Thursday, July 18, 2013

3 Ideas Coffeechug learned by reading a random magazine to push comfort zone: A self experiment

I am doing a bit of self learning and reflection by pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone. I am working on getting out of my daily routine to push my perspective, look at things differently, and see what I can learn from the world around me. I have posted on this blog several times about branching out, pushing our limits, and changing the way we think.

This first experiment seems quite simple and is really pretty easy to do. I love magazines. I read the same 5-7 magazines every month. I decided to branch out. I had Amanda pick up two magazines that she thought I would never buy and I held myself to reading both of them from front to back. I was quite amazed at how much I learned from this simple activity.

Here are a few things I have learned that not only apply to writing on this blog, but education and teaching as well. There will be a follow up post discussing more ideas as I learned quite a lot.

1. Know your audience - Reading the magazine Parents I realized that this is not really a magazine for parents, but moms. At first I was a bit bummed to not see material guided for the fathers, but talking with Amanda she reminded me that this goes to show that males don't read this type of material. I almost became upset, but realized that the very experiment smacked me in the face. I am reading this magazine because it is something I would never read or even pick up at a bookstore. All articles, design, layout, feel catered to a female audience. Every article focused on women. Everything had a slant to appeal to women.

On a grander scale when thinking about schools we have to know our audience. This goes back to an earlier post about teachers meeting the needs of students and not vice versa. Teachers have to understand the age and issues of their class and adjust accordingly. We have to know our audience and make the necessary moves to grab their interest and excel them to the levels we want them to be. Much like marketing you have study the audience, test things out, and find out what works. The magazine Parents knows that males are not going to read this so they have adjusted accordingly. As educators we have to be aware of our audience as well. This could shift from class to class and we have to know how appeal to the classes.

2. Grab the eye of the reader to suck in their interest
When I glanced through this magazine to gain an overall feel I stopped on the pages with lots of color, images, and little words. I did not stop on the pages heavy with words. I tossed the question out on Twitter asking(yes, there is a spelling issue due to auto-correct. it should read "experiment")

Here I am creating another long blog post. What grabs my interest are vibrant colors and images. Yet, when I write here on the blog I do the very opposite. Even crazier, these longer blog posts that break all rules of blog writing seem to be my more popular ones. Perhaps this goes back to idea #1.

3. Clever Titles and Taglines are crucial to grabbing interests of readers. One thing I am really working hard on this summer is my writing style and trying to attract more readers. A key feature is the title of the blog posts and the first paragraph. Working through Platform University by Michael Hyatt and experiments like this are forcing me to rethink how I appeal to the readers. I would like to think my hard work is paying off, but it is hard to tell what aspect is helping. My numbers have grown this summer. Part of the reason is having more time to really put together strong articles. Perhaps it is the titles as well. Time will tell.

This can apply to education. We have to hook the students right away. You cannot let anything drag at the beginning or the students are gone and headed towards daydream world. What is your hook to make your students want to hear what they are about to learn? You have to develop a marketing frame of mind for your lessons. We are not writing magazine articles, the the system is the same. We have to develop classrooms and lesson plans that pop and excite the students.

These are just three quick things I have learned from reading one magazine. I actually learned much more than I ever thought I would. I will be continuing this experiment grabbing random magazines. Up next is reading a book I would never typically read. What shall I read?

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