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In the spring of 2011, I had just finished a long day of teaching one Friday night, when I got a terrific email. Teaching weekends was a grind during those four week periods. After working all week, the students and I had to sit in a classroom for hours until late at night, only to go back early the next morning for an all day session.

So I squinted and blinked a couple times to read the message from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editor John Allison, an affable man who had published a feature piece I had written in 2009 on Harry Houdini in the City of Steel. Features for a Sunday special feature called The Next Page were 2,000 words, and he found himself in a pinch for a good story and someone who could write it.

He found my blog and read about my Pop Teaching movement, which consisted of me structuring an approach to student engagement based around pop culture. He asked if I could throw something together in a couple days. When you’re trying to make a name for yourself as a writer, the answer to that question is always an eager YES!

I grabbed a six-pack of Red Bull, got through the Saturday lecture, and figured it out. The PG threw together some fun artwork to accompany my words, and just like that I had my second major feature in in a metropolitan newspaper.

Read The Next Page: Putting Some Pop In Education