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24 Aug 2020
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Home Room EDU

I guess if you aren’t going to write a blog post for seven months… the next one should hopefully be hecka awesome (yes, pun intended). Journaling is something that has helped me get through these unprecedented times and bring some calm to the otherwise chaos that is. Sometimes I would write a list or a bit of gratitude. Other times a doodle. In May, I partnered with DBC Inc and launched my first ever Quarantine Journaling event with a journal prompt for every day and a # to post to. It was an amazing reaffirmation at the power journaling has to unite people, bring out their creativity, and stir up joy and thoughtful conversations. It went so well, that I wanted people to have a way to keep all of their day’s journal entries all in one spot so I did a guest post on Shake Up Learning and created a photo journal prompt template in Keynote and Google Slides

How it Came to Be

Flash forward to today and beyond all of the rambling… Carrie Baughcum and I have been hard at work to offer something like the quarantine journaling challenge again… but with a twist. One twist is that we are providing the journaling elements and the other is that there is a bit more structure to the journaling process as we wanted to make it even more accessible to students and educators. 

What It Actually Entails

As you know, I don’t like to leave you without the information that you might need so here goes:

  • Multi-week: This passion project encompasses five weeks of activities. Each week focuses on something slightly different (e.g. get to know you, goal-setting, self care/self regulation, time management/organization, learning mascots, and more).
  • Multiple Avenues: As we weren’t sure of everyone’s current reality and we wanted to meet the needs of a variety of learners, there is both an analog and a Google Slides version. So one could easily print these resources and use them in an analog journal or with an app like Notability or GoodNotes OR if one is fully digital, then Google Slides would work for that.
  • Many Ways: The cool thing about having these doodles is that it supports dual coding – using text and visuals AND these visuals are simple enough to be used to represent many different things (e.g. literal and figurative). 
  • Managing Directions: Each week reveals a new set of slides, doodles, and prompts. Each slide deck is organized with our bio info (if you want to reach out and/or tag us with some examples), step by step directions for each doodle/journal pack, and lots of visuals to get you started.

All five weeks are now packaged and available for download.

Week #1: Getting To Know You  Week 1 PDF | Week 1 Google Slides

Week #2: Goal Setting Week 2 PDF | Week 2 Google Slides

Week #3Self-Care and Self Regulation  Week 3 PDF | Week 3 Google Slides

Week #4: Organization and Time Management:  Week 4 PDF | Week 4 Google Slides

Week #5: Learning Mascots: Week 5 PDF | Week 5 Google Slides

A Little Extra

As you also know, I always love to leave you with at least one more thing… so…

Please know that this is a passion project and also a first attempt at doing something like this, so if you have thoughts and feelings about how to make it better, please reach out to either one of us. 😉

FREEBIES AND GOODIES OH MY!

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

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14 Nov 2019
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Free Gratitude Trackers for Students

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

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

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

Gratitude 411

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

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

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

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

THE TRACKERS

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

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

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

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

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

TRACKERS EXAMPLES

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

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

FREEBIES AND GOODIES OH MY!

And Don’t forget ALL 3 Mood and Health Trackers as well as lots more templates, digital downloads, goodies can be found in the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker. Just sign up using the form below and you will receive a link shortly with a secret link to the site and password to nab your freebies.

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23 Oct 2019
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FREE Mood & Health Trackers for Students

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

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

THE ACTIVITIES

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

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

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

THE TRACKERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keeping TRACK of STUDENT ACTIVITIES and LEARNING

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

FREEBIES AND GOODIES OH MY!

And Don’t forget ALL 3 Mood and Health Trackers as well as lots more templates, digital downloads, goodies can be found in the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker. Just sign up using the form below and you will receive a link shortly with a secret link to the site and password to nab your freebies.

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15 Sep 2019
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12 Time Management Tools for Students

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

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

Why is Time Management Important?

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

What is Time Management?

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

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

What Tips and Tools Do You have for Time Management?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STUDENTS NEED PD TOO!

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

FREEBIES AND GOODIES OH MY!

Oh, OMT… The Things to Do template and Project Planning Guide and lots more digital downloads and goodies can be found in the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker. Just sign up using the form below and you will receive a link shortly with a secret link to the site and password to nab your freebies.

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08 Aug 2018
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Values Sort Activity for Students

UPDATED 4/2021:

This is probably my favorite activity to do. I engage it in at least twice a year personally and professionally. Here is my most recent example. AND there are so many curricular extensions too…

Context and Clarification to the Values and Goal-Setting Activities

I think it is always important to start with the why of an activity so here are a few nuggets to ruminate on:

  • College and Career Readiness Skills: Working at a high school, college and career readiness skills are naturally at the forefront of my mind and personal and academic goal-setting is an important part of that process. If values are not at the foundation, the goals tend to fall by the wayside because they are not intrinsic to who they are and what they value.
  • Social Emotional Learning and Mental Health: SEL skills and mental health are even more imperative than before. And being able to narrow your focus and really understand yourself at your core in every season of your life is truly an opportunity we don’t provide enough to ourselves or our students.
  • Research and Real Life: When I was doing research for both of my school and life-ready books Cultivating Communication in the Classroom and Creatively Productive, I ventured out into reading books and collecting anecdata from entrepreneurs, life coaches, successful business owners, etc… and while each definitely highlighted the need for goal-setting… all of them were firmly rooted in the process of deciphering your values first.

Explanation of Values Activity and Documents

As of lately, I have been trying to create resources that are accessible and editable. While there are many activities online that are values audits, very few of them are editable or anything more than a list, which is fine, but I wanted this activity to be fun and engaging too. And I think by making it feel like poetry magnets, it also adds a tactile sort of component to the process. I also wanted to make it editable so students or teachers could add the core set of values they wanted to start sorting rather than use a default list. Both the Numbers and Google Slides versions can be found in the Doc Locker below.

  • Numbers: The Numbers version is editable and designed for MacBook, iPad, and iPhone. It is pretty simplistic in nature as I really wanted you and your students to have the opportunity to modify it as you see fit.
  • Google Slides: The Google Slides version is editable and strongly resembles the poetry magnet activities Edutech for Teachers and Shake Up Learning and Free Tech for Teachers create with Google Slides and/or Google Jamboard. 
  • Additional Resources: I also wanted to provide you with some additional tools. Please know that because these have been created by other people, the values themselves may not be editable and you may come across a few that you feel are not age-appropriate. That being said… they are still great resources to explore.
    • PDF: So I didn’t create my own PDF for you but there are plenty out there and I did link to them for you here.
    • Online: I also found some online versions if you want to play around with them:
  • OMT – Curricular Extensions: I absolutely love creative writing SO I wanted to mention that this activity could also be turned into a values audit for a historical figure or a literary character. One could also reverse this activity and use it in conjunction with a digital wellness or digital citizenship lesson and have students examine a social media feed (e.g. personal, professional, political, business, etc…) and evaluate the values of that person or entity based on what they share.

FREEBIES and GOODIES OH MY!

TechChef4u now offers a Doc Locker full of freebies and goodies that can be used in the classroom. Lots of resources and templates can be found in the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker. Just sign up using the form below and you will receive an email shortly with a secret link to the site and password to nab your freebies.

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20 Jun 2018
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The Complete Guide to Visual Note-takers, Bullet Journalists, and Inspiring Peeps

The Complete Guide to Bullet Journaling, Visual Notes, and Planners for Educators

“Creatively Productive”: People to Follow

So many of these people are mentioned in my second book Creatively Productive: Essential Skills for Tackling Time Wasters, Clearing the Clutter, and Succeeding in School and Life. Rather than just listing them in the book, I chose to make this list evergreen and digital for two reasons: 1) now anyone can connect with these awesome people… not just those that have purchased the book (though I very much appreciate my #creativelyproductive PLN) AND 2) the list will be constantly updated and have direct links rather than be a one and done resource.

Throughout the book, I have shared interesting and intriguing people to follow on Instagram. Below is a collection of the ones that I mentioned throughout the book and several more for good measure. As many of these skills and products shared throughout the book are highly visual, it only makes sense that these individuals would choose the most visual social media platform to share their ideas and insights. While the list encompasses Instagrammers, check out their bios. Many of them have YouTube channels, Etsy stores where they offer analog and digital downloads and templates, and websites with blogs where they dig deeper into the ideas and topics from their feed.

I tried to separate these into categories of interest. I will say there is a lot of crossover in this field (e.g., many that use bullet journals also share illustrated notes, and those who share planners also share bullet journals). I tried to add people under the title that best described what they do, but know that many wear multiple hats. If these topics are of interest to you and/or your students, I highly encourage you to follow these people and connect with them. It should also be noted that I curated a longer list of bullet journalists than any other category. The reason being is that I wanted to showcase bullet journalists from a variety of walks of life and careers as well as geographic locations to highlight the massive reach and appeal that bullet journaling has as well as share how each one of these people makes the phenomenon their own.

 
Bullet Journalists
Student Bullet Journalists
  • @focusign: science student and bullet journalist.
  • @tbhstudying: high school student with amazing bullet journal and illustrated notes
  • @emtudier: teenager who shares her bullet journal and illustrated notes
  • @study.meds: medical school student who shares her bullet journal and illustrated notes.
Digital Bullet Journalists and/or Note-takers (Many Are Students)
Illustrated Notes and Sketch-noters
Planner
Journaling Prompts

Okay, perhaps this is not a “complete” list in the sense of “comprehensive” BUT what I can tell you is that if you follow these people, you will surely discover others. And pay attention to the #’s they use. Following those will definitely allow you to really target the specific rabbit hole you want to topple down.

 

REVISITING #SCRAPNOTES

If you want to visit or revisit all things #ScrapNotes or get a feel for some of the ideas and practices that inspired the book, check out these 5 posts and stay tuned for more:

And… Check out the book companion sites for lots of freebies and additional resources!

FREEBIES and GOODIES OH MY!

TechChef4u now offers a Doc Locker full of freebies and goodies that can be used in the classroom. Lots of resources and templates can be found in the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker. Just sign up using the form below and you will receive an email shortly with a secret link to the site and password to nab your freebies.

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04 Jan 2018
Comments: 0

18 Awesome Analog Things to Try in 2018

We all have a special way of closing out the previous year and ushering in the new one. Carl Hooker posted “A Look Back on Bold Predictions of 2017” and Monica Burns created an EdTech Inspiration calendar with “12 Tips for 2018“. I rounded out 2017 with “Calendexes, Productivity Bingo, and Students! Oh My!” which contains a FREE 2018 Calendex and “18 Books Everyone Should Read in 2018” which includes brief and personal reviews of each of the books listed. I have somewhat lapsed on my #ScrapNotes series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 are linked here) which I initiated in 2017 in favor of my Student Professional Development series. Part 5 of the the #ScrapNotes series was to be “The Complete Guide to People, Ideas, and Inspiration”. So I decided to offer all of the inspiration, people, and ideas… just with a slightly different name, “18 Awesome Analog Things to Try in 2018”. Before we dive right in, I wanted to touch on a few points:

  • ANALOG TECHNOLOGIES: I am by no means touting 2018 as the year of analog, but I do feel that analog still has a very real foundation in our personal and professional world. Furthermore… if you look up the word “technology”… it really boils down to “the collection of techniques, skills, methods, and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation.” Below are simply “technologies”… they are techniques, methods, and processes that are used in accomplishing a variety of personal and professional objectives. The difference is that they are analog, tangible, and IRL (In Real Life) versus digital. I should also mention that only the first 5 on the list focus on materials or products… the next 13 are more strategies and tools so don’t get too hung up on washi tape and acrylic stamps if that isn’t your thing. 😉
  • SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING: And if you are familiar with CASEL’s core SEL (Social Emotional Learning) competencies, many of these analog gems serve the purpose of exploring and fostering these skills (e.g. self-awareness, self-management, and responsible decision-making).
  • WHET YOUR PALETTE: I should mention I really could spend an entire blog post on each of these topics but in the interest of brevity and the true art of literary restraint… I am going to showcase all 18 in one post. Now that sounds more like a circus feat than an actual skill. :/ Truly my goal is not to be comprehensive but provide a sound jumping off point for a variety of tools and best practices that might be equal parts timely and equal parts tantalizing. Many of these tools and techniques have multiple examples online. For those, I defer to the adage “a picture is worth a blog post” and include a link to one rather than drowning you with a paragraph or two on each one.
  • UNIVERSAL AUDIENCE: If you have been following my “Students Need Professional Development Too” series, then you know that several of the following 18 ideas, tools, and techniques have been shared with secondary students in a variety of fashions. If you engage in writer or reader’s notebooks with your students, then these are also a great fit. But… these tools are certainly not for students alone. I have explored, utilized, and embraced the vast majority of these tools and techniques. So please know they can be easily integrated with students and staff alike.

18 AWESOME ANALOG THINGS to TRY in 2018

  1. Analog Journal: I used to scrapbook and journal back in the day and as of a few years ago, I started that process back up and I have to tell you that I just absolutely love it. It helps me stayed organized, focused, and happy. I will tell you that I am not alone in the process. There are multiple sites devoted to the techniques, several Facebook groups, and a slew of Instagram #’s. I don’t actually full “bujo” as I use both a bullet journal and a planner BUT many people do. If you want to get into this, I suggest checking out bulletjournal.com, bohoberry,com, and littlecoffeefox.com. I have also curated a Pinterest board of 300+ examples and inspirations. This topic of analog and bullet journaling is a very deep rabbit hole but totally worth it. The best advice I can give you is take note of the ideas you like and want to try… and just try a few. Don’t become overwhelmed.
  2. Instant Camera: I don’t know if it is the nostalgia or the novelty… but a few months ago I bought a Fujifilm Instax camera. What I love about it boils down to two things… the image you get is instant in a tangible way AND since the film is costly and you only get one photo… there is something special and original about the image… one of a kind. I use these to add a little something special to my journal pages and my boys get a kick out of the “printing” and “developing” phases so there’s that too. Here is an example. I have a few others that are actual pictures of people too.
  3. Washi Tape: I would be remised if I didn’t mention this tool. It is basically pretty painter’s tape (not for painting… that would be wasteful) and you can find it almost anywhere from Wal-Mart and Target to Michael’s and even Office Depot and Dollar Tree. I love it for a variety of reasons. I have used it to organize whiteboards and I have used it to create visual distinctions and spaces on the pages in my journals. It is also great if you make a mistake as you can cover it. That tends to be one of the most difficult things for people embracing the analog journal… handling mistakes. You can’t just delete a typo and tearing out a page out of a nice Moleskine or Leuchtturm1917 isn’t an option everyone relishes. Thus, finding creative ways to embrace your mistakes or turn them into art is a bit of a life lesson… washi tape and stickers do wonders for this. If you are interested in the history of this fanciful masking tape that originated 12 years ago in Japan, this post gives more of an overview. You also know you have gone a little wacky for washi… when you start ordering your washi from places like Singapore… but I would know nothing about that. 😉
  4. Planner Stickers, Labels, and Acrylic Stamps: If you are going to go analog, stickers and labels aren’t necessarily a must but definitely really helpful. One of the biggest questions I get asked is about brands. Honestly, I love me some Michael’s and they carry both Jane Davenport’s (@janedavenport) an Dyan Reaveley’s (@dyanreaveley) lines of stickers and stamps. I should also mention both of them are very active on Instagram so you constantly get to see their inspirations and their tools in action. And Dyan’s has some awesome stickers that are intentionally black and white so you can color them. Labels: Labels are helpful to cover mistakes and to denote order on a page. Stickers: I also love stickers to break up the vastness of a page. And honestly… there are very few people that I have met in my lifetime… man… woman… or child… that don’t appreciate a good sticker. Acrylic (or clear) Stamps: These are similar to rubber stamps but much cheaper and you have the ability to combine multiple stamps to make a unique design as they are essentially reusable stickers that are stamps. I have a few of these and am looking forward to exploring them more this year. I should also mention that you can find these pretty much anywhere… even Dollar Tree. Here is a quick run down on clear stamps.
  5. Ephemera: There are those of us that love antiques and the idea of history. Ephemera is essentially something that is fleeting. People create journals from vintage McCall’s patterns or turn images into witty memes or sayings like the book, “Pattern Behavior: The Seamy Side of Fashion”. Ephemera can be analog… Tim Holtz offers an entire collection of these. It can also be digital and then used in digital art. Mischief Circus offers several of these. It is big in the art journaling world… in fact my sister-in-law has multiple examples on her site and has been published in the Art Journaling magazine (which you can pick up at Barnes and Noble). There are also entire Instagram (@excuse.my.french.ephemera) accounts and Etsy sites devoted to ephemera. I have curated 100 or so pieces here that can be printed or used digitally. Truly these can be used in collages or a springboard for poetry and creative writing. The lists goes on and on.
  6. Values Exercises: Before you choose one of the activities or tools, below, a values exercise is helpful. It is like a pre-assessment… it gives you a good idea of what you value and what you don’t which is super helpful in what trackers, prompts, and exercises you want to tackle. Taproot.com has a values exercise activity and Unstuck.com has an article with a handout embedded that guides through the exercise.
  7. Mission Statement: Mission statements are similar to a value exercise. They are kind of like a compass for you and your year. Some people choose #oneword to guide them. The mission statement just allows you to take that big idea and break it down into its multiple facets. Here is a mad libs like example.
  8. 6 Month Visual Goals: I love goal-setting and visuals seem to make this easier. It is sometimes more difficult to recall your goals when they are lengthy lists versus a series of images. Here is an example from fellow instagrammer @cardigansandchamomille and mine is shown above and linked here.
  9. 10 Minute Journal: I happed on these a few months ago and absolutely love them. Christie Zimmer offers 8 10 minute journaling prompts which are a fantastic place to start. An open-ended journal can be really daunting so this is an easy way to ease into the process. I also love that she includes multiple prompts that result in lists or images not just paragraph text.
  10. Calendex: If you read my last post, then you may have been intrigued with the idea of a calendex (the mash-up of a calendar and an index). I like these for tracking trends. For example, I have already created one for work. My goal was to get a good idea of how many times a month I did each of the following things (e.g. blogged, created something, had a meeting, offered student, staff, or parent professional development). So I created a symbol and color to represent each of these. Honestly, with the calendex… seeing really is believing so I recommend taking a gander at that post as I have included multiple links and examples.
  11. Mood Tracker: Mood trackers tend to be very popular in the analog and bullet journal world. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Since there are so many examples and varieties, I thought it best just to link to a few examples… @organizatecreando, @theblueplanner, @buujoo, @andreasbujo, and @creapassionink.
  12. Doodle a Day: There are several doodle-a-day challenges. I have decided to take a slightly different spin on these. I use a Doodle-a-Day when I am on break for an extended period of time (e.g. medical leave, Christmas, Spring Break, summer) and I draw one image each day to represent what I did that day or perhaps the most memorable event from that day. It is a great way to be reflective and it is so easy to account for your time off in a way that is meaningful. I have included an example of the one I did when I was out in November and the one I am still working on for holiday break (see below).
  13. Productivity Bingo: I totally “borrowed” this idea from @lalalauren.creates on Instagram. The idea is basically creating a to do list as a bingo board and gamifying it. I include more information on this topic and additional examples in my previous post. And there are Productivity Meters too… thanks @the.petite.planner for this one. 😉
  14. Self Care Bingo: If you are focused on mindfulness, this is a great exercise. Basically, it is Productivity Bingo but with ideas that are personal to you to rejuvenate or refresh. I have included an example from @lalalauren.creates, one I developed, and a self care tracker from @kb.creative_.
  15. Year in Pixels: I have seen this idea for 2-3 years and while I absolutely love it, I can’t seem to embrace the habit. The idea is really cool though. It is basically a year’s worth of mood trackers all in one. And it kind of looks like a really haphazard and poorly played game of tetris when you complete it… but it really is such an amazing visual history. Here are two example setups @lalalauren.creates and @alexanndoodles and here is a completed one ala @greenishplanning.
  16. Habit Tracker: Ah the habit tracker. This one is probably as common in the bullet journal realm as the mood tracker. If you want to start doing something or stop doing something, this is a great tool. Recently, I came across this explanation from @decadethirty and I think it is exceptionally valuable no matter what habit you are trying to form and/or what habit tracker tool you are using. Here are two additional examples @buujooo and @get.it.planned and a template from Passion Planner’s site.
  17. Sleep Tracker: With all of the research on sleep, it is wise and helpful to actually track it. Yes, there are digital tools that do this. Honestly, there are digital tools for many of these… but too often these tools can be an additional distraction. They may also not include a journaling component and/or they may not track or display the specific or general data that you seek. Here are four analog examples @j.creas@bulletbyjulia, @kb.creative_, and @rainbowbulletjournal.
  18. H20 Tracker: This is another big one for both students and adults. I can tell you for a fact that I don’t drink enough water. There are a variety of ways to track this. Here is a template from Passion Planner’s site.

BUT WAIT THERE’s MORE…

You know me… I always like to leave you with a few more nuggets. If you are intrigued or inspired by any of the 18 above, I wanted to share some additional support resources…

  • Research Mindfulness and Journaling: I think the coolest thing about analog journaling, reflection, and habit tracking is how much research is there to support it and how many books I find that tout it. I recently wrote a blog post for the counseling department of our high school that aggregated several bits of research on the impact of journaling which is linked here. There are also multiple books on my “18+ Books Everyone Should Read in 2018” that touch on some of these topics directly and/or indirectly. I have also curated multiple examples and articles on this Pinterest board.
  • Join a FB Group or Check out an Instagram #: Facebook Groups and Instagram #’s happen to be one of the best ways to not only learn more about these “analog” topics and tools but to also connect with others that are trying them. I am seasoning the end of this post with a few of each.
    • Facebook Groups: Bullet Journal School EditionBullet Journal Share, Bullet Journaling Tips and Tricks. There is even a Bullet Journal Writers group too!
    • Instagram #’s: In addition to all of the Instagrammers I have highlighted throughout this post, there are some #’s that will lead you closer to the prize: #bulletjournal, #bujo, #bulletjournaljunkies, #journaling, #creativejournaling, #loveforanalogue. I really only use these to find people that share awesome ideas I want to emulate and then after I follow them, I start seeing these people in my feed.

FREEBIES and GOODIES OH MY!

TechChef4u now offers a Doc Locker full of freebies and goodies that can be used in the classroom. Lots of resources and templates can be found in the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker. Just sign up using the form below and you will receive an email shortly with a secret link to the site and password to nab your freebies.

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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.

TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE CALENDEX

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 BulletJournal.com). 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.

TELL ME MORE ABOUT PRODUCTIVITY BINGO

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 techchef4u@gmail.com. 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”.

STUDENTS NEED PD TOO!

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!

FREEBIES and GOODIES OH MY!

TechChef4u now offers a Doc Locker full of freebies and goodies that can be used in the classroom. Lots of resources and templates can be found in the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker. Just sign up using the form below and you will receive an email shortly with a secret link to the site and password to nab your freebies.

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16 Dec 2015
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CoJournaling as a Way to Nurture Positive Tendencies

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:

MiamiDevice2015_BeFunky

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.

 

FREEBIES and GOODIES OH MY!

TechChef4u now offers a Doc Locker full of freebies and goodies that can be used in the classroom. Lots of resources and templates can be found in the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker. Just sign up using the form below and you will receive an email shortly with a secret link to the site and password to nab your freebies.

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