Monday, December 7, 2009

Things 6 & 7: Creating Websites, RSS Feeds and News Readers

We've just about made it 1/3 of the way! Yahoo. Congratulate yourself on coming this far. Now let's keep going! We'll be learning how to create your very own website using either or, and then you'll learn how RSS feeds and News Readers can help you stay up-to-date with your favorite websites, blogs and online newspapers.

Thing 6: Creating Websites

Having a website of your very own used to be the stuff of dreams, but now it's become a reality. Creating a multi-paged website used to require familiarity with Dreamweaver or Microsoft FrontPage, in addition to having an FTP program to upload HTML files, plus purchasing a domain name and server space. Have I lost you? Do you have any idea what I'm talking about? Who cares! It doesn't matter anymore, because all you need now is access to the Internet and some content you'd like on the web. You don't even need to be creative because these tools do the design for you! Ahh, web design for the armchair techie. You'll have the choice of using two different website creation tools: Weebly or Yola.

Watch the following video, which describes how to use (and why, as a teacher, you might want to have a website):

You can use websites to do so many different things. Check out Christine Stiel's Creative Writing class website, created using See how she has created multiple pages for each project? Or you could have each page be a separate class. You could even have students create websites as a culminating project. Here and here are examples of final products created by my husband's social studies classes (password: mcculture).

To complete this Thing, you will choose either Weebly or Yola, sign up for an account, and create a multi-paged website. It can be simple, without a lot of content, but it should at least have a structure. It can be professional or personal. Once you've published your site, post the link to your new website in your Thing 6 blog post.

To complete Thing 6:
  • Create a MULTI-PAGED website using Weebly or Yola
  • Write a blog post reflecting on your experience creating your website. Was it easy? Difficult? Will you actually use this website, or will you create another? How could you incorporate website creation into your professional or personal life?
  • Post the URL (web address) of your new website

Thing 7: RSS Feeds & News Readers
There are a lot of websites out there, and most of us have certain websites that we check regularly. Now that we are all "following" different colleagues' blogs, we have even more websites to check. What if you could check for updates of all your favorite blogs, online newspapers and other regularly-updated sites by visiting one simple page? That's the beauty of RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication. You may have noticed that some of your favorite websites have little orange icons that look like this:

This orange RSS icon lets you know that you can subscribe to the website using a news reader such as Google Reader or Bloglines. You simply have to create an account with one of these news readers and then start adding websites that have RSS feeds. Watch this Common Craft video to learn more about RSS feeds and Google Reader:

Your job for Thing 7 is to sign up for either a Google Reader or Bloglines account, add the blogs of the colleagues you're following, plus at least 3 other blogs, online newspapers, or websites to your reader. Chances are, some of the websites you already visit a lot have RSS feeds available! Post about your experiences with Google Reader or Bloglines, if you think you would use it, and how you could use it professionally.

Here are some education-related sites with RSS feeds to get you started:

And here are some award-winning blogs from people in the field:

So, to complete Thing 7:

  • Sign up for Google Reader or Bloglines
  • Add the blogs of the colleagues you're following to your new reader account
  • Add at least 3 other blogs, online newspapers, or websites
  • Write a post reflecting on your experience with RSS feeds and news readers

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