When Tyson invited me to be his first guest blogger as a result of winning his blogaversary guessing contest, I got to thinking about a topic right away. First I asked for a deadline, because without one I’m more inclined to spend my free time tweeting with Shelly and Ceci or drawing Transformers. Tyson suggested I write something about material writing, and I agreed that would be a worthwhile subject for a guest post. With his suggestion in mind I did what I always remind writing students to do; I worked on narrowing down my topic. How many of you brainstorm your blog posts in a lined notebook with an old school bubble and branch diagram? I do!
After a day or so of brainstorming, I decided I’d carry on with Tyson’s milestone theme, and write about some of the most interesting projects and people I’ve worked with over the past ten years. I figured I’d blog about people that aren’t in my core twitter PLN, like Paul Battle who gave me my first big break in exam prep writing, and Daniel Emmerson who I collaborated with for the Learning English Video Project. The NY actors who brought my Mystery English course to life definitely made the list. I was scratching down numerous ideas when I stumbled upon a post by my favourite ELT blogger who was celebrating one of his own milestones. In his post, 500 Sable Feathers, Jason Renshaw shared this thought:
“In one of those blatantly self-indulgent milestone reflections, I recently realized (thanks to Typepad’s stats feature) that my preceding ‘straight back out of premature blogging retirement’ post is the 500th to appear on this blog.”
I read Jason’s word self-indulgent a few times and took this as a sign that my milestone post about material writing might need rethinking. After all, this is Tyson’s first guest post and the last thing I wanted to do was bore his readers with a rundown of my favourite assignments. I revisited Tyson’s milestone post to see how he pulled it off, and that’s when I stumbled across his latest post: #FF could be better, in which he describes an #FF spin-off he conducted on Twitter. Instead of listing a bunch of twitter handles with the traditional Follow Friday hashtag, Tyson showcased a single tweeter each hour, along with a reason why each tweeter deserved to be followed.
I was so happy to see Tyson’s tweets on Friday, since I absolutely agree that #FF could be better. For the past year or so I’ve been spending an hour or two each Friday, dusting off the archives of the many talented ELT bloggers. Like Tyson, I was thankful for other people’s #FF recommendations, but I often felt guilty for not getting into it and tweeting my own #FF list. I decided to create a Friday series on ESL-Library’s blog called “From the Archives”. Each week, I choose one of my favourite microbloggers who also has a blog. I browse through their archives and search for posts I’ve missed. When I find one that I think deserves to be revisited, I write up a brief summary and explain why I dug it out of the archives. Often times, I look for posts related to a project I’m working on. For example, last week, I went hunting for Canadian bloggers because I was writing Canada and Aboriginal Day holiday lesson plans for the library. I found a brilliant post by Vicky Loras about racism and multiculturalism that I think every teacher deserves to read. I know for a fact that many ESL-Library subscribers aren’t on twitter, and I can only hope that these weekly tributes will not only lure them to try out twitter, but also introduce them to a blogger who has unique teaching ideas and reflections.
After I write my #FF tribute post I send out ONE #FF from the ESL Library twitter feed, with a link to the post and the blogger’s twitter handle. TGIF is now TGIFF, because I truly enjoy this hour or so of profession development each week, and in a way it has become my own personal bookmarking system. After all, these are some of my favourite posts and I reference them regularly.
After reading Tyson’s post about his own #FF spinoff, I went through and counted all of the tributes I’ve written to my favourite ELT bloggers since I started the series back in March 2010. This Friday will be my 50th #FF post. Yes 50. That’s the same number I guessed to win Tyson’s challenge! (The actual number of posts for the year was 51: TS)As soon as I realized that, I knew what to do with this space that Tyson so graciously offered me. You guessed it, I’m giving Tyson’s readers a writing challenge! For those who aren’t familiar with my English Club Writing Challenges, I’m going to challenge you in typical MyEC style:
1) Choose one post that meant a lot to you from the archives of one of your fellow ELT bloggers.
2) Think of a memorable way to offer a tribute to this person and his/her post. Write a summary, a letter, an ad… you decide.
3) Write a post on your own blog (If you don’t have a blog, offer to write a guest post) explaining why you chose this post for your #FF tribute.
4) Share a link to your #FF tribute in the comments of this blog post between now and Friday (or any Friday this month).
5) On Friday, share a link to your #FF tribute post along with the twitter handle of the blogger you admire. Like this:
This is where I normally take my own challenge. You’ll have to wait until Friday to see which post I choose for my 50th #FF. You can visit the previous From the archives posts here.
One final #FF note
While I personally believe that #FF can be modified to be more meaningful, I have to admit that I do use the #FF suggestions from a few members of my PLN who take time to go beyond the core. Sometimes I find gem bloggers! Last week Tyson and I both found an #FF suggestion in Karenne’s twitter feed that didn’t go anywhere because it had a typo in it. When Karenne added the missing b, we both checked out this Latvian teacher’s profile and realized we were already following her. The #FF typo brought attention to her and led us to a fantastic TEFL blog we hadn’t seen!
#FFSpinoff participants for Friday, June 17:
#FF @hoprea (To Henrick Oprea: a #FF Spinoff challenge) | suggested by Valeria Benevolo Franca
#FF @cerirhiannon (#ff Tribute goes to Ceri Jones !!!) | suggested by Brad Patterson
#FF EnglishGateway blog (That’s not my name: instead, call me Sally) | suggested by Tyson Seburn
#FF @vbenevolofranca (From the Archives: Valéria’s Post on The Feeling of MORE) | suggested by Tara Benwell
#FF @europeaantje (a mentor and an inspiration :) special mention goes to Marvi of course) http://bit.ly/bx5Vdk | suggested by Ceri Jones
#FF @seburnt (Follow him – he’s great! A great educator from Canada with a fantastic blog) | suggested by Vicky Loras
#FF @englishraven (here’s my #FF post sugg: from “Trying Upside Down Inside Out” http://tinyurl.com/3338lmz) | suggested by Cecilia Lemos
#FF @gret (A #FF tribute to @gret and her post, “Dear Class…”) | suggested by Dave Dodgson