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27 Mar 2018
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4 Reasons to Attend .EDU

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


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

University Campus

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

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

Language and International Coverage

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Session Resources

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

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

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



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

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



21 Mar 2018
Comments: 1

SXSWEDU 2018 Recap and Interactive Notes

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

Background on SXSWEDU

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

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

Background on My Note-Taking

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

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

Balancing Learning with Analog and Digital

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

Human Skills for Digital Natives

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

Rigorous Whimsy: Understanding Through Creativity

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

Empathetic By Design

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

Slam Poetry + Standup Comedy = Engaged Learning

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

Designing Your Life by Stanford’s Life Design Lab

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

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


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



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

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

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






06 Sep 2017
Comments: 1

iPadpalooza OU Recap

I am going to take a semi-pause on my ScrapNotes series (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 are linked here) to share with you the awesome learning I encountered at iPadpalooza OU. This is the only iPadpalooza that I know of that is held on a college campus and that also caters to preservice teachers and K-12 teachers alike. In fact, Day 1 was all preservice teachers and Day 2 was a smattering of preservice teachers and an awesome K-12 inservice bunch. When I attend events like this, my intent is to learn and return back with new knowledge and tools so I am going to cut directly to the chase and highlight a few of my favorite sessions and tools!

SaveSaveGetting’ Bitmoji Wit It: Lara Searcy and Josh Flores

I will be honest I haven’t climbed full force on to the Bitmoji Bandwagon but this session did inch me closer. What I loved about this session is that both of the presenters were dynamic and they really knew their content. You absolutely have to check out their hyperdoc’d agenda and the way they use Bitmoji in rubrics (which is embedded within their slide deck). All of the resources for the session are linked here or embedded within the graphic below.

Walk this Way to Master an Easy Drag and Drop Website Creator: Monica Burns

Even though I have had experience with Adobe Spark Pages, I still learned new things from this session. My favorite gem was the 4 Spark Video graphic organizers that Monica offers on her site. And dude… I had no idea she had just published her fourth book. Wow! All of the session resources are linked here and embedded within the graphic below.

Born to Draw: Reshan Richards

I have been a long time Reshan Richards fan for years. If you remember, Yolanda and I had him on our now archived podcast series, “Appy Hours 4 U” back in 2012.  But I digress… so Reshan delivered a masterful session on the simplicity of drawing. I love how he scaffolded it through 3 activities. All of the activities and descriptions are linked here and embedded below in the interactive graphic.

How Do You Explain Your Job to Other People: Josh Flores

As if the first time with Josh Flores wasn’t amazing enough, he returned again with a most epic keynote. Honestly, this would rank up there with some of my all time favorites Adam Bellow, George Couros, and Dean Shareski. He started by asking all of us how we explain our jobs to others. And then referenced how the world sees us with a simple google search for the word “teacher” which brings up chalk and chalk boards. He likened us more to superhero profiles in a video game and showcased our stats. He even took a jaunt down Hollywood Boulevard to highlight what characteristics Hollywood deems positive and negative in teaching. I have to say the exercise of, “Badly Explain(ing) Your Profession” was the most entertaining for me by far. My interactive notes are linked here and embedded below. I left happy and energized and that is the mark of a most excellent keynote.


Into the Notebook session at iPadpalooza OU

TechChef’s Concoctions

I also delivered two sessions both days. All of the session resources are in Participate.

I guess if you have read this post then you will also have noticed that their was a rock band sort of theme to all of the sessions and all of mine were named after Blue October songs. 😉

I should also mention that if you are interested in seeing more examples of these interactive notes that I take… I have 35+ of them pinned here. If you are intrigued with the process, I have a blog post on that here.

And one more thing. You might have noticed that I included a UT Longhorn baseball cap in my blog header image… that was simply to balance out all of the crimson OU and broken and upside down longhorns I saw when I stayed at the Sooner Legends hotel. 😉


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 Jul 2017
Comments: 0

TechChef Breaks the Silence…



The Silence

Twenty years ago I graduated high school. We didn’t have texts, tweets, or chats… we had a spiral bound notebook that we passed back to each other in the hallway between classes. One day a friend of mine and I had a spat. Rather than blocking me or unfriending me, he wrote “Enjoy the Silence” in the notebook and nothing else. This was clearly a reference to a popular Depeche Mode song at the time. Honestly, I have no recollection of the lemon that turned our friendship milk sour that day. But that moment stuck in my brain when I was thinking about you… and I feel like I owe you an apology.


The Story

You did nothing wrong and I totally abandoned you… without a word. You didn’t know how much stress I was under or how the book writing gave me a bit of tunnel vision. You couldn’t have known that I was also diagnosed with adenomyosis two years ago and that it has literally reeked havoc on my body, my productivity, and my personal and professional life.


All you saw was my last blog, “CoJournaling as a Way to Nurture Positive Tendencies”, posted  a year and a half ago. At that time, I felt drained both emotionally and physically. Sadly, the tool and platform that allowed me to unleash my creativity and bear my soul was the very tool that went by the wayside. It became one more thing… like some friendships do.


The problem was I didn’t realize at the time… how much I needed that friendship… I kept up appearances on social media and periodically shared ideas and curated topics… but I remained silent. The longer I kept my silence… the harder it was to break it. Some people schedule a sabbatical to grow and reflect. I, the non confrontational type, decided I could just let blogging go without a word. I was wrong. Blogging is so much more than a task and a checklist to me… it is my passion and oftentimes… I feel like my duty or purpose. The book, now a wrap, and surgery on the horizon… I feel like I can finally come up for air.


There is so much I want to tell you… so much I want to share. I hope you will forgive me… let bygones be bygones and let us reconnect again. I hope you didn’t “Enjoy the Silence”… I know I didn’t.


So there it is… my last 18 months in a nutshell… a difficult time… and only a handful of friends really knew the physical, emotional, and mental toll it took on me. But you know… we were friends too. And I hope we can be friends again. I hope you can forgive my lapse in communication. I hope we can once again learn and share together.

The Sharing

Over the past 18 months and change… I have been busy adjusting and creating a new normal and really experimenting with different styles of learning and creating that work for me. As you know, I love to share these ideas with others because I know that the more we share… the more we inspire and support others on their journey as well. So here goes:


I know we have lots to catch up on so I can’t monopolize all of your time in one sitting. You will hear from me again shortly… I promise. 😉













26 Mar 2015
Comments: 1

Sweet Learning Nuggets from SXSWEDU 2015

I have been to SXSWEDU in the past (see SXSWEDU 2014 Recap) and I have to say that this year without a doubt was indisputably my favorite. It didn’t hurt that I got to have breakfast with Guy Kawasaki and hear him speak at both SXSWEDU and SXSWInteractive but beyond that…

“I just felt like the event accurately connected, curated, and celebrated pedagogies, trends, and innovations that are currently in line with the pulse of education.” – Lisa Johnson

So…earlier in the week I app smashed Canva and Thinglink to curate and archive my learning from TCEA 2015 so this seemed like the next logical progression. As I mentioned in my earlier post, lately I have been getting just as much interest in my workflow and graphics as I have in my content so I thought I would elaborate on my home grown PD Recap Recipe.

How Did You Create this Epic PD Recap?

  • Choose a Functional Base Image: In this case, I had gotten to SXSWEDU early one day and decided to take a few selfies using my Mac and PhotoBooth in front of one of the SXSWEDU banners at the convention center.
  • Add Filter and Flare to Your Image: I loved the color to this image (see below) so I opted not to turn it black and white as I did in my last PD Recap. I did still opt to add a layer of polish and poise to it with my best kept secret the “Orton Style” filter in the BEFUNKY WEB APP to add a bit of grit. (Note: CANVA also has built-in image filters but not quite like this one.)
  • Build Your Graphic: Once my base image was ready, I uploaded it to CANVA and added pretty much everything else you see in the image below. (Note: One of the icon graphics I paid for via the NOUN PROJECT as I it fairly regularly and CANVA did not have a comparable icon in their gallery.)
  • Add Interactivity to Your Graphic: Once the base graphic is complete, I upload it to THINGLINK.. and all the interactivity you see below…AND HERE.

What Learning Nuggets Might I Discover by Hovering Over All of these Nubbins?

So glad you asked… Within this Thinglink, I included links to my Evernote notes on the sessions as well as direct links to slide decks and archived videos of some of the presentations. Debbie Smith, a fellow iVenger, also did a bang-up job of curating and reflecting on the week so I included each one of the blog entries that she cranked out as well.

“I have to say that this is unequivocally one of my favorite conferences to attend – no other event is quite at the intersection of policy, educational entrepreneurs, innovation nor blends K-12 and higher higher education like this event.” – Lisa Johnson

But Wait! I Have a Few More Questions…

Can you tell me…

How Should I Share Out My Learning?

Before you jump on the Epic PD Recap band wagon… please know that these do take me about 2.5-3 hours to complete with building the image, cleaning up my summaries and linking all of the content (and the fact that I can be oftentimes crippled by my need for perfection). Now that I have a Canva template and work flow, that time is somewhat decreased. I am in no way trying to dissuade you from this method as I do believe that graphics and chunked content is always the best delivery method… but what I am saying is to do this takes time and careful curation of content. In the end, I have found it is always worth it for my own metacognition as well as the inspiration of my staff… but know that these don’t just grow on trees. They take time to cultivate and perfect – and that time is well spent… but time nonetheless… 😉

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

TechChef Techucation Gazette: Sign up to receive future issues of the monthly e-Newsletter: There are many more learning app-ortunities and professional development toolkits to come. If you don’t want to miss a morsel of this techucation feast, sign up today.

Where Will TechChef Be Next?

Miami Device PD Recap (used with Evernote) #TechChef4u #iPad #Evernote-2 copy

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

24 Mar 2015
Comments: 1

Tangible Technology Tips from and for TCEA 2015

So, I have to say that I try to make it a point to always curate and reflect on my learning from an event… and to cultivate a resource that I can return to and share. To manage this learning experience… I found App-Smashing Canva and Thinglink to be just the ticket. As I get just as much interest in to my process and workflow as I do on the content that I share… I thought I would let you take a sneak peek at my home grown PD Recap Recipe.

How Did You Create this EPIC PD Recap?

  • Choose a Functional Base ImageI always like to start with an image that I can build off of. Fortunately, TCEA’s Flickr feed had just the right pic to start as a base…
  • Add Filter and Flare to Your Image: I loved the dimension to this pic so I used the “TinType 3” filter in the Be Funky Web app to add a bit of grit. (Note: Canva also has built-in image filters but not quite like this one.)
  • Build Your Graphic: Once my base image was ready, I uploaded it to Canva and added pretty much everything else you see in the image below. (Note: A few of the icon graphics I paid for via the Noun Project as I use them fairly regularly and Canva did not have a comparable icon in their gallery.)
  • Add Interactivity to Your Graphic: Once the base graphic is complete, I upload it to Thinglink.. and all the interactivity you see below…and HERE.

WOW! What is Hidden in This Epic PD RECAP?

Well… I am so glad that you asked… I divided this recap into 3 distinct sections:

  • Sessions I Attended FROM TCEA: Sessions I attended are all labeled and linked on the left.
  • Sessions I Presented FOR TCEA: Sessions I presented are all labeled and linked on the right.
  • Miscellaneous Nuggets: Additional learning nuggets that didn’t fit in to either category (but were worth including) got linked on around the table and chairs (also a great reason to select an image with depth and dimension to guide the viewer through each section).

Hope you enjoy not only the process of designing this professional development recap… but the take-aways and educational snippets embedded and archived within 😉

But Wait! I Have A Few More Questions…Before You Cap this Post!

Sure… fire away:

One More SoapBox Pitch…

I am not saying that every piece of information that you curate and send to teachers or share with your staff has to go through this process… BUT what I am saying… is that everyone is busy and their time is valuable. As hokey as it may seem, an email without a graphic or image, boasting large bodies of text, and no bullets or means of chunking content will most likely be overlooked or neglected. However, when you spend time to make content look appealing, easily navigable, and brief… people seem to respond and be reached…

Stay tuned for my SXSWEDU Epic PD Recap… 😉


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

TechChef Techucation Gazette: Sign up to receive future issues of the monthly e-Newsletter: There are many more learning app-ortunities and professional development toolkits to come. If you don’t want to miss a morsel of this techucation feast, sign up today.

Where Will TechChef Be Next?

Miami Device PD Recap (used with Evernote) #TechChef4u #iPad #Evernote-2 copy

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

16 Dec 2014
Comments: 3

Digesting Miami Device

It has taken me a while to digest all of the learning and experiences throughout my three days at Miami Device. It was a hearty medley of professional learning and networking sprinkled with a spice that only Miami and Felix Jacomino can add to the mix. I had been looking forward to the event like a delicious annual dessert for over a year and I can say with unabashed honesty… Miami Device did not disappoint! The food and ambience and attention to detail of the event was surreal… even down to the name badges…


Professional Development Delicacies

But what was really surprising to me during this epic assemblage of professional development delicacies… that not one… yes, not one session was mediocre or disappointing! I have to say that is somewhat of a rarity at other events. On Day 1, I had ample app-ortunity to sample a full platter of sessions. It was thoroughly refreshing to play the role of the learner and participant.

Comic Sans edit

Delectable Professional Development Recap

MD 2014 PD Recap

For all of you that could not attend this epic learning event… I hope I did the sessions justice with my interactive notes embedded below which includes:

  • 60+ Interviews and Videos
  • Thorough Archival of 30+ sessions from Tony Vincent
  • Recaps from Adam Jones and Jenny Ashby

… as well as my notes (using Evernote) from the keynote and each of the sessions I attended:

  • “Comic Sans Isn’t Professional” by Jeremy Macdonald
  • “Brining a New Dimension to Learning with Augmented Reality” by Brad Waid
  • “What’s New? What’s Hot? What’s Cool?” by Joan Gore and Janet Corder
  • “Student Digital Portfolios: Rethinking Assessment Using Google” by Holly Clark

Now I realize that savoring a delectable treat first hand and hearing about from a friend or seeing filtered pics of it on your favorite social media site isn’t quite the same… if nothing else perhaps I can whet your app-etite for Miami Device 2016 😉

And for your own personal enjoyment or perhaps my sense of whimsy, I thought you might enjoy playing “Where’s TechChef?” in each pic featured above? 😉

Keynote 2 edit

Kevin Honeycutt’s keynote was exceptionally super-charged. Don’t miss some of his epic quotes archived within my notes linked above. One of my favorites that I am truly trying to take to heart is…

Add a little bit of body text-5

I could spend another month ruminating over each morsel of learning and nifty nugget but at some point, sharing a mostly finished reflection is better than sharing none at all 😉

TechChef Presents…

As this post was devoted to TechChef as a learner, I want to take a moment to mention that I also presented 3 sessions and have posted the resources for each below:

As we app-roach the holiday season, remember learning never ends and your PLN is always a tweet away 😉

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

TechChef Techucation Gazette: Sign up to receive future issues of the monthly e-Newsletter: There are many more learning app-ortunities and professional development toolkits to come. If you don’t want to miss a morsel of this techucation feast, sign up today.

Where Will TechChef Be Next?

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