Zite Has Been My Summer School

Summer School?

The term sometimes has negative connotations attached to it. It may imply that one is “slow” in understanding specific concepts during the school year, therefore he or she needs more time to understand the concepts during the summer. It also implies something very negative…work during what’s suppose to be a summer vacation. But let me tell you about a summer school that has expanded my mind in ways never before as an educator and was anything but the two negative ideas mentioned.

Bring On the Ideas

This summer, I have felt like a born-again student of teaching. My classroom is anywhere I want it to be. The teacher? The Zite app on my iPad.

The app has been a treasure trove of information, ideas, links, videos, how-to’s, etc. Zite has taught me more in just a month and half of summer than a whole semester in college methods courses…seriously.

How Zite Works

It would be completely unfair of me to say Zite does all the teaching. Zite is a curator for blogs, news articles, pictures, videos, tweets, etc. So the real teacher is other teachers writing about teaching. What’s intuitive about Zite is I say what I’m interested in, and it combs the internet for those types of articles. The information comes to me in a easy e-reader magazine style. It’s simpler than a RSS reader, because I don’t have to visit the blog once and add it. Even if I have never visited the blog before, but it pertains to one of my interests, it appears in Zite.

An App That is Smart?

Zite is smart. With every article, I can vote.

A simple thumbs up or thumbs down appears, and I simply say I like the article or not. If I do, Zite will look for more articles pertaining to that subject. If I don’t, then it avoids those articles. If I like the author, I can have Zite continue to bring me more articles by that author. See screenshot below.

What Do You Do With the Information?

Read it, of course. I will admit – not ALL articles pertain directly to me. But a good majority of them do, and I like that. Once I’m done reading the article I do one of three things:

  1. Tweet it – You have the ability to tweet directly from that article. If it offers a quick idea or poses a question for reflection, I will pass it along on Twitter, which I consider my PLN. Follow me if you wish to receive these: @jbormann3
  2. Save it – If I feel the article contains something that was enlightening for me, I save it to my Pocket account (a great place to save articles and read later offline). That way I can go back over it and begin deciding how I can apply those ideas to my own teaching.
  3. Email it – If a specific person pops to mind as I’m reading the article, I be sure to pass it on directly to them. That way they can be just as enlightened as I was (hopefully).

There are several other ways to share too.

Bottom Line

I have learned more using Zite (and Twitter) this summer than any other Professional Development day(s) in the past six years of my teaching experience. Rather than hitting burnout (like half of all beginning teachers in the first five years) I feel more prepared, more equipped, more focused. I have never been more energized to start a new school year…and it’s only July! 

Maybe this is all just crazy talk from the Iowa heat wave. Or maybe Zite – and all of the amazing contributing teacher bloggers out there – are reigniting a fire within me.

Mr. Bormann
English Rocks!

P.S. Here are the categories that I follow on Zite.

Is there one I should be following? How do you think STUDENTS at my 1:1 school with iPads could utilize Zite? Leave comments below.

P.S.S.  Here is a YouTube video from one of my favorite channels with a tutorial on Zite.


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