#MMPoetry 2014: What Did We Learn From The First Four Matchups?

Last night, the first four matchups of March Madness Poetry 2014 were decided — and what a great set of matchups they were!

Since this is the first time we’ve ever had a “trifurcated” vote, no one really knew what to expect, so I wanted to take a minute to analyze what happened and present my findings to all of you.

First, let’s look at 1-spite-vs-16-milquetoast. Margo Lemieux maintained a lead over Gloson Teh in the Public Vote all the way through the voting period, and ended up with 55% of the vote. The Authlete Vote leaned more substantially in Margo’s favor — 35 to 15. But look at that Classroom Vote! All 19 classrooms — representing over 500 kids — voted in favor of Gloson’s poem! So interesting to re-read the poems and think about why that would have been.

Next matchup: 8-consort-vs-9-killjoy. Robert Schechter led in the public vote pretty much all the way through. And this was the ONLY vote that was visible to him or anyone else (other than me). And then the voting period ended and BAM! Damon Dean proved the narrow victor in both the Authlete Vote and the Classroom Vote. I wonder how all of you (especially you, Robert!) felt about the “surprise” ending? Technically, I could make the results of all polls visible continuously, but that also means that authletes and classrooms will be able to see the results before they vote, which was something we wanted to avoid based on feedback from the 2012 event.

Third matchup: 5-depending-vs-12-situated. Our first ever “sweep”. Jean Daigneau won all three of the Public Vote, the Authlete Vote, and the Classroom vote. What you didn’t see (but I did) was that at one point Nessa Morris had led the Classroom vote 5 to 1 before Jean climbed back to win it.

Fourth and final matchup from last night: 4-whatever-vs-13-auxiliary. Wow! Did everyone realize that this entire matchup was decided by ONE STINKING VOTE??? I could see on the back end that David Harrison was leading the Authlete Vote all the way and that Bonnie Bailey was leading the Classroom Vote, and that Public Vote was teetering back and forth throughout the day Thursday. David had the lead in the Public Vote with only six minutes left to go! Then Bonnie captured five straight votes to take a one vote lead. They then traded votes such that it was tied-Bonnie-tied-Bonnie-tied-Bonnie-tied-Bonnie-tied with 32 seconds to go. And then with exactly 17 seconds left in the matchup, Bonnie received one last vote that put her ahead 172 to 171. Madness!

Curious to hear everyone’s thoughts on these matchups, the balance of the Public vs. Authlete vs. Classroom vote, the style of “revealing” the latter two votes, and any other thoughts on your mind.

I invite your comments below.

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  • David Harrison

    I’ll go first, Ed. As a newcomer to the event, I thought it was an exciting day. As I told Bonnie in one of the comments, I didn’t accomplish much beyond checking on the voting every ten seconds. I meant to be a purist and not send out notes for help — and I held out until 3:30 or so — but I finally told my wife and family and notified one of the boards I’m on. After that my numbers tended to jump by five or ten at a time. But sweet, relentless Bonnie, kept chewing up the difference and nosed past me at the finish line. I can’t wait for the movie to come out.
    As for the student vote, I think it’s a great idea to involve kids in the process of reading and scoring poems that are written for them as the user audience. My only suggestion would be, and this might not be feasible, to somehow note the grade of each voting class. That way the poets might learn a bit more about the likes and dislikes of children according to their age.
    Ed, thank you for all the incredible effort on your part. I love what you’re doing and considered it a privilege to participate. Bonnie, if you read this, I do hope you realize that my little poem about you was all in fun! Congratulations again.
    David

    • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

      Great feedback. Thank you. I do have the students marked as K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12, and can share those numbers from the logs with a small amount of effort, but cannot display them in real time. Overall, though, the split is ROUGHLY 10-15% K-2nd, 45-50% 3rd-5th, 30-40% 6th-8th, and <5% 9th-12th. The center bullseye is probably a very clever 5th grader.

      • http://motherstreusel.com/ Mother Streusel

        I would love to see the grades, but if it would overload you, I don’t mind waiting until after the competition. The only advantage that seeing it sooner might have would be for those Authletes still remaining to learn from it and possibly hone their poems further before submitting.

        • Catherine

          Seeing the grades is also great for us non teachers to match type of poem with an age range. Helpful for books. Thanks so much for analyzing the results Ed!

    • Bonnie Bailey

      Agree on being able to see the grades of each voting class – great suggestion David. This would give a lot of insight into what was appealing and understandable to the kids.

  • Stephanie Farrow

    Hi, Ed. Yes, it was exciting! And as you said ONE STINKING VOTE?!?! (I’m afraid Quinette’s and my poems are going to be that way, too.) March Madness indeed, but that’s part of a competition, right? I’m in favor of keeping the athlete and classroom votes veiled during voting. Private voting is more dispassionate in terms of choice–the privacy of the ballot box. It would be interesting to see all three results at the end. Kids need the excitement and experience and as you said, there’s something to be learned for the poets to see the final results. Thanks again for your hard work, Ed.

    • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

      Everyone will always see the final results. It’s just a matter of WHEN those results are displayed. Do people want to see them as they accumulate like in the Public Vote or only at the end as in the Authlete Vote and the Classroom Vote?

      • Bonnie Bailey

        Myself…I like the idea of keeping those 2 veiled until the end so that they don’t sway anybody. Another thing…putting the bios after the poems, rather than before them, might keep people from reading the poems with the subconscious thought that one might be “better” than the other, just because of the poet’s credentials.

        • Quinette Cook

          While the bios might have some influence, I still think it is the actual poem that has to be judged. I’ve done it both ways (read before and after judging the poems) and it hasn’t made too much difference in my final decision. I say keep the results (authletes and classroom) concealed until the very end.

          • Samuel Kent

            I like keeping the authlete and classroom votes hidden too, though I must say it caused me more stress.

      • http://motherstreusel.com/ Mother Streusel

        The end for sure!!! 1. The surprise is exciting! 2. Authletes are watching closely, and if someone comments around the time they vote and there are no other votes nearby it might give a clue as to how an Authlete voted. This could impair honesty. For example say the voting Authlete is friends with one competitor but likes the other poem better, they might feel pressured into voting for their friend rather than voting honestly for the poem they thought was better if they thought someone might be able to guess how they voted.

        • Bonnie Bailey

          Good point.

    • Quinette Cook

      I agree with Stephanie. It adds to the drama. I like not knowing. And Stephanie’s right our matchup is a nail-biter.

  • Bonnie Bailey

    The public vote seems to be so vastly spread in some cases that I worry it’s based on the poet and not the poem – it would be nice if there was some way to address that.

    • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

      In truth, the solution to the problem that you outline here is the introduction of the Authlete Vote and the Classroom Vote. As demonstrated the last two years, there is no way to control what happens in the open public vote without constricting it in some undesirable way. (Trust me — there isn’t.) The Public Vote brings in new fans and generates excitement. That is now its sole purpose. It is true that an authlete can win the Public Vote via social media, private connections, etc., and it is also true that a poem can have a certain mass appeal that earns the vote of the public, but an authlete cannot win either the Authlete Vote or the Classroom Vote via connections and social media. There poem needs to earn it.

      If and only if the Authlete Vote and the Classroom Vote are split, then the winner is decided by the public. And there, even if it was influenced by social media and personal connections (and it undoubtedly often is), the non-winner can smile knowing that they captured either the vote of their peers (David Harrison) or kids (Gloson Teh), and be proud that their poems were read by as many people as possible via the excitement and external “push” of the Public Vote.

      • Bonnie Bailey

        The public vote certainly does make things intense and exciting, so I hear you!

      • Catherine

        Super! I feel a bit teary lol.

  • julie krantz

    Ed–are you sure those last 32 seconds of the Bailey-Harrison matchup weren’t masterminded by Coach Krzyzewski at Cameron Stadium?

  • BJ Lee

    One thing that may be happening – especially for those with “difficult” or “older” words, and I guess I’m speaking from my perspective of having a word I had never heard of before – is that poets and the public (probably adults who know the poet, right? or family or others (but I’m assuming most of them would be older) is that adults and poets may vote for a poem with a difficult word whereas kids may vote for the poem with a word they know or at least have heard of before. I don’t know if this is true – just throwing it out there. Another way of saying it is, if you have a really difficult, very adult word, it is very hard to write a *young* poem, therefore perhaps losing the vote to youngsters who cannot understand your poem. Again, this is from my perspective as someone who had a very *old* word. Ed, don’t get me wrong – by the end I was loving my word :) Of course, I don’t know how old the classrooms are – what percentage of them are very young or what percentage of them are older (highschool, for example). Just a thought…

    • Bonnie Bailey

      I agree…not that there is anything that could be done to change that, but yeah, part of falling in love with a poem right off the bat is the ability to understand it as you read it, and kids may not be able to do that with the tougher words. By the time an adult has explained it the window may have closed for the magic :)

  • David Harrison

    I wondered a bit about how a given word might be received by students at different grade levels, particularly when we don’t really have a target age in mind. In the case of Word of the Month Poetry Challenge on my blog, everone starts with the same word and the fun is to see how many poems spin off the same word. This is a different concept. I suppose we could ask each poet to suggest his/her target group but I’m not sure it would help much in the voting process. In the end it’s probably the poet’s job to write a poem with as wide an age spread appeal as possible and hope for the best. Bonnie’s goats on cleats would be hilarious to small kids but also funny to older ones who are into sports. Presto!

    • Bonnie Bailey

      I got feedback from someone about 5th graders voting in our matchup, David – they voted for yours because they couldn’t understand “ungulates” and “auxiliary”. So I see what you mean about the age groups and their voting patterns being nice information to have. Younger kids probably would just latch onto an image presented, if there was one, even if they didn’t fully understand all the words, whereas older kids may be stumped by the words and prefer words they understand. Just a guess though.

    • Samuel Kent

      Making a poem have mass appeal despite the difficulty of the word appeals to me. It takes a lot of work to put in a difficult word and make it make sense because of the context, and it’s a great way to teach $5 words to a younger audience. Sometimes, the poem itself teaches what the word means more than any other vocabulary recitation (see: fungible, inconsequential)

      • Bonnie Bailey

        I was just thinking about that. Inconsequential was a perfect example!

  • Jean Daigneau

    As a newbie to the competition, I found it terribly exciting. But I was a little surprised at how much pressure I felt with the deadline looming. As an early riser living in EST, I didn’t see my word until the a.m. (No one’s fault by mine, but for me, it added to the time crunch I put myself under – and I had an easy word!) And, it was interesting as I thought about Nessa’s poem that I realized how kid friendly those burps and farts were and how much that could sway the classroom vote:O)! I agree that I’d rather not know about the classroom and authlete vote in advance. But I find it interesting how differently a poem can appeal to the three groups, especially when some of us were probably weighing things like meter and rhythm as much s kid appeal and creativity. It would be interesting to know how much that factored in to the public and classroom votes. Thanks, Ed, for putting this all together.

  • Buffy Silverman

    Here’s another idea to think about for next year (my statistics-loving husband’s, not mine.) Maybe the final outcome should be determined by an average of percentages, not a winner take all approach for each vote? That way if one category is a virtual tie, then a lopsided vote in another category would have more sway. Or maybe that’s too complicated.
    I agree that keeping the authlete and classroom vote totals hidden until the end is the way to go.

  • http://motherstreusel.com/ Mother Streusel

    Here are my ideas. Please note, I won’t be upset if they aren’t implemented…I don’t have strong emotional attachments to them, and I think the competition is pretty great already. 1. I think the definition for the assigned word should be shown in each match up. A poem is so much more enjoyable when you can read it and understand it the first time. Poems are emotional, and if you have to stop and look something up during or afterwards and then reread, it takes something away from the experience. Some voters may never look up the word, may misunderstand the poem, and may decide to simply vote for the other poem. Since the seeds are assigned randomly, it puts high seeded Authletes at a disadvantage, especially if they have had to work extra hard to craft the poem to begin with. 2. I don’t mind that the popular vote is able to be swayed. It motivates people to work hard to get people to the site, and to me that is the real prize of MMPoetry…the chance to increase the audience for our work. I am glad, however, that it is balanced by the student and Authlete votes. 3. What if the seeding weren’t random? This is getting bigger…perhaps in the future the Authletes could be decided pre competition by a panel of respected judges? The top 64 compete and seeding is assigned based on how well someone did in the pre-competiton. That way if someone gets a tough or easy seeding, they can enjoy or suffer it knowing it is their own fault. Just a thought.

    • Josh

      Maybe it’s just me since I’ve now received 4 total 13-16 seed words, but I find that it’s a lot easier to focus on one idea with tougher words. Using gloson’s word for example… I’m not even sure where I’d start with a word like “spite.” Although… when I first received “galvanize,” I thought the same thing. So, hard to say I guess.

      • http://motherstreusel.com/ Mother Streusel

        Interesting point. My sister is that way. She likes perimeters and does her best work that way. I feel like I do better work with more freedom.

      • http://www.glosonblog.com Gloson

        I just looked up the definition of the word “spite”. (I know what it means already, but helps to look it up! :P)

        My first idea was a bully poem (spite: a malicious, usually petty, desire to humiliate another person).

        My second idea was an inspirational poem (in spite of: “Able Abel does it, in spite of the odds”).

        Somehow my inspirational poem needed way more lines for me to write, and I was occupied with other work (I admit I submitted 3 minutes before deadline), so I ended up with the Sprite bully.

        • Josh

          Yep, inspirational poems are tough to write in 8 lines. I’ve written dozens of inspirational poems, and I don’t think any are under 8 lines. You need a gradual build up to a powerful ending, and that’s just not easy in 8 lines.

      • Samuel Kent

        *cough* meretricious *cough*

        • Josh

          I got the word “impersonate” and figured it to be too good to be true. Finally a word that I know the meaning of entirely, has good flow, and I wouldn’t have to explain the meaning to every single child as most understand this word (or if I have to explain it, it’s not hard to explain – seriously, should have seen some of the kids faces after I tried explaining “galvanize” to them). After writing with this word for an hour or so I began to realize why this word is a 13 seed. It’s the mere fact that there is no “s” on the end. That’s got to be it. It’s frustrating me so much that I can’t put an “s” on the end, hahahaha.

    • http://www.glosonblog.com Gloson

      I kinda agree on Karyn’s first point, although it kinda goes against my favor. :P A kid whom I’m friends with who supported me said, “yrs is so much better! how come margo get so many votes? i dont even get it. whats milquetoast?” xD LOLz. Kids.

  • http://motherstreusel.com/ Mother Streusel

    By the way, this is a great post. Excellent food for thought. I think the comments reflect that. I mentioned to my mother that the reason MMPoetry became so popular so quickly is that it is generally underestimated how competitive poets secretly are. ;)

  • Ryan Stockton

    The only thing I’ve learned so far is that if I have the honor of taking part again next year, I’m going to need to keep some tums in my pocket while voting is open. Angie and I are neck and neck as of this post. Oh, and my stomach has some input too: ~gurgle~.

  • Marileta Robinson

    Why did the voting results of the first four poems disappear–or is it just me?

    • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

      Right now or during the event? I see them now, as should everyone. But during the event I had to make a “hotfix” on the IP/cookie logging rules that impacted the first four (maybe five) matchups. The symptom of the problem was that some people (including me) were presented with the opportunity to vote a second time, but then upon trying to vote they would see the message “You have run out of votes!” And they could never see the actual results. So I had to add an Add Results link to some matchups because that was the only way to see them.

      Is this what you mean, Marileta, or something else? If something else is preventing you from seeing the final scores of the first four matchups, let me know b/c that does not seem right.

      • Marileta Robinson

        The first four matches are there, but they’re at the bottom, under “Final Results.”

  • rjschechter

    In the case of my match-up with Damon, I thought from the start that the two poems were of similar quality, and frankly I didn’t know which one I myself would have picked had one of them not been mine, so the fairly close vote made sense to me and showed that the process worked well.

    In answer to your question, Ed, I never allowed the public vote to convince me I would win because I recognized that Damon’s entry was excellent, and the public vote was never so lopsided that I considered it a bellwether of the other two votes. At best, the public vote made me feel relieved that even if I lost, I would be doing so respectably. But it wasn’t a “surprise” ending at all. I didn’t know what to expect.

    As far as I’m concerned, the vote that means the most to me is that of my fellow authletes, and I’m gratified that 24 of them gave me their vote when I was faced with such formidable competition. The public vote, as people have said, is too subject to the size of a person’s online community and the degree to which they blog and generally make themselves known. The classroom vote consists of an unpredictable range of ages, and if a given poem skews older than its competition, for example, and the classroom vote skews younger, the vote can be determined by factors other than relative quality.

    One thing to consider would be to keep the public vote tally secret until the end, just as you do with the other two categories. For most voters, knowing the total votes so far can only introduce distorting factors. If your poem is way behind, you might end up beating the bush in search of more voters. Voters who don’t know either poet might also see that one poem is way ahead and figure it must be the better poem, so they’ll hop on the bandwagon and vote for that poem. The power of suggestion can be quite powerful.

    I’d like to thank Ed for running this thing. It’s a huge effort, I know, and so many people have such fun participating or following along. I’m particularly happy to have made the acquaintance of my fellow authletes. I’ve already sent out Facebook friend requests to many of you, and I hope we can stay in touch online.

    Bob

    • Bonnie Bailey

      “The power of suggestion can be quite powerful.” +1

  • rjschechter

    By the way, Ed, I no longer seem to be able to monitor the public vote on match-ups that are underway and which I’ve already voted in.

  • Dave Crawley

    What would happen if the Bonnie-David vote ended in a tie?

  • Jone

    I like that you can’t see the Authlete and Classroom vote. Think they add a great twist. Ed, so appreciate all the work you have put into this. Thank you.

  • Damon Dean

    I’ve been totally out of pocket since early this morning, so when I finally stopped tonight I got around to this discussion, having been drooling to hear everyone’s ideas.
    Robert, the win was a surprise to me. I loved your poem, and was sure it had won one of the other votes. I think the process worked well on our match, and overall worked well.
    I personally like having the authlete and classroom votes hidden, and the public vote being hidden until voting. As far as excitement and suspense, the revealing of the public vote after a vote adds some passion to the contest. Not seeing at least the public vote would be like betting on a horse and having to wait till the next day to see if he won.

    Being AT the race is exciting. And if a dark horse comes from behind, worth every dollar I put down on any horse.

    As for the difficult seeds vs. easier seeds affecting the vote, esp among classrooms, I think part of the unction Ed has and I relish is that this competition is a priceless learning experience for classrooms. WOW, if I had had this around when I was teaching. We’d be cruising the web checking out every word before I let my classroom vote. I would challenge my kids to take those 16-seeds and write for extra points. To provide only easy or middle-seed words would make this only an average contest.

    Karyn (aka Mother Streusel), I do see value in your suggestions, but I wouldn’t be for making it too easy for voters (or authletes or classrooms) by displaying the definitions on this site–they might vote based on not knowing a word, but it’s just the way public votes work, and falls in with name recognition, etc. No way to make it perfect, really.

    Buffy, your husbands averaging of averages idea is interesting. Ed (when he has any time at all bless his heart) could test that on this year’s rounds and see how it might have affected results. In mine and Robert’s match, if Robert had garnered 66% of the popular vote (authlete and classroom results the same as what they were) he would have taken it by averaging by @ 50.4% to 49.6%.

    Seeing the grades for the classrooms is interesting, but not necessary for me. My first thought when I saw the 11-7 classroom vote in favor of 9-killjoy, was that perhaps there were more lower elementary and middle school classrooms, because those kids would have more likely had younger (3-year-old type) siblings, as in the poem.

    Overall, I think the process is great, and excited to go beyond first round. I may not feel that way when I check on my assigned word for Round 2.

    Great fun ED! Thanks so much for your life-chunk of dedication to this effort. Lots of work involved.

    • rjschechter

      It’s more than the different words that can affect the difficulty of a poem and the classroom voting. Two poets might have similarly difficult words, but one may choose to incorporate it into a poem that you really need to be 12 years old to appreciate, and the other might write a poem that is accessible to 8 year olds. The 12-year poem might be better than the other, but the younger classrooms will likely vote for the poem they get. The result is that those poets who tend to skew toward an older audience are at a disadvantage in the classroom vote, since all grades can appreciate the younger-skewing poems but only a few grades can appreciate the older-skewing poems.

      • Damon Dean

        That’s a truly valid point, Robert. ‘Better’ is in the mind (and knowledge base) of the beholder. The reader measures by the standard they know. The audience is wide for writers. There is some validity to knowing the classroom levels for the classroom vote.
        In the end, we write to the audience we want to read us, and that poses some advantages and disadvantages as you noted.

        • rjschechter

          I hope you understand I don’t think this was a factor in our match-up, since our poems targeted a similar age group (whatever that might be). I was making a general point that the classroom vote would, in theory, benefit the poet who writes for a younger age group in a match-up against the poet who writes for an older age group, because the one who writes for an older age group has fewer potential voters in the classrooms.

          • Damon Dean

            Yes, I understand…and agree there are fewer potential voters for those who write for older age groups. You are right, a definite disadvantage.

  • Lynn Ward-Author

    Hi Ed, firstly, congratulations on this whole concept, it is marvelous! I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of my word (jeopardize). I like the fact that the Authlete and Classroom voting is hidden, I believe that is necessary to keep things fair. My only suggestion would be that, rather than each ‘Author’ being assigned a word, each ‘Pair of Authors’ are assigned a word. I believe that would even the playing field and I would love to see how each poet approaches the assigned word. I think this would be a very fair way to compare the two poets. However, as a newbie I most humbly offer this suggestion. You obviously know what you are doing. Great job!

    • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

      This idea (2 poets, 1 word) has been suggested before. I’ll try to dig up my comment from long ago that explains my logic more clearly than I can form in my head right now. But the short version is that we are not in fact trying got compare two poets to each other, and prompting both with the same word creates more adversarial conditions than are required to achieve the goal of the event — which is to get more poetry in front of more kids.

      • Lynn Ward-Author

        Thanks Ed. I see what you mean. Cheers, Lynn

  • Lynn Ward-Author

    Sorry, me again :)
    I’m not sure I understand why I now see the results for both the Authlete and Classroom votes on mine and Melinda’s match-up but not the Public Vote. Does this mean public voting has finished but results aren’t yet known, or should I be able to see a result there?

    • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

      It’s a goofy hiccup with my polling solution. I had to go through and manually change the settings of the poll after it closes. I think I’ve figured out a way around this problem for Round 2 so it shouldn’t happen again.

      • Lynn Ward-Author

        No worries Ed, Cheers, Lynn

      • Josh

        Still can’t see the poll results for the popular vote – not sure who won a few matches.

  • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

    Thank you all for the great feedback! Exactly what I was hoping for. I’m still considering ways to tweak things in subsequent rounds without disrupting too much. I think I’ve solved the goofiness with the public vote showing/not showing — hopefully no longer an issue come Round 2. Sounds like most people like the surprise reveal of the Authlete and Classroom votes, so I’ll keep that as is. As I’ve commented on many times before, the Public Vote is correctly left as “hide before, show after” voting — it is critical to generating excitement during the event and minute-to-minute momentum. I kinda like the idea of adding definitions, but that could get visually distracting and potentially even misleading if words have more than one definition.

    One thing that I might do for Round 2+ is add a simple pronunciation guide, with a link to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary definition (of course that means I will have to limit myself to words that are IN a proper dictionary). Thoughts on that?

    • deborahhwilliams

      That sounds like too much work for you, Ed. I think you’ve got it set up just right, the way it is. If folks have to look up some of the words, it won’t hurt them a bit.

    • Samuel Kent

      I’m really grateful for all of the work you do to put the competition together, Ed. I’ve been looking forward to competing again all year.

      I like the idea of a pronunciation guide. I’d be hesitant to include a definition, though. As I mentioned before, part of the fun for me is trying to teach the reader what the word means in the context of the poem itself.

  • Darren Sardelli

    I love the Authlete and Classroom vote! It adds a little tension and excitement to this competition. It would be nice if every Authlete was required to vote on every match-up.

    • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

      It would be nice, but I don’t really have a way to mandate that and it just becomes one other thing to track. I think a bit a mutual encouragement is in order, though. I would like to see the averages jump from mid-40’s to mid-to-high-50’s (of a possible 64).

  • Victoria Warneck

    I’ve been dying to jump into the discussion, but life keeps intervening.

    When we think about the “trifurcated” vote (which I LOVE!) and what we should learn from it, I hope that we will keep in mind that the classroom vote as currently reported is a bit like the Electoral College. Results show up as red or blue, but in reality there are varying shades of purple in every contest.

    Gloson deserves huge kudos for winning all 19 classrooms — and still, it’s likely that Margo’s poem was the favorite choice of some of those 500 kids. Maybe it struck a chord inside a boy who walks the middle school hallways feeling too much like a Milquetoast ghost. Maybe a girl who never once pondered what it means to feel invisible actually stopped and pondered it for a split second.

    I took a pretty cynical, humorous approach with my FREAKING poem (best word ever, Ed!), and won the classroom vote by a healthy margin. But I’m pretty sure that *someone* heard Patti’s gorgeous SUPERSEDE poem and felt inspired to become the human version of a Super Seed. And how downright fabulous is that?

    So as we comb the results and look for lessons, I hope we can remember that great children’s poetry can and should reflect a wide range of subjects and a wide range of emotions. We want and need to connect with our audience, but connecting with them is not as simple as a kid popularity contest. Maybe as we participate in the Authlete and Public votes, we should all keep a special eye out for incredible poetry that might lose out to irresistible kid appeal in the classroom vote. Maybe in future years it would be helpful for us to somehow collect individual kid votes, just so that we can all see those rich shades of purple when the results come in.

    Just 2 cents from a relative outsider to the poetry community. Thanks for listening if anyone is still watching this thread! ;-)

    • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

      Oh I’m watching, Victoria. Thank you for the great feedback.

      In the future I would love to enable a detailed student vote that accounts for individuals and not groups. But not quite there yet!

    • Damon Dean

      Well said, good insights, Victoria! I agree.

    • http://www.glosonblog.com Gloson

      Thoughtful thoughts about connecting with audience, Victoria! At first sight, I was thinking, “Hehehe. My Sprite Bully can take down that Milquetoast Ghost.” But as I read the ‘milquetoast’ poem a few more times, I was like, “Dang, this poem is actually pretty good!” haha. And I also like the fact that Margo’s poem can double as a serious poem and a light-hearted poem, depending on the reader. At first, I read it in a light-hearted tone, and after reading your comment, read it in a solemn tone.

  • Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

    Interesting perspective, Julie. I too love the three different votes.
    However, as one of the 8 examples of authlete-preferred poems that did
    not end up winning (though only 42 authletes voted), I’d like to point
    out that if the three different voting percentages were averaged (as
    Buffy’s statistics-loving husband suggested), I would have won. I
    wonder if someone more mathematically inclined than me might take a look
    to see how the results might have changed across the board with that
    scenario. Personally, I worry more about unfair public voting bias than
    I worry about authlete bias, but maybe that’s just me.

    • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

      I’m going to take a look at all of this once things settle down a bit, and figure out if any changes may be in order for the future.

      In the meantime, I ask that everyone roll with the punches. Even when it feels like you just got punched in the face :)

      Thank you,

      -Ed

      • Julie Larios

        I don’t think it’s a matter of not rolling with the punches, Ed – I’m not getting punched since I’m not writing poems! I just think that since you posted something about “what we learned” and you’re looking at the statistics, we are all wondering about what the statistics show us. I once saw Linus Pauling demonstrate how statistics could be used to prove that the increase in women’s bra sizes in the 1930’s caused WWII. He was joking, of course, but he sure made the charts look good! His point was that statistics can be interpreted in radically different ways. When I took a look at the numbers after Round 1 ended, it looked like the Authletes packed an insurmountable wallop in terms of their voting block, but that’s turning out not to be as true during the second round. So – like I say – just interesting to notice the statistical anomalies, especially if you study them and think about re-designs each year.

    • Josh

      It might be good to base it off of averages, but at the same time – there are many different kinds of good children’s poems. Not all have to be humorous… as I was informed of last year. :)

      Thus, taking Gloson’s matchup for example – I’m thinking he very well would have won if the votes were averaged instead. Given that he won 100% of the classroom votes. I’m not saying he should or shouldn’t have won – I’m just saying that while we don’t want to believe that the majority of children are biased to humorous poems, it is inevitably true that if someone writes a good humorous poem, the chances of them winning the classroom vote by a decent margin (that might skew the percentage by a lot) is much greater. Going towards a percentage base, it might alienate the authletes that write a great “humorless” children’s poem.

      I could be completely off with all of this, but just my 2cents.

      • Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

        You make a good point, Josh. I’m not actually saying that we should definitely move to an averages approach, but that it would be interesting to see how the results would have been different. For the time being, I’m quite happy with the 2 out of 3 method of determining the winner, and it may turn out that this is the best approach even after looking at other ways to crunch the numbers.

      • http://www.glosonblog.com Gloson

        Hey Josh, I found an exception! In “1-host-vs-16-priggish”, Charles Waters’ poem about a warm encounter with a foreign exchange student garnered more classroom votes than Miranda Paul’s humorous classroom poem about a sub teacher. :))

  • Jane Yolen

    I would be interested in hearing from teachers and how they use the competition in their classrooms. Do they have children read the poems aloud? Do they discuss them? Take a straw vote first before the real vote? Is there vote trading? Do they do ALL the poems or just pick and chose a handful? DO they try each poem with judge and jury, prosecuting and defense attorneys? Or do the children just read what they want, silently at their desks, pick what they like best without discussion? Are the votes open or secret?