Farm'ers Market

Buried in blogs? Use web feeds to organize current information sources for the content area and grade level needs of you and your students.

Explore the ideas and resources in each of the following sections: The Basics, Aggregation Tools, Feed Creation Tools, Avalanche Applications, and Learn More.

The Basics


rss logoSyndicated Works - news, articles, blogs, audioblogs, podcasts, vlogs
Web Feed - an info format used to distribute frequently updated content to subscribers
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) - the most popular file format for web feeds
* RSS .91-.94 Rich Site Summary; RSS 2 Really Simple Syndication; Atom
Aggregator (feed reader) - a tool for managing and organizing a collection of web feeds (Desktop or Web-based)

go Activity 1:
Examine the following resources and feed pages. Notice how the feed information is presented. Think about whether this might be a useful feed to add to your feed reader. Or, consider how you might incorporate a web feed on your website.

Libray of Congress RSS Feed rss logo
Kansas City Public Library. rss logo RSS feed of Subject Guides
NASA Feeds rss logo
NPR Feeds rss logo
PBS RSS Feed rss logo
Radio Willowweb rss logo
San Diego Zoo rss logo Podcasts Feed
Science Blog rss logo
USA.GOV rss logo
USGS Feeds rss logo

Aggregation Tools

You need a tool that will aggregate the information from all your web feeds and present it in a usable form. These tools are called aggregators or web readers. Consider the following four options: computer-based readers, web browsers, web-based readers, or specialized aggreators.

Computer-based Readers

After downloading the software application and selecting your feeds, the software automatically downloads updated information that can be read online or offline on your computer.

Web Browsers

You can access your favorite feeds directly through the web browser on your computer. However like your bookmarks, they are only available on your computer.

Web-based Readers

After setting up an account, you can access your feeds through a personalized webpage that is accessible from any computer with Internet access. Consider creating one account for your use in teaching and another account for young people to use in learning.

Specialized Aggregators and Sharing Sites

If you are primarily interested in a particular media or the ability to share, consider specialized aggregators. For instance, iTunes is for audio and video feeds.

go Activity 2:
Explore our eduscapes bloglines account. Notice how folders are used to organize the feeds.
What folders would you create?
What RSS feeds would you add?
How could you use an aggregator with young people?

Feed Creation Tools

If you want to easily distribute your news to others, you need to create an RSS file. This file is then downloaded by others in their web aggregator. An RSS file contains static information about your site such as a title and description along with dynamic information about your site content. Once you've created your RSS file, you can register it with news aggregators so others can find it. You'll also place a link on your blog so people can subscribe. Many of the blog services automatically generate your RSS file. However you may need to create your own if you're serving your own blog software. Below you'll find links to help you use a feed creator service or write your own code.

Use a Feed Creator Service

Write Your Own Code

go Activity 3:
Explore examples of schools and classrooms with web feeds. Notice how they are using their web feeds in teaching and learning.
A Really Different Place rss logo (notice the teacher and student blogs and use of news feed)
Bradley and Mendoza's Class rss logo
Col. Mitchell Paige Middle School (Feeds - daily bulletin, principal, podcast)
Excellence and Imagination rss logo
Kellogg Middle School Library rss logo
Mabry Middle School
Marin Country Day School's Blog rss logo
Mr. Kuropatwa's Classes (Applied Math 40S - W07 , PreCalc 20S - F06, PreCalc 30S - F06, PreCal 40S - F06, W06, W07, APCalc AB - W07, Calc 45S - S06)
Sandaig Primary School rss logo
Marin Country Day School's Trout Blog rss logo
Tell the Ravin rss logo

Avalanche Applications: Ten Tips for Your Classroom

Energy by DKWeb feeds are a great way to provide constantly updated content for young people. Although your students might not read the newspaper each morning, they can still get a great dose of timely information through RSS feeds. Unlike bookmarks that involve wading through the content of individual websites, aggregators provide students with access to the latest information.

Look for ways to expand the resources you already have in your classroom. How do textbooks, tradebooks, real objects, maps, globes, live speakers, and hands-on experiments all contribute to learning? How can text, audio, and video resources on the web enhance the learning experience? For a lesson dealing with energy sources, you might use the book called Energy, the U.S. Department of Energy website, a streaming video from Australia Television called Peak Oil?, and RSS feeds from various sources such as BBC News-Energy, Earth and Sky, and Science Daily.

Ideas for Classroom Blogs and Websites

Think about incorporating web feeds directly into your blog or website content.

If you're too busy to collect and organize your own feeds, try some collaborative websites that are sharing their favorite resources and feeds:

Use the following directories to locate additional web feed for teaching and learning:

go Activity 4:
Explore the activity ideas and resources above.
Design a lesson integrating web feeds into a particular grade level and subject area. Then, identify the web feeds and develop a way for students to access these feeds.

Conclusion and Learn More

Why Web Feeds?

  1. You don't need to wade through a website to find the latest information.
  2. Large files such as podcasts can be downloaded in the background while you're doing something else.
  3. Aggregators notify you immediately of breaking news.
  4. You can store everything in one place and don't need to give out your personal information to each website.
  5. It's easy to remove or stop the feed.
  6. You can share a web-based aggregator with the entire class rather than messing with web pages or book marks.

Read Web Feeds Delivered to Your Digital Doorstep by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson (Teacher Librarian, June 2007).

Use the following resources to learn more about RSS and using aggregators to handle information overload in your classroom.

RSS in Teaching and Learning

General RSS

Blogs about RSS

Developed by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 6/07.