This may sound a tad blasphemous, but aside from the basic foundations of the internet – web browsers and search engines – I think the most valuable resource I have found is twitter.
As difficult as it may be to adapt to, twitter is most effective means of following an organization. There used to be RSS feeds and email subscription lists, but all of those require more work on the part of the organization in order to share information. Putting together an email needs formatting. A tweet just needs a bit.ly link.
Twitter is faster, is more accessible, it creates the possibility of public dialogue. But what I find most effective is that it collates everything into one place.
I acknowledge that visiting the NCTE website directly is a more comprehensive experience, but it’s still uniquely limited. Plus, all of these organizations want you to pay membership dues to access content through the website, so there’s really no reason to visit the site directly, or to be on the email distro, unless you can afford to be a member. It would be great if I could afford it, just like it would be great if I could afford to subscribe to The Atlantic and the Economist, but I’m in grad school and those are beyond my means for now.
What I do appreciate about following them on twitter, though, is that I get a sense of the type of content they create, and I get a chance to see whether becoming a paying member might be worth it.
Additionally, twitter is much more effective at linking me to new and similar content that I otherwise would have missed. Starting with the NCTE twitter feed I found my way to The Oregon Encyclopedia, the Teach.com top 100 education blogs, Lit2Go (which seems like it will be an invaluable resource in the classroom), and Choice Literacy.
I follow a few threads that seem interesting and pretty soon I discover the NEA’s Resources for Addressing Multicultural and Diversity Issues, Rethinking Schools, and, perhaps my biggest score for the day, Teaching Tolerance’s wealth of classroom resources.
What I value about these websites is the variety of resources. There are lesson plans regarding how to integrate diversity into core content, or how to scaffold instruction for different literacy levels. The Lit2Go website has text and audio resources for students, materials that can be accessed by students independently or included in lessons. There are articles about pedagogical theory and philosophy. And through twitter these resources are updated regularly. I’m able to see new thoughts and ideas all from one central location. It uses the ease and convenience of technology to make information more accessible, which is the ultimate goal of integrating technology into the classroom. It’s putting our beliefs into practice on a personal and professional level.