Giving students a choice over reading material can promote lifelong literacy & increases engagement. During the past 4 school years my 4th graders have been engrossed with Harry Potter, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Garfield & BMX Plus magazine, just to name a few. Kids, like adults, have a variety of interests and therefore choose lots of different literature. I feel that my job is to allow students to pursue their passions while encouraging balance & modeling/reinforcing skills. When looking for RSS feeds of internet content for students to consume I used the following criteria:
- Interesting to students (otherwise they won't click on it!)
- Appropriate for kids (duh)
- Relevant to learning, creativity or other good stuff :)
This really is a similar lens with which I would look through to evaluate any website, tool or app. I naturally looked to my 4th grade website for content providers we already visit throughout the year.
I was also interested in finding content which:
- Informed students & encouraged engagement with current events.
- Covered their interests- sports, kid culture, hobbies, etc.
- Written/produced by other students
So here we go, my picks...
Scholastic News Online (feed link)
Weekly Reader (feed link)
The Week in Rap (videos) (feed link) One of my favorite websites! Sometimes content is geared for older students, however, so teacher preview may be necessary.
CNN Student News (videos) (feed link)
Interesting News/Magazine Style-Big world issues are not covered here.
Tween Tribune (feed link)
Dogo News (feed link)
National Geographic News Bites (feed link)
Ripley's Believe it or Not (daily cartoon) (feed link)
Ink Splot (feed link)
Sports Illustrated for Kids (several categories to choose from)
Dogo News Sports (feed link)
SI Kid Reporter Blogs (several)
SI Kids Radio (audio not playable directly on iPad web view, but you can subscribe in iTunes)
Other ways in which I am taking advantage of the convenience and flexibility of RSS is by having an "Our Stuff" page in our feed readers. This will pull in student blogs (one feed created using Yahoo Pipes), Flickr uploads, new class Posterous blog, etc. I also have a category for "Blogs we Follow" where I hope to list any class that we have connected with and will be commenting with. I plan to use my #4thchat PLN, #Comments4Kids & other networking tools to find elementary students from around the world who have a blog that would be worthwhile to read & comment on. Another category of RSS reading that could be added is Comics. I chose to add a direct link in the Graphic Lit folder on my iPad for selected comics from GoComics.com after having some technical difficulty with their RSS feed.
While I still feel there is room to add to this list & was disappointed in some websites which don't offer an RSS feed of updated content (Young Zine, Meet the Greens), I am confident that RSS will be providing awesome learning opportunities for my students next year. Whether browsing from the Pulse app on the iPad or viewing the feeds online from our class blog or iGoogle homepage these links should give students some great choices of updated reading material, enrich many lessons, make our classroom more globally connected & provide 21st Century literacy skill practice.
What other elementary level content providers offer an RSS feed? How are you planning on using RSS in your classroom next year? Is RSS here to stay, or will flash-based content and other web developments be a barrier in the future? As always, your feedback & insight using any platform is welcome... comment below, Twitter, etc.