|One of my goals for this year has been changing by class library display more frequently|
This past year for Lent I fasted from checking my blog stats. It was a telling discipline: how I craved that dopamine charge when readership spiked, and how freeing it was to just not know and therefore care. So I wasn’t sure I wanted to venture into the realm of analyzing what got read and what didn’t during 2018, but since my hero Nicholas Kristof did it, I figured I should, too. The only difference is Kristof being a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter working for the New York Times, he has the ego cushion to list only his 10 least read; I’ve listed my 10 most-read first, and then my 10 least-read.
Kristof learned that people read most avidly anything related to President Trump and showed little interest in international issues without a Trump angle, like the power of education, the famine in Yemen, and women’s rights. However, I’m not sure I discerned any patterns at all—except that most of my friends must have gotten really busy in October and November:
- A blog on the same topic—self-care—appeared once in the top 10 (#6) and once in the bottom 10 (#2). I don’t think readership fell off due to the repetition: I tend to do this twice a year, each fall and spring, and it always has a relatively high readership. Except this fall.
- In fact, though the main goal of this blog is professional, the personal reflections tend to spike readership as they interest non-teaching Facebook friends as well. But this fall a personal blog on gratitude journaling made the bottom 10. Although it also elicited an unusually high number of comments.
In case you missed one that you’d like to catch up on over winter break, see below for my 10 most-read and 10 least-read blogs of 2018.
Top 10 blogs (most read at the top):
- What Does Thinking Look Like?: One specific activity from my AP English 11 classroom plus reflections on how to further use ideas from the book Making Thinking Visible by Ron Ritchhart.
- What and Why I Read: How I grew from just an avid reader to an eclectic reader and reading advocate, plus my favorite 2017 read from each of about 14 genres.
- Who’s Asking the Questions?: When students are looking for answers to their own questions rather than the teacher’s: benefits and examples from my 10th and 11th grade classes.
- Reading Develops Empathy Even Better when It Is Targeted, Taught, and Assessed: Empathy seems like a slippery skill to teach, but when I really targeted it, being explicit with students, using formative and summative assessments in the 10th graders’ reading of the Japanese novel After Dark, it was exciting to see student responses at the end.
- Creating a Culture of Reading: Sharing Reading: The 3rd in a series on creating a culture of reading by modeling, encouraging, and sharing reading.
- Self-Care for Teachers: Reflect on Good Things that Happened this Week (Part 2): One important part of teacher self-care is staying positive: hanging out with positive people and telling the positive teaching stories of our lives. Here are a few of mine from a given week in the spring.
- Service Learning Needs Special Opportunities and Daily Opportunities: Our school's service week is a great opportunity, and students also need to experience daily opportunities to serve their classmates with their learning. Discussion, peer revising, and presentations are all forms of this.
- Summer Reading List: Professional Development: In which I introduce the 9 professional books I planned to read over the summer. (I'm currently finishing the 9th.)
- Just Getting on with a Bad First Draft: An important lesson for myself and for my students in breaking the mental log jam for writing.
- What and Why I Blog: In which I reflect on my whole educational blogging enterprise, and list my top 10 blogs from 2017.
- Keys to a Good Jigsaw Activity: 3 + 1: An example of an effective jigsaw activity in 10th grade Honors English using 3 different short texts to follow up on the theme of human dignity in the Holocaust memoir Night.
- Self-Care for Teachers: Telling Our Happy Stories: One important part of teacher self-care is staying positive: hanging out with positive people and telling the positive teaching stories of our lives. Here are a few of mine from a given week in the fall.
- Timing to Focus and Finish Peer Conversations: This was actually about peer revision conferences, but I was so excited about how my idea to use a timer proved really productive that I may have given it a title that left people totally in the dark.
- Moving from Connections within Units to Connections among Units: Connections among units is one of those things that has always been so clear to me I’ve probably failed to actually articulate it to students. But I’m targeting it this year, and it’s so easy to improve with just a little attention here and there.
- Laughing and Learning: Humor raises engagement and therefore learning. I get kind of a kick out of realizing that after 30 years, I’ve actually gained a little skill at using it. Here are some examples.
- Writing Myself into Gratitude: As the living curriculum in my reading/writing classroom, I used Thanksgiving to reflect on how I have developed and been shaped by the discipline of a gratitude journal.
- Quick and Easy Vocabulary Discussions: Using complex vocabulary in academic discussion is an important part of students’ developing a rich and powerful vocabulary. Here’s an activity I came up with on the spur of the moment, and it worked so well, it will now be a permanent part of my vocabulary repertoire.
- Why I Make Time for Project Reflection: Reflecting on a finished project or paper is a vital cementing of the learning process, and one I often slighted for time pressures. No more. Here’s why: a compilation of student questions, insights, and goals from a reflection this fall.
- What Does Learning Feel Like?: Celebrating what felt like a breakthrough in my own use of student conferences and connecting it to growth mindset: noticing and sharing with students when I grow from novice discomfort to fluent ease in a new skill in order to encourage them in their various areas of growth.
- The Joy of Reading and Thinking Together: After 2 years of teaching the same students, just enjoying being grown-up reading peers, sharing the drama Our Town with AP students during the exams they didn’t have to take last June.