Information Gurus

So many tools, so little time.

There are so many wonderful resources to find, evaluate, synthesize and use information but sometimes finding the right one can be challenging. Whether at a desk or on a portable device, here are some tools which can help you find the information you need.

What is Information Fluency?

According to the 21st Century Information Fluency Project (21CIF), Digital Information Fluency (DIF) is the ability to find, evaluate and use digital information effectively, efficiently and ethically. We know that the amount of information available to teachers and students is growing exponentially and knowing how to find and use it a an essential skill. So, just how do we do that?

Finding the Information

What Can Google Find for You?

  • Blog Search -Find blogs on your favorite topics
  • Directory -Search the web, organized by topic or category
  • Earth - Explore the world from your computer
  • Finance -Business info, news and interactive charts
  • Google Health - Organize your medical records online
  • Maps - View maps and directions(select from car, on foot, or public transportation)
  • News -Search thousands of news stories
  • Patent Search - Search the full text of US Patents
  • Product Search -Search for stuff to buy
  • Realtime - New! -up-to-the-second social updates, news articles and blog post
  • Scholar -Search scholarly papers
  • Trends -Explore past and present search trends
  • Videos -Search for videos on the web
  • Web Search Features - Weather, stocks, books, earthquakes, synonyms, health, travel, and more

RSS Feed Readers / Aggregators

  • RSS = Rich Site Summary or Real Simple Syndication.
  • The language of weblogs generate a code called XML
  • This code is a “feed” (like a news feed) that makes it possible for readers to subscribe to the content so they don’t have to visit the blog site itself.
  • How is this useful in the classroom?
  • It’s most useful with current events or cutting edge thought in a given field/area.
  • EX: In a social studies class, students studying specific events can find the sources with the most/best information on their topic and set up a feed reader/aggregator to check those sites hourly and send the recent posts to one place for students to read. They only have to check one site instead of 30.

Setting up an RSS Feed Reader

These are the most common feed readers:

Google Reader
my Yahoo!
my MSN+

  • If you are particular about the interface for managing your feeds, you can take a look at the samples on these sites. I use Google Reader, primarily because my district uses Google Apps. Here’s that address: I have heard recommendations for Bloglines and Pageflakes as well.
  • You can add feeds using the “Add” or “+” links in the aggregator. You can paste the address of the feed you want to add into the subscribe form. For example, to subscribe to Will Richardson’s blog, you would type in his feed address:
  • Alternately, when you’re at the blog or site you want to add to your aggregator, click on the RSS feed or icon, and a list of web-based feed readers should appear. The most common are those listed above. Sometimes, there’s button that looks like this: external image clip_image012.png. Clicking on it should give you the feed address for the page you’re on.
  • Your feeds can be public or private or some of each. You can sort them into folders, too.
  • You can rename feeds and folders as you collect more.
  • To have quick access to your aggregator, add a link to it on your toolbar or in your favorites folder.

Finding and Adding Feeds
There are feeds of pre-aggregated feeds, too. Check out the Feedzilla example:
Feedzilla – feeds listed by category
Weblogs Compendium has a thorough directory of Weblogs at

A Sample Blog Search Engine:

Using RSS Feeds in the Classroom
RSS Feeds with Student Weblogs
If your students have blogs of their own, you can collect them on your aggregator using their RSS feeds.
This can create a paperless environment and you can easily send links to student blogs to their parents. Click on the “Share” icon and key in their e-mail address or group information.

RSS Feeds Without Student Weblogs
Have students set up their own aggregator accounts. Have them all use the same one, for consistency. In addition to news feeds appropriate to the topic they are studying, they can subscribe to the teacher’s blog.

RSS Search Feeds
You can have your aggregator create a feed that searches for specific terms. This allows you or your students to receive feeds about topics such as global warming.
To create a syndicated feed of search result of Google News about global warming, for example, paste this feed address into your news aggregator:
If you want to look for global warming information from a specific feed, add the search term, “global warming” into the search query form, and add the source, such as “source:new_york_times”

There are many other types of feeds that can be helpful in the classroom, such as feeds for weblog searches, website searches, and newsgroup searches. For more detailed information on these possibilities, see Will Richardson’s RSS guide at

Dhaivyd Hilgendorf can be reached at

Joyce Valenza's Google Glogster

Other Search Resources

NoodleTools 'Choose the Best Search' -
NoodleQuest – Interactive, helps refine search engine options -
Internet Public Library -
Bing - competition for Google

Good for Kids

ipl2 for Kids – Internet Public Library – 'Ask a Librarian' feature 24/7 for most of the year
Boolify - put puzzle pieces together to build a search
Yippy - groups results into clouds, kid-friendly
KidsClick - web search for kids, with sites approved and organized by librarians
Search Engines for Kids -

**Joyce Valenza's Kids' Glogster**

Organizing and Sharing What You Have Found - and Learning What Others Have Found

Knol - Google feature - share a unit of knowledge

Help your Students Find the Best

Google Custom Search - Create a customized search experience for your community

Pathfinder Swap - Create and share pathfinders

Pathfinder Swap -

Once You've Found It

Sharable web-based tutorials designed to teach information literacyInformation Literacy

Cooperative Library Instruction Project:

Anytime/Anywhere Learning
Mobile Apps for today's learners