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04 Jan 2018
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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. ūüėČ
  • 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.


  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, bohoberry,com, and 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. ūüėČ
  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 ( 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. has a values exercise activity and 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. ūüėČ
  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¬†¬†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.


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 Edition,¬†Bullet 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.



If you are interested in booking Lisa Johnson and/or would like to know more about her speaking history or professional development portfolio‚Ķ visit the¬†TechChef4u speaking page¬†for more info or email¬† And‚Ķ Check out her latest creation‚Ķ the book ‚ÄúCultivating Communication in the Classroom: Future-Ready Skills for Secondary Students.‚ÄĚ SaveSave SaveSave SaveSaveSaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSaveSaveSave SaveSave SaveSave




20 Dec 2017
Comments: 0

Calendexes, Productivity Bingo, and Students! Oh MY!

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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









13 Nov 2017
Comments: 0

How Do You Teach Students to Be Wellness Stewards?

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

Fit as a Middle Schooler

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

Fit Beyond Fitness

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

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

This video gives you a general overview.

Fits Like a Journal

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Figuring out Planners

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

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

Revisiting #ScrapNotes

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

Students Need PD too!

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

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


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

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







09 Aug 2017
Comments: 1

#ScrapNotes: The Complete Guide to PD Note-Taking

“Um… TechChef… we don’t mean to bug you or anything. We totally appreciate this #scrapnotes kick you are on… but you used to write about technology and stuff… and we were just wondering…” It is totally fine… I know you were all thinking this. I do typically share about technology iOS and web applications and processes. I have decided to broaden that definition, as of lately, to define technology as any tool that students have in their hands… and paper and pen… is still a reality… even in schools with 1:1 iPad, Chromebooks, or carts of iPads. But, I also don’t want to swim so far from the shore that it is too difficult to connect the dots back… so this post is somewhat of a hybrid. To date, I have whet your palette for #Scrapnotes with posts 1 and 2… and now I want to share my process for PD Note-taking which expands the horizon for what is possible with pen, paper, and a device.

My Note-Taking Evolution

Many times there is a multi-pronged goal to notes that we take in professional development. Clearly we want to return to them and utilize them in the future. But many times we also want to share them with staff that didn’t get to attend that session or that conference. Previously to finding myself in an extraordinary note-taking situation, I found myself exploring a variety of options:

  • Conference Collage: At first, I created a collage of images from the conference and then thinglinked it with my notes taken in Evernote or links to particular session resources. (Example: Miami Device 2014).
  • Interactive Maps: Then PhotoMapo caught my attention and I began using it as a point of reference. From there I would add pertinent links on top of the maps. (Example: ETT Austin and Summer of 2014).
  • Crafting in Canva: Finally in 2015, I experimented with creating my own image in Canva and using it as the landscape for Thinglink. This afforded me more customization (and the images were beautiful) but honestly it was far more time-consuming. (Example: TCEA 2015 and SXSWEDU 2015).

So at the end of 2015… I started dabbling with this analog note-taking as I mentioned in blog posts 1 and 2 (linked above). At first, my notes for conferences were still very text heavy. But I noticed very quickly a few benefits. I was more focused on what the speaker was saying as I didn’t have notifications popping up in my “notebook” or a plethora of tantalizing tabs open… including my email. I also was only jotting down what I felt relevant rather than trying to gather everything the speaker said in Evernote. Pretty soon I found myself drawing mind-maps and even icons. And sure enough… I found that this style of note-taking was not only better for me as a conference or workshop participant but provided far more insight and information to the people I then shared my notes with.

But these notes were still flat and to make the learning adventure accessible to everyone… I had to go beyond the page. The beauty of this was simple… I could take a picture of the notes (with practically any device… as Thinglink is device neutral) and then add additional thoughts, links, resources on a dimension above the page… so to speak. I received multiple thanks from a number of staff on this process and I found that having the notes in two places made it easier for me to easily retrieve them whenever I needed to refer to them or share them.

My Process

Now I know you might be wondering which way you ought to go from here? ūüėČ Once you have the notebook you decide to use for your PD Note-taking, I did want to break down my process a bit:

  1. Tabs: I bought Post-it tabs for my notebook (more on supplies in post 4) that I use to separate the notebook for each conference I attend. My intent is to print out labels with titles on them as well… just haven’t had a chance. All of my notes are chronological so this allows me to easily find the notes from the conference or session.
  2. Dates and Titles: In the upper right hand corner, I always include the title of the conference and the date. In the upper left hand corner, I include the name of the session and the speakers and their Twitter handles and emails (if applicable). These get Thinglinked later.
  3. Session Notes: From there, I take notes. I draw icons, build mind-maps and really only write down things that speak to me. Drawing the icons is especially helpful to organize the content. I typically have my phone next to me and I search for an icon and then sketch it while I am listening to the speaker.
  4. More: I oftentimes will go over the notes after the session and add bullets or A, B, C … just to make them a little easier to follow. I will also use the right hand “Action Steps” column in my Behance Action Journal to jot down tools I should look at, next steps, great ideas, etc…

Once the notes are complete, then I snap a pic and Thinglink them with additional info. Below is an example of the interactive Thinglinked notes from the header in this blog post:

I won’t leave you with the lip service… “practice makes perfect” or even “practice makes better”… what I will tell you that with practice… you find your own style and I quite agree that is the best kind of ending… or beginning! ūüėČ

Please don’t forget to check out NoteChef4u instagram for 80+ #scrapnotes examples and Pinterest for 180+ examples and resources to create the “Organized Brain” or at the very least… an organized notebook. I should also mention that all 31 of my interactive notes are posted here.

#scrapnotes… the NEXT CHAPTER…

Stay tuned for the next blog posts in the series (or catch up on previous ones):



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

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


03 Aug 2017
Comments: 1

#ScrapNotes: The Complete Guide to Book Summaries

With my last blog post “#ScrapNotes: How to Begin Your Journey Down the Rabbit Hole”, I hoped to pique your interest and provide information. With this post, it is my intent to share my process. You may have had a sip of the #scrapnotes potion and now your ideas are so big that you can’t seem to fit them through the door… or into your notebook. I may be a bit mad… but the process that I share should help you keep the journal jabberwocky at bay or at the very least… tame him or her. ūüėČ

But before I do that, I would like to share a disclaimer. Please know that I am not one for fads. I am, however, one that shares ideas, tools, and processes that work for me… in hopes that they may fill a need for you too. I also think that the pendulum between analog and digital is always swinging. I went all digital with notes several years ago and for some things… it totally makes sense. But for others… it doesn’t. I began navigating this analog terrain again at the end of 2015. Since then, I have filled up 4 notebooks and started 3 more and I have to say I haven’t felt this organized and happy in years.


With that being said… I would like to snap (wait for the pun… or the Snapguide… in the case) my fingers and share with you my process. For this I felt like returning to the tried and true tool, Snapguide. There are many different things you can do with a notebook and we will cover a multitude of them in the next few blog posts. For this post… I wanted to narrow in solely on the process of reading or book summaries. I enjoy reading (both personally and professionally) and I am one of those people that loves to highlight in my book. What I was discovering is that I had a bookshelf of books with highlights and post-its but no easy way to commit that info to memory or practice… or to easy access…. until now. So here is my process:

  1. Read and Highlight: Read a book and highlight as I read.
  2. Tuck Away: Set book down for a few weeks. I find that by putting the book down for a bit, I tend to make better decisions about what highlights were really important a few weeks later and only transcribe and #scrapnote those.
  3. Title Page: Create a page that includes the title of the book and the author and the date I am transcribing the notes. I like to mimic the font and color of the book just for fun.
  4. Review Notes: Review the book’s highlights and begin adding info to your notes.
  5. Create a Color Hierarchy: Use only 2-3 colored pens. I try to match the color of the book or the theme. I tend to use one color for headers and one color for subheaders so it provides a nice visual hierarchy.
  6. Visualize with Icons:¬†Icons tend to encompass a multitude of ideas and are easily recognizable. While I can’t conjure and draw these visuals from memory, I am able to look at icon sites and recreate similar visuals.
  7. Embellish Away: Embellish notes with washi tape, stickers, labels, and mementos. Washi tape and labels also serve as a great way to create sections on a page or a visual hierarchy and/or divide.

I think it helps to see visuals for each so I crafted a Snapguide (linked here) to do the trick.

Check out How to Create #ScrapNotes Book Summaries by Lisa Johnson on Snapguide.


I would like to get a wee bit more granular with this as multiple people have asked me about the organization of this process. While I am transcribing notes, I typically keep a page for:

  1. Research: I am always collecting research and I don’t always want to return to the book to recall a percentage or study. This page is typically a bulleted list. If the book is super research-heavy, then I include 2-3 pages devoted just to this.
  2. Lexicon Library: I am an author and I have always loved words and phrases. Anything that strikes my fancy gets added here. As this is not the main point of the book, sometimes I will paste a card to a page so I can add this info in there so it doesn’t detract from the rest of the content I am summarizing.
  3. Quotes and Insight: I have always had a hankering for quotes. Anything I find especially pertinent gets added here. I do try to use shorthand and abbreviations as much as possible. I also include page numbers. This is also where I start adding icons, illustrations, and visual equations.

The best advice I can give you… is just start. My process has evolved and been fine tuned over the past two years. If I had waited for it to be perfect, I would never have discovered which way to go. After all… sometimes when you wonder… you find your path.

#scrapnotes are BORN!

If I am using my Moleskine or Luechtturm1917¬†(which I do for my book summaries), then the pages tend to be a little thinner. This is when I take notecards, postcards, scraps of art, or really anything that adds to the content (both in idea or visually). I add these items in with permanent double-sided tape. Then, I get fanciful with my embellishments and add washi tape and stickers. The items also provide a nice visual hierarchy. Honestly, you could totally leave the fanciful embellishments out, but I have to tell you… this is one of my favorite parts and what makes me so happy each time I open a page to review my notes. Another thing I have noticed is that these visuals tend to heighten my memory for the book and the process. I can often remember where I was when I took the notes and what I was doing at the time.

Please don’t forget to check out NoteChef4u instagram for 80+ #scrapnotes examples and Pinterest for 180+ examples and resources to create the “Organized Brain” or at the very least… an organized notebook.

#scrapnotes… the NEXT CHAPTER…

Stay tuned for the next blog posts in the series (or catch up on previous ones):



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

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


melbet –Ņ—Ä–ĺ–ľ–ĺ–ļ–ĺ–ī –ľ–Ķ–Ľ–Ī–Ķ—ā –∑–Ķ—Ä–ļ–į–Ľ–ĺ