Friday, July 26, 2013

Reading the Right Stuff: Great Blogs to Follow

Once you select an RSS reader, the fun begins.  Reading educator blogs is a fantastic way to learn new ideas, keep up with research, and stay afloat in a sea of ever-changing educational trends.  Finding great blogs can be like finding the needle in a haystack, so today I'd like to share a few of my favorite blogs.  I hope this will help you add to your own collection or get started using your RSS reader.

Without further ado, here are my favorites:

Fluency 21 - Committed Sardine Blog:  The Committed Sardine blog has thousands of posts, and I love the combination of information on digital natives, brain research, and technology tools and tips.  This is a must-have blog for the 21st-century teacher.

A Principal's Reflections: Principal Eric Sheninger's award-winning blog offers big ideas on school change, great tips for capitalizing on the power of technology in school, and reflections on continual learning and growth.  Sheninger's ideas really inspire!

Catlin Tucker: Blended Learning and Technology in the Classroom: Catlin Tucker is a high school ELA teacher using blended learning approaches, but she posts so many great technology ideas that could help teachers K-12 in any subject area.  She offers practical tutorials and ideas to harness the power of technology.

Dy/Dan: Don't tell my husband, but I love Dan Meyer!  Meyer is a former math teacher. He has an amazing talent for provoking wonder and curiosity, along with infusing technology in the learning process.  Dan Meyer will make you believe in the power of inquiry.  Check out his 3-act math ideas for a whole new way to think about possibly flipping your classroom.

Langwitches: Sylvia Rosenthal, a 21st century learning specialist, provides a hub of amazing resources at the Langwitches blog.  She writes on educational technology and offers a host of tips for success.  She also offers great ideas to get students blogging.

So where can you find other blogs?  Many educators that blog include the blog link as part of their Twitter bio.  That's always a great place to start.  Click HERE for an #edchat collection of bloggers.

Consider doing a blog study as a staff instead of a book study, or find blogs centered around your next unit of study that students might explore.

Please share your favorite education blogs to follow!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Become a Readivore With Your New RSS Reader

It's amazing how much information you can quickly consume when it's all in one place, right at your fingertips.  To make RSS feeds truly work for you, you will need to decide on a reader service you'd like to use.  The fancy word for it is an RSS aggregator.  There are many options of RSS readers available; this post is going to feature three RSS readers I think you'll like.  You will probably want to choose one of the three in order to keep all of your content in one place.

Here's a quick snapshot of the three options - you'll notice they all have a bit of a different look about them.



Feedly is a great option if you want a reader with more of a linear approach.  Check out this video for a more in-depth look at Feedly and a quick tutorial on getting started.

NewsSquares provides more of a visual look to your reader.  Each feed is represented as a square on your screen.  This NewsSquares video will demo the features of this reader.  Download the NewsSquares app in the Chrome webstore to get started.

While you may already be familiar with Symbaloo, did you know you can use Symbaloo as an RSS reader?  This reader also has the tiled approach of NewSquares, but they are more text heavy.  Symbaloo would be a great option if you want to share blogs with students.  Find several blogs related to your next unit of study, load them into a Symbaloo webmix, and share the webmix with students.  This tutorial will show how to add RSS feeds to a Symbaloo webmix.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Feed Your Need: Using RSS to Simplify Your Life

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the internet?  There are so many news sites and blogs are emerging daily.  How do you remember which ones are worth a return trip?  How do you keep up without thumbing through website after website?  The solution is an RSS reader!  A year or so ago, I'm not sure I could have explained what an RSS reader does, but the concept is actually very simple.  Now I wouldn't want to work without RSS working for me!

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.  In essence, it means the information YOU want is coming directly to you, rather than you having to go seek out the sources.  Think of it like shopping at Barnes and Noble vs. Amazon.  Rather than going out to the store, the store is coming to you!

Check out this quick video by WydeaWonders for the 4-1-1.

The first step in getting RSS to work for you is to select a reader.  In tomorrow's post, I'll feature three popular readers: Feedly, NewsSquares, and Symbaloo.  After deciding on your reader, you will be quickly on your way to managing your favorite blogs and using blogs to enrich your learning and the learning of your students.

Here are my top three reasons to love RSS readers:
  • Time is on your side.  It's as if you have a date with all these bloggers, but you never sit around waiting for your date to show up.  They are always at the door, and you can decide when you want to open the door and whom you want to go on a date with!  And if you want to ignore your blogs for awhile, they will never know but they will always be waiting for you!
  • Personalize for your interests.  An RSS reader allows you to find and follow the blogs and news sources of your choice.  I'm always on a quest to find the blogs that give the good stuff and I'll share some of my favorites in the next couple days. 
  • Stay in the loop without running around the Internet.  An RSS reader allows for one-stop shopping, which makes it easy to keep up with the latest ideas or share information with your students in a user-friendly way.
Cross-posted on 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Reading Rush

Summer is one of my favorite seasons because it brings more moments in the day I can spend reading.  I love the rush of reading a good book, those moments when you feel you can't read fast enough.  I appreciate how many books one must read to find the good ones.  They often seem so few and far between.  Here are a few of my favorite fiction reads, perfect for summer reading or great to add to your pleasure reading for the next school year.

My love affair with books reminds me of how much we can give our students if we can light the fire for reading.  While it's so important to model enthusiastic reading habits for our students, we can give them so much more.  Reading can connect you with people and the world in ways that few other things can.

GoodReads is a must-have digital tool if you have a passion for reading!  I don't know about you, but I have my go-to people for reading recommendations.  There are some people in the world that share a likeness for the same books.  GoodReads is my way of keeping up with their reading recommendations, even if I haven't seen them for months to have a face-to-face conversation about books worth reading.  In essence, GoodReads is social networking for readers.

Establish a profile and 'friend' others that you are interested in following.  Create digital shelves of books: to read, read, currently reading, abandoned, etc.  Never again forget about the book somebody told you to read months ago.  The best part is that once you finish a book, you can rate the book 1 - 5 stars.  As your friends finish and rate books, you'll receive updates about their recommendations.  GoodReads also provides opportunities to participate in author discussions, which could be a great experience for students.