This summer, Im exploring a variety of Web sites and tools that you can use in the classroom and/or for your own professional development. Each week, Ill talk about how it works, point out related sites, and discuss classroom connections. This week, I focus on the ways that e-newsletters can provide focused details on new resources.
Recently a colleague asked me how I keep up with educational news for my work on Inbox. As I was writing things up for him, I realized how much I rely on email newsletters that come directly to my Inbox. Dont get me wrong. Plenty of my news comes from Twitter posts and RSS feeds. But as I looked at my folder for this week's Inbox, I find 20 different newsletters, some daily and some weekly or monthly, that I skim through for news and inspiration.
If you read NCTE's Inbox, you know all about the value of e-newsletters. Inbox brings readers “news, views, and ideas you can use” each week of the year. Some people prefer such e-newsletters because theyre simple and relatively passive ways to get information. RSS feeds are not hard to set up, but you do have to set up and manage them. E-newsletters simply require that you have an email account and a web browser. Theyre a great first step for someone who is just beginning to tap new information sources.
So how do you get set up? In most cases, you fill out a basic online form like the Subscribe to the Inbox form. To subscribe to some newsletters, you send an email to a subscription address. If you have a copy of the newsletter that you want to subscribe to, look for a link or a paragraph with more details. Youll usually receive a confirmation message, and frequently youll need to reply or click a link to confirm that you want to subscribe.
Signing up is the easy part of all this. The harder step is to find the right newsletters. Here are some strategies:
- User your friendly search engine. You can find a lot of resources by searching for paired keywords using Google (e.g., "language arts" newsletter).
- Once you find a site that offers a newsletter, poke around a little. You may find that they offer additional newsletters that youre interested in. The Reading Rockets Website, for instance, offers a list of different newsletters that people interested in literacy and education might be interested in.
- Check the websites of organizations that you belong to (or wish you did). As more professional associations move online, they add email newsletters to their resources that they offer to the public. The American Library Association has an I Love Libraries Newsletter and a Book Links Quick Tips Newletter—and there are more on the site. You just need to look around.
- If you are a member of an educational association like NCTE, be sure to login. You may find special “members only” newsletters that youre interested in. NCTE journal subscribers, for example, receive an email message letting them know when a new issue of their journal is available online.
- Finally, ask your colleagues.
Ive been lucky. A lot of my newsletter subscriptions have come about from word-of-mouth advertising. Colleagues have used the “Forward to a Friend” link to send me a copy of something they thought Id find interesting or mentioned a newsletter in an email message or blog entry. So following their model, heres a list of some newsletters that I subscribe to.
- ASCD SmartBrief
- National Writing Project E-Voice
- Edutopia News, Project-Based Learning, and Technology in Education
- The Scout Report
- Inside Higher Ed
- Education Week, Teacher Magazine, and Digital Directions
- Reading Rockets News, Rocket Blasts, Ed Extras, AdLit.org, and ¡Colorín Colorado!
- Smithsonian Education