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Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer Professional Development - Part I - RSS

Today is our last day of school. Every year at this time teachers and students are exhausted and the last thing we want to think about is professional development. So if you're feeling tired and exhausted and don't want to think about professional development or the next school year for a week or two, mark these next four or five posts as "unread" in your RSS reader and come back to them later. But, "I don't use an RSS reader" you say. Well then read this post, get yourself an RSS reader, and subscribe to this series of blog posts about technology resources that can help you as a teacher expand your technology integration repertoire.

RSS readers bring websites to you in one centralized elocation. If there are websites that you check daily or even weekly, you should be using an RSS reader. Rather than having to visit each individual website and check it for new information with an RSS reader the updates (and only the updates) are brought to you via your RSS reader. Using an RSS reader can save you substantial amounts of time and helps you stay better informed about the topics your favorite websites address.

Here is a short video from Common Craft that explains RSS in plain English. After the video keep reading for ideas about how RSS readers can be useful to you and your students.


Applications for Education
As a teacher, using an RSS reader can help you stay informed and up to date on new information related to your content area and practice. People often ask me how I find so much information about new technology resources, the answer is simple, I scan roughly 600 updates in my RSS reader every day. Obviously you don't have to subscribe to as many websites as I do to stay informed, but my RSS addiction does demonstrate how much time a person can save and how much information a person can find by using an RSS reader. If I didn't use an RSS reader there is no way that I could find so much information in a couple of hours each day. (As a side note, I'm going camping for six days without Internet access when I get back, I'll have thousands of items to scan through).

If you maintain a blog or website for your classroom, having your students use RSS readers is a good way to keep them informed of new information you've posted. For teachers that address current events in their curriculum, having students use RSS readers is a good way for them to track developments in news stories.


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