Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Instead of a blog, have your students try a Glog!

How many times have any of us assigned one of our favorite alternatives to papers? The one that will allow students to be creative, yet show us their learning - the poster. I know the poster has been a staple of my final project arsenal for years.

Well, I recently found a new FREE application that allows my students to create a poster on steriods - Glogster. Glogster is an online application in which you can make a Glog - which is the web equivalent of a poster. But it's different than a poster because you can add your own pictures or pictures from the web, movie clips, mp3 files like podcasts or music - anything! You (or your students) have instant access to all of the very best multimedia tools you could want to express an idea or opinion for display.

Glogster has a lot of benefits - students can always look at their Glogs on the site any time - and so can others - anyone with a Glogster account actually! Glogster is also a social platform. Kids can "friend" others on Glogster through interest in each other's Glogs. Although a Glog is just one poster, it can convey a powerful message. Many Glogsters begin to develop quite a reputation for a certain style of Glogs! You can also embed your Glogs in a wiki, blog, Facebook, MySpace - anything!

If you don't want to turn your students loose in the wide wild world of Glogster, there is an EDU version in which you can sign up for a teacher account and a set number of student accounts. You can sign up for accounts for just one class, all your classes, or even your whole school (up to 200 student accounts per teacher). This is a little extra work for teacher in that you have to enter your student names in each of the accounts you create. But Glogster sends you the passwords and verifications for each of the new accounts - you can simply give these to your students and keep the email. That way when a student forgets their password you have it. Another control factor of the EDU version of Glogster is that your students can't share and collaborate with the wide wild world - only the other students you sign up. Depending on your comfort level with this, the EDU version may be the one you want.

Either way, whether you go with the EDU version or have your students sign up for their own accounts, sign up is quick and easy, and you can begin building a Glog right away. Uploading images, video, and sound couldn't be easier, and Glogster offers an amazing pallet of backgrounds, frames and effects to choose from so that each Glog is as unique as possible.

I have had my French students making Glogs recently in which they are incorporating podcasts of French language conversations, music, and images. They are embedding these on our French class wiki. The kids are having a lot of fun with them, and several have mentioned that they would like to use Glogster in one or two of their other classes.

Below I've embedded 2 examples of Glogs from the main site (not my students' - theirs aren't done yet). The first is a fun weekly fact glog that allows the student who created it to make friends and interact in a fun creative way with people anywhere. I'm guessing this Glog will also provide her with lots of new food for thought! The second Glog is a tribute to a popular book and movie, "Twilight". This is a well put together fan tribute - a student who has lovingly and carefully compiled their favorite images and songs from the movie to convey their personal feelings about the story. Both of these Glogs are good examples of how Glogs can be interactive, creative, and show the voice of the student creating them.

To students, they are like the very best of MySpace and blogs combined! For teachers - they are a new and creative way to have our students get more engaged with what they are learning in class and personalize it.

Perusing the Glogster site you will see a lot of humor, a lot of silliness, some disturbing Glogs, and a healthy dose of teen angst. But what strikes you most is the amount of work, thought and creativity that has gone into most of these - the self expression is evident - and the possibilities are endless!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Our Students' Online Reality

A series of videos was published by PBS's Frontline earlier this year, beginning in January. The series was titled "Growing Up Online". The seven part series explores how the modern internet has transformed the experience of childhood.

The topics covered in this series include how much of a teen's life is lived online - and how much of that life is known to, or hidden from their parents. The second part of the series explores how school systems are trying to understand and relate to students who live lives outside of school that are often alien to their teachers. Several of the programs touch on some of the positives of this new online generation - one being the opportunity for creativity - often a kiss of death for a shy student in school - to thrive and prosper in an online environment. Also explored is the fear and myths about online predators, as well as a guide for parents trying to understand and cope with this new world their children are growing up in.

The Growing Up Online series is 7 parts long - with each segment being around seven to nine minutes long, so it is easy to view it in short segments. Although your home connection may struggle with this a little, you should have no problem viewing the segments at school.

For ANY teacher - Growing Up Online is a must see. This series offers a sometimes anxious, but often hopeful look at how our students are exploring and innovating within this new frontier.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Helping students get organized - the online dayplanner

As we begin to look ahead to next year, we begin to have discussions about how we can do things differently and how we can help our students. One thing we have been discussing at our school recently has been planners for our students. The students already have planners - spiral bound numbers that they carry around to write down homework assignments, test dates, etc.

Since we have a 1:1 program in the junior high at Tok, as well as wide-spread access to technology in most of our other classes and all of our other sites, I submit that it's high time for us to explore some of the excellent online planners that are available.

One very good planner tool for students I'll discuss in this post is called TrackClass. TrackClass is a simple planner students can use and it works like this;

Students quickly set up an account (only email and a password - that's it), and then they can begin to use this tool. The beginning of the school year is the ideal time to set this up with your classes - simply have them enter each class they are taking on the TrackClass dashboard, along with the days and times this class meets (this is a nice feature for schools with rotating or alternating schedules). Once the classes are set up, it is very easy to navigate to the different classes.

Let's say a student is enrolled in an English course - they go to that course on their TrackClass dashboard and then they have options that are easy to use and keep up with each day. They can enter assignments with the due date - there is also an easy feature for the student to record points possible and weight of the assignment if the teacher makes that info available. There is a nice help box on the side that actually explains what "points possible" means! It also defines "points scored" and "weight" - handy stuff!

Another option students have within each class is to enter upcoming exams - the entry looks just like the assignment entry - also with room for entering the points the student actually earned if they want to track this.

Here is a fantastic option within each class - a tab called "Notes". Here a student can take actual notes for any class on any day day and they are all kept filed away neatly in the student's dashboard! The Notes tab also works with Markdown - which means students can add links and html into their notes - students can create quite a rich source of class notes with this kind of capability!

Another tab available for each class is the Calendar. This calendar works as an individual calendar for each class, or will compile all classes into one calendar. Best of all - the calendar can be subscribed to by iCal or GoogleCalendar - both of which are easy and available to all of our students!

The final tab is called "Files". This tab allows students to upload literally any kind or type of files from their computer - jpg, PDF, WordDocs, anything at all. So anytime a teacher wants a student to note a particular document for homework or study or in class work they might email it or tell the student where to find it and voila - the student can put it in it's proper place in their class dashboard!

TrackClass is a deceptively simple tool that really has a lot of power! Students could really increase their productivity, not to mention their confidence by having access to a tool like this that can go to work for them.

TrackClass is worth a good look for incorporating for next year's planners.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

GoogleForms - a beginning

By now, some of you may be familiar with GoogleDocs. Very simply, GoogleDocs is a web-based word processor. If you sign up for a simple Google account (same thing as a Gmail account) you can create as many GoogleDocs as your heart desires! There are the obvious benefits of a web-based word processor, such as being able to access your documents anywhere and any time. But GoogleDocs has some added benefits, such as being able to share your documents with others, and best of all - collaborating on the same document in real time. If you can use MicroSoft Word, you can use GoogleDocs - it's even easier than Word.

Part of GoogleDocs is something called GoogleForms. There are many, many uses for GoogleForms, but for the purposes of this post, I'll begin with a useful one teachers will like - making on-line tests. There are lots of ways to custom create your own tests on GoogleForms, but the simplest way is to just create a form from Google's custom template.

Here is an example of how I created one of these for a French Test I gave today. I went into my GoogleDocs, then clicked New>Form. The template opened up, and since my test was all short answer, I chose the "text" option for all of my questions. You can also choose paragraph text, multiple choice, check boxes, choose from a list or a scale.

It was easy to enter my test title, my test directions, and then just enter the questions or problems for the test.

Here was the best part - I had two options for how to use this test - both great. I could email the test to my students, or embed it in my class blog or wiki. I've embedded part of the test in this blog so that you can see what it looks like. My students entered their answers on the computer, and submitted them to me. I received their responses on the form immediately!

The benefits of this? I have one student who is away on a trip - she can take the test while she is gone (under the supervision of her chaperone). This benefit applies to any time I have students absent on test days - easy to make special arrangements this way! I don't have to make paper copies of the test and I have a permanent record of the test. I can easily monitor the integrity of the test-takers in my room via Network Observer, or walking around and looking over shoulders. And dare I mention - students who don't have access to a computer can take the test on their cell phone if it has internet access!

Here is a sample of part of the test I gave today - it gave me an embed code for blogs and wikis that I just pasted in here (I put it on the class wiki for my students). Students can type their answers in the blanks, scroll down to the end and "submit" - voila! I have their test!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Handbook revision time? Check your cell phone policy

Like many schools in our district and everywhere, we have begun the process of reviewing our student handbook. Every year it seems there are some items we are constantly trying to fix - attendance and tardies - always looking for the perfect answer. There are also some items we see change slightly year after year in the dress code - we used to ban flip flops, but no longer do. This year will see the disappearance of the ban on "pajama" pants. Odd but unremarkable changes in teen fashion are easy things to make adjustments for. But one item always remains on the "ban" list right along with gum and hats - that is the evil cell phone.

However, this year we may be tossing the cellphones into a different category than their usual company of hats and gum. This year, we may actually be regarding cellphones as (wait for it...) computers! As such, we may be thinking that perhaps something more along the lines of an acceptable use policy such as we have for our laptops may be a more appropriate guideline for dealing with these little nuisances.

Now before you go thinking we have turned the asylum over to the inmates, just be prepared to check a few items out. More and more we are seeing items in not just educational news, but in the "mainstream" news as well about new and innovative ways cellphones are being used in classrooms.

Any adult who owns a cellphone has some idea of the computing power they have in their pocket. Most adults will freely admit that they don't even know how to harness all of the power available to them on their phones.

Consider this - today's typical cellphone is far more powerful than personal computers were even 10 years ago. They are much cheaper, and the majority of our students already own one. Even teaching students how to use the applications that are currently on their phones could go a long way toward teaching them about productivity and making digital tools work for them. But beyond that, there are now literally hundreds of potential uses for cell phones in education.

I'll leave you here with several items to consider - the first and most important is a sample of an acceptable use policy for cell phones. Even if you still consider them a distraction, there is no denying their power - and it's time for them to take their rightful place among the company of computers - not hats, and not gum.

The other items I'll give you are several of the best articles and blog posts I have read over the past year that really bring the cellphone-in-schools phenomenon into perspective.

*Innovative ways cell phones are being used in classrooms
*The cell phone industry (of course!) reminding us how powerful and useful cell phones are as a learning tool.
*8 ways to use camera phones in class.
*Instead of looking for ways to buy those fancy expensive clickers to go with your fancy expensive SmartBoard, use cellphones this way (TextTheMob) and this way (udefn). And also like this (GeoGraffiti) and this (Wiffiti). Same effect, less money (as in zero).

Don't even get me started on using cellphones for GoogleDocs and GoogleForms, text novels, reading books on the phone, and polling students.

This is certainly not to say that cell phones have a place in every class all the time. However, I do believe there is an "acceptable use" of cellphones in school - rather than denying their existence by banning them, we would do well to teach our students the power of their cell phone, and that that power goes far beyond texting their friends who are sitting across the room from them.

*Flickr photo by iBjorn
*Flickr photo by Absolut Leigh

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Earth Day - in case you still haven't used any online sites...

A couple of days ago I listed 9 good sites to use for studying about issues associated with Earth Day. If you haven't had a chance to look at those yet, there is still time. As everything I post on EdTechSec, they are all easy to use and it takes just a second to begin using them.

From David Warlick's blog, 2¢ Worth, I looked at two more great Earth Day online learning games that are quick, free, and easy and engaging for kids.

The first is Elf Island. Elf Island is aimed at "tweens", which in game language could mean any kids from 2nd grade to 12th grade would stand a good chance of liking it. Registration is quick and painless, and kids under 12 must use their parent's email address. Absolutely NO personal information is given or exchanged in the game so it is very secure. The idea behind the virtual world of Elf Island is to empower kids to do good. Through entertaining and competitive gameplay, storytelling and social interaction, Elf Island players help non-profit partners achieve their goals on real projects. The more kids are Gaming for Good within Elf Island, the more Elf Island is revealed. Elf Island also recognizes and rewards kids who practice Good in the world through status and awards.

The second game is Emerald Island. Again, just a quick registration which consists of a username (no real name on either of these), an email address, and that's it - ready to play. Emerald Island is for younger students, or intermediate students who may struggle with reading. Students have to "create" their avatar/character, and then they find themselves on the Pirats (yes, that's pi"rats") ship. The Pirats quickly kick the player off the ship and you soon find yourself washed up on Emerald Island, the last green island around. The next few minutes are spent orienting the player to Emerald Island, then you can engage in all kinds of games and activities while you get to know the island and your neighbors. Most of the activities are "green" and involve motivation to keep Emerald Island green.

Both of these games are easy for students to jump right into, and manage to work in lots of educational eco-information in a realistic and thoughtful way.

These fun games can make a great addition to Earth Day activities.

The 3rd grade class at Tok School will be hosting an Earth Day celebration from 1:00pm to 1:30pm on Wednesday, April 22. The students will be making some healthy snacks to share, showing off some of the Earth Day crafts they have made (pencil holders, bird feeders, personalized pet food scoopers, and jewelry - all made from re-used materials that otherwise would have ended up in the landfill). The 3rd graders will also be available to show some of the other elementary students some of the fun Earth Day online games and activities they have learned how to use during the past week.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Quick Geography Quizes and Skillbuilders

In the past when I've taught World Geography, one of the things I do daily is a map quiz. I've done these in a lot of different ways, from quizzing on major countries, to bodies of water, to islands, to major landforms. I did these for years because the positive side of these daily quizes was the quick familiarization that my classes get with the globe - knowing where something is in relation to something else ceases to be a barrier to learning about the geography of a place. The downside was the actual physical work of these quizes for me - creating the lists, printing them out, printing the maps, correcting them, returning them. Although they are quick, it was still an extra 15 minutes each day on average to do the administrative work that went with these quizes.

There are two web-based geography "games" I am particularly enamored with right now that address this very skill in a quick, yet challenging and fun way. I am looking forward to using both the next time I teach World Geography.

The first is called Find Country. Find Country will really challenge those who have a pretty good idea about the geography of the world, because the biggest challenge to the game is the absence of political boundary lines on the world map. It is a little frustrating, because it may name some obscure (to me anyway) country in Africa - I know approximately where it is, and click on a wide-open map of Africa. I get the question wrong and am literally millimeters away from the correct country. The good part is I get the instant feedback which shows me how close I really was. The bad part is I get no points for being just "close". Find Country is very challenging and the feedback is instant.

The second one I am getting quite addicted to is the Traveler IQ Challenge. In this game, you can select the whole globe or just parts. Your challenges may vary from famous places, to capital cities, to obscure cities, to landforms, or whatever. Any geography question goes in this game and the levels increase in difficulty. The best part about Traveler IQ Challenge is that you DO get points for being close. It will list a location, you click on the map, and it tells you where the actual location is and how close you were in kilometers. You get more points for being close so you can play longer. The game changes constantly so the chances of you getting the exact same questions is very low.

Both of these are great interactives for junior high and high school students who need some quick daily geography practice. There is no sign-in or registration, and both are very self-explanatory. Students can literally go to the sites and begin play. I have no question that these games can easily do as much or more for building a good general geography knowledge than my work intensive quizes ever could.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Learn about Earth Day through online activities

Earth Day is coming up - April 22 is the date to celebrate! Until then, you can spend a little or a lot of classroom time teaching your students about the history of Earth Day, about recycling, renewable and non-renewable resources, carbon foot prints and all kinds of exciting stuff!

There are a million good educational sites about Earth Day - a simple search will turn up more pages than you would ever care to look at. So for the purposes of this post, and in keeping with the theme of "EdTechSec", I have narrowed the list down to 9 that span all grades, require NO registration or sign up, have been widely reviewed as being high quality, and are EASY teaching tools that students can sit right down and use.

For young beginning readers, Starfall has a great reading activity on their site called "Every day is Earth Day". It is in Starfall's typical format, and kids can use the site themselves to navigate through a story about Earth Day while also learning how to pronounce key words - this is a great independent activity for young kids, and very informative as well.

No Earth Day study is complete without figuring out our "footprint". There are lots of calculators out there, but this one for kids called Zerofootprint is the easiest and most user friendly. Most elementary students can use it unassisted.

For intermediate and junior high grades, Scholastic News has some great (and good reading level) articles about Earth Day, and what kinds of activities and community projects kids are doing in different places around the U.S. to make this day meaningful. These are great independent online readings kids can do as a tie-in to classroom activities.

For older students, the History Channel has a nice page with videos, a section called "What Can I Do" for ideas about how people can get active about conservation, and a tool (more appropriate for older students) for how to calculate your "footprint". There is also a downloadable podcast that kids could listen to (for homework??).

One of my favorites in this list - Starbucks Coffee is hosting a cool site called the "Planet Green Game". This is a pretty neat simulation in which the player must explore a fictitious town called Evergreen to look for ways to reduce CO2 emissions. It's a really engaging game that kids in intermediate grades through high school would really like. There are lots of challenges along the way to help the player earn points. The point of the game is to promote the idea of looking beyond traditional ways of doing business to reduce our impact on the planet. No registration, just click on the link and start playing!

Of course PBS Kids has their EekoWorld site replete with games, videos, and activities that are appropriate for all elementary students. Lots of good information and activities on recycling, air, and water quality that kids can understand. Kids can easily navigate this site.

Another online educational standard - Scholastic - has a neat game called "Virtual Forest Challenge". It takes kids through a typical kid day, where they are called upon to constantly make choices about how their actions will affect the environment. At the end of the game, they can see their score which identifies how much positive or negative impact they had on the environment in a typical day. Great for elementary kids - no registration, just play - very user-friendly.

One more great interactive for older students is a site called Consumer Consequences. The premise is that the earth couldn't support all its residents if everyone lived like a typical American. The activity will give the player an idea of how many planets it would take to support our lifestyle on a planetary scale, and ideas about how to make our footprint a little smaller.

Planet Pals hosts a site aimed at elementary students (and their teachers and parents) that is packed full of information, lesson ideas, activities for home and school, and games. It's all educational, simple to access, and kid friendly!

Finally, a site that is just dedicated to Earth Day arts and crafts - there are a wealth of ideas on here for some easy "recyclable" crafts that bring home the idea of Earth Day. A wide range of ages would enjoy these, and none look difficult. I am especially intrigued by the dog food scooper made out of a laundry detergent bottle!

Monday, April 13, 2009

International Migratory Bird Day

International Migratory Bird Day is coming soon so mark your calendars and start planning your lessons with an eye to this great educational event! Officially IMBD takes place the second Saturday in May - however, it is recognized that that date doesn't always work well for organizations wanting to plan celebrations around the event. Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge is hosting their Migratory Bird Festival in celebration of the even on the 3rd Saturday in May - the 16th, in Tok.

So far their website doesn't offer any specific information on the project, however, Kay Lynn Odle-Moore and Mary Timm have emailed fliers and offers of their assistance with educational activities for the Bird Festival. You can contact either of them by email - just type their first name, underscore, last name @fws.gov (I'm "coding" their email addresses so they won't get spammed).

You can find out more about IMBD at birdday.org. This great IMBD site offers a lot of resources for educators - lesson plans, art projects, and great links to sites like BirdIQ for virtual field trips. You can also order some teaching resources and very reasonably priced merchandise from their site. I couldn't resist ordering this t-shirt with fantastic artwork for only $12.95.

If you are looking for online resources to use in your classroom, you won't be able to find much better than the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" website. You can search out information about any bird you can think of - and many you never knew about. Information is complete with pictures, tons of information, some video, and a great feature right on the site - mp3 audio files of the bird song! It's a very user-friendly site for kids as well. Another cool feature of this site is eBird - which is where birders - even amateurs - can submit their pictures, data, and observations! It's like the Wikipedia of birding!

So mark your calendars, contact these educators at TNWR, and check out these sites for a great science and social studies educational opportunity right here in our area that your students can look forward to and participate in!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Another step with RSS - "Readers"

Hopefully you are not ready to kill me yet - but today I'm going to talk a little more about RSS. In yesterday's post I told you about subscribing to RSS feeds in Firefox and putting them in a live bookmarks folder on your toolbar would save you a lot of time. Hopefully you are already beginning to explore some of these possibilities or have plans to do so soon.

So if I've already told you about how to subscribe to RSS feeds, why would you need an RSS reader? Well, a reader is handy for a couple of reasons - some people like having all their feeds from all of their publications together in one handy place. For Safari users, this is probably your easiest option for RSS feeds. I think the best reason is because readers are web-based. Part of the same reasons that Delicious and Diigo are great bookmarking sites are the exact same reasons RSS readers are...no matter what computer (or iPod, or iTouch, or Blackberry or any kind of smartphone device) you are on, you can always have access to your RSS feeds.

A reader is just an aggregator that "collects" the headlines and news feeds you subscribe to all in one place. Different readers have different benefits, so you'll have to decide which one has features (or look) you like best. For the purposes of this discussion, I'm only going to discuss web-based RSS readers - because the point is "portability".

I use GoogleReader, and I'll shamelessly plug Google here - it is a simple reader and if you already have a gmail account you already have access to it. However, there are other very good (web-based) readers, such as My Yahoo, and Bloglines.

Once you have set up your reader account - usually a quick and simple affair - you subscribe exactly the same way I told you in yesterday's post. If you are in Firefox, you can hit the button in the browser bar, and if you are in Safari, look for their RSS "chicklet" near the top or side of the page where "subscribe" information is. In Firefox, when you hit the little RSS button you get a new screen that looks like this;
And in Safari, when you hit the RSS button you want to get to one that looks something like this;

In Firefox, click that button that says "subscribe to this feed using" and you'll get a menu pop up that looks like the picture below. So if you are using the Bloglines reader, you would click that, the My Yahoo reader - click that, or the Google reader, click that - pretty simple. Next you'll be taken to a page where you just confirm you are adding the feed to that selected reader. Then it's done - very easy.
Same with the Safari pop-up menu - choose your reader and it's all done!

If you were going to put this blog, EdTechSec, into a reader - for Firefox users, just click on the blue RSS chicklet in the browser bar and go from there. Or for Firefox AND Safari users, just click the "Posts" chicklet on the top right hand column of this blog and you can do the same thing. Now EdTechSec will be in your reader.

Now, you can stay on top of your reading anytime any where, any computer - you can login to your reader, and there are all your feeds, all cozy together in one place!

Classroom Connection - If you use any online publications regularly in your classroom or would like to - such as news magazines, or any kind of regularly published kids magazines - have your students set up an RSS reader and have them subscribe to the feeds you want them to have. This makes it easy to assign regular readings from the publications or just have them handy for the students to look up. My French students each have Google readers and have 6 subscriptions to French news and entertainment publications that I want them to have for class. They also use the readers to subscribe to publications of their personal choosing - I don't care, as long as they have the publications I have required feeding in! Huge timesaver in terms of classroom management and materials management for you and your classes!

Monday, April 6, 2009

How many blogs and other publications do you read? Do you RSS?

How many blogs, online newspapers or magazines, or other online publications do you follow? How many would you LIKE to follow, if it didn't take much time and was easy to do?

I read (scan is more like it) around 30 educational and edtech blogs, about 5 educational news publications, and 5 regular online news publications. I don't read the whole things, and I don't always check them every day. They are all so good I hate to think I might miss anything in them, so I subscribe to their RSS feeds to make sure I can scan quickly to see if there is anything pressing I really need to read.

IF, at this point, you are saying "What is an RSS feed?" welcome to this discussion which will show you how easy this is. If you are saying, "I have RSS feeds", then please check back in tomorrow and maybe I'll have something new for you!

RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication. Knowing what it stands for doesn't help our understanding, so just forget that and remember "RSS". If you are reading any online publication that you enjoy, and in your browser bar you see this symbol;

then you can easily subscribe to that publication. Subscribing to their RSS feed simply means you can check their headlines whenever you want. They won't email you (you don't even give an email, a name, or sign in or up or anything), you don't pay, you won't get junk mail, and it takes about 5 seconds to subscribe.

I'll explain how I do this, because for me this is the easiest way to keep my publications in sight so that I remember to check my feeds.

First - I set up a folder right in my bookmarks toolbar (in Firefox) - just go to "bookmarks" and create a new folder right in the bookmarks toolbar menu - you can put it anywhere, but for me, keeping it in my bookmarks toolbar means it's right in front of my face. For starters, just name it "RSS Feeds". Later you may want to make several folders, depending on your reading habits - one for regular news, one for educational news, one for blogs, etc. The possibilities are probably endless.

Anyhow, lets start out with something simple - Education Week is a good publication that covers a lot of topics that are current in education. When you go to their site, you will notice that their browser window looks like this;

That little blue box at the end is their RSS feed button. This is the very most simple way to subscribe to a feed. Simply click that button. You will immediately get a little pop-up menu with a couple of items - usually they say "Subscribe to RSS", and "Add RSS as a live bookmark in Delicious". We learned a little about Delicious yesterday, but today we are just talking about very simple RSS - so as long as you are going to be storing it in that folder you made in your bookmarks toolbar, just click the option that says "Subscribe to RSS" (sometimes it will say "Subscribe to RSS 2.0"- also a good choice).

So, as soon as you choose the "Subscribe to RSS" option, a new page will immediately load, and at the top you will see this;

The folder you have created in your bookmarks toolbar is a "live bookmark", so you don't need to change this option. Just click the "Subscribe now" button. As soon as you do, this little window will pop up;

The blue highlighted portion is the title of the publication - it is highlighted because if you want to change it to a shortened form that is easier for you, this is where you can - you can also change it later in your bookmarks folder when you organize them. Underneath the name, is the part where you select your folder where you are putting this feed - in this case it will be the new folder you created in your bookmarks toolbar - so click that folder, then click the blue "add" button.

That's it! Now, when you click on that folder you created in your bookmarks tool bar called "RSS Feeds" or whatever you named it, you will see Education Week - when you roll your cursor over it, a list of the latest headline "feeds" will pop up with the latest at the top. You can now quickly peruse the headlines and click on the one that interests you - it will immediately take you to that specific article or post. How much easier could this be? You can put a lot of RSS subscriptions in your folder - I have 30 in my "EdBlogs RSS" folder alone and have room for more!

With my RSS feeds organized this way, I can very quickly scroll through all of the headlines of my favorite publications and pick and choose what I want to read (usually based on how much time I have available).

If you are new to this, here are some good "starter" feeds for your educational reading pleasure!
Edutopia, Alaska Education, and of course a very good blog I know of called EdTechSec (by now you may have noticed that little blue RSS button in the browser bar!).