Wednesday, December 8, 2010

10 Tips for Using Google Reader in the Classroom

Google Reader and RSS have been a very beneficial addition to my PLN.  I like how easy it is to stay organized with the latest information available on the web.  It makes reading what is important to me easier, especially since I can use it on the iPhone and iPad.  At the same time, Google Reader can be a valuable tool for teachers in the classroom.

1.) We should all be teaching current events.  News websites are a great way to keep up to date on current events.  Each morning you could check your Google Reader account and share the news with your students.  You could take it one step further and subscribe to the feed for CNN and Fox and then compare how the two news station report the news. 

2.) I love the weather and in science classes, the weather can be a great unit that can be integrated into other units.  The Weather Channel has an RSS feed that you can subscribe to for national and local forecast, as well as a weather blog.  It makes checking the weather forecast much easier and saves me time.

3.) Just mentioned to me by an English teacher is subscribing to a website like The Onion for her unit on teaching satire.  You could then compare these stories to the real news stories that you get from tip #1 and discuss the difference in wording.

4.) With an increase in Web 2.0 sites, it is very beneficial to try your best to stay on top of the updates that these software sites go through.  What is great about these sites is that they all have a blog that provides updates on the changes to their service or additions that might be useful to know about.  Following the Prezi Blog allowed me to learn about the new feature of Prezi Meeting.

5.) There are several free online journals related to the various subject matter and educational technology.  The key is finding them and searching them out and then discovering if they have an RSS feed for updated articles.  This would be a great way to stay on top of what is going on with your curriculum.  Here is a great Directory of Open Access Journals in Education that would be worth starting to look at. THE Journal is a a great educational technology magazine that offers RSS feeds as well.

6.) The most common method of using Google Reader in the classroom is for teachers to follow blogs.  With the ability to create folders you can easily find blogs from teachers who share resources, experiences and ideas for your subject matter.  You can easily organize that information to read certain blog post based on what you are in the mood for.  Here are some great starting points to find some great blogs:
- The Edublog Awards - There is a past awards directory as well.
- Top 100 Education Blogs
- Top 100 Education Advice Blogs
- 100 Best Blogs for Teachers of the Future
- Moving Forward Wiki - Blogs by Subject and General Blogs
- Top 100 High School Teachers Who Blog

7.) Do your student's blog?  If they do, Google reader would be a great way to keep up with all of your students blogs without having to visit each one individually.  Create a folder for these blogs and then easily read them at your convenience.

8.) Google Reader allows you to share what you are reading.  This would be a great way to collaborate with other teachers in your building so that you can see what they are reading and you can see what they are reading.  You can choose a custom style as well as a URL so that it can be easy to find.  If you are wanting to get students to comment on each others blogs, this would be a good way to share the blogs with your classes and create a reading and communication portal.  When you share your Google Reader you follow people similar to following blogs and you can select what you want to share, so it is not a mass share of your entire reader account.  You might share one a week for students to comment on. And for the sake of "sharing", here is My Google Reader.

9.) Google Reader has a neat feature called Notes.  This allows you to drag a bookmarklet into your browser and then when you come across something that you might not be subscribe to but want to keep and read for later you can "Note in Reader" so that you have it available for later and have a note about it so you can remember why you marked it.  This is a great feature for when you find a resource while surfing the Internet, or a post on a blog that you really like, but might not necessarily want to follow the blog and have a way to save it in something you read all the time.

10.) Sometimes it can be difficult to find an RSS feed on a website.  Google Reader has a "Subscribe" bookmarklet that you can insert into your browser and when you visit a site click on that button.  It will then search for the sites feed.  If it cannot find it, it will let you know.  If it finds the feed it will direct you to your Google Reader where it will provide feed stats and then ask if you want to subscribe.  This could be very helpful for those teachers who have trouble understanding copy and paste and how to look for a feed.  It is also an easy way to subscribe to feeds for your favorite sites. 

How have you used Google Reader?
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