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Sunday / November 19

Riveting Reads and What to Do With Them

I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to review Ana Homayoun’s new book, Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World (August 2017). I am very much in this space as I work at a high school of about 2800 students. Teaching Social Emotional Learning (SEL) skills and managing social media is a reality in the lives of our students… and if I am being entirely honest… in our own adult lives.

I figured that I might kill two birds with one stone in this post and highlight the awesome content from Ana’s book using a note-taking method I am “perfecting” as a vehicle for professional learning. I recently returned to analog note-taking about two years ago for certain things like sitting in professional developments and summarizing/transcribing content from professional books I read. I have found that hand written tangible notes seem to serve me the best, as I tend to remember the content better and also return to it more often.

I do keep a paper journal/notebook. I read and highlight books as normal, return to the book a few weeks later, and then transcribe my notes into my journal.

RIVETING RESEARCH

I typically reserve one page for research studies. For Ana’s book, I ended up filling 5 full pages (sample pictured above). Corwin’s books tend to be thoroughly researched and I find it is easier to simply return to a page in my notebook than to hunt down the exact resource in every book I read. Oftentimes, I also include the page numbers so I can easily access the complete passage at a later date. (In the case of Ana’s book, I received an advanced copy so I knew the page numbers wouldn’t necessarily be the same in the finished publication, so I didn’t bother adding them to these notes.)

POIGNANT PASSAGES

I also include a page for intriguing passages and processes. Because I find the pages in notebooks like Leuchturm1917 and Moleskine are thinner, I add labels and stickers to the other side of the page to make the most out of the real estate of the notebook.

  • Ideas: Ana offered so many fantastic ideas like having “Power Down Days” at school (pictured below on right) where there are no devices during lunch… opting instead for board games and face to face conversations.
  • Analogies: I seriously loved the way she wrote. I have a fondness for metaphors and analogies in writing. Ana shared that giving a tween a smartphone today was the equivalent of essentially allowing your child to go downtown with friends (pictured below on right). In other words, this is not a walled garden even if they are in your house.
  • Questions: I am a sucker for checklists and questionnaires. Ana shares fantastic questions to evaluate social media and tech addiction in her book. These are the ones I added within the labels (pictured below on left).

PRACTICAL PROCESSES

The thing that was readily apparent from page one of Ana’s books is that she knows students, works with them daily, and clearly knows what she is talking about. All of her tips, ideas, and processes were practical and pragmatic. She offers a five-step process (pictured below on left) for managing tasks on a written planner that really resonated with me as an adult as well. While I still maintain a Google Calendar, I have also added a paper planner back into the mix.

I got a little carried away with this book… it spilled into 19 analog pages of my journal. So please know that there is so much more to learn and be inspired by within her book. Though the book focuses on the lives of our students online, there are so many tips and best practices that can be used with students IRL (In Real Life). I found the book to be jam-packed with sound and seasoned self-management and executive functioning tips and systems. Ana is seriously a master at weaving in research and artfully constructed narratives with practical approaches. I can’t wait to have an actual hard copy of this book to add to my professional library and share with my staff.

I hope you enjoyed this spin on a book review. If you are interested in seeing more of my notes, I have started an Instagram to house them @NoteChef4u. I have also composed a three-3 part (of 8) blog post series on the topic on my website (linked below) if you want to dig into the nitty gritty of my note-taking process and see more examples:

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Lisa Johnson M.Ed. is the author of “Cultivating Communication in the Classroom: Future-Ready Skills for Secondary Students.” She works as an Educational Technologist at a K-12 1:1 iPad school district in Austin, TX and blogs at www.techchef4u.com.

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