We want to build on our first attempts to have students use Google Reader to do research for their blog posts

In Spring 2007 a few teachers -- especially Paul Allison, Susan Ettenheim, and Chris Sloan -- started having their students use Google Reader in the classroom as part of a more general blogging project connected to Youth Voices. Paul, Susan, and Chris found that students' posts were often more compelling when they "introduced, inserted, and interpreted" quotations from other sources, especially blogs and news sources that their students found by searching Google Blog Search and Google News. Paul also had students quote from podcasts, albeit ones that he had selected for them and with no particular topic or question in mind.

Examples where adding multiple voices from multiple sources enlivened the students' blog posts


Two main habits and several other understandings that we want students to develop while using Google Reader

  1. Students will use Google Reader to collect and read online sources about self-directed inquiries.
  2. Students will include voices from the sources they collect in Google Reader when they post on their blogs.
    Understandings:
    • Students will begin to use common "texts" with students in their niche group of friends or "elgg communities" using the Google Reader Share function.
    • Students will assess their own reading habits, using the Google Reader Trends function.
    • Students will understand the differences between blogs, news sources, articles, peer-reviewed journals, videos, and podcasts.
    • Students will distinguish between the RSS-resources (listed above) from web sites, wikipedia and other online encyclopedias and information sources.
    • Students will evaluate these sources.

Try five tools that give us RSS feeds for keyword searches in blogs, news sources, videos, podcasts, articles, and journals

Since it's easier to use these tools than it is to explain how they work, please take a moment to try them out.
  1. Open your Google Reader. You'll need a Google Account if you don't have one yet.
  2. Choose a keyword, something that your students might want to research, for example: "Relationships" You will use this keyword to find blogs, news sources, podcasts, and articles. In the next steps we are going to set up "rivers" of information in your Google Reader that will constantly update. Clearly, setting up a reader is just the beginning of a reading/writing process. Bloggers also have to select from these rivers, then read (and understand) these sources before using quotations from them in their blog posts.
  3. Start by setting up a feed that will collect all the posts in which the bloggers use your keyword: Google Blog Search
    • Once you get to the results page, find the Subscribe box in the left column, and right-click on the RSS link.
    • Copy Link Location or Source, and go to your Google Reader.
    • In Google Reader, click the Add subscription button, then paste the feed from Google Blog Search into the box, and click Add.
    • Go to Add to a folder... / New folder... and make a folder with the name of your keyword (in this example, "relationships").
    • Repeat the last step: Go to Add to a folder... / New folder... and make another folder to collect this media (in this case, "blogs").
    • This way your Google Blog Search river will be in two folders: "blogs" and "relationships".
  4. Do the same thing with Google News. This service will search and browse over 4,500 news sources, looking for your keyword (relationships). The RSS feed from that search will bring those articles into your Google Reader.
    • Once you get to the results page, find the Subscribe box in the left column, and right-click on the RSS link.
    • Copy Link Location or Source, and go to your Google Reader.
    • In Google Reader, click the Add subscription button, then paste the feed from Google News into the box, and click Add.
    • Go to Add to a folder... and click your keyword (in this example, "relationships").
    • Go back a second time to Add to a folder..., and this time click New folder... Make another folder to collect this media (in this case, "news").
    • This way your Google News river will be in two folders: "news" and "relationships".
  5. The next step might be to find articles from magazines and peer-reviewed journals. Although local librarians can help point us to databases in the Deep Web that are available to our students, Look Smart's Find Articles is another source to find more extended, scholarly articles.
    • Put your keyword (relationships) into the left box and choose free articles only in the right box, then click the Look button.
    • Find the RSS alert link at the bottom of the first page of results, and right-click on that link.
    • Copy Link Location or Source, and go to your Google Reader.
    • In Google Reader, click the Add subscription button, then paste the feed from Find Articles into the box, and click Add.
    • Go to Add to a folder... and click your keyword (in this example, "relationships").
    • Go back a second time to Add to a folder..., and this time click New folder... Make another folder to collect this media (in this case, "articles").
    • This way your Find Articles river will be in two folders: "articles" and "relationships".
  6. That's not all! We can do the same thing with podcasts as well! (Actually Everyzing also searches video, but since much of it isreaderleft.jpg YouTube, which is blocked in many schools -- and there's an organizational advantage to focusing on audio only -- this example suggests that you only search for podcasts). So please browse over to Everyzing .
    • Choose the Audio button, put your keyword (relationships) into the box, then Zing It!
    • Click the RSS link at the top right corner of the results. (Notice that you do not copy this link this time.)
    • Copy the long link under these instructions: "You can subscribe to this RSS feed by copying the following internet address into your RSS reader:"
    • In Google Reader, click the Add subscription button, then paste the feed from Everyzing into the box, and click Add.
    • Go to Add to a folder... and click your keyword (in this example, "relationships").
    • Go back a second time to Add to a folder..., and this time click New folder... Make another folder to collect this media (in this case, "podcasts").
    • This way your podcast river from Everyzing will be in two folders: "podcasts" and "relationships".
  7. One more source that has recently become available is to get updates from a microblog called Twitter. You can have Tweet Scan or Summize search for and gather any post on Twitter that uses your keyword.
    • Once you browse to Tweet Scan or Summize, put your keyword (in this example, "relationships") into the search box, and click Search.
    • Now you should see a list of recent "tweets" that include your keyword.
    • Right-click on the RSS link.
    • Copy Link Location or Source, and go to your Google Reader.
    • In Google Reader, click the Add subscription button, then paste the feed from Google News into the box, and click Add.
    • Go to Add to a folder... and click your keyword (in this example, "relationships").
    • Go back a second time to Add to a folder..., and this time click New folder... Make another folder to collect this media (in this case, "microblogs").

What's next?

Now you should see a folder that says relationships. When you click on that word all the "rivers" of articles, blogs, news items, and podcasts that you have stocked are ready for you. Keep in mind that even when you step away from your computer these rivers continue to get re-stocked with new media about your topic. How do you organize these streams of constantly renewed information? Take a look at how to use Starred items and Shared items. As you begin using your reader you might want to check your reading Trends. And as this post suggests, the Next tool is a very useful.

How can we organize this in a curriculum for students?

What comes first? How do we do this while also helping students start with their own questions and experiences?