Saturday, August 28, 2010

Staying Updated, Part Two

As I mentioned earlier this week, I'm a firm believer in staying up-to-date on topics that I teach about in my classroom. I owe it to my students to provide them with information that is recent, accurate, and reliable. I frequently find myself taking a short minute or two out of class to discuss something in the news. Examples over my first two years teaching include the bullying legislation in Massachusetts, voting on the decriminalization of possession of marijuana, sexual harassment cases at a local school, and articles relating to nutrition.

I find out about these stories through many ways: watching the news (although not as much during the school year), by seeing headlines on websites (while checking e-mail or visiting other websites, etc), from my mother (who e-mails me news articles at least once a week...although, I've usually seen them by the time she gets to them!) and through my Google Reader account.

So, what sources do I skim and read for information? Check out the lists below of some sources I use for education and health news, both locally and across the country. This is not an all inclusive list, as I have eleven feeds total relating to education and a few other sections unrelated to work with about 30 different feeds of blogs, news websites, etc. I'm also pretty sure that people won't care that I follow a Bruins blog or two as well as a few running/exercise science blogs.

My (Personal) Top Resources for Education:
1. The U.S. Department of Education. I use this website to stay on top of various topics relating to education policy and research. There's not too much information I share with my students here, but as a teacher I think it's important to try to stay on top of what's going on nationally as far as education is concerned.

2. Billed as "your daily cheat sheet for education news," focuses on stories that will probably make you simultaneously angry and amused. Sample stories, which are posted from other news outlets, involve students bringing guns to school and a teacher ordering their class to plan a terrorist attack. The authors note, "We mock the public school system because we love the idea of quality, free, public education." This is, according to the authors, done because they want to promote a solution. Regardless of their motives, it's an entertaining read.

3. Education news. Teaching about thirty minutes north of Boston means I need to stay up on education issues going on within the local area as well as statewide. Information here is from the Boston Globe, and covers a myriad of topics: MCAS scores, athletics, budgets, community news, etc. National news is featured here as well.

4. Class Struggle: by Jay Mathews. To me, the best part of Jay Mathews' education blog is the commentary provided by readers. Mathews often weighs in on these comments, engaging in conversation with his readers and even admitting his mistake. Mathews writes about a variety of issues, focusing on education policy and education reform.

5. Free Technology for Teachers. Richard Byrne does a fantastic job posting free resources for teachers to use in implementing technology in their classroom. I've posted about his blog every now and then, and have successfully used many resources he posts in my classroom or for personal use. This should be required reading for all teachers!

My (Personal) Top Choices for Health News

1. Fed Up With School Lunch: The School Lunch Project. Mrs. Q, the anonymous author of this fantastic blog (which I've linked here many times) has set out to eat school lunch during every school day during this calendar year. Her blog has been mentioned on the national news and has been instrumental in creating a dialogue about changing the food our children eat in schools. Now that school is starting up again, be prepared to see pictures of the foods our children consume at school. You might be surprised! Mrs. Q has linked up with many other passionate individuals to help bring attention to this important issue. After all, our children all our future; we should feed them well!

2. Well: New York Times Blog. Well contains commentary on stories that are published in the New York Times relating to exercise, nutrition, fitness, science, etc. Frequently, these stories also come up in my RSS feed for the Health section of the Times, but I subscribe to the blog for the commentary provide by the author and the readers who post comments.

3. Health Section. I subscribe to this for the same reason I do's education section: it's the best source for local news relating to health, with stories from the Boston Globe. It also covers national headlines as well, and the local aspect makes it easy to make connections with students about what's going on a few miles down the road for them.

4. CNN Health. CNN covers a substantial amount of information and often includes interactive images and videos within their news stories. If the story is making news nationally, CNN will cover it and often will have follow-ups or commentary from multiple sources. If I can, I try to use video from Anderson Cooper 360 because he always seems to have both sides represented, with the occasional fireworks from commentators!

For both education and health news, I do see a lot of headlines that pop up in more than one feed. If the story is not an AP story, it's interesting to see the opinions of each writer and the similarities or differences in their reporting. More often than not, AP stories dominate so I'll just read whatever feed I see first. 

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