Most folks who know me have heard me talk about my love for Google Reader and Delicious.  These two tools have provided me with a new level of professional development and have extended my Personal Learning Network far beyond my office and home.

I’ve come to rely on my feed aggregator and my social bookmarking tools for both professional and personal purposes.

When I want to save a website, I bookmark it on my delicious site.  If it is a site for personal reference, I make it private.  No one else will be able to see the site listed on my delicious page, but I can quickly find it again because I’ve saved it with category keywords (tags) that suit.  For example, I recently purchased some metal stamp sets to create necklaces and key chains with, so I’ve saved some sites that have tutorials on similar projects.  Since my main goal for my delicious site is to gather resources for educators, and these aren’t sites that teachers will likely find helpful, I’ve saved them as private.  This allows me to find them again quickly, but only if I’m logged in on my delicious site.

In my Reader account, I subscribe to blogs/sites that not only help me in my role as an Instructional Technology Specialist, but also to sites that I enjoy reading on my own time.  I have a love for photography and home décor and crafts (and my niece and nephews!), so in addition to the latest and greatest technology tools, I’m keeping up with my hobbies and my friends and family.

I checked my Reader account yesterday and realized I currently subscribe to 470 blogs/sites.

Four hundred seventy.

Are you wondering how in the world I have time to keep up with 470 blogs?  Well, the truth is, I don’t.  However, I have categorized my feeds so that I am able to quickly choose a folder and focus my attention on a certain topic.  I scan blogposts, slowing down to thoroughly read any items that are of interest to me.  If I consistently find that I’m no longer interested in the content on a particular blog, I can unsubscribe to it.

And with my almost 500 feeds, I’m not spending time looking for sites or checking my favorite links to see if there is new content.  The new stuff comes to me in my Reader.

Here is a screenshot showing how I have my subscriptions organized:

I have a few categories specific to education, including Ed Resources (mostly blogs highlighting online resources), Ed Thoughts (mostly blogs discussing education, instructional technology, and curriculum), and Special Ed (blogs specifically related to SpEd).

I follow other Delicious users (which you can also do within your delicious website, but if I have it here in my reader, that’s one less site I have to visit to get updates).

I have some personal folders, like Friends and Family, Home (décor), Cooking (…for my husband… I don’t cook J), Photography, and Scrapbooking and Crafts.

Google Alerts allow you to subscribe to search items.  For example, I subscribe to “Instructional technology” and relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) come to my reader.  I even subscribe to “donna murray”.  It sounds egotistical, but it is nice to know when other sites have mentioned my name.  In fact, through my Google Alert, I’ve found my website highlighted on other blogs, which is nice affirmation.

My daughter has Arthrogryposis and was diagnosed this summer with low-functioning Autism.  I have found amazing blogs by families who also have children with special needs.  Though most of these families are “strangers” to me, they have become part of my village.  Therefore, I have a My Village folder to hold these subscriptions.

When I find a blog that doesn’t seem to fit in any of my standard categories, I file it under Just Because.

My Reader should save me time and help me be more efficient, but with 470 feeds, that may sound impossible.  However, my folder system helps me stay organized and quickly find what I’m looking for.  And remember, I don’t read everything.  I scan items quickly and stop when I come across items I want to read more thoroughly.

I check my Reader daily.  Multiple times a day, actually.  It is my news portal, my connection to my personal learning network, and my customized newspaper.

Here is a sampling of subscriptions from my Reader folders:

My Village:  A Diary of a MomHopeful Parents

Home:  Nesting Place

Scrapbooking and Crafts:  One Pretty Thing

Photography:  Bobbi + Mike

Cooking:  Annie’s Eats

Delicious (social bookmarking):  ZaidLearnVicki Davis

Ed Resources:  Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the DayFree Resources for Education

Ed Thoughts:  Dangerously IrrelevantLearning Is Messy

Just Because:  LifehackerMashable

(Check back soon for additional posts about using a Google Reader account.)


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