Monday, February 6, 2012

RSS Reflection Post

After joining this course, CEP 810, I had to start using an RSS reader.  I had seen the little RSS buttons on many occasions but never really knew what they were.  Now I do!

If you look down at an earlier posting, you can see a screenshot of when I first set up my reader and then a couple of days later.  You can already see that I had added some more feeds during those couple of days, including one from a classmate's blog. Her blog, "When you can't afford student loans...go back to school" has provided some interesting reading, especially since we are in the same course and learning some of the same things.  It has been nice seeing a different perspective on these things.  Also, I posted to her blog.  For some reason I could not comment, but I was able to make my comment into a post, "Trying to Comment".

Here you can see a screen shot of my reader today:

In it, you can see I have added a couple more feeds, and I also got rid of one.  The one I got rid of was a news channel.  I found it was just simply too overwhelming, too many posts and not well organized, and I felt like I needed to read through them all.  I decided to take control and unsubscribe.  I am happier going to the BBC and Mlive websites directly when I want to read the news and selecting the stories there that I want to read.  Another kind of overwhelming one is related to new books online.  However, this one I don't really want to remove but I did decide I will look at it only when I have free-time and am looking for reading material for myself.  I also could envision if I have students reading at a fairly decent level, I could use this to help me suggest books they can read on their smartphones on the train, etc.  On the other side, the TESOL blog has only had one posting since I joined, Weblogged has had none, and ITSE has a fairly low volume.  The ITSE ones tend to be pretty informative and basically academic articles rather than blog entries or discussion postings.

The ones related to Extensive Reading have been fairly active and give me the most directly useful stuff for my work outside this class right now.  One is primarily discussions between teachers using and/or wanting to know about ER.  I've already encountered a few useful ideas and a couple links.  The BeeOasis one is mostly short passages for reading.  This would be a better one for my students to be subscribed to as they can get daily readings sent directly to them, and I could see using this site in my teaching next semester.  While the TechLearning feed would seem to be a fairly useful one for me on the face of it, it actually has only yielded an occasional interesting or directly useful post for me personally, such as the one the other day on teaching the parts of speech.  Most of the posts, however, are not applicable to my context, and I just scroll through the summaries.

I have mentioned ways I might use some of this in my own learning in passing, but let me make those a bit more explicit.  The ER sites give me useful ideas, answers to questions, classroom resources, and a place to make connections with other professionals with similar interests and concerns.  A couple of others support my learning in this class.  As for using RSS feeds with my students, besides the above mentioned one designed specifically for English learners, I could also see a class blog where the students and I all subscribe to the feed and can make posts about the class.  Also, this could be a tool to motivate some students to read more, by getting them to subscribe to a feed or two in areas of interest to them so that they are getting reading they might find intriguing delivered regularly.

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