*Share your own uses of RSS or other great examples here: --RSS etc. Ideas to Share

rss.jpg What is RSS?

RSS stands for "Rich Site Summary" or "Real Simple Syndication."

Wikipedia defines RSS as "a family of Web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content including, but not limited to, blog entries, news headlines, and podcasts. An RSS document (which is called a "feed" or "web feed" or "channel") contains either a summary of content from an associated web site or the full text. RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with their favorite web sites in an automated manner that can be piped into special programs or filtered displays."

RSS feeds and feed readers may be some of the most important tools school library media specialists can employ to help manage and distribute information--and to help teachers and students, too!

What is a news feed?
RSS feeds are often called news feeds or web feeds.

What is an aggregator or reader?
RSS feeds are generated in code, and it takes a reader or aggregator to collect the feeds and make them useful to you by publishing them in one place. "Such applications are also referred to as RSS readers, feed readers, feed aggregators, news readers or search aggregators. Aggregators with podcasting capabilities can automatically download media files, such as MP3 recordings." (Wikipedia) With a newsreader or aggregator, you can subscribe to RSS feeds and then go to your aggregator to see what's new.

Here's a short movie that helps to explain RSS:

RSS in Plain English

Here's another video that explains RSS and how to use it

How do I find RSS feeds?

One of the most common symbols for an RSS feed is an orange icon that looks like this: 150px-Feed-icon.svg.png You can often find this next to the URL in the location box on your browser or in one of the sidebars on a web page. Most often if you click on that icon, you'll get directions for subscribing. You may also see something like this: 39.gif

Many web pages have RSS feeds available. So do most electronic journals, online databases, e-newsletters, newspapers, photosharing sites, wikis, social bookmarking tools, podcasts, online calendars and task management tools, online communities and threaded-discussions. Most blogs have an RSS feed. (Even if it isn't easily identified, try entering the URL of the blog in your reader. If there is a feed, it may recognize it.)

You can also search for RSS feeds with Technorati. You can create a feed for any search that you do at Technorati often, so the updated results will come to you automatically. check RssFeeds.com , or use the RSS Feeds Directory .

Topix.net will help you locate recent newsfeed items based upon keyword or phrase searching. The tool focuses specifically on news and media outlets RSS feeds for information, not weblogs and Syndic8.comis an open directory of RSS feeds that contains thousands of RSS feeds that users have submitted. Feedster lets you search for feeds in three categories: news, blogs & podcasts.

There is an Education Feeds Directory and a subset, Library RSS Feeds which includes feeds from the Library of Congress. There is a specialized blog, RSS4Lib, with its own feed, of course!

Sometimes organizations have many different feeds to which you can subscribe, for example, the New York Times has dozens of feeds. That way you can subscribe to just the education section, movie news, travel news, health news, or home & garden news. Many feeds have sub-categories. For example, you can subscribe to world news or more specifically to news from Africa, Asia, etc.

You might also consult this List of Blog Directories & RSS Submission Sites to find RSS Feed Directories that will provide you with an unlimited supply of RSS feeds.

Aggregators and Readers

There are three basic kinds of readers: Web-based readers that you access RSS feeds through your web browser, standalone readers that require separate, standalone software; and customizable webpages that let you add widgets for RSS feeds to your own pages.

The Firefox browser has several extensions available to read RSS feeds. Safari (Mac & PC) can also be configured to read RSS feeds. Some email clients--like Thunderbird--also will provide a way to subscribe to feeds and bring the news to you!

Here are some popular RSS aggregators (feed readers) in each category.

five.jpgFive to Test Drive

Web-Based RSS Readers
Standalone RSS Readers
Customizable page generators that will integrate and display RSS feeds

more.jpgMore to Explore

  • You can find dozens and dozens of feed readers of all kinds at NewsOnFeeds.com. You're sure to find one that's just right for you.
  • The Open Directory Project also has a nifty list of readers by platform and category.
  • Alltop is a different kind of aggregator in that they select the feeds for you and list them by category. You'll find RSS feeds in many different categories and sub-categories. You can quickly see the latest headlines in any category from some of the best blogs and newsfeeds. There is an education category: Alltop Education. You can read most of the related article without ever leaving the Alltop page! Just hover your cursor over the headline.
  • MyRSSReader is similar to Alltop, but simpler in design. There over predefined RSS feeds in 23 categories
  • Kinja is kind of a cross between something like PageFlakes and Alltop--sort of a social bookmarking site for feeds. When you create a Kinja account, you can make your own digest, or "mix" by adding sites that you discover while searching and browsing Kinja "cards" or suggested sites in many different categories--or you can search for a topic. When you find an interesting site, you simply add it to your mix, along with "tags" to categorize it. This allows you to create your own mix of topics that may be shared with others, like Kinja's topics, or kept private.
  • Fav.or.it is something new. It alows you to aggregate content like a newsreader but also allows you to post comments, all without leaving its site.
  • Tabbloid. "is a simple Web 2.0 application that allows you to submit a set of RSS feeds along with an email address, and then have sent to you a newsletter via email that aggregates together all the recent postings from those blogs. Why would you want to do this? Think about that administrator that you’re trying to get to drink the Kool-Aid but doesn’t quite get why blogs are important. Gather a set of feeds that you think would appeal to them and create a custom newspaper. Then, either forward it to their email, or if you don’t think they’d read that, print the darn thing out and stick it in their email box! Repeat that on a regular basis as needed. That may help put them in touch with newer thinkers, but in a format that they’re already comfortable with… print.
Why else might you use it? Perhaps you might want to share a few of your favorite bloggers and drop the newsletter off in the teachers lounge every week. Or pass along to your colleagues a digest of your blog and others in your district. Maybe you’d like to create a digest of all your student bloggers to send him periodically, especially for non-tech savvy parents. I think it could make a great midway step, for people who are ready for Web 1.5 perhaps." (from Digital Passports blog by Steve Dembo, January 2009)

idea.jpgHow is RSS used?

Library media specialists are using RSS feeds to:

•Keep Up to Date Professionally and Personally
You can use RSS feeds and an aggregator to keep up to date with your blogs, world and local news, family photostreams, podcasts, weather forecasts, lottery results, product price changes and sales, new publications from your favorite authors or publishers, social bookmarks, professional association news, photos--almost anything you can find on the web! By using RSS feeds, you won't have to check each of them each day. Instead, when something new is added, it will appear in your reader. RSS feeds may make up a major portion of your personal learning network.

"Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) is the phrase coined for the learner 2.0's way of meeting a need to grow knowledge in areas of interest by establishing relevant learning connections to like-interested people around the globe. A personal learning network provides individuals with learning and access to leaders and experts around the world bringing together communities, resources and information impossible to access solely from within brick and mortar walls. PLNs are made up of a collection of resources that you can go to when you want to learn something. This is achieved in a variety of ways such as participating in online communities of like-minded learners from around the globe using tools such as blogs, wikis, RSS, podcasts and more." (Wikipedia)

You can find the RSS feed for this wiki by clicking on NOTIFY ME at the top of any page. You can select the feed that is most appropriate for you--changes to individual pages, changes to discussions, changes to the entire site.

There are hundreds of electronic journals with RSS feeds. By subscribing, you'll know whenever anything new is posted or published.

LM_Net posted a hit of favorite RSS feeds submited by school library media specialists.

You can also use RSS feeds to teach about RSS feeds, to help students and teachers create their own personalized news sources (their own personal learning network), and to teach about web page design and web features.

•Keep Students and Teachers Up-to-Date
You can integrate RSS feeds into your school library media website. If you have pages just for teachers, include feeds that will interest them. Using RSS to Add Currency to a Library Website is a screencast that shows how a medical library is using RSS feeds as well as other examples of using RSS. See the RSS etc. Ideas to Share page for examples of how school library media centers are using RSS feeds to keep their webpages fresh and up-to-date. That will keep users coming back!

Think of RSS feeds as free content for your web pages. You can include word of the day feeds, news of the day feeds, pet of the day, quote of the day, this day in history and more. Infoplease has a nice selection of RSS feeds for you to use--with directions! Don't forget to integrate appropriate RSS feeds from your public library! Once you add them to your webpage, you can forget them They will update themselves automatically!

You can also teach students and teachers how to locate and use RSS feeds. RSS is all about managing information, so it fits into the job description! They will thank you for it!

Help your principal set up a feed reader and locate some good feeds for administrators. It will be a real time-saver and professional development tool for him/her.

See RSS and Education for more ideas for using RSS feeds.

You can create different looks and/or combine multiple feeds into one with a tool like FeedRoll or Feed Digest.

We used Feed Digest to create a scrolling news ticker with the latest news from a School Library Journal's Breaking News feed (limited here to several items to save space):

WikiSpaces, used to create this wiki, will also allow you to embed an RSS feed. Here is one from School Library Journal's Never Ending Search blog by Joyce Valenza's RSS feed. You can choose how many items to display and how much of the article you want to see (limited here to several items and 100 characters to save space):


Other School Library Journal feeds are provided here.

•Publicize School Library Media Resources and Activities
You can create your own RSS feeds to include on your own webpages or to which others can subscribe (classroom teachers, parents, students).

If you have a school library media blog, use the headlines in your feed and let users click to go to more information. Most blogs and wikis can automatically generate an RSS feed. You might set up a blog just for new titles, one for book reviews, one for upcoming activities, one for author news and more.

Although it is no longer updated or used, SUNLINK once created a blog called "Hot Topics." We would scan the news of the day, find items of interest to students and/or teachers, write a short article about it and include a link to titles in the SUNLINK catalog that tied in with that topic. We used a scrolling RSS feed (created at WebPasties) on our home page. Current events in the library media center!

To create your own feed, you can write your own, but you have to know the "language." Instead you can use a tool like FeedForAll,RapidFeeds,FeedXS,ListGardenor RSSxl (generates a feed from almost any web page.)

You can create a calendar feed at RSS Calendar.

Learn More!


More Info!

For more info.gif about RSS, news feeds, readers and aggregators see:



Note: Rubistar is an excellent web-based source of rubrics for any project or topic.
Search by the specific type of rubric you want, or make your own!

Another good source of ready-made rubrics is iRubric. If you can't find what you want, you can create your own or modify an existing one. iRubrics can be embedded in webpages or wikis, too.
You might also want to explore Project Based Learning Checklists from 4Teachers.org. To make a project checklist for your students, choose the grade level for the type of project you want your students to do. You can choose from writing, presentation, multimedia or science projects. Then choose from a list of project guidelines and add your own if you'd like,