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What Makes a Post Freshly Press-able: A Space For Learning

Every day, 19 WordPressers are featured on the Freshly Pressed section of WordPress.com. And every day, many more wonder, “What…

Every day, 19 WordPressers are featured on the Freshly Pressed section of WordPress.com. And every day, many more wonder, “What do I have to do to get Freshly Pressed?”

Well, it’s time to reveal what the folks who push the launch button are thinking. Each week, a member of our editorial team will do a close-up on one post and why we thought it was Press-worthy. We hope we can provide insight into the process and give you tips and tools to make your blog the best it can be.

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Pamela Moran’s recent post, Abandoning the Space Shuttle…a Lesson for Educators, resonated with me, and I’ve thought about it numerous times since I promoted it to Freshly Pressed last week. I’m enthusiastic about Pamela’s post not just because it’s original, but because it’s at once timely and reflective. She tackles something topical—NASA’s space exploration—but also uses personal experience to frame and shape the post. Through this lens, she weaves a unique and much larger discussion about the state of 21st-century education.

Here are three ways she does this:

She uses a metaphor to connect disparate topics in a natural way.

In the introduction, Pamela grounds us by recounting a recent talk by retired space shuttle astronaut Kathy Thornton. Kathy said NASA abandoned the shuttle program—a tough decision—to dream up a new, bold human narrative of space exploration for the 21st century that moves beyond orbiting Earth. “Otherwise,” writes Pamela, “the current program doomed NASA’s astronauts to circling the globe in low space orbit, over and over and over again.”

After describing this evening with Kathy, Pamela states:

 I thought that night—just like kids doomed to sitting in rows, facing the same direction, doing 20th century test prep worksheets over and over and over again. When she finished speaking, I couldn’t help but think that we educators are caught in low orbit work, too.

I felt that Pamela’s connection between the abandonment of the space shuttle program and the stunted state of education is natural and fitting, evoking visuals of shuttles in low orbit and apathetic students at desks. You don’t have to be a space enthusiast or educator to understand this metaphor. Through it, she weaves a fresh, intriguing discussion about two separate topics: space exploration and education.

If you want to experiment with metaphors in your own posts, consider different subjects that interest you. Can you find connections? Crafting a metaphor can be tricky, and you need to be sure the comparison you are drawing is not contrived. Furthermore, using a metaphor may not be appropriate for every post. Read your writing aloud to be sure it makes sense and doesn’t sound forced.

The language is appropriate and accessible.

A commenter on last week’s “What Makes a Post Freshly Press-able?” post talked about the authority of a blogger. Must a writer be an expert to write about a topic? Fellow bloggers commented that we don’t have to be seasoned journalists or established sources to share our thoughts; the blogosphere has room for many modes of writing.

That said, Pamela establishes credibility in both space exploration and education through her word choice. In the first paragraph, she writes:

[Kathy's] earned that right, having been key to several major payload deployments into space including the first service work on the Hubble telescope. She’s a real-deal spacewalker.

Above, Pamela establishes her authority with insider speak such as “payload deployments.” But in the next sentence, she balances the jargon with more accessible language: “she’s a real-deal spacewalker.” She’s authoritative, but doesn’t distance herself from us.

She also strengthens her metaphor with precise (and evocative) word choice. She uses phrases like “shuttling test prep cargo” and plays with language:

If NASA is doing it, shouldn’t we also “go boldly where no educators have gone before?”

Reworking a well-known phrase, like this one from Star Trek, may help readers to identify with your topic and engage in your discussion.

In your own writing, pay attention to the words you use. Are you using the best adjective? Is there a more appropriate noun that matches your tone or the mood you want to create? Don’t worry too much about word choice when writing your first draft. Structure your post, do a round or two of editing, and then zoom in on revising specific phrases and words.

Links support stats and information.

Lastly, Pamela supports her post with links to external sources, but doesn’t overwhelm readers with too many links—it is possible to link too much! Many posts on WordPress.com—such as information-heavy pieces on science, politics, and history—include percentages, statistics, and monetary figures. Your discussions are stronger and more reliable when you cite and link to credible sources.

For more posts from Pamela, visit A Space for Learning.

So, tell us: Do you think this is an appropriate selection for Freshly Pressed?

For more on our Freshly Pressed content, check out last week’s Freshly Press-able post, read our roundup of Editors’ Picks for August, or read So You Want to Be Freshly Pressed.

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  1. It’s appropriate how you mentioned that this post stuck with you, and that you ended up thinking about it multiple times after reading it; I did the exact same thing. In fact, when my son handed me a copy of his Language Arts class assignment yesterday — in lieu of a book report, his 8th grade class is being asked to write a haiku about the book (yes, that’s about 15 syllables of writing…about an entire BOOK) — I immediately thought back to the quote you included above!

    This WAS a great post — well deserving of your Freshly Pressed nod.

    Thank you for breaking it down for us and providing great insight!

      1. These tips really help aspiring writers and people who want to share their experiences to the world. Thank you very much for this informative article!;)

  2. It was the perfect post to prove your points in order to be Freshly Pressed. Being a retired educator, I could especially connect with the post.

    Well done, Pamela and Cheri.

    Bruce

  3. Okay, I am posting daily, but am lost on two counts. Where do the daily posts go now? Is there a central place I can read them as there used to be on the postaday11 challenge. Also what is the correct tag to get posted there? Thank you. .

    1. Hi Katherine — I’m hoping other team members will chime in here, but I think we’ve shifted our focus to the tag “DPChallenge” which bloggers use when responding to our Weekly Writing Challenges (posted typically on Mondays).

      To read the responses to our writing challenges, visit your reader and search for the tag “DPChallenge” (or go to a previous challenge post and see the links to posts that bloggers have left in the comments section).

  4. Thanks for sharing these insights. I agree that this is beautifully written and it has inspired me to think about incorporating more metaphor into my own writing. I (almost) always like it when other writers do, but forget to try it myself. Now that I’ve been reminded I need to go do it. Thanks again!

      1. You can’t exactly blame the young lady; there are millions of WordPress bloggers out there and there have been some of who have been Freshly Pressed multiple times while others are virtually ignored…

  5. My WordPress site, Fascinating Animals, is educational but doesn’t need metaphors. This week it has had over 1,000 hits on 2 consecutive days, and I think that is because it reaches a big “niche audience” (those learning about animals). In answer to your question, is this an appropriate selection for Freshly Pressed, metaphorical learning does not interest me greatly, but of course it appeals to some people.

  6. Sweetly fresh, yes and well pressed relevance creating content. An actual space is created in my mind that wasn’t there before. Great name for a device that does just that. Creating space is as cool as being able to manufacture or create land. Hilding that space is holding land. Wonderful unimaginable things can be built on it, once it’s bought.
    Thanks for expanding my world!

  7. Freshly Pressed? Still no idea how you get in there.
    I’d just like to appear in the Topics. No idea how you get in there either.

    1. I have appeared a few times in the topics, but it tends to be when I’ve used a category like ‘travel’ or ‘relationships’. Looking at a few of your recent posts with nice pics, I think you could perhaps have tagged them ‘travel’ and got listed. If you mainly tag with ‘writing’ there’s maybe a lot more competition?

      1. Thank you for replying – I don’t seem to figure in the reader at all. I don’t understand how it works. I usually tag ‘postaday’ ‘fiction writing’ and if I do the wordpress challenge, then I tag that too, but it doesn’t seem to make any difference.
        I will try to tag ‘travel’ as you suggest and see how that works.
        Thank you for your help.

      1. I’m sorry to butt in, but I’ve been wondering, too. Is it the tags or the categories that sends a post to a specific topic? And what if you don’t have a popular category? Will popular tags help?

      2. Hi – I usually tag ‘fiction writing’ ‘postaday’ and whatever is relevant to what I’ve written, and I’ve tried several categories but it doesn’t seem to make any difference. I used to use too many tags, I think, but have now reduced it, still no luck.
        Can’t get onto the reader at all.
        I will try the ‘photography’ and Hearten Soul suggested I try ‘travel’. ‘Photo essay’ sounds quite good too.
        Thank you for your help – I’ll see if I can make those work.

      3. Hi again – I’ve appeared in the Fiction Writing topic today – so thank you very much. I used the photography tag, but it was the fiction writing tag that was picked up.
        Not sure how or why today, but thank you for your help.

    2. Our site has been around since 2009, Pat. It’s easy. 1)be a full blown card carrying member of a certain political party. 2)be a part of the WP clique (yes, there is one). 3)don’t say anything controvesial. The muppets at the top don’t like that. My advice? Follow your heart, write with your brain, and be true to your voice. You don’t have to be part of a group or get on some ridiculous front page to be a great blogger.

      1. @JB Maddawg, I agree 100% with this: “Follow your heart, write with your brain, and be true to your voice.” Thanks for sharing this advice.

        We do promote bold, controversial posts (I’m thinking of recent ones like the “I’m gay and Christian,” the Todd Akin/rape, the feminism/abortion posts in particular). We certainly read a number of posts that are “controversial” — but we think they should tackle hot-button topics in a way that’s appropriate.

        If you’d like, forward us a post that you think should be promoted to Freshly Pressed.

      2. @Cheri Lucas, We do promote bold, controversial posts (I’m thinking of recent ones like the “I’m gay and Christian,” the Todd Akin/rape, the feminism/abortion posts in particular). We certainly read a number of posts that are “controversial” — but we think they should tackle hot-button topics in a way that’s appropriate.

        Thanks for confirming my very first point. I look forward to another round of extremely relevant posts trumpeting the many victories of OWS. And, no, I won’t be sending anything to FP. We have more than enough off site readers, thanks.

      3. Can’t even get on to the Reader or in the topics.
        Don’t think I’ve ever been controversial – quite fluffy posts on writing, life the universe and everything.
        Have tried tagging (think I over-tagged at first) with what I thought were relevant words, but nothing seems to work so far.
        Thank you for your comment – will continue to waffle on in my usual fashion, some people seem to enjoy it, but it would be nice if some of my stuff ever appeared in the Reader.

  8. Pamela’s post on education was a great read. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about education, I know I’m not the only one. I’m so glad her post was freshly pressed we need more people to speak up about the topic and she nailed it with just the right words. Plus, I love metaphors! :)

    1. I have been doing a series for parents most of September dealing with school problems. I am not only a therapist, have taught at two Ivy League Schools, but for over twelve years my husband and I hosted teenage foster children each in trouble with the law. Our foster kids lived with us in every changing groups of six. All that to say, you might want to visit my Parents Are People Too Blog. (http://parents-are-people-too.com). The next few posts will focus on learning disabilities. In fact I should be working on today’s which deals with the one many people know about–dyslexia. Stay strong, blogging is not just my addiction, but my supplies 100% of my daily vitamin and mineral supplement.

      Kat

  9. Hi Cheri, I think it is a great idea to help us learn by critiquing other posts as examples to show us the right way to write a good post. I never learned to write correctly in any classes that I took. I am sure writing a post is different from other types of writing; I am looking forward to learning how to do it correctly!! Thank you for offering this help.

    1. “I think it is a great idea to help us learn by critiquing other posts as examples to show us the right way to write a good post.” I like the illustrative nature of these posts — they show, which is helpful. But I wanted to say that there’s not really a “right way” to write a post. This feature is merely a starting point for your own writing.

  10. Thanks, Cheri. I like these case studies as a method of learning the craft of blogging. I am a blogging new born – less than one month old. I don’t know what I don’t know. I know I have much to learn. I know some of the things I need to learn and can direct my learning towards them. This weekly post provides me with a quick, interesting lesson about some things I didn’t know I didn’t know!

  11. The post itself reflects an ideal one with completeness in itself. I just wanted to enquire ,do posts of poetry get freshly pressed? if so ! what is the criteria?

    1. Yes, we promote poetry posts. Recent examples include posts on the craft/creative process (see the home page now), poetry commentary, and poetry itself. No “criteria.”

  12. I find myself typing as I talk to myself, then delete about half a page of over talk. I figure its how im wired, writing and reading architectural specs all day. my haphazard ways of untechnical writing may make me sound uneducated, but for now I’m ok with that.

  13. If you’re in a science-related field, you kinda need to use some technical language. For anything else though, I want something easy to read. If your words don’t flow, I’ll stop reading after about two sentences. In my mind, “you’re” always trumps “you are.” Always.

    1. “If you’re in a science-related field, you kinda need to use some technical language.”

      Absolutely. Yet sometimes as a reader I get lost in posts that I don’t understand, particularly because of the jargon or insider language. A blogger certainly doesn’t have to write in a more accessible way — they can write in any mode they please! — but if they would like to reach a bigger audience, it does help.

  14. I think the post was great. I learned a lot from it, but it wasnt really something that I would go through the internet searching for on a daily basis; this just shows how many new and interesting things we learn through WordPress. :-)

  15. Cheri, thank you for sharing this information with us!

    I love the way you incorporated “educating” us on how to become freshly pressed and using metaphors, with the blog Pam wrote about “space and education”.

  16. A thorough analysis of one single post! Great job Cheri Lucas! I chose to comment first on your job well done with this post before checking out the post that was analysed. About whether the post is worthy of being freshly pressed? No doubt! I don’t need to read the post to know that. If all of these beautiful lessons could come out of a single post, then it is undisputably a worthy post, except a better one was sidelined, and I doubt the possibility of that. I am both impressed and excited but most importantly, welldone, for a job well done! If I have any comment about the post, I will make it on the post. Thanks for sharing.

  17. I never seem to have enough time to read freshly pressed articles (I barely manage to write an entry or two in my own blog), but this time I am glad I did. The post was definitely worth being freshly pressed in my opinion. You can tell that a good educator wrote it who knows what she’s talking about and really cares about the next generation. Your analysis of the post is great and it should help bloggers who would like to be freshly pressed get there. Thank you!

  18. Despite the weekly WP justification for selecting a blog for FP I’m afraid I remain convinced that it is a completely random and subjective process with no fairness or quality control. Every day I read many blogs many of which are vastly superior than those chosen by the so called ‘editorial team’.

    1. Perhaps we can brainstorm a way in which the entire community can help surface more content that is worth considering — we are continuing to improve the experience, so any specific feedback is welcome.

      1. Have you considered a reader (i.e. bloggers) panel to review & select articles for FP? Editors picks will always be open to criticism and accusations of subjectivity! My idea is to assemble a panel who will be objective and fair. What do you think?

  19. I have been Freshly Pressed. It was the most exciting day of the year AND one of my goals to hit before January. Love the WordPress team. Good luck to all the bloggers out there! Read and comment on Freshly Pressed blogs – you’ll get a feeling for what works.

  20. If only students could hear your analysis of a well-written post, we’d have better writers and communicators out there. Your feedback gives insight into the writing process with a deeper perspective into why it means so much to choose the right connection. I’m checking out A Space For Learning right now.

  21. I’ve often wondered what WordPress thinks make a “Post Freshly Press-able”. Thanks for sharing and confirming how one can make their Posts more interesting and helpful to readers.

  22. It is absolutely true that the analogy that pamela drew was very fitting and it succeeded in building an image in our heads….and I could instantly relate to and appreciate the point she made about both the subjects…
    I am sure there are other criteria for getting selected as freshly pressed…. beacuse if its the only, then i may never have a chance, as I write very raw, even though I do bring analogies in my writing naturally…

  23. Abandoning the Space Shuttle … a Lesson for Educators
    Cape Canaveral – 24 years ago the space shuttle Challenger exploded in a thousand flaming pieces just minutes after takeoff, leaving behind thick clouds of smoke and a heavy atmosphere of mourning.
    The sight was horrible for the families of the seven astronauts and gi’A those who gathered to watch the first ever mission
    teacher in space.

    The catastrophic event that marred the glittering “picture” of NASA and shook the belief that spaceflight could become less common and the civil flights.
    The subsequent investigation about the causes of the fatal explosion revealed a space agency, which is more interested in keeping schedules and public relations than for the safety of spaceflight and taking wise decisions.
    Seventeen years later, seven more astronauts were “lost” with the spacecraft Columbia leading many to believe that NASA did not get the lesson from the tragedy of Challenger.
    But after the successful return to space flight made this summer (below the highest levels so far mechanical control), the future looks promising for space observers.
    “Did not we all learn as we go?” Wonders the Grace Corrigan, the woman who lost her daughter, teacher Christa McAuliffe in the crash of the Challenger. “We all learn from their mistakes,” adds the same.

  24. interesting parallel: low orbit. i didn’t know/hear that insight about the state of the space program. and GREAT that the author would see a parallel to that of the education process.