If you are like me, you started blogging just to publish some work or make the writing experience a shared activity. But somehow, you found another blog, which led you to another, and so on. Pretty soon, you learned to search for blogs through Google, or Technorati, or any of a number of engines. Now you want to see what Ms Snodgrass’ class is doing this week and what the Washington post writers are blogging about and follow your favorite educational author’s blog as well. Pretty soon, it just becomes frustrating to visit all of those sites. There is hope!

This site does a really good job of explaining a great solution for the blog-troubled reader. Check out: Common Craft’s explanation of how a news aggregator, or reader, works.

Setting Up Google Reader
For simplicity’s sake, Google reader is a pretty good choice for a first Aggregator. There are a number of other choices such as Bloglines, NetNewsGator, and NetNewsWire. Why Google? Because it is web-based, it will be useable by a teacher from any computer platform and from in or out of one’s district. It is a free reader, so we don’t have to pay for it. We reviewed a number of online aggregators and this one seemed to be the easiest and most-likely to be used for more than just a summer of workshops.

Sign up for a Google account
You will need a Google account to start using Google reader. If you already have a Gmail account or sign into Google for other services they provide, then you can skip this section.
1. Go to Google.com
2. Click on ‘Create an account now’
3. Google accounts are based on a current email account. Give them an email account that you can access at this moment. Your login information will be sent to that address.
4. Once you verify the email address, you will be logged into Google.
Get started setting up your reader
You will see a number of options from your Google Reader. As you add more subscriptions, you will be able to sort and share them using the top few links.

To add a subscription to your Google Reader account, click the, um, ‘Add subscription’ link. Simple type in the address to any website that is RSS capable.

RSS? That stands for Really Simple Syndication and is the special coding needed to make a webpage subscribe-able. When you are on a page and the address bar show the RSS symbol, a orange radar-looking icon, you can copy that address and paste that into your Google Reader’s ‘Add subscription’ link.

Click the Home and then Browse button next to Add subscription. Any keyword search will start generating a list of websites that one can subscribe to. Once you find one you are interested in, click the subscribe button. You can always remove it later by clicking Manage Feeds at the bottom of the Google Reader page.
Setting Up A Reader, and a few screenshots, can be downloaded to your computer. Good luck!