynote… so away I went.

Using the Template

For now I just have this in Keynote. If I get more interest, I will definitely create these for PPT too. They are meant to work as a template so each of the gray tiles, including the circular one for the profile pic, is a placeholder. When students import a photo (or a video) within the placeholder tile, it retains the frame. Additionally, I built the slide deck to mimic the functionality of Instagram and to also double as an actual presentation tool so each of the squares will link to a slide that allows you to add a description and/or #’s and then link back to original 9 tiles.

Two Templates for the Price of One

Okay… technically, these templates are FREE (and they will work on Macbook, iPad, or iPhone). I just wanted to make sure that you knew there were two different versions:

  • Generic: There is a generic one that is just 9 plain photo tiles.
  • Specific with Prompts: As this was originally a get to know you activity, I also created one with specific icons and text prompts (e.g. favorite quote or song, favorite weekend activity, what you had for breakfast, someone that inspires you, and what’s in your backpack?). Some of these are very specific types of things that people post on Instagram and others are more of getting to know you prompts. Please don’t discount the specific one though… as you can use it with World Languages or even for a literary or historical figure reimagining.

Extending the Use of the Template

Sure, you could still use this as a get to know you activity with staff and/or adult learners BUT there are so many more quick curricular possibilities. Certainly not an exhaustive list… just something to help you percolate. Here are just a few:

  • Science: Each of the 9 squares could represent an element or one row of 3 could be carnivores, one row herbivores, and one row omnivores.
  • Math: Each of the 9 squares could be a polygon, type of angle, word problem, etc…
  • English: One could create a fake Instagram for a character in a book. They could also depict a poem in 9 separate icons, or 9 different vocabulary words, or 9 different scenes in a book.
  • Social Studies: One idea might be to have them create a fake Instagram for a cause or a historical figure. They could also use it to depict 9 important events.
  • CTE: This would be a cool way to play around with creating a fake resume and talk about what images and content they share online and what they would highlight for a job.
  • World Language: My German and French teachers jumped at using the template as practice for basic vocabulary. They actually used the specific template versus the generic one. You could give students prompts for each of the 9 and even have them add a video to one or all of the tiles instead of a still image.
  • Fine Art: They could use it as a portfolio for their work or a project, to highlight multiple parts of the project/piece, or to showcase 9 artists that inspired them.

Again, certainly not an exhaustive list. I really wanted to get this blog post out to you and share the idea so you could explore this tool with your students further. If you end up using it with students, I would be ever so grateful to be tagged on Twitter or Facebook @TechChef4u or email me at techchef4u@gmail.com if you would like me to share student samples (with permission of course).

Freebies and Goodies Oh My!

Oh, OMT… The two templates and lots more digital downloads and goodies 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.

Receive Access to the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker

* indicates required

Want to Cook Up a New Recipe for Learning?

1. Insta With Me | Pin With Me | FB With Me | Tweet With Me 

2. Get Weekly Tips for Being Creatively Productive

3. Have Me Come to your School, Event, or Conference

4. Explore My Books


13 May 2019
Comments: 0

8 Lessons Learned From a 30 Day Social Media Detox

Well, I’m back after my 30 Day Social Media Detox. I have totally figured out my mission, have achieved work life balance, and discovered an infinite fountain of positivity and self compassion. If this sounds a little too good to be true, that’s because it is. In reality, a 30 Day Social Media Detox is not meant to solve every problem… more to allow you to go back to ground zero and really take a look at what role(s) social media plays in your life.

Since, it is May and Mental Health Awareness, I am going to be 40 this year, and because I think full transparency is necessary for authenticity and to help others. I struggle. I struggle with work life balance. I struggle with anxiety and depression. I struggle with balancing being a mom, wife, and full time educator with being an author, finding time to blog, and to share ideas with the greater edusphere. I struggle with self-worth and I don’t give myself nearly enough grace and self-compassion. Before the social media detox, I had pretty much done away with all personal social media and really only use social media in a professional capacity… to network, to learn and be inspired by others, and to share my own ideas and what I am doing.

I can also tell you that the hardest part of a 30 Day Social Media Detox is not doing it… it is coming back. Honestly, it was easy giving it up for 30 days. I regained easily 6-8 hours a week that I was spending consuming and crafting content. And it was easy to not watch everyone’s highlight reel play out in several feeds and then feel badly about myself, and the quality and/or quantity of what I do. So what now? What is the magic answer? Honestly, there isn’t one magic answer. Some people can spend hours connecting online and sharing with others. For some it energizes them. For others, while they love doing it and find purpose and value in it, it can be draining.

While I don’t have the perfect answer, I do know there are 3 things that matter to me most: 1) Alone Time: for me, I have to be alone with my thoughts from time to time. 2) Creating: I have always loved to create and this is how I make sense of things and share ideas worth implementing with my audience. 3) Respect: I truly want to create, communicate, and curate with respect and hopefully have people respect my narrative and the authenticity that it entails.

So, while I have made most of this blog post about me, I want to share some things I feel like will be useful for you. But before I do that, I want to be clear. These are my personal opinions and experiences. And everyone is different so some ideas may resonate with you and some may not… and that is totally okay. When I wrote Creatively Productive, I was clear that the strategies I shared were just that… strategies… not one size fits all magic antidotes. And the tips, tools, and tricks that may work for you today, may not work for you in another season of your life. What I can tell you… is that I never stop trying and exploring. If you aren’t looking to find a zen like balance with social media, then a 30 day detox may not be for you. And again… that is okay. For me, I was looking for a way to regain some control and balance and to clear my head and this 30 Day Social Media Detox was necessary for me to do just that. So now on to the lessons learned:

  1. You Have to Know Your Why but it Can Be Adjusted Along the Way: If you are going to embark on a 30 Day Social Media Detox, have a why. My entire Why and How is detailed in this blog post. For me, it was a way to reset, re-evaluate, refocus, and reconstruct. What I failed to remember, until a week or so in, was how busy and stressful the months of April and May are for an educator. I work full time as an Educational Technologist and I only have 24 hours like everyone else. The beauty of the 30 Day Social Media Detox was that it afforded me 6-8 extra hours a week during a time I really needed them. So if you are finding that there is a stressful month coming up, it might be a good time to consider one of these.
  2. Old Habits Are Hard to Break: While I removed access to all social media sites on my computer and deleted all social media apps from my phone (more on this process here), I quickly realized that the knee jerk reaction to refill the infinity pool of content was still there. I would randomly check my email and refresh it or go to Amazon and check my book’s rankings which were updated hourly (I know… not my finest hour… pun intended). So about two weeks in, I removed Safari, Amazon, and my email apps from my phone and found that my need to pick up my phone without purpose was slowly dissipating. I also realized I had a better work life balance because when I opened up my laptop, I could really focus on email rather than compulsively checking it, worrying about it, being distracted, and then waiting till I got to a computer to send a lengthier response. This process also allowed me to set better boundaries and be more proactive rather than reactive.
  3. You May Not Miss it As Much As You Think You Will: Sure there were times where I wanted to post a pic of my kid or share a cool idea. Instead I wrote those things down and oftentimes still shared them… just in my newsletter. The time away gave me a moment to pause and consider my purpose and relationship with social media. Now that I am back on, I am more mindful about the types of interactions I seek and the time I allot for those interactions… though this will be continually to evolve as I explore limits.
  4. You Will Discover What Your Real Relationship with Social Media is: I learned really quickly that I use social media as a cure for boredom and entertainment. And while there is nothing necessarily wrong with that… for me, entertainment is not messages I need to answer, feeds of comparisons, and the constant twitch to post content. Now please don’t misconstrue my message. I love social media and I find a lot of purpose to it but what I realized is that I can still have those interactions but if I need to relax or shut down my brain, a Netflix series, time with my bullet journal, a board game with my boys, a book in my hands, or going to bed early was better suited to my needs.
  5. Time Away Helps You Rethink Your Relationships with People Online (and IRL): A few days in I realized that many of the interactions I have with people in my social media PLN are many times surface level and ephemeral… in that they are based on quick feeds and textual conversations. It just made me realize that I wanted to connect with people on a deeper level. I immediately made a list of inspiring people in my PLN that I wanted to start connecting with more and plan on reaching out to them to do a monthly GHO or Skype. I also realized I wasn’t on my phone nearly as much at social In Real Life (IRL) events which helped me be a better listener, communicator, and more present for the people I cared about.
  6. Sometimes You Need a Visual Reminder: Towards the end of the detox, I realized I might need a visual reminder to keep me in check so I created this iPhone wallpaper (see below) to remind me of what my values are and to give me a way to check in with myself rather than aimlessly use my device. I borrowed some of the questions and phrasing from Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism and Jake Knapp’s and John Zeratsky’s Make Time.
  7. Make Sure You Have an Exit Plan: The next thing… is to have a plan… before, during, and after. My plan for before and during is detailed here. I also journaled when things came to me through the 30 days. The harder part was devising a plan for social media when the barriers were removed. I quickly learned that managing moderation is far more difficult than banning something entirely. This leads me to #8.
  8. Keep What Works: There were a few things over this month that I plan to keep in place moving forward. First, the only social media app that I reinstalled on my phone was Instagram (mainly because I love the filters and because there is no way to post on Instagram without the app unless you are using a tool like Planoly). The rest of my social media apps I plan to access via my laptop. I also am leaving the Self Control app on my Macbook and exploring setting defaults for time to use social media during the day rather than always having it at my fingertips… also because I know my self control is weak and setting defaults allows me to be more focused rather than hoping my will power will be in tact at all times. For now, I am also keeping Safari and email off of my phone. Many others have explored the idea of a Distraction Free phone and had success with it, and so far…so have I.

I can’t tell you that I have it all figured out, but what I can tell is you is that I am seeking balance. I am also hoping to draft another blog post 30-60 days out to share how this process is working and what tweaks I have made.


Want to Cook Up a New Recipe for Learning?

1. Insta With Me | Pin With Me | FB With Me | Tweet With Me 

2. Get Weekly Tips for Being Creatively Productive

3. Have Me Come to your School, Event, or Conference

4. Explore My Books


03 Apr 2019
Comments: 0

30 Day Digital Detox/Declutter: Why and How

I have always been an observer and one that enjoys collecting and curating ideas. Lately, I have noticed some trends in books (see below… I highly recommend all 4) as well as some trends in peers’ online behavior:

I feel like these ideas and trends have led me to feel like I have permission to take a much needed break from social media for a variety of reasons. Now, you know that I don’t follow trends to follow trends… I have my own purposes too. 😉

Why:

  • What am I modeling?: My boys are getting older and as I scroll mindlessly through Instagram, I start to wonder what digital wellness habits I am modeling?
  • Why don’t I have time to create?: My core value is to create. I have to… it gives me purpose and it is the way that I process and make sense of the world. The problem is that I spend so much time either crafting social media posts or scrolling through them that I am not living up to my creative potential. While social media is vital for sharing and collecting ideas and inspirations, I feel like all I am doing is filling up on appetizers and then never having any time for the real meat of my own content creations… blog posts, printables, videos, etc…
  • Why do I feel this way?: I have lots of thoughts and feelings. Everyone does. I also struggle daily with anxiety and depression and many times mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram feeds doesn’t do me any favors. With social media, I feel like I am being constantly reactive but not really proactive in creating content that really matters in the long run. I also feel like I am in need of a priority tune-up and the only way for me to really do that is to remove the external noise so I can take a moment and figure out what control, balance, happiness, and success looks like in this season of my life.

What I Have Already Done:

  • Alarm Clock: Got an actual Alarm Clock and Charge my Phone in Another Room.
  • Light up Pen: Bought a light up pen to put on a nightstand with a pad of paper for late night ideas (rather than using my phone).
  • Screen Time: Track my Screen Time through apps like Moment and Screen Time in iOS12.
  • Unsubscribe: Use Unroll.Me to unsubscribe from unwanted emails (more on this in Email Bankruptcy).
  • Desktop Zen: Create a Custom Desktop Organizer for Desktop Zen and Focus.
  • Facebook App: Deleted FB app from my phone (this is the one that was the biggest time suck for me prior to Instagram).
  • Facebook Shortcuts: Change shortcut to Facebook in toolbar to go to my Facebook page and not my personal Facebook feed so when I go to Facebook, I go with a purpose.
  • Analog Notes: Take Analog Notes to remove my digital distractions.
  • Books: Read predominantly Paper copies of Books and started a reader’s notebook to help with retention.
  • Planner and Bullet Journal: Got planner and bullet journal to help with time management and reflection (I go deeper into planners, bullet journaling, analog notes and reader’s notebooks in my new book, Creatively Productive).

How I Plan To Do a 30 Day Social Media Digital Detox:

  • Delete Social Media Shortcuts from Computer: Delete ALL shortcuts to social media from my bookmarks bar.
  • Really Restrict Social Media from my Computer: I have self control… I do… but sometimes I get bored and sometimes the habit of typing “Facebook” or “Twitter” into my browser bar is strong. So, I downloaded the FREE Self Control app. You type in the sites you don’t want access to and then it blocks them for a specific amount of time. In my case… I just block it for 24 hours every morning.
  • Delete Social Media Apps for Phone or Tablet: Delete ALL social media apps (turn it into a “distraction free” phone) from my phone (and maybe email if need be).
  • Let People Know: Put a graphic to my blog about the detox on all of my social media accounts (something like Roni’s) so people know what is going on and how they can still connect with you (e.g. in person, text, call, GHO, Skype, email, blog, newsletter).
  • Reading Reminder: Put a graphic on my phone to remind me to read a book (see Austin Kleon’s example).
  • Book Keeping: Keep an actual book with me at all times.
  • Remove Notifications: Turn off all notifications on my phone and Macbook (except phone and text).
  • Track and Reflect: Track what I do and how I feel throughout the digital declutter (will most likely use a combination of an app like Daylio and an actual journal).

I hope this helps. I will be blogging through the process and sharing my thoughts and feelings along the way. In the interim, check out Roni’s post “After the 30-Day Social Media Ban: What Surprised Me & What I’m Changing”. And if you want to take a super deep dive into the particulars of configuring your iPhone for productivity and focus, this article is for you “How to Configure Your iPhone to Work for You, Not Against You”.


Want to Cook Up a New Recipe for Learning?

1. Insta With Me | Pin With Me | FB With Me | Tweet With Me 

2. Get Weekly Tips for Being Creatively Productive

3. Have Me Come to your School, Event, or Conference

4. Explore My Books


11 Mar 2019
Comments: 0

SXSWEDU 19 Recap

SXSWEDU is one of my favorite conferences to go to. It is the intersection of current events and trends, culture, and education and has the pulse of K-12 educators, higher ed, politics, and software/hardware industries.

SXSWEDU is different from many of the conferences that I attend in that it is more about big ideas and large scale practices rather than quick tools that you can use in your classroom tomorrow. That being said, there was lots to be learned and shared, and the 7 things I list below are worth checking out and investigating further. 😏

  1. No Tech4U – Students’ Stories of Tech Abstinence: Joan Hughes Ph.D., UT Austin associate professor, and Hsiao-Ping Hsu, UT Austin Ph.D. candidate, shared their research from their 24 hour tech abstinence challenge. They talked about 8 storylines of awareness that emerged (e.g. FOMO, Relationship Breaker, Relationship Connector, Real-Life Blocker, Personal Assistant, Distraction, Addiction, and Educational Benefit). I can’t do this session justice in a bullet point so I highly advise you to visit their session resources, slide deck, and research paper. (Link to slide deck / Link to everything) The full podcast of the session is also available! (Link to podcast)
  2. The Aerodynamics of Exceptional Schools: I have been a fan of Jennifer Gonzalez and her “Cult of Pedagogy” for some time now. In fact, I even highlight her work in my first book Cultivating Communication in the Classroom. Her keynote did not disappoint. It really addressed how to make progress and overcome negativity and self-doubt. She used a 9 step plan (e.g. take a breath, find allies, set precise goals, expect bumps, invite, validate, be transparent, praise, and dig deep). You know I love metaphors and visual literacy and this keynote brought it all. The full keynote is available here. (Link to SXSWEDU keynote)
  3. Dial Down the Stress Without Dumbing Down School: This session included Denise Pope Ph.D., author of Overloaded and Underprepared, and Ian Kelleher Ph.D., The Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning. If you are looking to use research-based and informed strategies with your students, this blog is for you! (Link to blog). This session was also recorded and the podcast is lined. (Link to podcast)
  4. Building Empathy Through Storytelling: 826 National and the Cartoon Network partnered to focus on SEL writing prompts that focus on a wide variety of topics. The site offers sparks, lessons, projects, and exemplars and you can sort by grade level and type of writing). You do have to create an account to access the resources and while they are FREE, there is the ability to offer an optional donation in exchange for using the resources if you choose to do so. (Link to resources)
  5. U Good? Empowering Students to Manage Chronic Stress: This session was put on by the American Public Health Association’s Center for School Health and Education. They had a lot of practical ideas for navigating this topic. The full podcast of the session is also available. (Link to podcast). My favorite part was the student created music video that tackled the topic of gun violence. The trailer for this video is posted here. I am told the full length video should be up soon.
  6. Reconstruction: America After the Civil War: This was by far one of my favorite SXSWEDU experiences. Henry Louis Gates Jr., documentarian extraordinaire, and Paula Kerger, President and CEO of PBS, talked about the upcoming 4 hour documentary “Reconstruction: America After the Civil War” which will air April 9th and 16th. Henry stated that the documentary would be a nuanced and balanced story using testimonies from 44 historians. His goal was not to preach propaganda but to get people to think. The 60 minute SXSWEDU keynote by the same name gives you an idea of what is to come. (Link to SXSWEDU Keynote) I should also mention that the podcast version of this talk is also available. (Link to podcast)
  7. Communities in Schools Mosaic Challenge: As you know, I love art and mixed media and writing. And when you bring all of these things together to promote awareness, you have a recipe to understand “the challenges and triumphs students across America experience every day.” What We Are Made Of is a mosaic portrait series. Each art piece tells a story of success and struggle through the objects included. This is another one that I won’t do justice for with my words alone SO PLEASE HEAD ON OVER TO THE SITE NOW! (Link to site).

But Wait… There’s More

Trying to keep this post short and sweet BUT if conference recaps totally float your boat, I do have a few more housed here.

Want to Cook Up a New Recipe for Learning?

1. Insta With Me | Pin With Me | FB With Me | Tweet With Me 

2. Get Weekly Tips for Being Creatively Productive

3. Have Me Come to your School, Event, or Conference

4. Explore My Books


13 Dec 2018
Comments: 0

NCTE 2018

I attended NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) for the first time a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it. There were clearly two topics that I felt drawn to. The first… visual literacy and the second…females and their identities in literature.

I should also mention the phrase “mirrors and windows and sliding glass doors” that I consistently heard throughout the conference. Mirrors…the idea of someone like you being reflected in the book and knowing that your narrative matters and windows…exploring and seeing other people, cultures, and lifestyles. It was nice to be reminded that in addition to reading for pleasure, books can be vehicles for change, empathy, social justice, and exploring alternate world views. This Scholastic article goes a little deeper into the topic.

When I do one of these recaps, I am seeking to do two things, 1) organize and reflect on all of the ideas and resources AND 2) create a resource that is easy to navigate for others that may not have attended these sessions or NCTE at all. 

Rather than going session by session and transcribing my notes, I have decided to include the best ideas, resources, and books shared from the event. Enjoy. 😉

Ideas and Instructional Practices

  1. 4 Quadrants: Harvey Daniels @smokeylit talked about looking at each quadrant of an image or piece of art and noting what you see, think, wonder, and infer. 
  2. Visual KWLs: Tanny McGregor @TannyMcG shared a KWL and noted examples of visual KWL’s which I loved. She has multiple examples linked here. And her new book Ink and Ideas: Sketchnotes for Engagement, Comprehension, and Thinking is available as well. 
  3. Gender in Art: This was probably my favorite. Nancy Steineke @nsteineke primed us with the question, “How does this art define women and men? Who they are? What they do? And the implied gender expectations? She then had us divide a sheet of paper into 2 columns: Men in Art (1200-1530) and Women in Art (1270-1519) and began to show us art pieces from that time frame and had us document our noticing. My Men in Art section had words like protector, violent, and active and Women in Art had words like madonna, care-taker, virgin, prim, matriarchal, religious, and passive. A fantastic idea to blend gender norms and visual literacy. (Presentation Linked HERE).

Resources/Links

  1. CBLDF’s Using Graphic Novels in Education (lots of resources for using graphic novels in education)
  2. Lion Forge Educator (lots of resources and lesson plans for using comics and graphic novels in the classroom)
  3. Fierce Females: Owning Their Strong Voices and Bodies (a fantastic curated tour through books and current topics like gender roles and strength, standards of beauty, love and relationships across the rainbow, confronting mental health, and much more).
  4. Fierce Females Book List (categorizes books about privilege and intersectionality, mental health and wellness, love and relationships, gender roles, and standards of beauty)
  5. KidLit Women podcast (“A podcast of interviews and essays focusing on women’s and gender issues, including non-binary and gender fluidity, in the children’s literature community and all its intersectionality!”)
  6. ALA Amelia Bloomer List (“an annual annotated book list of well-written and well-illustrated books with significant feminist content, intended for young readers (ages birth through 18).”.
  7. Lambda Literacy List (largest LGBTQ literary community in the world)

Nonfiction Books and Awesome Authors

  1. Ink and Ideas: Sketchnotes for Engagement, Comprehension, and Thinking by Tanny McGregor
  2. Mental Illness in Young Adult Literature: Exploring Real Struggles though Fictional Characters by Kia Jane Richmond
  3. Taming the Wild Text: Literacy Strategies for Today’s Reader by Pam Allyn and Monica Burns
  4. Worth a Thousand Words: Using Graphic Novels to Teach Visual and Verbal Literacy by Meryl Jaffe and Talia Harwich 
  5. The Write Thing: Kwame Alexander Engages Students in Writing Workshop by Kwame Alexander

 

Fiction Books and Awesome Authors

  1. Sharon Draper’s Blended and Tears of Tiger (and many more)
  2. Renee Watson’s Piecing Me Together and Watch Us Rise
  3. Brigid Kemmerer Letters to the Lost and More than We Can Tell (and many more)
  4. Gabby Rivera’s Juliet Takes a Breath
  5. Padma Venkataraman’s Climbing the Stairs and The Bridge Home (and many more)
  6. Abbey Lee Nash’s Lifeline
  7. Katherine Locke’s The Girl with the Red Balloon and The Spy with the Red Balloon.
  8. Kim Briggs’s author of Star Fall (and many more)
  9. Jennifer Holm’s Swing it, Sunny (and so many more
  10. John Hendrix’s The Faithful Spy and Drawing is Magic: Discovering yourself in a Sketchbook (and more)
  11. Nathan Hale’s Lafayette!: a Revolutionary War Tale (and so many more Hazardous Tales)
  12. Lauren Spieller’s Your Destination is on the Left
  13. Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X
  14. Nisha Sharma’s My So-Called Bollywood Life

But Wait… There’s More

If conference recaps and resources or a list of books totally floats your boat the way it does mine, I have a few more links you might like:


13 Nov 2018
Comments: 0

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 techchef4u@gmail.com if there are additional topics you would like me to dig deeper into or share more of on www.techchef4u.com.

But Wait… There’s More…

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

WHERE WILL TECHCHEF BE NEXT?

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 techchef4u@gmail.com.

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