Not long ago I poked around in the site data for the first incarnation of MiddleWeb, which lived on the Internet for more than 15 years. Of course, the data didn’t go back that far. There was nothing like Urchin or Google Analytics to tell us what people liked most, way back in the late 20th century. But there’s pretty good information for the period after 2003 or so.
When I asked the Urchin software to reveal the favorite MiddleWeb page of 2011, I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn it had to do with effective instructional strategies. And I wasn’t. I know how hard so many middle grades educators work on their teaching and leadership practices. What really surprised me was the number of views for that page (over 100,000) in a 12-month period, and the amount of time folks spent there (an average of almost 5 minutes – an eternity on the Web).
We’re using data like this to choose some material from our old site to bring over to the new MiddleWeb. We can’t bring it all — there are over 2000 pages there! — but we do plan to add some of the best articles and diary entries (we’ve had quite a few teacher and principal writers over the years). We’ll feature timeless pieces like the insightful MiddleWeb journal entries of Juli Kendall, a dear friend and amazing middle grades teacher who passed away in 2006. Juli was the co-author of two popular Stenhouse books, Making Sense and Writing Sense (perfect for Gr. 4-8) which are now available in a two-book bundle.
We also plan to capture a dozen or more of the very best MiddleWeb Conversations. For more than five years, our site supported a highly active virtual community, with a membership well over 600 at its peak. We did this via listserv email — sort of the horse-drawn carriage of social media. The substance trumped the technology, though. The conversations were often wonderful, and we captured quite a few, cleaned up the spelling and punctuation, and published them at the old site.
Looking at the data, even in 2011, I see some of those MiddleWeb Community conversations positioned very high in the pageview statistics. We’ll keep them (and some other great stuff) around through a feature we’re calling MiddleWeb Classics: Best of the Old Stuff.
We haven’t done all the work it will take to create a new home for those great chats, but it won’t be long. When we do, you can just land at our homepage and click on the MiddleWeb Classics icon. That’s Row 4, Square 1. It’s the one with the lively kid’s drawing of a school bus making its merry way through the city. It served as our logo for many years.
If you’re a long-time fan or alum of the MiddleWeb Community, and you have a favorite chat or other article you want to be sure we keep, let us know!
Founder and co-editor
PS: Folks are already asking if we might create a new connected community of middle grades educators on the Web. We’re keeping that door open, for sure. If you subscribe to MiddleWeb SmartBrief, watch for a poll in the not-too-distant future, asking folks to indicate their interest.