Unsung Blogger of the Week #12

This week’s featured blogger is Jeff Ferrell and his blog Ferrellweb.com. Its a fine example of a  Boss Blog as Seth Godin calls it. The text from the email interview follows: 1. Please write a brief profile of you and your involvement with
I’ve been teaching English at a rural high school in the state of
Tennessee since 1993, and first experimented with a class- and school-related web site in 1996. I noticed web logs sometime around 2003, I suppose, and adopted a blog as the foundation for my own site, hoping it would make updating easier. It certainly did, though it probably didn’t make the actual *posts* any more frequent. My blog (and web site in general) is aimed at a pretty narrow target- group: my high school students. I use it to try to provide them with information beyond the regular curriculum, to direct them to current material related to class lessons and discussions, or to point them to sites, articles, and ideas they might not normally run into on their usual Internet rounds. I try to post things I hope they might find generally interesting, intriguing, or heck, just plain fun from time to time. Even though there’s little personal information
(deliberately so, considering the focus), I hope the site as a whole
manages to convey my personality, and proves useful or entertaining to anyone else who wanders in!

2. How do you publicize your blog?
Publicizing has never been a top priority of mine; so I haven’t given
this angle much thought. I’ve dreamed of developing a massive
resource-site for students and teachers, but it’s always tricky
finding the time. Until then, I’ve always considered it a “work in
progress” and haven’t tried to actively draw in outside traffic.

3. Which techniques have worked for you and which ones have not?
Since I’m not actively seeking publicity, it’s hard to say — I’m
sure word-of-mouth is my biggest hit-generator, and most of my
referral links come from my school district’s web site. I do get hits
(in spurts) from a few other sites that are connected to teacher web
site development workshops, and that’s pretty flattering.

4. What do you consider as your best post so far? You can include
 upto 3.
This is a tough one, since my posts are usually derivative — I’m
usually just writing about *somebody else’s* material, rather than
posting my own. If I had to pick one, though, it would have to be “A Man of Many Talents” ( a post triggered by a class discussion of Julius Caesar and ancient Rome that included the question, “How much is that in dollars?” when young Caesar’s debts came up. It’s the only post I’ve really written totally from scratch, and it occasionally gets hits from web searches like “talent worth in dollars” and “drachma equivalent ancient rome,” which is pretty encouraging. It’s the kind of stuff I wish I had more time to research and write. [Excellent post. – Ed.].

5.   What are your Top 5 Unsung Blogs ? (please include only those that are not in any Top 100/500 lists).
I’m not too sure about who’s on what list, but here are a few I check in with on a regular basis: Desbladet  makes me grin.[Don’t miss Desbladet’s Getting Cold causes Colds  -Ed.].  The Comics Curmudgeon  makes me laugh out loud [“I read the comics so you don’t have to” is the old name of this blog. -Ed.]. Heather Armstrong’s Dooce continually renews my faith in the possibility of domestic bliss, although that may not be her intention, exactly… The Languagehat  makes me wish I read 1/4 as much, and knew a few more languages.
Slacktivist  makes me think. And Creating Passionate Users (
makes me try to think of ways to help my students kick ass. 😉 [This is the 2nd mention for Headrush in this series. – Ed.]
6.  What are your current book recommendations ? (1 or 2 is
I’m reading criticism right now; interesting, but maybe not exciting
for all. Here’s some general stuff, though: I really dig books by Umberto Eco. Really. For pure escapism, I grab any of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe novels;
sometimes I dream of being Archie — confident, self-assured,
impeccably dressed, and packing heat. Sometimes, it’s Nero — either futzing around with orchids, reading, or sitting in my chair drinking beer and issuing diatribes. Either way, I win. 🙂

7. What are your current movie recommendations ? (1 or 2 is
I’m not too big in the “current movie” scene… I spend a lot of time
backing up over all the movies I’m too young to have seen on the
first run. I recently caught Sunset Boulevard for the first time in
quite a few years on Turner Classic Movies, and loved it again.