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
Hi Tyson & Tara,
I really like both of your ideas for a more meaningful #FF. I’m as guilty as the next person of just fillinh my 140 characters with twitter handles and sticking an #FF on the end and perhaps it is time for something more meaningful.
So I think I’ll try both this week – individualised #FF tweets a la Tyson and a dedication on my blog a la Tara. 🙂 Most difficult thing is goig to be chooisng which blog post to highlight….
Thanks for commenting, Dave. Don’t feel too pressured about which blog to choose, you do have 51 more weeks in the year to highlight past posts from the others. =)
Thanks Dave! So glad you are going to take up the #FF Spinoff challenge. I’m feeling the pressure too. I need to find a really special one for my 50th #FF post. 🙂
I should also mention that I have a friend blogger (non ELT) who does a weekly “Archive Dive” on her blog. It’s not related to #FF but could be. She chooses a topic and invites her community to provide a link to a blog post they have on the same topic. It’s a really great way to get new readers: http://imadeitso.com/2011/06/10/friday-archive-dive-22/
That is another interesting idea. I think for the most part, we essentially do this with many of our blog challenges being centralised. It might be different though if the people taking the blog challenge weren’t writing their own responses in their blogs, but searching for existing posts on that topic and linking to them.
This challenge, I will take on tomorrow between 9 and 10 am tomorrow. Thank u Tara for driving us to dig deeper into the wealth of our PLN !!! 🙂
[…] Well, as Cecilia said she was “In”, I decided to check the link and see what this was all about (you see, if Cecilia says something’s good, then it’s good!). So off I went hyperlink chasing to read Tara’s post on Tyson´s blog. […]
Okay, I posted my 50th #FF tribute. Have you posted your #FF tribute? Please share a link to your post in the comments here on Tyson’s blog.
[…] you haven’t heard of the très cool #FF SPINOFF challenge, Tara Banwell shares more here on Tyson Seburnt’s blog. I got to thinking about which of my PLN members I wanted to […]
Just posted my #FF Tribute:
[…] In the brilliant guest post, Tara Benwell inspired everyone (at least a bunch of us) to continue with my thoughts on making Twitter’s Follow Friday #FF more meaningful. In this case, it’s all about spending some time reading through your favourite ELT blogs and dusting off some valuable treasure. You can read more about the specifics of the challenge in this post. […]
[…] they can learn, benefit from it. Inspired by Tyson Seburn’s challenge to the PLN to give a spin-off to the #FollowFriday tweets on twitter (If you’re an educator and haven’t joined twitter yet you may want to […]
[…] choice this week. If you haven’t heard of the concept, she and Tyson talk about it here at Eltrie, Tyson’s rockin’ blog. Basically, you #FF a blogger and choose a post of theirs from […]