Today I tried a more advanced sequence of mini research tasks using Google Reader. Students have been using their own RSS subscriptions as part of wide reading for a unit on contemporary Australia, and it’s fascinating to see how the areas of interest they have developed over the past few weeks have really motivated their learning and kept them highly engaged. Here were the tasks:
1. Identify three articles that relate to an ongoing issue which has been in the media for some time, and of which you are already aware. Explain how these articles expand your understanding of the issue.
2. Identify an article that deals with an important issue (different to the one selected for question 1) but does not provide enough information about that issue. With reference to the main speaker’s views and alternative views, analyse the shortcomings of this article.
3. Identify an article that presents information about someone in a negative light (for example, someone involved in a scandal). With further research (for example, a Wikipedia page on that person) argue against at least two views presented in the article.
4. Identify an article that bears some relationship between the issues it discusses and your life at school. Write a short (pretend) note in your school’s daily notices with the preface, “ALL Students: You should read the article entitled “X” because…”
5. Turn a response to any one of the above questions into a creative piece that broadens your understanding of the issues addressed. You may wish to write from your own perspective, the perspective of someone else or through a dialogue between two or more people. You may write in any form you wish.
At the end of the lesson, I asked students to evaluate how RSS feeds (in this case using Google Reader) benefited their learning. The result was this short video that I put together: