Discovering Good Reading as Pre-Reading for Research: An Interlude to Research Notebook Creation (Part 4 of 6)

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Objective

Students will be able to better manage the flow of myriad contemporary news and information sites in order to organize for future research.

Big Idea

21st c. students still need help finding quality news and learned contemporary information, even in this late internet era ...

Introduction and Context

10 minutes

[THIS IS ONE PART OF SIX PARTS IN A SEQUENCE OF LESSONS FOR THE FIRST "MINI-UNIT" IN MY COURSE.]

"Discovering Good Reading" is another (in a series) of early-semester lessons, familiarizing students with the technology tools we will use during the course.  Today, students will learn about Pulse online and the Pulse app for smart phones and tablets.

I introduce the use of Pulse by comparing it to the popular iPad app, Flipboard.  I say that Pulse is the "Flipboard of news," as Flipboard's power is really in its link to personal social media content.

Pulse is pretty cool, though, and I have had many students over the last two years tell me that they really enjoyed it's graphic interface.  Pulse is also very forward-leaning with respect to current web technologies.  Here's a paragraph, written by Seth Rosenblatt at Cnet and posted about two years ago:

Pulse's Web app at Pulse.me is built entirely from HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript, and indicates that the future-Web technologies are rapidly approaching a state where they can easily re-create native app experiences in the browser. The site is accessible from most major browsers on traditional PCs and mobile devices. With the touch-focused Windows 8 and its associated touch screen hardware coming at the end of October, the site has been specifically designed to be touch-friendly.

Discovering Reading

35 minutes

After landing at pulse.me, I ask students to sign up for an account.  I ask students to use the sign-up link at the bottom of the left-hand rail, and I remind them to use their school email accounts.  As an important caveat here -- LinkedIn purchased pulse.me in the spring of 2015 and a pulse.me sign-up without a LinkedIn acct. is a DIFFICULT procedure ... use this link (the one I provided above) in order to avoid the LinkedIn sign-up/acct. stipulation.

The initial sign-up process walks them though building some initial content for their accounts, and I ask them to add content from any category that strikes their fancy.

I require that "News" is a category they subscribe to, and I require them to include the feeds from The Daily Beast, Salon, Slate, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic.

Furthermore, I provide a list of the "best" categories for a research-base (for future work), and ask students to choose seven categories (in addition to News).  The list includes: architecture, art, auto, business, design, men's health, music, news, photography, politics, science, sports, technology, and women's health.

Once they have organized their feeds, I ask those that have their smartphone with them to download the Pulse app.  I give them some time to "surf" the news in this exciting new interface, and save one or two articles for reading later.  Those with smartphones can then see how the articles save across devices easily.  

Since my class is Chrome-browser-exclusive (and we are a Google Apps school), students can log in to the Chrome browser and save bookmarks, extensions, apps, and settings.  After each student logs in to Chrome, we jump over to the Chrome store and download the Pulse extension.  Once the extension is added to the toolbar, students take a minute to find any at large article from a website they normally read.  (If students are at a loss, I direct them to Yahoo News, as their articles are generally interesting and sometimes even quirky.)

They must save one article inside Pulse (for later reading) and one article, using the Pulse extension. After they have saved at least two articles -- one in news and one from the web-at-large back to pulse -- I give an ample amount of time for them to navigate this new interface and find other articles to read later.  

Before the end of the lesson, I expect students to have saved (and synched) 16 articles or two in each of eight categories.

As one final bit of information, I share a blog post with students as well.