210-710-2434
210-710-2434
08 Dec 2017
Comments: 1

18+ Books Everyone Should Read in 2018

I recently created an Amazon recommendations page for books and office supplies. For some reason it reminded me of a post I wrote on “Amazon Literacy” back in 2015. One of the things I mentioned in that post was the idea of trust and curation. Mark Cuban, on an episode of Shark Tank, makes the statement, “I think trusted curation is the future”. And I hope that in the last seven and a half years I have proved myself to be a trustworthy voice in the edusphere. While most of my blog posts and resources focus on iPads in education, summaries of professional development, and most recently note-taking and how to teach students college and career ready communication skills, I have a few avenues of interest that I haven’t really shared (on this blog) as of late… professional development reads and office supplies… which I share ad nauseam on my new Instagram account NoteChef4u. 😉 Whilst I was doing some bullet journaling, I decided to make a list of books that I read in 2017. That led me to the realization that I was one book short of 17… which was quickly remedied. Thank you Amazon. I was thinking about doing a post “17 Books for 2017” but then I realized I really have never done a post like this… so I decided I would just do a book list of my favorite books over the past 2-3 years. What you should know about the list is that I have read each and every one and would not put it on the list if I didn’t think it had value. That being said… not everyone likes mint chocolate chip ice cream so just because I like it… may not make it your beloved flavor. But all of the books on the list are also highly rated on Amazon and you always have the Look Inside feature… so there’s that. I have also done sketch summaries of most of these books on my Instagram… so feel free to check out the highlights there too.

INDUSTRY BOOKS that are AWESOME for EDU

As not all of the books have obvious professional development impact (and we are currently experiencing a “snow day” today in Texas), I thought I would share (and had some time to) a quick snippet of information about each… so here we go:

  • The Secret Lives of Color – I happed on this book after reading the two below. It looks at 75 different shades of color and discusses their historical, cultural, and literary origins and meanings… as well as how they were made and which artists used them. For example… the pigment Prussian Blue was first used in blueprints and green appears in the flags of predominantly Islamic countries because “paradise” is synonymous with “garden”. Other facts I gleaned were Emerald green was originally the cause of many deaths as it contains arsenic, in Shakespeare’s day… green costumes were considered bad luck on stage, and French soldiers serving in Africa were given absinthe to ward off malaria. This book would be great as a companion for an Art History course or a way to enlighten or highlight a World History course or content students are reading in an English class.
  • Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks – I seriously loved this book. I mean… as a kid… I did enjoy diagramming sentences so there’s that… but this was just such a fun book to read and that is all due to the author. The chapter on the ampersand starts with “Born in ignoble circumstances and dogged by a rival character of weighty provenance, the ampersand would spend a thousand years of uneasy coexistence with its opponent before finally claiming victory.” I loved the personification and the fact that there were 67 pages of references at the back of the book. It is said that you have to understand our history so as to not repeat it… I think it can also be said that the better we comprehend the history of language and symbolism, the better we can use it to make meaning.
  • The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter – If you follow my new Instagram account (@NoteChef4u), then you may have noticed that I devote that account to all things analog… including note-taking. I discovered this book and I truly felt vindicated. The first part of the book highlights the history and rebirth of vinyl, paper, film, and board games. I absolutely loved learning all about the history of the Moleskine notebook. Part 2 focused on print, retail, work, and school. The part on school was so-so but the rest of the book I really relished. As many things in life are recursive, I think this was such an excellent read.
  • A Book That Takes Its Time: An Unhurried Adventure in Creative Mindfulness – I stumbled upon this book in Barnes and Noble. It is the perfect mash-up of analog, creativity, and mindfulness. I read the book fairly quickly and was pleasantly surprised to find that it held multiple tips and research studies… not just fun paper goodies (e.g. 2 journals, 16 postcards, 40 stickers, and more). It has great ideas that could also be adapted to a Writer’s Notebook for students too! It should also be noted that they run a wildly popular creativity and paper crafts magazine. I haven’t had a magazine subscription in over a decade… but this might just be worth it.
  • Reinvent Yourself – I am going to admit that I typically read books out of the edu field as I don’t like to silo myself. This book really is easy to read as each of the 47 chapters are truly just lessons learned from an interview or topic/theme (e.g. “The Twenty Things I’ve Learned From Larry Page”, “What I Learned from Chess”, “Five Things I Learned from Superman”, and “Seven Things Star Wars Taught Me About Productivity”). The format is great to emulate for writing and I really enjoyed the variety of tips and best practices gleaned from so many different industries.
  • Flawd: How to Stop Hating on Yourself, Others, and the Things That Make You Who You Are – This book I ended up highlighting in chapter 6 of “Cultivating Communication in the Classroom: Future-Ready Skills for Secondary Students”. The book is written by a girl that was bullied, ended up becoming a bully, and then recovered and decided to write a book about it. I really enjoyed this book. She is wise beyond her years. One of my favorite quotes was “strong beliefs are just the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself.”
  • Long Story Short: The Only Storytelling Guide You’ll Ever Need – If you are familiar with the MOTH live storytelling, you will love this book. So many tips for writing and speaking. It is a creative writing gem and I absolutely loved her voice and perspective. Margot trains people to develop and tell live stories and to that end she offers multiple stems and questions that encourage storytelling.
  • The Creativity Challenge: Design, Experiment, Test, Innovate, Build, Create, Inspire, and Unleash Your Genius – I have a problem with teal and turquoise books… the problem is that I am instantly drawn to them and they just magically end up in my hand and/or Amazon cart and then of course on my home shelf. What I loved about this book is that each of the 150 creative exercises was divided into one of 5 categories (e.g, convergent, divergent, lateral, aesthetic, and emergent). If you are looking to add some creativity to your curriculum, there are great ideas to spark your interest and they are easy to adapt.
  • The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression – If you are focusing on social emotional learning in your district, this book is a must. While designed for writers, it highlights 75 emotions ranging from disbelief and insecurity to regret and sympathy. Each emotion includes the corresponding body language, thoughts, and visceral responses. I should also mention that this is a series. I also own “The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to City Spaces” and almost bought the “The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Personal and Natural Places”.
  • There Is No Good Card for This; What To Say and Do When Life is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love – Again, I love reading books outside of the edu genre and this one popped up in my feed and then in my cart and then at my house. It is written by two authors… one is a social worker and grief counselor and the other is a writer and illustrator that of Empathy Cards. The book was excellent as it provided ideas for appropriately handing a variety of scenarios and offered lots of tips to be a better listener. It even delineated types of non listeners, types of listeners, and gave a list of go-to phrases to support people. The Gesture Wall and “Try Not to Be That Annoying Person” instead of this (e.g. “I felt ______, when I ______ .”), try this (“what’s than like for you”) were exceptional!
  • 10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades (while studying less) – One of my teachers told me about this book. His psychology class had jigsawed it. You can get the PDF of the book FREE from the College Info Geek site but if you want the hard copy, you can order it from Amazon. A quick read but some really great stuff.
  • The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy – This book is about a man that spent a year researching and trying productivity hacks and writing about them. Some good tips in the book. The book’s topics range from time management and attention to mindfulness.
  • Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody ToldYou About Being Creative – I have talked about Austin Kleon for years and absolutely love his books,. They are quick reads but offer so much to think about. While they may not have as obvious direct applications to the classroom, when you really dig into them, I think you will find there is much to learn about curation, creation, and getting to the heart of what makes you you.
  • Show Your Work! – Another gem from Austin Kleon. If you are working with CTE or mentorship students, this is a great book to have in your arsenal. With chapters like, “Think Process, Not Product”, “Teach What You Know”, and “Don’t Turn into Human Spam”, there are lots of life lessons and gems included.
  • 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success – The author of this book is a licensed social worker and has written a version of this for parents too. Basically, the book focuses on 13 life lessons ranging from “Don’t Focus on Things You Can’t Control” and “Don’t Shy Away from Change” to “Don’t Give Up After the First Failure” and “Don’t Feel the World Owes You Anything”. Each chapter also ends with some action items.
  • The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users – This is a gem from Guy Kawasaki. I gleaned some helpful tips about social media from this easy to digest book. If you are manning the social media for your school or district, this is a good read to help boost and spread your message.
  • The Art of Creative Thinking: 89 Ways to See Things Differently – Rod Judkins is a lecturer at Central Saint Martins. He talks about creativity all over the world. Each of the 89 vignettes in the book focus on gleaning creativity tips from renound leaders in creativity like Coco Chanel, Matt Groening, Frida Kahlo, and Frank Lloyd Wright… to name a few.
  • Show and Tell: How Everybody Can Make Extraordinary Presentations – This book is a mashup of storytelling, visual literacy, sketch noting, persuasive design, and presentation skills.
  • Draw to Win: A Crash Course on How to Lead, Sell, and Innovate With Your Mind – If you are in to sketch noting or ideas for presentation skills, this book and the the one above are must reads. I ended up drawing from both of these (this one and “Show and Tell”) to develop some student-friendly tips for visual literacy and presentation skills in chapter 3 of “Cultivating Communication in the Classroom: Future-Ready Skills for Secondary Students”. This book gets into the 7 basic building blocks of shapes and how to use the art of persuasion via drawings and storytelling.
  • The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever – I also discovered this book during my teal/turquoise/blue period. I got tons of great ideas for coaching from this gem. I also truly appreciated all of the research. He mentions the 3 P’s (Projects, People, and Patterns) and each chapter chapter focuses on an overarching question (e.g. Kicktstart Question: What’s on Your Mind?, Focus Question: What’s the Real Challenge Here for You?, Strategic Question: If You are Saying Yes to This, What are You Saying No To?).

EDU-FOCUSED BOOKS

While I do read a lot of industry books, I also like to learn from my peers and others doing amazing things for teachers and students in the educational industry. The 6 books below are the educational ones that I read that I would also like to recommend to the batch or bushel:

  • Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World – This book is ever so timely. It is very much the essential guide to navigating the ephemeral and transactional communications woven into the language of social media online and IRL. I loved all of the exercises and practical applications. I can’t tell you how many times I have pulled from or referenced this book over the past few months.
  • Intention: Critical Creativity in the Classroom – First off. The authors of this book are Amy Burvall and Dan Ryder… two of my favorite people. If you are looking to infuse your class projects with creativity… this is the book for you. The book is quite dense with exciting challenges like “phrankenword”, B Side Ideas, One Word a Day Diaries, and so much more. The book is perfect for any English or World Language classroom. But honestly… every classroom will benefit from their thorough compilation of creative dishes.
  • Along Came a Leader: A Guide to Personal and Professional Leadership – You know I have to say I am not one for books on leadership because they tend to be heavy-handed, dry, or overly prescriptive. While this book did provide several ingredients, it was the author’s voice, experiences, and personal anecdotes that were thoughtfully baked in that really made this read a true gem. I found myself highlighting and jotting down quotes… and stopping frequently to ponder his thought-provoking and insightful questions embedded within each chapter. I know that I will be returning to this content throughout this coming year and really reviewing my own growth and experiences. Kelly also did a great job of including practical tips for maximizing meetings, solving problems and even introducing colleagues.
  • Hacking Project Based Learning: 10 Easy Steps to PBL and Inquiry in the Classroom – I haven’t really delved into PBL so this book was a fresh and not overbaked read. I appreciated all of the practical approaches and easy way to get started into PBL… that don’t take 20 hours. Ross and Erin tackled a complex topic and created a simplified straight-forward approach for any educator to dip their toe into PBL. I especially liked the “Overcoming Pushback” sections in each chapter where they addressed areas in instruction and assessment that might prove difficult to morph to PBL and shared solutions for each. This was a quick read and I am excited to put their ideas to action… especially their “Progress Assessment Tool”. I am also super stoked that Ross Cooper provided extra resources on his companion site like posters and question cards.
  • #FormativeTech: Meaningful, Sustainable, and Scalable Formative Assessment with Technology – Monica’s book is in the same vein as the Hacking PBL as you can pick it up and use it TODAY. It highlights multiple formative assessment tools that can be used across a variety of content areas and grade levels and matches them to sound pedagogical practices. The way she weaves in academic vocabulary makes the resource easy to access for a first year teacher or a veteran. QR codes are embedded within to instantly access resources and tools. Every step in the formative assessment process from data collection and evaluation to parent involvement is touched on and highlighted with tried and true staples of technology like Padlet, Kahoot, Nearpod, and Google Forms. My favorite resources were the examples of strong feedback and anchor charts for “how to make a quality comment” and “in a backchannel, my job is…”
  • Cultivating Communication in the Classroom: Future-Ready Skills for Secondary Students – While I am including my latest publication here, I will not say any more about it here. There are 30 thoughtful reviews on Amazon as well as 16 endorsements from educators all over the world within its pages. If the content speaks to you and you end up taking a gander and picking it up, please connect with me on Twitter or Facebook or via email… I would love to hear from you. 😉

 

I should mention that the header image only showcases 20 of the 26 books. I really wanted to have all of the books neatly displayed on an actual shelf but I am a bit OCD with my bookshelves and creating a shelf for this post would have totally messed with my fine-tuned system (color-coded, genre, see my complete organization strategy here) so I had to go digital with a cover collage like you see in the header. But just in case you wanted to see my system… I included a Thinglinked version below. 😉 Thanks so much for reading. Please remember to share your own book recommendations for 2018 too!

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.

Receive Access to the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker

* indicates required

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave


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 (techchef4u@gmail.com). 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!

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.

Receive Access to the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker

* indicates required


SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave


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!

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.

Receive Access to the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker

* indicates required


SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave


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 techchef4u@gmail.com.

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!

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.

Receive Access to the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker

* indicates required



19 Oct 2017
Comments: 4

How Do you Deliver PD to Students?

At a campus of approximately 2700 students that are 1:1 iPad, you are bound to find a variety and a disparity of skills and technological prowess. iPad Base Camps were born to ensure that all students had a baseline of technical skills at the beginning of the year. This also alleviated the class time it would take in individual classes for teachers to have students set up these devices as well.

Before you dig into this post… I should mention that a dear friend has informed me that my posts are like unicorns and that I should write shorter posts to stretch out the ideas… like baby unicorns… but honestly… my brain just doesn’t work that way. I am one of those people that tells you everything I know on a topic… and then moves to the next topic in the next post. The only time I find it possible to “baby unicorn” something is if I have already outlined it (e.g. like my ScrapNotes posts) and committed to telling you that it will be in multiple doses… so please know that this post is like a giant helping of student professional development (in baby unicorn herd form)… but you can totally digest it in multiple seatings (the post… not the baby unicorn herd… that is)… if need be. 😉

What are the Basics of an iPad Base Camp?

The slide deck linked here and embedded below is pretty comprehensive when it comes to the apps and process we devised but I also want to preface it with a few bits of information:

  • Student Focus: We began with Freshman as they come to us from two different campuses and may not have had as much experience with specific apps and tools as our 10-12th grade students.
  • Time Frame: We had the span of a class period (45-50 minutes) to teach these skills.
  • Hands-Off: The approach had to be hands-off, station-based, and self-explanatory as sometimes we would have multiple classes during the same class period.
  • Fundamental: We really had to drill down to what were the most fundamental apps and processes as we could only manage 4 stations in a class period.
  • Devices: As we upgraded the devices, the stations and tasks would be slightly altered to accommodate new features (e.g. speech to text or split screen and updates to apps).

 

What are the Apps used in iPad Base Camp?

  • 2015: 2015 was our first year for the camp. We created 4 stations that focused on the 3 C’s (e.g. Critical Thinking = Popplet Lite and Paper by 53, Collaboration = Google Drive, Google Sheets, and Google Docs, Communication = Evernote and DocAs). We also added a file management station (especially since we were dealing with 16 GB iPad 2’s at the time… to address apps like iFiles, Google Calendar, and Shutterfly). I should mention that students were constantly running out of space with our 16 GB model and much of this was due to photo storage. As Shutterfly has an app with unlimited photo storage and there were very few alternatives at the time… we went with this one.
  • 2016: In 2016 we upgraded to 64 GB iPad 2 Air’s with a built in keyboard case. We revamped the 4 stations to focus on particular skills/tools we found students needed to have set up at the beginning of the year (e.g. Notable Note-taking = Notability and Google Drive, Powerful Portfolios – Google Drive and Google Docs, Capitalizing on Calendars = Google Calendar, and Mindful Mind-Mapping = Post-it Plus and Google Classroom). I should also mention that this is the year that we dropped DocAS for PDF annotation and adopted Notability for K-12. It is also the first year we used Google Classroom and the year that we provided a portfolio structure (this will have to be a baby unicorn… an will most likely end up in a future post) for students using Google Drive and a Google Doc Portfolio Index.
  • 2017: We just completed our 3rd year of iPad Base Camps. I think we have finally found a system and station flow that seems to work. The only change we made from 2016-2017 was swapped the Post-it Plus station for Keynote as Keynote had just released some upgraded features like icons and we wanted to highlight those as many students underuse this tool.
  • 2017+: I should also mention… because you will see it in the slide deck on slide 15… that we also ran another one of these for Sophomores as a precursor to a larger project. Each station focused on a different cause of war and used a different app. This allowed students to get familiarity with a variety of apps and create a digital artifact for their class. When they got to the final project, they were already familiar with the apps and could begin working.)

What are you Not Telling Me?

So, yes… there are a few things that I have neglected to mention. It is much like project-based learning in that there is tons of planning and work that goes into the front end to make the day of go smoothly.

  • Corralling Students: Sometimes we had as many as 180 students in a class period (as multiple class periods came depending on scheduling). To easily get them to their first station, we created little sheets of paper like a “ticket” (each with a different rotation of the 4 stations). This is like hitting the easy button on having students count off “1… 2… 3… 4.”
  • Checklist: If you have been reading this blog for awhile and/or no me personally… then you know that I am a tad bit OCD and I live my to do lists and checklists. After year 1 of this, I devised one as I felt I would forget something in the planning and logistics of it for year two.
  • Station Cards: I should also mention that we have cards at every station with an icon (that matches their “ticket” that have easy to follow directions. I was also pleased to find out (when we asked for feedback on the day and what was helpful to them) that many students referred to the easy to follow directions on the tables.
  • Expansion: As I noted above, we have expanded this to pre-project exposure mini-stations. We are also looking to create these for Seniors to help transition them (e.g. share their school gmail with a personal one, expose them to Evernote or another note-taking app, discuss portfolio apps like bulb, provide a seamless approach to move any school notes they want to keep to a safe place, etc…) before they graduate.

 

But… Wait… There’s More…

Clearly… no unicorn babies today… you get the whole unicorn… Ugh… now I feel like I am writing the script for an infomercial… “for a low… low price of $19.99… this can all be yours… but only if you call today.” 😉 – But seriously… I digress. I have put all 4 of the Base Camp station cards, the checklist, and the sample “tickets” in a Google Drive folder… just for you. The only thing that I ask… is if you use or adapt them… to please email me techchef4u@gmail.com or tweet me @TechChef4u and share your feedback, alterations, and how you are using them to impact students. Thanks in advance! 😉

Students Need PD too!

As you know, I am a firm believer that Students Need Professional Development too. My last two 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!

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.

Receive Access to the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker

* indicates required


SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave


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:

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.

Receive Access to the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker

* indicates required


SaveSave


12 Oct 2017
Comments: 2

How Do You Organize Your Digital Binder?

How Do You Organize Your Digital Binder?

I am taking a quick break from my #ScrapNotes series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 are linked here) to share a few posts from events that have occurred this semester that I think might be pertinent/helpful.

Note taking Skills 101

The first is a Note-taking/Study Skills session we offered to all of our Freshman students. I should also mention that I work in a K-12 1:1 iPad school district. While students have access to the technology and are using the applications, I find that they still need support with digital organization so that is where this session filled a need.

  • WHO: I co-presented this with our resident Academic Interventionist.
  • HOW: It lasted 20 minutes and we taught it 16 times to ensure each class got to see it in a smaller and more interactive setting. Students were pulled from their English classes.
  • WHAT: The session included 10 tips for Study Skills and a portion on note-taking (which was the one that I developed). The note-taking portion included research on note-taking best practices as well as survey results from our staff on the topic of note-taking (e.g. how often students take notes a week, what type of notes teachers encourage, and if teachers provide recorded versions of their lectures). If you are interested in creating a similar survey, I have included the sample here.  I shared the survey results as well as the general research on note-taking with students during the presentation.

Note taking Styles 102

For the remainder of the session, I tried to focus mostly on note-taking skills that were agnostic (e.g. not tied to a device or a way of taking notes… digital or analog). This part included highlighting  4 types of notes and when it was most appropriate to use each.

Digital Binder 103

The very end of the presentation highlighted note-taking apps. While the vast majority of our students may take notes by hand, many of them also use digital tools for note-taking, drafting papers, and projects. In the olden days, students were taught to organize a binder and prepare it with tabs and they didn’t need wifi to unlock their notes or binder. While digital tools offer affordances like back-ups, speech to text, and searches, students also need to be cognizant about how they organize their digital binder, what tools they use for what purpose, and how to ensure these digital tools are organized and content will not be lost.

Honestly, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this. Everyone uses different apps and has a different process… but being aware of how you organize your content and having a system is really half the battle. I shared the info below with students and again restated that this was simply my process and they should develop a method or digital organization workflow that made sense for them.

Again… the chart above is how I organize my digital tools. It is not meant to be prescriptive… just an example of a process:

  • NOTES: I use Notes for quick stuff. If you update to iOS 11, you can also use it to scan PDF’s. It has a collaborative element… which is nice… if you wanted to create a shared checklist while working with a group. It also has a drawing feature.
  • NOTABILITY: Every secondary student has access to the Notability app. We shared info with Freshman on how to organize notes into folders for easier access. Notability allows you to create multimedia notes as well as to annotate PDF’s. It also has a built in recording feature which is great for recording a lecture. It accepts text as well as handwriting. One main thing for students to remember is to back up Notability to Google Drive so if Notability ever crashes or they have to swap out their iPad, then all of their notes will still be available.
  • GOOGLE DOCSGoogle Docs has fantastic word processing and collaborative features. The main thing to remember is that students will have to make certain documents available offline if they need to access them when they don’t have wifi. If they are a Senior, it is suggested that in the spring, they start sharing their documents with a personal gmail account so they don’t lose access to them after they graduate.
  • EVERNOTE: Evernote is used by a fair number of college students and industry professionals. I suggest to students to sign in to it with a personal email account as if they leave the district (prior to 12th grade and/or after graduation) then they will still have access to their notes (and they won’t have to swap out the accounts). Evernote also has an audio recording feature and OCR (Optical Character Recognition) which is great if students want to search pictures of notes as well.
  • PAPER by 53: Paper by 53 is a great tool for those that like to create mind-maps or sketchnotes. It also has backgrounds and graphic organizers.

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 at the beginning of the post, I am pausing my #ScrapNotes series to share some initiatives I have been working on:

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.

Receive Access to the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker

* indicates required


SaveSave


26 Jul 2017
Comments: 0

TechChef Breaks the Silence…

 
 
 

The Silence

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

The Story

You did nothing wrong and I totally abandoned you… without a word. You didn’t know how much stress I was under or how the book writing gave me a bit of tunnel vision. You couldn’t have known that I was also diagnosed with adenomyosis two years ago and that it has literally reeked havoc on my body, my productivity, and my personal and professional life.
 
All you saw was my last blog, “CoJournaling as a Way to Nurture Positive Tendencies”, posted  a year and a half ago. At that time, I felt drained both emotionally and physically. Sadly, the tool and platform that allowed me to unleash my creativity and bear my soul was the very tool that went by the wayside. It became one more thing… like some friendships do.
 
The problem was I didn’t realize at the time… how much I needed that friendship… I kept up appearances on social media and periodically shared ideas and curated topics… but I remained silent. The longer I kept my silence… the harder it was to break it. Some people schedule a sabbatical to grow and reflect. I, the non confrontational type, decided I could just let blogging go without a word. I was wrong. Blogging is so much more than a task and a checklist to me… it is my passion and oftentimes… I feel like my duty or purpose. The book, now a wrap, and surgery on the horizon… I feel like I can finally come up for air.
 
There is so much I want to tell you… so much I want to share. I hope you will forgive me… let bygones be bygones and let us reconnect again. I hope you didn’t “Enjoy the Silence”… I know I didn’t.
 
So there it is… my last 18 months in a nutshell… a difficult time… and only a handful of friends really knew the physical, emotional, and mental toll it took on me. But you know… we were friends too. And I hope we can be friends again. I hope you can forgive my lapse in communication. I hope we can once again learn and share together.
 

 

The Sharing

Over the past 18 months and change… I have been busy adjusting and creating a new normal and really experimenting with different styles of learning and creating that work for me. As you know, I love to share these ideas with others because I know that the more we share… the more we inspire and support others on their journey as well. So here goes:
I know we have lots to catch up on so I can’t monopolize all of your time in one sitting. You will hear from me again shortly… I promise. 😉

SaveSave

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.

Receive Access to the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker

* indicates required

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave


30 Nov 2015
Comments: 2

5 Surprising Ways to Make Amazon Literacy Work 4 U

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! 😉

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.

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.

Receive Access to the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker

* indicates required

22 Sep 2015
Comments: 0

iPads: 3 Purposeful Perspectives

The beginning of school is always busy… hence the delay in TechChef blog posts. Many times we are just trying to troubleshoot, set up procedures, and grasp ideas and best practices that will support us and our teachers in the weeks to come. While you wait for the next TechChef blog post, “Epic Canva Hacks”, I thought I would share these 3 articles I have written for Edutopia to support iPads being used in three very different… yet purposeful settings.

What Have you Cooked up for Administrators?

The first, and most recent, is designed for administrators to support them when they walk in to a classroom that uses iPads (or really any mobile device) instructionally. It includes 20+ Look-Fors.

What Have you Cooked up for Instructional Support Staff?

The second is designed to provide ideas (and examples) on how to use tools like Nearpod, Padlet, and Google Forms to gain valuable data about participants prior to delivering professional development.

What Have you Cooked up for Teachers?

The third is four student projects that illustrate how students can blend paper and pencil tasks with digital tools in a purposeful manner and includes five guiding questions.

Hope everyone’s beginning of the year is going well. While this post serves as a healthy instructional staple, please know that I have every intention to dazzle your taste buds for the creative with a most decadent dose of digital delight soon… on the topic of Canva Hacks.

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.

Receive Access to the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker

* indicates required