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My blogoversary-my personal annus miribillus

August 18, 2011

One year ago today, I wrote my first blog post on the Marshmallow Challenge.

One year ago, I could count the number of physics teachers I knew on one hand. I thought the people whose blogs I read were superstars taught on Mt. Olympus, crafting perfect lessons from mythical threads and golden scrolls of wisdom. I would have never thought I would ever talk to them. I thought I would just teach another year, trying a new thing here or there, getting a few ideas from a conference or the latest edition of the Physics Teacher, and just generally keep the staus quo going with a tweak every now and then.

And then I had this little idea—what if I blog this year? What if I write out what I’m doing in my class. Would anyone read it? Would anyone care? Honestly, I thought it’d be another one of my many discarded habits—I’d write a few posts, and then let the blog go to waste, just like a million other projects before—I think I still have a website from my college days. (It’s crazy that this stuff gets saved).

But then something happened. I think it was Frank discovering my blog, or perhaps Jason tweeting about a post I wrote about linearizing the pendulum and beating up on the wolverine. Whatever it was, it didn’t take long to get completely hooked on blogging. I was part of this ever growing network of teachers, each looking to get better, offering encouragement, thoughtful critique and countless great ideas.

Along the way, I wrote a manifesto against AP that got picked up by Race To Nowhere, a few musings on projectile motion and Angry Birds that got me a few minutes of TV fame, and an analysis of the Google Les Paul Doodle that put me in contact with its creator. (Not coincidentally, those are the three top posts for my blog this year)

As great as all of this has been, I think I value more than anything else the loyal community of teachers it’s helped me to find and connect with. Just this morning, I throw out a post about some challenges I’ve faced with my students and the buggy lab, and within hours I had 7 awesome comments from amazing high school teachers and professors around the country (+ Canada) with amazing feedback. I was literally walking back from lunch today reading Kelly’s comment about using masking tape to mark off the floor, and I made a bee-line for the school store to pick up a roll of masking tape—what a great idea!

It’s moments like this that have propelled me to write this blog, and taken me—the person who had to squeeze my 30 page paper in graduate school out of my brain with a mental juice extractor—to writing 355 posts in 365 days, which feels like a pretty huge accomplishment to me. So I decided to export the blog and see just how much I’d written. It turned out to be a tiny 4.1 MB file that contains 410,000 words, easily half of which are XML junk, but that still leaves over 200,000 words, 800 pages I can claim as my own. These words have sparked 1314 comments (probably half of which are mine) and and 46,000 views.

This blog has been a rocket ship of personal and professional growth for me, and a labor of love. If you’re reading this, I’d like to extend my deepest thanks for the time you’ve devoted to reading the words I’ve written, and the patience you’ve shown at my often sloppy lack of editing. If you’re wondering if this is the year that you will start a blog, and wondering what might happen, I can’t encourage you enough to make that leap. Send me a link, and I’ll be your first reader, if Jason doesn’t beat me to it.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. August 18, 2011 10:41 pm

    I’m astonished by your output. I feel like such a lazy blogger! But congrats on the anniversary and for the mark that you’ve made.

  2. August 18, 2011 10:52 pm


    Congratulations and thank you. Thank you for the volume of work you have shared with us and the passion you’ve brought to each and every post. Thanks for inspiring me to blog myself and encouraging me to continue. Thanks for including me in your crazy new ideas for professional development. But mostly, thanks for helping a lot of us be better teachers.

  3. August 18, 2011 11:04 pm

    No surprises here – you’re definitely in my “must reads”. Thanks for every post. Here’s to the next 355!

  4. August 19, 2011 12:38 am

    No. The thanks go your way. You and a few others have really moved physics (and all ed) blogging to a different level than I could have imagined even a year ago. I’m lucky just to be along for the ride.

  5. August 19, 2011 1:27 am

    Your stats are better than mine on my 1st blogoversary: 38,965 views on 302 posts. I’m now up to 50,300 views on 361posts, but it has taken me 14 months to get there.


    • August 19, 2011 8:12 am

      Hey congratulations. Can’t wait to meet in Atlanta this fall.

  6. August 20, 2011 1:35 am

    Way to go John. You are an insanely productive blogger. I consider it a very busy week when I’ve managed to produce two posts.

  7. JoAnn permalink
    September 4, 2011 7:06 pm

    I was thinking about your masking tape idea. I liked it and tried the masking tape and it took a fair amount of elbow grease to get it up to our custodians liking. Our PE teacher suggested floor tape. I tried it and I am now out of the dog house with the custodial staff. Thought I would pass that tid bit on to all. By the way, thanks for a great blog.


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