How to use an RSS feed for your Classroom

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Have you seen the symbol on the left.  If you haven’t, the next time you are surfing the web look for it somewhere on the site you are on.  It is on almost every website, blog or on-line newspaper.  What is it? It is called an RSS feed.  RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. This tool allows you to subscribe to on-line magazines, newspapers, blogs or websites. With RSS feeds you can get all these feeds electronically and can subscribe to as many sources as you wish.  So how do you use this?

First you need to sign up for a Reader that compiles all these subscriptions. For all you Gmail users, it is built-in.  Just look for “Google Reader.”  Let me give you an example of how this works. I subscribe to some educational on-line blogs, newspapers, a few health sites, and other sites that I have been reading for a number of years.  When I first started reading these on-line sites or blogs, I would have to go to my favorites and visit each individual site to read the updated articles.  I never knew when new articles were posted, therefore, I needed to go to the actual site.

This process is much easier now using my Google Reader and it saves a significant amount of time. Each of these sites has an RSS feed or “subscription” for me to sign up for.  I never go to the individual sites anymore, I sign up and the updated articles go directly to my Google Reader.  If the site has an update, it gives me a number next to the specific blog. For example, it will say, “Zen Habits (3).” The number is the amount of updates on the site.  If it doesn’t have a number next to it then it has not been updated.  Lastly, I do not have to go to the site to read the article, I click on “Zen Habits”  the article is posted in my Google reader.

This is so much easier than going to every blog or site to check on updates.  The Reader keeps all your subscriptions in one place.  It literally can take minutes to read and check articles.

For Students and Teachers doing research you can look for newspapers, blogs or on-line magazines for the particular topic you want to research and all the articles will be sent to your reader.  To find sites you type in a key word such as volcanoes, American history, or Earth Science, and the Reader searches for subscriptions related to your subject.  This is a great way to work on projects, do research, or develop a lesson plan.  The resources are endless.

When  you are done with that particular subject you just unsubscribe to the site.

If you have any questions or need any help setting up a Reader, please let me know.

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