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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. ūüėČ


  • 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”.

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20 Dec 2017
Comments: 0

Calendexes, Productivity Bingo, and Students! Oh MY!

We are rapidly nearing the end of the year and with that comes semester exams if you work at a high school (which I do). Last week our school library offered a 12 Days of Stress Relief with a variety of analog activities ranging from bookmark coloring, friendship bracelets, and playdoh to jenga and holiday card making. I decided to reprise my “Bonkers for Bullet Journals” session and augment it for the high school level and a lunch and learn.

Because there was no real direct teach approach to this and students come and go, I set up two tables with supplies (4 tubes of washi tape, 2 packages of planner stickers, and¬†Sharpie art pens and Faber Castell pens) and handouts. I gave a brief overview (2 minutes) of the function and intent of each of the handouts (e.g. calendex, Productivity Bingo, habit and goal trackers, etc…) and then really let them go wild. I have to tell you they were so excited (dare I say… giddy) about the washi tape, stickers, and fancy pens. Out of all of the paper handouts, the two most popular ones ended up being the calendex and Productivity Bingo. As these are not super common in the education realm, I thought I would spend the rest of this blog post highlighting their features and purpose and how you can use them with students.


A¬†calendex is a mash-up of a calendar and an index. It is not meant to be a stand-alone calendar… more to use as a goal setting or goal-tracking tool in conjunction with a planner or bullet journal. The calendex was actually invented by Eddy Hope back in 2013¬†and has since then become a staple in the bullet journal community (check out Boho Berry and Because the bullet journal and analog world is focused on customization and tailoring ideas to make them work for you, I will share a few examples (college student example, teacher example,¬†professional example 1, professional example 2) and then delve into the tips I shared with students.

  • My Adaptation for Students: I took the idea of a calendex and mapped it against our school calendar. I created both a Monday and a Sunday start version. I prefer my week starting on a Monday but some people prefer it on a Sunday so I allowed for choice. The cells that are grayed out are days we have off (according to our district calendar). The cells that are blacked out are days that don’t exist in that month (as each column has 31 cells but not every month has 31 days). The darker line encompasses an entire week. When I shared these with students, I insisted they create a key. I suggested something simple like red dot for days you have a test, blue dots for days you have homework, and a green dot for days you have an event after school. Students really took these and ran with them. I am really looking forward to seeing how they use them this next semester.
  • My Adaptation:¬†For me, I plan on using this to track how I spend my year at work. My plan is something like this… a red dot for meetings, a purple dot for days I create something, a pink dot for days I blog, a green dot for days I work with students, an orange dot for days I work with teachers, and a blue dot for days I offer parent webinars. In this world where too often we wear busy as a badge, I want to be able to at least track the things that I do that are meaningful or that have some sort of impact. And this is simply one way to do that.


Productivity Bingo is a gamified version of a to do list and far easier to explain than a calendex. Basically you create a bingo board and then you fill the board with your to do’s and you designate prizes for yourself if you get all 4 corners or a diagonal bingo. You get the idea. Since this tool doesn’t need as much explanation, I am going to dive right into examples. I have adapted the concept from¬†@lalalauren.creates. She has an example of her Productivity Bingo here and one for Self Care here.

  • My Adaptation for Students:¬†I don’t know that one would use this every week but if you had a large project due with multiple steps and counterparts, an essay where you might want to reward yourself with 500 word increments, or finals approaching where you had multiple items due, this is simply a way to gamify it. When I had a student complete one, I noticed she added items like “annotate chapter 4 To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Spanish 1 Unit Review”, and “1 page Math practice”.
  • My Adaptation:¬†When I had my surgery last month, I created a Productivity Bingo¬†(see below) to make sure I got a few things done whilst I was on “break”… one of which was knocking out 13,000 or so words for my new book. And because I loved it so much (and I had just finished reading “A Book That Takes Its Time: An Unhurried Adventure in Creative Mindfulness”¬†**), I explored a Self Care one as well.

I should also mention that if you are looking to support CASEL’s Social Emotional Learning competencies, these activities fit nicely into the Self-Management section.

I think the biggest take-away for me from this session was that students wanted more. They loved the casual format with the supplies. And they asked if I could offer a second one after the holidays. With the “12 Days” format, students know what to expect, so I think we will revisit this type of scheduling format when we look at developing professional development for the spring semester. We have already talked about “13 Days of Tech” and a “Wonderful Week of Writing” which might encompass typewriter rodeo, calligraphy techniques, and how to start your own personal writer’s/reader’s notebook or bullet journal.

I truly never sought to write an entire series on professional development for students, but I am finding the more that I offer it to students, the more of it that is needed and wanted. I hope this post has sparked some interest in easy ways to support students with organization, planning, and task management. I also know that many of the resources and processes that I have shared in this Student PD Series can also be adapted to adult learners. And as I have already been asked for a 2018 calendex and there is seriously no reason to buy one… I have created one for you here. The calendex is designed to be printed as 2 pages in 1 on one 8.5 x 11 inch page (printed in landscape). The reason I suggest this is that many bullet journals happen to be an A5 size which essentially means they are 8.25 by 11.5 if they are opened to a two page spread. I just try to mimic a similar size with these handouts for consistency and if they would like to actually add it to their planner or journal.I sincerely hope these make you as happy and jovial about organization and planning as they do me. Enjoy! I only ask one favor… if you end up using them yourself or with your students, I would love to hear about it. You can Tweet me, FB me, Instagram me, or email me Thanks in advance.

Oh… and if you are interested in delving into bullet journaling or analog writing, I have some posts for you here… where to start, how to create a reader’s journal, how to augment analog notes, and supplies to get you started.

** If you are interested in additional book recommendations, check out “18+ Books Everyone Should Read in 2018”.


As you know, I am a firm believer that Students Need Professional Development too. If you are interested in additional ways to design and deliver professional development to students, here are a few more ideas and formats:

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‚Ķ Check out her latest creation‚Ķ the book ‚ÄúCultivating Communication in the Classroom: Future-Ready Skills for Secondary Students.‚ÄĚ









04 Dec 2017
Comments: 3

5+ Strategies to Deliver PD to Students

It occurred to me… sadly… only after I was done with my series on professional development for students that I never really explained what that was and how it differs from traditional teaching. So two things… I am an Educational Technologist so while I do support students and staff on a daily basis… I do not have a classroom of my own. Secondly, the content I share in these professional developments (while complementary to curricular content)… goes beyond the content shared in the classroom, will not be tested, and is information that they can readily apply to their personal and academic lives. So I guess that is the real distinction. Similarly, to each chapter of my book, “Cultivating Communication in the Classroom: Future-Ready Skills for Secondary Students”, where I made sure that each type of communication was steeped in SEL, each of these student-focused professional developments that I discuss weave in a range of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Competencies as well. For example, the session on¬†“Organizing Your Digital Binder” narrowed in on organizational skills, the session on¬†“Bonkers for Bullet Journals” targeted Self-Management skills like goal-setting and self-motivation, and the session on “Managing Your Digital Experiences” honed in on Responsible Decision Making skills and Self-Awareness.

5+ Avenues to Deliver PD to Students

While these sessions could very easily be woven into a classroom or within the daily curriculum, I wanted to clarify the content, focus, and design… as I had had several questions over the past few weeks. The list below is in no way exhaustive… but does showcase 5+ different topics for student professional development as well as 5+ different methods for delivery:

  • A Whole Day: The¬†session I delivered entitled “Bonkers for Bullet Journaling” was roughly 30 minutes long and was part of a day of choice-based (students chose from a schedule of experiences) learning for students. ¬†
  • Half a Day: The session I co-presented on “Managing Your Digital Experiences” was a 45 minute sessions and was part of a half-day rotation (all students attended each of the 4 sessions).
  • Stations During the Day: This session that uses the Base Camp model utilized 4 stations (lasting 8 minutes each) that all ¬†students rotated through during one class period.
  • Class Pop-In’s:¬†This is probably the most traditional way to deliver professional development to students. Oftentimes, a teacher will ask me to lead or co-teach a session so I will come in to class for 10-30 minutes depending on the topic. The most popular one to date seems to be visual literacy and presentation skills.
  • Class Rounds:¬†This is similar to Class Pop-In’s but students come to us in a fixed location like the library and we meet with every class within a grade level (rather than just the teachers or classes that have requested the topic to be shared with their classes). The topic we focused on here is organizing a digital binder.
  • Lunches:¬†This is a bonus avenue. I ran a bullet journaling professional development that focused on setting up a bullet journal and a calendex in December. I set up a table in a high traffic area in the library during lunches and provided all of the supplies. As this session was optional, I promoted it on campus through fliers and our student-led announcements. Here is the full write-up on this session.

While I work with teachers, my ultimate goal is to impact our students… whether it be through the training and support I provide to our staff… or working directly with our students. I hope this post helps you to think differently and/or creatively about the “professional development” you provide for your students. And as always… if you ever have any questions, feel free to reach out on Facebook, Twitter, or even email ( I would love to connect.

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.”




13 Nov 2017
Comments: 0

How Do You Teach Students to Be Wellness Stewards?

When I started talking about designing and delivering professional development to students, I had no idea that I would be writing Blog Post 5 in this series whilst on hiatus from my #ScrapNotes series. As fate would have it, this blog post comes full circle as it inches us closer to the #ScrapNotes series… with a focus on bullet journaling. Before we go bonkers for bullet journaling, I really wanted to give you some background on how this session and this event came to be.

Fit as a Middle Schooler

I doubt many people would use the phrase “fit as a middle schooler” and that is kind of where this story began. Five years ago a nurse and/or CLT (Campus Leadership Team) noted that they were tired of all of the fast food lunches that parents were delivering to students. They wanted to create some health initiative with speakers that would talk to students about making healthy choices. Heather Schubert, librarian extraordinaire, had created and ran the Teen Book Festival here in Austin so she had experience with organizing an event of this nature. And the rest is history. This event is now running strong with a five year legacy.

Fit Beyond Fitness

This was my first year being involved in this event. And by involved… I mean… I led a course. As I have spent the last 4 blog posts focusing on student professional development, I did want to highlight some awesome things about this day as I was so enamored with the event:

  • All Day: This is an all day event. The classes/sessions students attend are all related to Fit Fest (not typical curricular courses).
  • Student Choice: Students used the Sched app to choose which sessions they wanted to attend.
  • Variety: 3 Tracks (e.g. Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness) offered over 100 sessions for students to attend. Fitness courses ranged from warm-up drills and boxing to jazzercise, hip-hop, and yoga. Nutrition courses ranged from learning about food allergies and healthy substitutions to healthy after school snacks and smoothies for every mood. Wellness sessions ranged from meditation and concussion prevention to Bullet Journaling, CPR, and oral health.
  • Community and Parental Involvement: Many local businesses that catered towards fitness, nutrition, and wellness offered sessions as did parents that had a background in health or wellness. Um… and did I mention there was a Farmer’s Market and a Field Day?

This video gives you a general overview.

Fits Like a Journal

Yes, I realize I am stretching this idiom… but go with it. So… now that you have a better idea of the day’s events and focus. I am going to hone into the session that I delivered. Honestly, it will come as no surprise to you that I have been wanting to offer this session to students for some time. The crazy thing was… would anyone show up? Well interestingly enough I had 54 students spread across each one of my 4 30-minute sessions. It felt validating to see how interested students were in this process. As all middle school students have paper planners that they receive at the beginning of the year AND I only had 30 minutes with them… I decided to break up the 30 minutes like this:

  • Pre-Survey: I provided a quick survey that asked why they chose this session and/or what they wanted to learn AND how they took notes (e.g. Handwriting on Paper, on iPad, Handwriting on iPad).
  • Everything I Know… I Learned from Instagram: I had a brief slide deck that essentially gave the definition of bullet journaling and then showcased multiple examples of lists, reflections, and habit/goal trackers that were gleaned from all of the awesome peeps I follow on Instagram. As 30-40% of the students were also on Instagram, I mentioned a few #’s that I found helpful to locate people that are sharing examples.
  • Journals and Trackers Exploration: But seriously… this is where the real fun began. As I couldn’t buy journals for all of them and we only had 30 minutes together, I wanted to give them the experience of setting up some of these features but in a condensed amount of time. So basically, I took a sheet of paper and then made copies of Christie Zimmer’s journaling prompts* and two habit/goal trackers from Passion Planner* (Water Tracker and Habit Tracker) and let them go to town to create a sample spread.
  • Savvy Supplies: But wait there’s more. When I busted out fancy pens, planner stickers, and washi tape to use in conjunction with their sample page spreads… you would have thought I had just released a year’s supply of new SnapChat filters (or whatever is really cool right now). They absolutely loved it. As pens, stickers, and supplies can be costly and sometimes you don’t know what you like until you use it… I wanted to give students the ability to explore these tools before even considering spend money on them. And of course… you don’t need any of these things to bullet journal… but it is kind of like a cake. You can make a cake with icing and it is fine… but when you add the designs and the words and the fancy embellishments… sometimes it just makes you smile and part of the joy and process of bullet journaling is doing things and creating things make you feel good… that make you happy.¬†

*I should mention that any time you print any of these proprietary items (even if you are using them with students or in a professional development setting) that you get written permission.

One could easily boil this whole session down to free time with arts and crafts but I think you have to dig deeper. My goals for students was multi-faceted:

  • Introduce Bullet Journaling and Where to Learn More About It (using various #’s and sites)
  • Expose Students to a Variety of Habit and Goal Trackers
  • Expose Students to Journaling and Reflection that can Be Quick and Meaningful
  • Allow Students to Engage with a Variety of Bullet Journaling Supplies

And what I found after reviewing the student pre-survey’s was truly enlightening. My description for the session was pretty basic but what I thought was interesting was the other reasons why students chose to attend (e.g. organization/plan/time management and how to take notes). These are clearly needs for our students… needs that I didn’t expect students to have when they chose to attend a session on bullet journaling… but needs nonetheless… which clearly means additional student professional development will be needed.


Okay whew… 1,000 words later and I am kind of winded. That about sums up it up. I am looking at offering another one of these sessions at the HS in December… so Stay Tuned. And my next blog post will return to my #ScrapNotes series and focus on all of the awesome peeps that I follow and the #’s that allow you to better discover and uncover these trends and ideas.

Figuring out Planners

I imagine a few of you are curious what the cost of running a session like this would be. There is some initial start up costs of purchasing washi tape and planner stickers (which are consumables). I suggest Michael’s for these and using your Tax Exempt info, a 40% off coupon, and your 15% teacher discount. Here is a link to some of the planner stickers I picked up at Michael’s. Pens tend to be expensive and the best place to find them is on Amazon (if you can wait for them to come in). These Sharpie Art Pens¬†in a set of 12 are my favorite and they typically run $12-$13 on Amazon. My other fave is the Faber Castell Artist Pens with the Brush Tip – these typically run $13 for a set of 6 on Amazon. All in all I spent $75 (which included the $30 I spent on pens). The pens can be used over and over and I still have quite a bit of washi tape and stickers left over to do a session with our high schoolers. If you are interested in going head first down this rabbit hole, then I suggest you read “The Savvy Supply List” where I detail all of the products and how I use them. Oh OMT… I found these bullet journals in a clearance bin at Michael’s and ended up buying a few to give away as raffle prizes. Students LOVED them!

Before I leave you… I should also note that I plan on getting deeper into planners, trackers, and journaling in upcoming #ScrapNotes posts. This post was really designed to highlight student professional development and an easy entry point to the many facets of bullet journaling.

Revisiting #ScrapNotes

If you want to get a head start on all things #ScrapNotes before my next post… check out these 4 posts:

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.”







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.”

13 Oct 2017
Comments: 3

How do You Teach Presentation Skills?

As I mentioned in my previous post, one of my jobs as an Educational Technologist at a secondary 1:1 iPad campus is to provide professional development… to students. One of the most popular requests I get is for slide design and presentation skills. This tends to be also be the topic I have done the most research on AND delivered the most times. I have delivered variations of this presentation (see below) to Capstone, Mentorship, Comp Sci, Incubator, ELA, and SS classes alike.

The Secrets of Slide Design

The presentation I am referring to is linked here and embedded below:

Supporting the Secrets of Slide Design and Presentation Skills

I have also presented this topic at a variety of conferences to adult learners. What I have not done (and realized this only recently) is drafted a proper blog post with all of these resources. Honestly, what happened was… I started penning my first book, “Cultivating Communication in the Classroom: Future-Ready Skills for Secondary Students” and had to take some time off from blogging. The entire 3rd chapter is basically a more elaborate and detailed version of this slide deck… citing additional examples, rationales, and suggestions for classroom integration. But… this blog post is not a sales pitch and if you know me at all… you know that I spend hours creating and curating content for teachers to be shared freely. So whether you invest in the book or not, I wanted to share with you some additional resources to support visual literacy and presentation skills. All of these resources (and more) are linked off the companion site for the book:


  • Secrets of Slide Design for Students and Beyond: This is a quick infographic that basically takes the slide deck above and summarizes major points.
  • Slide Design Hacks for Secondary Students: This is an infographic that details some of the tools and sites I use to jazz up my slides.
  • Student Presentation Note-Taking Guide: I found when delivering this content to students, it appeared like it was the first time they had ever heard it. To scaffold the intake and processing of this info, I decided to create a Note-Taking Guide (pictured below and linked here).
  • Student Presentation Planning Guide: I also found it helpful to create a planning guide for students so they could refer back to sites and resources and quick tips (pictured below and linked here).
  • Student Presentation Planner (Communication Catcher): As a way to start conversations about designing and planning a presentation… I created a communication catcher. Think of these as instructional cootie catchers or fortune tellers (pictured below and linked here).

Feel free to download the PDF version of all of these and use them with you students and staff.



I thought… up until a few weeks ago, that this was a complete resource… but then I was sitting in a professional development that was designed to get collaborative (e.g. inclusion) and classroom teachers collaborating more effectively, and I had this idea. The presenters started talking about setting norms when these teachers work together and that got me to thinking about setting norms for when you have to craft and present a slide deck together… and thus… “Norms for Collaborating on Presentations” was born. Since I was in a professional development and because I have reverted to taking more of my notes in analog form, the info below is handwritten. It is more just some things to think about (for students and adults) when you present with another human being. The users of this info would answer the questions and then choose “need” or “don’t need” for each statement.


Now I think you are pretty caught up on visual literacy and presentation skills… Please feel free to email me with questions about the resources. I also love getting emails or tweets @TechChef4u about how you are using them.

If you are delivering similar professional development to students or find there are specific needs students have, I would love to hear about them. Please share links in the comments!


As I stated in the Note-taking post earlier this week, I am pausing my #ScrapNotes series to share some initiatives I have been working on:

Stay tuned for more…


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

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


26 Jul 2017
Comments: 0

TechChef Breaks the Silence…



The Silence

Twenty years ago I graduated high school. We didn‚Äôt have texts, tweets, or chats‚Ķ 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 ‚ÄúEnjoy the Silence‚ÄĚ 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‚Ķ 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, ‚ÄúCoJournaling as a Way to Nurture Positive Tendencies‚ÄĚ, 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‚Ķ 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‚Ķ¬†so much I want to share. I hope you will forgive me‚Ķ¬†let bygones be bygones and let us reconnect again. I hope you¬†didn‚Äôt¬†‚ÄúEnjoy the Silence‚Ä̂Ķ¬†I know I didn‚Äôt.


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‚Ķ 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‚Äôt monopolize all of your time in one sitting. You will hear from me again shortly… I promise. ūüėČ













30 Nov 2015
Comments: 2

5 Surprising Ways to Make Amazon Literacy Work 4 U

Amazon Literacy Header

Relevant Side Note: I have to admit I have been negligent with blogging these few months. My website went down in mid September and it has taken me much of the semester to transition and mold it to be what it is right now (more on that in an upcoming post)… But for NOW! ūüėČ

Sometimes it just takes a good kick in the pants¬†to jump¬†start blogging and that is exactly what Ross Cooper (@RossCoops31) did for me with his post, “Are You Amazon Literate?“.






Why Should This Matter?

So you might be asking yourself why does Amazon Literacy matter… Is this even a thing? Or is this a fictitious dish the TechChef is trying to serve up after the Thanksgiving break? Well, let me paint a picture for you. My go to for pretty much any initial purchase is Amazon.

How to Be Amazon Literate

While Amazon is super easy to find products… it can be ever so cumbersome to locate quality professional development resources unless you are… Amazon Literate:

  • Cookie Crumb Trails: Think about it… to locate quality books on creative writing, I essentially have to find one really good one and then follow the cookie crumb trail of recommendations.
  • Visit Another Restaurant: Recently, I started falling deep down the rabbit hold of visual communication and slide design. I found one amazing book, “Talk Like Ted”, which is really a book designed for the industry… not necessarily the classroom. That moves me to my next point… oftentimes, we get comfortable with what we know – we stick to books and resources that are designed for educators when in reality many of the books designed for the industry are just as impactful and provide a more transparent window into college readiness skills and purposeful practice than any educational industry book alone could. Honestly, I learned far more about the creative process and authentic publishing from Austin Kleon than any classroom-focused text.
  • Don’t Let Reviews Exclusively Color Your Opinions:¬†I¬†do look at the customer reviews BUT I am also realistic. Sometimes one customer had a bad experience (that may or may not be directly linked to the product) and they have decided to lash out in the reviews. I try to scan the middle of the road reviews (3’s and 4’s) because they seem to be more truthful and authentic than the rants or superficial praise.
  • Take a Visual Bite Before You Order: I have to admit that if I can’t get nab a “Look Inside” for a book… I tend not to order it no matter how great the reviews.¬†Sometimes older books don’t have a sneak peek but they can be found on google. My hack for the “Look Inside” is to google the book and see if I can get nab a preview of a page or two that way. If I am successful and the book piques my interest and meets my expectations, then I go back to Amazon and order it.

Though these ideas can guide your searches, there is still a bit of practice needed to master this literacy.

Creative Writing Books

Before I share some ways to hone your Amazon Literacy acumen… I want to share yet another example to sell the skill¬†further. Below is a picture of 9¬†books that I ordered off Amazon to support creative writing and creative writing prompts AND only one of the 9 books can be found in the first 10¬†pages of an Amazon search for “creative writing” or “creative writing prompts”. Essentially, without a prowess for¬†Amazon Literacy, I would have never known about the other 9¬†books.

Blogger’s Note:¬†If you are interested in these 9 creative writing books …I have pinned all of them to this board “Books that Ignite Literacy”.


How Can I Practice these Skills?

With Amazon Two Day Prime and my constant need for books and learning… I have had multiple opportunities to hone these skills. In Ross’s Amazon Literacy post, he delineated a few challenges that might be useful in polishing your acumen for Amazon Literacy.

As I don’t want to regurgitate what Ross Cooper said in his post¬†and the superb list that he offered, I thought I would ¬†generate my own list of “5 Surprising Ways to Make Amazon Literacy Work 4 U”¬†(and yes, I totally realize that these are loaded tasks that are in line with my current reality and visual communication rabbit hole):

  • Beyond Education: Find a book that is not necessarily designed for education but could be purposefully used within the classroom. (Explain your rationale.)
  • Attention Grabbers: Share a book that grabbed your attention by book cover alone. (Explain what part of the book grabbed your attention… e.g. color, title, font, image and WHY).
  • Best Collection for a Purpose: You are a secondary teacher and you need to teach your students about slide design and presentation skills. Find the book with the best collection of practical resources, tips, and examples.
  • Accurate Search Terms: Discover search terms that work for you. As mentioned above,¬†a quick search for “creative writing” oftentimes doesn’t locate the books that I really want. Austin Kleon is an amazing author that supports creative writing and his books don’t even rank on the first page.¬†That being said… “The Emotion Thesaurus” does! This book is fantastic but I actually ended up using it with slide design and speaking skills because it talks so much about body language. If you search “body language” in Amazon, The Emotion Thesaurus doesn’t even rank within the first 10 pages. Determining¬†search terms that work for you is truly an art form in it of itself.
  • Surprisingly Educational: Locate a “Surprisingly Educational” book or resource… something that is more rooted in the¬†edutainment field but definitely could be incorporated in to a curricular setting.¬†My three examples for “Surprisingly Educational” are “Artists, Writers, Thinkers. Dreamers”,¬†“Medieval Lego”, and “Fictitious Dishes”. The Artists book is fantastic for blending biographies and sketch noting and the Medieval Lego book is stellar for inspiring students to summarize historical events and create visual scenes. The Fictitious Dishes one is a clever spin on dishes that could be drawn from literary works and offers up quotes and anecdotes to support the dishes.

Too often we live in an echo chamber when we search on Amazon… this is why Amazon Literacy is so integral to bettering ourselves as educators and honing our craft with appropriate resources.


Why Will Trusted Curation be Our Future?

At some point it is not going to be enough to just google something or search within in Amazon. With the vast amount of content being published each and every day, we have to search for trusted curators. In an effort to provide you with a springboard in to Amazon Literacy AND your holiday shopping cart…, here are 3 boards I have carefully curated to support you:

And… I have one more idea for you… Why not create a collaborative board to share all of the books that you and your colleagues have read that you find instructionally impactful? AND then each of you can comment with your review or how you used it with your classroom… Here is a collaborative board I created for my colleagues to house books that blend education and technology in innovative and meaningful ways.

Ed Tech Shelf: Books for Education and Professional Development
Many thanks to Ross Cooper for allowing me to expand upon his original post. Please don’t forget to read Ross Cooper’s original post, check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @RossCoops31¬†and please, please remember to share these ideas with others… as you begin to organically grow and hone your own Amazon literacy skills.


Where Will TechChef Be Next?

As you may or may not have noticed, the TechChef4u site has undergone a few changes in both design and organization over the past few months.

If you are interested in booking Lisa Johnson and/or would like to know where she will be speaking next… visit the TechChef4u speaking page for more info or email¬†

08 Jul 2015
Comments: 1

How to Achieve Ultimate Desktop Zen with Canva

Summer can be a double-edged sword. As educators, we are relieved to have the time to regroup and rejuvenate our content and minds. However, we sometimes pile our to do lists and DIY projects so high that we become overwhelmed once again by the sheer volume of things we would like to accomplish in two to three months.

How to Transform Your Desktop with Organizational Wallpapers - includes a step by step guide and 50+ Examples

How Do You Get Organized?

I know it sounds silly, but when I have a clean desk, I tend to get more done because I can immediately get to work rather than become distracted by the pile of papers and binders on my desk.

The same holds true for my computer desktop. From my own experience, I have found that when all of the folders, screenshots, and web clips are nice and tidy, I can easily jump into checking email or blogging rather than spend time looking for files.

Step by Step Guide to Create an Organized Desktop and Achieve Productivity Zen

How Can I Get Organized?

I have had a few people take interest in my Type-A-OCD-desktop… so I thought I would spend some time designing a step-by-step guide for you to achieve desktop zen!


What If I Don’t Want to Create one of these from Scratch?

If you are digging this idea, but would prefer to start with a ready-made organized desktop or just need a little more inspiration on layouts and possible categories… check out these 50+ options I have curated for you on a brand new Pinterest board!

50+ Desktop Organization Backgrounds

What Other Productivity Hacks Do You Have For Me?

I am so glad you asked. I have two other posts to help you achieve tip-top productivity shape this summer:

Enjoy and Achieve Productivity Zen! ūüėČ


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.

Cooking Up Keynote

***Where Will TechChef Be Next?***

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

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