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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. 😉
  • 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. 😉
  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. 😉
  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 EditionBullet Journal Share, Bullet Journaling Tips and Tricks. There is even a Bullet Journal Writers group too!
    • Instagram #’s: In addition to all of the Instagrammers I have highlighted throughout this post, there are some #’s that will lead you closer to the prize: #bulletjournal, #bujo, #bulletjournaljunkies, #journaling, #creativejournaling, #loveforanalogue. I really only use these to find people that share awesome ideas I want to emulate and then after I follow them, I start seeing these people in my feed.



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.” SaveSave SaveSave SaveSaveSaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSaveSaveSave SaveSave SaveSave




13 Nov 2017
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How Do You Teach Students to Be Wellness Stewards?

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

Fit as a Middle Schooler

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

Fit Beyond Fitness

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

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

This video gives you a general overview.

Fits Like a Journal

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Figuring out Planners

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

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

Revisiting #ScrapNotes

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

Students Need PD too!

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

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


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

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







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