8 alternatives to Google Reader

8 alternatives to Google Reader

I’ve been in mourning over Google’s decision to shut down Reader.  MOURNING.  Honestly, I love having a centralized location for all of my favorite blogs.  It is like my own customized newspaper delivered each morning.  I’ve been using Google Reader since about 2007, and in that time I’ve amassed an enormous collection of favorites.  Whenever I find something I want to remember or be able to go back and read, I Tweet it out and then immediately favorite it.  I can’t tell you how often I go to my Reader when I’m remembering something great that I favorited that I want to revisit or share.  Daily.

Google Reader is closing the door on July 1st.  I’ve been trying to pretend that this day isn’t coming.  Denial won’t stop it.  Today I decided to settle in and start going through my favorites to save them to my Pinterest boards.  I’ve found some great alternatives for Google Reader, but I have yet to find one that transfers both current RSS feeds and favorites.  I talked to Feedly on Twitter and they said that they are working on it.  I haven’t seen this feature added yet.  Not willing to lose all of those favorites, I’m going through the painstaking process of saving them elsewhere.  On the upside: I’m being reminded of the brilliance I’m surrounded by online.

If you are looking for a replacement RSS feed reader (say for your favorite blog…*ahem*) here are some great alternatives.

1. The Old Reader is in beta, it was built to be a replacement for Google Reader.  It looks a whole lot like the Google Reader you know and love.  For those super geeks (own it!) you can even use the same keyboard shortcuts.  This option is free but is currently browser-based only…no mobile apps yet.  Alas, that is where I do the majority of my reading.

2. Feedly is a good RSS reader alternative.  In addition to collecting your RSS feeds for you, it has a news suggestion algorithm that will suggest other articles that you will probably find interesting.  Great unless you have a reader like I do…then it becomes an endless rabbit hole that is hard to walk away from.  Feedly also has a great social aspect that makes it easy to share with friends and post to social networks.  With Feedly you can choose what type of layout you prefer. You can easily transfer all of your current subscriptions from Google Reader to Feedly.  Feedly comes as browser extension and mobile app.

3.  News Blur is similar to Google Reader, you can share articles, save for future reading, star them or start your own daily “burblog” of news stories that you want to share with others.  It comes in mobile app format.  Now the bad news: free accounts are capped at 64 blogs and 10 stories at a time (this would never do for me). Premium users pay $24 a year to subscribe to as many sites as they want.  The worse news: currently they aren’t allowing free users to sign up.  Dang. It.

4. Pulse lets you keep up on the blogs that you subscribe to, but it primarily recommends stories it thinks you will enjoy.  Pulse looks a little more like Feedly and will also let you import your Google Reader feed (mobile version only).  Articles can be saved, shared, browsed, sorted by category.

5. NetVibes is a RSS reader and a social aggregation service.  Basic accounts are free which will do what you need to follow your feeds.  You can add widgets like weather, Twitter, and top news stories to your NetVibe dashboard.  The bad news: there aren’t any mobile apps.

6. Feed Demon is not only an RSS reader, it also lets you set up keywords to be alerted about.  If a keyword appears in a feed (whether you subscribe to it or not) it will apear in your feed.  It also lets you subscribe to podcasts, it automatically stores them in a directory and makes it easy to save them to a mobile device.

7. Flipboard recommends feeds but also lets you subscribe to RSS feeds.  The layout is beautiful and looks like a magazine.  You can also add your social networks including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  It brings your online life together in one place.  Favorites can be saved. Flipboard is available for the iPad, iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire and Nook.

8. Feedbin makes it easy to subscribe to new feeds by domain or by feed url. You can import your current feeds using the OPML import feature.  You can organize all of your feeds by Tags. Just like Google Reader, Feedbin has great keyboard shortcuts that will help you get through your news efficiently.  Feedbin is not free, it currently costs $2/month.  The biggest benefit (and the reason this will most likely be my choice) you can connect Feedbin to the Reeder app!!  I currently use the Reeder app to read my Google Reader feeds.  I absolutely LOVE Reeder, It is such a beautiful way to read, save, share, etc. all of my RSS feeds.  Reeder is still working out a solution for July 1st.  In the mean time, it is available for free in the iTunes app store and you can connect it to Feedbin.  Reeder is working out the ability to connect it to other readers as well.

RSS feeds are a great way to bring professional development to your fingertips ever day.  Don’t let the demise of Google Reader stop you from learning!

Edublog awards: a thank you note

Wow!  Somehow the #Edublog awards snuck right up on me without me noticing. The problem with this: I completely missed the part where you get to nominate your edu heroes.  That is a bummer!  I seem to be about a week behind in my life in general this year.

I am so honored to be included in this year’s nominations.  Thank you to those of you who considered me worthy of mention.  I so appreciate all of my readers and those of you who give me consistent encouragement- you keep me going (even a week behind)!

This year I was nominated for  Best Ed Tech Blog (I assume that means iLearn Technology).  This blog is truly a labor of love.  I haven’t been as good at updating daily as I have in the past, but I do manage a few times a week.  For now that is a MAJOR accomplishment.  Thank you to all of my readers.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you and how it keeps me going to know that others benefit from iLearn Technology.  You are wonderful.

The next award, I’m not quite sure what to do with this one.  It is a lifetime achievement award.  Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely floored and flattered.  However; I am 30 years old.  I hope this doesn’t mark my lifetime achievement 🙂  I still have the Learning Genome to launch.  THAT will be an achievement!  On the other hand, if I have peaked at 30- I am blessed.  I’ve started a school (Anastasis Academy) that I believe honors children every day.  That is an achievement!


Thank you to all of you who have nominated me, who believe in me, who cheer me on and keep me going.  I honestly couldn’t do what I do without you.  Thank you!

If you are interested in finding some truly incredible blogs/projects/people to follow, you should take a look through the Edublogs nominees.  SO many people to inspire you!  Voting is taking place until December 9th here.  Of course I am flattered by votes.  If you recognize or find new eduheroes, it really is an encouragement to be recognized for what you do.  Vote for your favorites.

Core of Education Podcast

Today I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Rod Berger of RANDA solutions for The Core of Education podcast.  We had a great chat about education reform, personalizing education and a bit about my personal journey in education.  You can listen to the 20 minute podcast here: The Core of Education.

Thank you for your time today @DrBergerAtRANDA!

I mention some bloggers in this podcast, it you are looking for inspiration, look no further than this list of AMAZING educators and bloggers.

You can find Anastasis Academy here.

You can find the Learning Genome Project campaign here.


Edublog Award Nominations 2010

It is that time again, Edublog Award nomination.  This is a time of year I look forward to…and dread.  It is a great time to learn about new blogs/educators/resources as the nominations go out, but it is also becoming increasingly difficult for me to nominate.  My Google Reader is packed full of favorites.  I need many more categories than those that edublogs supplies!  After much deliberation, here are my nominations:

Best individual blog- @TheNerdyTeacher http://www.thenerdyteacher.com/ for his epic posts on all things education and pop culture. Saved by the Bell is a favorite.
Best individual tweeter – @ShellTerrell I have no idea how Shelly does it, but she is incredible!
Best group blog – http://coopcatalyst.wordpress.com/ This is an incredible group of educators, I love their individual blogs but when they come together it is magic.
Best new blog – http://gret.wordpress.com I love reading each of Greta’s posts, I am so glad she decided to start a blog!
Best class blog – http://alfordnews.wordpress.com/ Kelly does such a great job with her class blog, I love the way she creates Smilebox creations of what her kiddos are doing to share with parents.
Best resource sharing blog – http://freetech4teachers.com Richard is a resource sharing rock star.
Most influential blog post – http://www.johntspencer.com/2010/02/i-hope-he-stays-lunatic-for-life.html To be fair most of John’s posts are inspirational to me. I think this one sticks out because it reminds me of conversations with my dad about the moon and growing up.
Most influential tweet / series of tweets / tweet based discussion – #cpchat  I have loved seeing this group of administrators come together.
Best teacher blog –@whatedsaid http://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/ Edna always leaves me thinking and working to make myself better. Plus the visual learner in me loves her Toon Doo cartoons for each post!
Best librarian / library blog – My favorite librarian @shannonmmiller http://vanmeterlibraryvoice.blogspot.com/
Best school administrator blog – @gcouros http://georgecouros.ca/blog/ George provides honest reflection and inspiration around every bend.
Best educational tech support blog- http://jasontbedell.com/ Jason did an outstanding series/ebook about tech integration.
Best elearning / corporate education blog – http://thegatewayto21stcenturyskills.blogspot.com/
Best educational webinar series – Reform Symposium (not sure if I am allowed to nominate this one since I was involved, but want to nominate the rest of the awesome team, it was incredible!)
Lifetime achievement – @cybraryman1 Jerry has an incredible collection of knowledge and resources that he has added to for years. It doesn’t matter what you need or are looking for, Jerry always has it at the ready (including personalized birthday webpages).

That is beyond hard for me!  If you want to see who I would nominate if I could include all of my favorites, check out these Google Bundles edublogger alliance 1 and edublogger alliance 2.

Want to nominate your favorites?

In order to nominate blogs for the 2010 Edublog Awards you have to link to them first!

  • Nominations: Close Friday 3 December!
  • Voting: Ends Tuesday 14 December!
  • Award Ceremony: Wednesday 15 December!

1. Write a post on your blog linking to:

You can nominate:

  1. For as many categories as you like,
  2. But only one nomination per category,
  3. A blog (or site) for more than one category
  4. Any blog or site you like but not your own blogs (sites) :)

2. Email edublogs the link to your nomination post

Happy nominating!

On Blogging

This is a cross-post of a blog I wrote on the Edubloggers Alliance social network site.  If you are a blogging educator we would love to have you join and contribute to the community.  Cross post from your blog, write original content, ask blogging questions, and meet other educators who are blogging for themselves or with students. Hope to see you all there!  If you aren’t blogging yet but have been thinking about it, join us and get the support of other edubloggers.

Blog posting is hard. No, not the actual act of posting, but the revealing of yourself to the world. It isn’t like writing for a magazine or writing a novel (those have their own challenges), because that kind of writing goes past multiple eyes, editors, and a process that perfects it. Blogging is different. My eyes are the only ones that have read it until I hit “publish.” The perfectionist in me reads, and re-reads, and runs it through a grammar and spell check and then reads it again. There is always a moment of hesitation before you commit to clicking the publish button because in the back of your mind, you know you probably missed something.
You try to convince yourself that it is no big deal…that people don’t really read your posts anyway. At best, they probably just skim. And so, you take the leap and hit publish, knowing that you can always come back and edit any problems. Of course, that is only after thousands of eyes have scrutinized it and judged you. You are, after all, a teacher. You aren’t supposed to make mistakes.
The process is repeated day after day and pretty soon you aren’t worried about that post because there is another. The posts get pushed farther and farther down the page until pretty soon they are a distant, archived memory. That is, until someone brings an error to your attention. Maybe it is a typo, maybe a homograph used in the wrong context, maybe the error is grammatical. It doesn’t really matter, the reaction is the same…utter embarrassment. What kind of teacher are you anyway? Shouldn’t you have caught that? People are going to question your teaching capabilities, they are going to think you are an idiot for making such an obvious mistake (at least that is how my inner dialogue goes). Now, if you are like me, your immediate reaction goes something like this:
Oh sure, they can find my one, itty bitty, minuscule mistake in this post. Who are they? Did they write 3 blog posts today? Did they read AND comment on 57 blog posts of fellow educators? Did they categorize thousands of websites so that they could intelligently write supplement guides for four weeks of reading curriculum? Did they answer 63 emails today? Did they make phone calls all day looking for funding for a new iPad program (that oh-by-the-way, I wrote!)? Did they finish reading one book and start another? Did they do 3 loads of laundry and pick up shoes that their spouse has left sprinkled all over the house? Did they interact all day on Twitter, Facebook, and instant message? Did they walk the dog? Did they cook dinner and clean up afterward? Then who are they to point out my one LITTLE mistake?! All things considered they should be impressed it was only one mistake. Harrumph!
That, of course, is my initial reaction. I hate being reminded that I am not perfect. I hate being reminded that I make mistakes, that I am human. My second reaction (after a few deep get-a-grip breaths) is one of thankfulness. Thank goodness someone told me about my obvious mistake so that I can fix it and don’t continue to embarrass myself in front of colleagues!

Blog posting is good for teachers. It keeps us humble, reminds us of how scary it can be to “speak” in front of the class. It reminds us of what it feels like not to have all the right answers. How it feels to get your work back with red marks all over it, exposing your faults.

Blog. Blog because it is reflective. Blog because we need you to share what you know with us. Blog because it is good to remember how it feels to be judged by others. Blog because you have an unique view on the world and by sharing it, we all have another piece of this puzzle that is life.

Just do me one favor, when you notice a mistake on my blog don’t tell me. Ignorance is bliss and I am perfectly happy to go on believing that I am perfect. Okay, so that isn’t true. Tell me so that I can fix it, learn from it, and still claim to be practically perfect in every way (like Mary Poppins).

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Pass it On…


Last week I was presented with a blog award from Emily Starr who writes the Interactive Content Corner blog.  The award is meant to honor blogs that we personally hold in high regard by spreading the word about them and sharing them with others.  I didn’t act fast enough in passing my award on and got awarded again by Maggie Hos-McGrane who writes Tech Transformation, Michael Zimmer who writes The Pursuit of Technology Integration Happiness Nicholas Provenzano who Writes The Nerdy Teacher and Vanessa Cassie who writes Sharp.  Thank you all, I am humbled to be included in your lists.  Now I am faced with a problem, in my procrastination you all have nominated some of my very favorite blogs and I must work on passing on to someone who hasn’t already been nominated!

I relish the idea of paying it forward and spreading the word about excellent education blogs.  There are so many talented and brilliant educators who have joined the blogosphere and added their voices to help shine a light on education, it is time that they got recognized for what they do and encouraged to keep doing it!

The rules of the award are as follows:

1- Copy and display the picture of the award given to you;

2- Link back to the blog that nominated you;

3- Nominate 10 different blogs yourself;

4- Inform the people you nominated, so they can in turn, continue the chain and spread the word about other great blogs out there.

So, without further ado, here are my nominations- in no particular order (and yes, I did dress up for this occasion) 🙂

1. Suzanne’s Blog–  Suzanne Whitlow writes an excellent blog for her teaching staff at Shady Grove, Twin Hickory, Ridge, and Ratcliffe….little does she know how much what she writes ends up in classrooms around the world! Suzanne shares lessons, templates, and reflections on education.  All of the ideas she shares are innovative and special.

2. The Learning BlogTodd Wandio shares his often humorous take on learning, literacy, and the classroom of the 21st century as he wades through a sea of middle school students.  His posts are always insightful and thought provoking.

3. Teacher ToysJohn Fladd is the teacher I wish I had in school.  The original goal of the blog was to share classroom technology finds but the blog has become so much more.  John shares his wealth of knowledge on every subject and gives us glimpses of his classroom through lessons that he teaches, and learning interactions with students. Any teacher who has a project titled “Destiny & Diarrhea” and uses the old Sears Catalog to teach students is aces in my book.

4. Bright Ideas BlogJudith Way writes a blog by the School Library Association of Victoria.  She writes extensively about Web 2.0 tools in the library and offers inspiration for any librarian or classroom teacher.  I have learned so much from Judith, she shares a wealth of knowledge and resources.

5. It’s ElementaryTamra Lanning is a teacher who obviously loves what she does.  She shares ideas for using technology successfully in the elementary classroom.  I learn a little bit of everything from Tamra but especially appreciate her posts about what is happening with technology in her school…they do such neat projects!

6. Son of a Teacher Man– Geoff writes about his journey into education, he gives an honest look at education through the eyes of a first year teacher.  I appreciate his vulnerability and willing to tell it like it is.

7.  TechnoTIC Raul writes from Spain where he shares about everything technology.  I appreciate his unique perspective and his always helpful tips about “presentation zen.”  The showcase of tools Raul offers for secondary classrooms is impressive.

8. Thinking Outside the Box– Sarah Major creates solutions for learning.  I am truly amazed at her ability to understand children and the learning process.  She offers daily inspiration and solutions for students who learn differently (don’t all children learn differently?).  I especially appreciate the visual aids that Sarah shares that help students understand difficult concepts.

9. This Week in Ed Tech- Buzz Garwood has a great tag line “On the Paper-Cutting Edge of Educational Technology”.  Buzz shares technology integration stories and resources, they are usually resources and ideas I haven’t seen elsewhere.  Each post is well thought out and through, he does all the heavy lifting for you!

10. John Spencer writes three blogs that I can’t get enough of.  All are excellent and thought provoking:

Adventures in Pencil Integration–  This is a fictional blog that takes place in the 19th century.  The blog posts may be fictional but the content couldn’t ring more true.   The premise of the blog is a 19th century teacher who is leading an initiative for one pencil per child.  The blog makes me think and rethink my stance on technology integration, makes me laugh out loud, and entertains me.

Musings From a Not-So-Master Teacher– This is the blog where John takes us on a journey of authentic learning and thinking.  He readily admits that he doesn’t have all the answers, but I enjoy journeying with him as he explores education, teaching, and learning.   John also has a collection of visual musings (cartoons and sketches) that are a must see.

Ditch That Word– John doesn’t offer a vocabulary boosting word-a-day, instead he aims at helping us ditch the words that have watered down our language and twisted it into something unrecognizable or cliche.  Ditch that word makes me laugh out loud and groan in realization of how often I use those words in my own daily language.  John is usually right on about words to ditch. Now I must figure out how to weed them out of my vocabulary 🙂

Only naming 10 is an exercise in restraint for me.  I read so many incredible blogs every day, I am surrounded by greatness!  If you are interested in jumping into blogging or encouraging other educational bloggers, consider joining the edublogger alliance.

Lightning Bug

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What it is: Lightning Bug is a fantastic resource for the writing classroom.  The tag-line of Lightning Bug is, “Your writing partner, helping you write a story from beginning to THE END”.  That is exactly what it does.  For each stage of the writing process, students have access to excellent guides and resources to aid the process.  Students can get help finding a story idea, developing the idea, and finishing the story.  Students can even have a look at what kind of writer they might be based on their personalities.  Lightning Bug has a great collection of writing resources.  Students can explore author blogs, search for character names, get some exercises in creativity, get help with grammar and spelling, and even get help for publishing their written work.  The teacher resources are equally helpful for teaching writing.

How to integrate Lightening Bug into the classroom: Lightning Bug is a great resource to have going on your classroom computers as a writing/publishing center.  Students can visit the site to get help with every stage of writing.  This is an excellent site to send home and alert parents to, it would be enormously helpful for at-home writing projects.  If you have access to a computer lab or 1 to 1 setting, allow your students to walk through this website as they work on any piece of writing.  The site is organized really well and easy to navigate independently.  Be sure to take a look at the teacher resources.

A few of the recommendations for the writing process include worksheets such as mind maps.  Instead of using a worksheet for students to map their ideas, consider using online tools that will let students organize their thoughts and collaborate with others as they write.  Try using online mind mapping tools such as Creza’s Mindomo or  Comapping.  Students can use tools such as Zoho, Google Docs, or Kerpoof to collaborate as they write.

Tips: Many of the ideas and resources found on Lightning Bug are useful for digital storytelling.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Lightning Bug in your classroom.

Stories of Learning

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Stories of Learning is another new blog I am launching this week.  I interact with teachers every day who are innovative, creative, and doing transformative things in education.  We need to collect these stories in one place.  Stories of Learning is (I hope) a place where we can record all of these.  Write a guest post, cross post something that you have already written, I would love it all!

EdWeb 2.0



What it is: EdWeb 2.0 is web hosting designed with teachers in mind.  Teachers can create a free teacher website in an hour or less!  With EdWeb 2.0 teachers can create a classroom site with multiple blogs, podcasts, quick polls, videos, files, forms, announcements, calendars, add photo albums, separate information by subject area, and so much more.  The sites can be customized with your own theme, or choose from one of EdWeb’s ready made themes.  A classroom website is a great place to communicate with families, give students a place to go when they have questions outside of your classroom, and keep yourself organized.


How to integrate EdWeb 2.0 into the classroom: Post all of your class announcements, important dates, homework assignments, links, podcasts, videos, copies of papers sent home, etc. on your class website for a convenient way to stay in contact with students and families.  The site is simple to create and takes no time at all.  This is a great hour long weekend project that you and your students will appreiciate all year long.  


Tips: EdWeb 2.0 sets you up with a fully functional demo account first.  This allows you to play around and see if you like EdWeb 2.0, if you decide you want to use the website for your classroom, you make the site live (this is free).  This saves room on EdWeb’s servers for those who just want to take a look but don’t end up using EdWeb.  

You will see an option for pricing on the EdWeb site, this is an upgraded account with some additional features.


Leave a comment and share how you are using EdWeb in your classroom.

50 Useful Blogging Tools for Teachers

Teaching Tips has a new post called 50 Useful Blogging Tools for Teachers. These tips and tricks will get you up and blogging in no time. Check out the post here.
If you have an education blog, share with the class and leave a comment telling us where we can find you! 🙂