Thing 6 (Week 3) - Feed Your Reader: Find & Subscribe to Feeds / Build an RSS Reading Habit


One of the key concepts of "Web 2.0" in education is the understanding that we are all becoming "networked learners." The tools connect us to an expansive, interconnected web of experts, ideas and resources, and allow us to participate and contribute. One core tool for curating your own PLN, or personal learning network, is your RSS reader. Fill it with quality feeds and expert knowledge, learning, opportunities for collaboration and ideas come to you!

Discovery Exercise: Feed Your Reader

PART 1: Find 3-5 Education-Related Blogs of interest to you and add them to your reader
You will have to invest a bit of time, over time, to find the first few bloggers whose voices really resonate for you, but once you find a couple of folks you really like, adding others becomes easy. In the "blogosphere," you will find that the voices you value are often connected to one another.

A great way to build your "feed library" is to find one or two bloggers you like and explore their "Blogrolls" (a list of blogs they read/follow linked on their own blogs' sidebars). As you follow their blogs, you will also make new connections through their posts and comments. Again, it just takes a little time, over time -- like tending a garden. And you can always make adjustments as you go. Another great way to find blogs is through Twitter. When you carefully curate the educators you follow, they will share the awesome stuff they are reading (more on that in a few weeks).

That said, here are a few (non-scientific) places to begin looking for Education-focused blogs

DISCLAIMER: A "highly-ranked" or "award-winning" education blog is not the only (nor necessarily even a reliable) indicator of quality or relevance in content. I am just trying to point you to some options to get you started finding feeds. There are, no doubt, many "niche" bloggers out there (especially from-the-trench voices) with important messages that would resonate for each of you. I hope you will take some time to find those voices and add them to your growing network of learning connections.

‡ HELP Tip: To add most blog feeds to Feedly, just copy and paste the main blog URL (site address) into the Add Content/Search box and Feedly will "sniff" the site for a feed.

PART 2: Use a "blog search engine" to find 1-2 additional blogs/feeds of interest to you (educational or otherwise) and add them to your reader.

Try a Blog Search Engine to Find Feeds
Use these tools as you would a "regular" search engine to search for blogs or news feeds. Do not spend an inordinate amount of time on these (seriously). I just want to you experiment a bit.

  • Google Blog Search - http://blogsearch.google.com
    Type your terms into the search field and click Search Blogs. Use multiple keywords and phrases (in quotes) just as in a regular Google web search. Adding clarifying terms such as "education" or "elementary" to your main topic may be helpful.
  • Feedly - Perform a search from inside Feedly. Type a keyword into the Feedly search box and explore the results. Use the tags that appear under the search box to help you refine your search.

PART 3: (OPTIONAL) Add a "Fun" Feed to Your Reader

¤ NOTE: If there is more than one feed on a page, right-click the specific feed icon or link and select Copy Link Location then paste the copied URL into your Google Reader Subscription box. Examples here.

Here are a few "fun" feeds to try:

Task (2 parts - now and later)

PART 1: After completing the discovery exercises above, you should have about 15-18 feeds in your reader. Check your Feedly daily (or as near as you can) for 5-7 days (like you might check email, but just once a day). Practice skimming and scanning. AFTER you have done so, complete PART 2 below.

¤ NOTE: You are not required to retain all of the original 10 feeds from Thing 5 if you do not want them, although I encourage you to live with them for a little while. Use the "Organize" link under "My Feedly" to manage your subscriptions in Feedly

PART 2: (AFTER at least five days! Pretend I have a Romper Room Magic Mirror!) Write a blog post reflecting on your experience and sharing one or more items of interest from your reader. Include links to any posts you refer to (please review videos below as needed to make sure you know how to find the correct link and include it in your post). Be sure to include "Thing 6" as part of your post title. You will be asked to "share an item of interest from your Reader" at two other times during this course. Please continue to check your reader at least 3 days per week throughout the course. It's the only way to actually build a reading habit. (Skimming, evaluating, managing and curating digital content are now fundamental literacy skills).

‡ HELP Videos:

  • How to locate a blog post Permalink (Important!)
    The Permalink is the direct link to a specific blog post. It will include the date and title of the post, or a post number. You must use the Permalink when linking to a blog post -- you can't just link to the main address of a blog.
  • How to insert links in your post (from Edublogs)
    Please WATCH THIS to make sure you are good to go. It's not difficult, but you cannot just copy and paste a link and expect it to be "clickable" like you do in email or Word.

Stretch Task

Create a Custom News Feed. One of the most powerful features of Google News is that it allows you to create a custom feed that checks 4,500 news sources for whatever keyword(s) you choose. To set up your feed, go to Google News: http://news.google.com, enter your desired search term(s) and click "Search News" (Use advanced search features to refine your search as needed). While viewing your results, click the RSS link in the left sidebar, and copy and paste the feed URL into the Add Content/Search box in Feedly. After monitoring the feed for a couple of days, write a brief blog post describing the feed you created and sharing an interesting item that has appeared in your reader as a result of the feed.