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27 Oct 2017
Comments: 1

How do you Support Students with Managing their Digital Lives?

You know… I didn’t realize how popular the topic of student professional development would be. I have had some great feedback from many of you through a variety of social media channels. So it made sense to share this next topic as well.

Tell me About this Day with Students

This started out rather organically… We offer the PSAT to our Sophomores and Juniors during the school day. That leaves our Freshmen with a few hours of unscheduled time. This year… administration decided to put on a multi-faceted program for them. Essentially, we divided the 3 hours into 4 45 minute sessions:

  • Session 1: This was put on by our counselors. They had a panel of all types of students which allowed Freshmen to hear stories, choices, and experiences that could enlighten and impact their next 3 years.
  • Session 2: This session was led by students and staff and focused on Challenge Success… so it looked at some of the myths of WHS and the opportunities that students have to find their individual passions. (If you are not familiar with Challenge Success, I have linked their site here and highly recommend this book… “Overloaded and Underprepared: Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy, Successful Kids”). We used it as a book study here for the past two years).
  • Session 3: This session was led by our principal Steve Ramsey, focused on reflection, and is further detailed here on his weekly blog post.
  • Session 4: This is where we came in. Chris Hanson (@tejashanson) and I built a session that focused on managing digital lives. (I should also mention that Chris Hanson is the latest addition to our iVengers team. He serves as the other Ed Tech at WHS… with myself).

Tell me more about Session 4

  • Background Info: So now that you are caught up on the day and staffing changes… I wanted to proceed and dive a little deeper into session 4. When we were originally tasked with 4 45 minute sessions on a topic of our choosing… we definitely knew we wanted to focus on Digital Citizenship… but that is truly an infinite topic. Chris has worked a lot with Common Sense Media at his last district and had a lot of success with it so he knew he wanted to touch on social media and cyberbullying. I had just read Ana Homayoun’s new book, “Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World” so I know I wanted to touch on executive functioning which broke down into digital organization and digital distraction. (Sidenote: I also did a recent review blogpost for Corwin on Ana’s book…which includes my scrapnotes… it is linked here).
  • Planning and Design: After we had our topics, we divided the session into 4 parts (Digital Distraction, Digital Organization, Social Media, and Cyberbullying). I took the first two topics and Chris took the latter two (which you will see in the slide deck). We also know that we had keep students engaged so having them watch a bunch of CommonSense videos or work in an iBook wasn’t going to cut it. I discovered from my last student professional development session on the topic of Note-Taking that students responded really well to research studies that we shared as well as research we gleaned from staff and students using google forms. Thus, we crafted a 10 question google form to send out to students. It was anonymous as we wanted honest feedback. We sent it out via student email accounts. I honestly thought we would get very few responses… but we ended up having over 300 responses in a few days. This is over 10% of our student body. With that data, we then began framing the presentation with the 4 topics, questions, answers, and then tips, tools, and best practices.
  • Delivery: We obviously hadn’t run through this deck with actual people before we were met with 150 Freshman so a few minor changes were made to the info on the fly. Mainly just building in student pulse checks (e.g. “raise your hands if you use paper for your to do lists” or “thumbs up, down, or to the sides if you agree with…”). We also had a few Think-Pair-Share topics that we embedded throughout. The Slide Deck below (and linked here) is the content we shared (including the results of the survey).

But Wait… There’s More…: One of my goals for the year was to develop and deliver more professional development opportunities for our parents. Thankfully… Chris Hanson had the patience and persistence to evaluate a few tools and work with the companies to make sure they were exactly what we wanted. We were looking for a tool that offered the ability to provide a live webinar but then also was able to be archived for later use. We also needed the ability to do screen sharing. Fortunately, Lifesize met the requirements and the rest is history. Lifesize also offers the ability to download the archived video (which was great because the first 10 minutes of our video needed to be cropped due to my not-so-witty banter about how to get it working). Chris was kind enough to crop the first 10:45 from the video and just post the webinar on our YouTube channel.

Warm Happy Thoughts: I could have left this part out… but I had to share! We had 25 parents join the online webinar and we had 15 follow-up emails from parents that had either watch the webinar or had missed but wanted the archived link. But there was one parent email that really brought a tear to my eye. She had emailed to share how grateful she was that she knew what was presented to her student that day and that she could use it as a springboard for discussion that evening. And she went on to say that her son had already texted her to see if he could download the tree app (which I had mentioned in the digital distraction section). Seriously people… I had tears of joy in my eyes. To think that you are creating content to positively impact students is one thing… to discover that the content you are creating and disseminating is actually resonating with students is beyond amazing!

I truly hope that these 1,000+ words have been helpful and perhaps even inspiring. If you do something like this already and/or if you end up remixing some of the ideas that I have shared in this post, I would be ever so grateful if you dropped me a line

Students Need PD too!

As you know, I am a firm believer that Students Need Professional Development too. My last few blog posts share some of the other initiatives I have been working on:

Thanks so much for reading. If you do something similar or have questions on this initiative (or any other), please reply in the comments and share ideas as well!


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.”

16 Dec 2015
Comments: 1

CoJournaling as a Way to Nurture Positive Tendencies

3 Tips for Nurturing Positive Tendencies Through CoJournaling

Over the years, my blog has evolved and my boys continue to grow. I find that the content that I share also becomes diversified. Thus, I am adding a new category… “Leveraging Learning at Home“. While we enjoy the holidays with our families and begin setting goals for 2016, I am reminded of Angela Maiers and the idea of mattering. Her session and keynote at Miami Device really resonated with me. As I spent more time concentrating on this idea, I sought to delve in to the research behind this concept:


Why Should This Matter?

  • Paying Attention to What Matters: “Mattering is not an ideology… it is biology. Give Lasting Compliments. The things you observe will be the things that will happen.” – (Angela Maiers)
  • Intentional Activity Impacts Happiness: “About 40% of our happiness is accounted for by intentional activity whereas 50% is explained by genetics and 10% by circumstances.” – (Eric Barker)
  • Praise and Gratitude Cement a Relationship: “Emails of praise or thanks… (don’t) just contribute to (our) own happiness, (they) very literally cement a relationship.”  (Eric Barker)
  • Importance of Relationships and Learning: “No significant learning can occur without a relationship.” – (James Comer)
  • Importance of Relationships and Development: “It is through others that we develop into ourselves.” – (Lev Vygotsky)
  • Creating Intentional Environments: “We should focus our efforts on creating environments for our innate psychological needs to flourish.” – (Daniel Pink)

I know that I need positive reinforcement and thrive in environments that meet my innate psychological needs so why not intentionally provide the same thing to my son? After all… these lasting compliments and conversations are free and permanent.

Why CoJournaling Matters


What Should You Consider Before or While You Co-Journal?

Diving in to the process of co-journaling, I wasn’t quite sure where we would end up or what the process would look like. Now a month in, I feel like I can provide a little more guidance on initiating and engaging in the process:

Know Your Goals: I found that my eldest and I didn’t have a whole lot of time after school or before bed to chat and reflect and that I also spent a fair amount of time during those waking hours on logistics of getting out the door, getting ready for bed, and/or getting ready for the next day. Additionally, I felt the time that was spent on navigating the dynamic of my boys together was somewhat disproportional to the amount of time spent fostering a healthy mother son relationship with them each individually… especially with the eldest one. So, my goal was fairly simple… to build capacity within our own relationship by noticing and nurturing positive tendencies. Having this in mind helped me guide our ongoing communications.

Know Your Goals for CoJournaling

Embrace the Style of Communication: At first I started writing these somewhat proper letters and then realized that my son was responding with phrases and drawings so I started adding in my own drawings and phrases to link our communication and connect to his style and voice.

Embrace the Style of Communication When You CoJournal

Leverage the Communication: While my goal is to essentially notice and nurture positive tendencies and interactions, I do try to leverage the format to throw in a quote or even note emphasis on communication styles. I don’t ever want this to feel like mommy’s not so covert way to teach grammar, punctuation, academic vocabulary, and letter writing skills so I use this leverage sparingly and cleverly as appropriate.

Leverage Your CoJournaling Communications


Every night I try to write a letter reflecting on the day, noting something positive, or addressing upcoming events and then leave it in his room after he goes to bed. He ever so quietly gets up the next morning and immediately starts writing back to me and then leaves the journal in a place I will find it. While I will never have more hours in the day, I do feel like this type of innovation allows us to asynchronously communicate. Please let me state that co-journaling does NOT replace talking to your child but it does provide a framework for nurturing positive tendencies, initiating thoughtful daily conversations, and crafting a feedback loop of gratitude and personal learning.

I can’t tell you how special the communication is between us and how much I relish it… well I guess I just did… 😉 I hope this inspires others to take the plunge and flavor your own type of authentic co-journaling experience. If you do, please share. I know my son would love to know that our experience has served as a launch pad for others. And yes, I did ask him permission before posting any of our  personal communications.


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

Dates for 2016: