Teaching Kids to Curate Content Collections [ACTIVITY]

While there are a ton of essential skills that today’s students need in order to succeed in tomorrow’s world, learning to efficiently manage — and to evaluate the reliability of — the information that they stumble across online HAS to land somewhere near the top of the “Muy Importante” list.

Which is why I had a few of my students experimenting with Scoop.it this week.

Specifically, they put together this collection of resources spotlighting the range of perspectives people have on New York City’s decision to ban the sale of sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces.

Designed to give users the chance to create curated collections of resources on topics that they are interested in, Scoop.it is a wicked mashup of digital goodness – part feed reader, part blogging tool, and part social bookmarking service.

Scoop.it users begin by creating a blank page and entering a bunch of search terms connected to the topic that they are interested in.  For my students, NYC Soda Ban was the topic and things like “soda ban” and “Bloomberg soda ban” were the search terms.

At that point, Scoop.it automatically scoured the most popular web sources — Google Search, Google Blog Search, YouTube, Twitter — for those search terms and automatically brought potential content back to my kids for consideration.

Next, my students poked through those search results looking for sources that they thought should be shared with readers interested in learning more about the soda ban — a decidedly low-tech process where they applied skills learned in our ongoing unit on reliable nonfiction reading.

What I liked the best about Scoop.it was that whenever my students found a bit of content that they thought was worth sharing, all that they needed to do was click a big green “Scoop It” button and the piece was added — with their written commentary — to their public page.

I also like that viewers of the Scoop.it page — including YOU if you want to REALLY make the day of the two boys who put this together for us (#hint #hint) — can leave comments on individual articles, starting a conversation, pushing back against flawed thinking, and/or challenging the reliability of a shared source.

Do you see how useful all of this is? 

Basically, Scoop.it can become a one-stop shop for (1). teaching kids to search, (2). giving kids chances to manage information, to evaluate sources and to build collections and (3). allowing kids to easily publish content on topics that they care about.

A few tips worth considering:

Remember that Scoop.it ALONE doesn’t teach kids how to evaluate the reliability of online information.

Those are reading skills that YOU’VE got to introduce in your classes.  Really — check out the lessons we’re teaching this year.  They work and they are simple.


Remember that Scoop.it ALONE isn’t motivating to kids.  Interesting topics are motivating to kids.

I didn’t have any trouble convincing students to build a collection around the NYC Soda Ban simply because it is FULL of themes of fairness and justice that middle schoolers dig.


Remember that Scoop.it ALONE can’t help kids to decide what a solid collection of resources around a controversial topic looks like in action.

A part of the higher-order-ness in this activity is forcing your kids to make choices about what should go in their collection — but making good choices is something kids won’t automatically be able to do.

I put this handout together to help my kids evaluate the quality of the individual choices that they were making and the quality of the final collection that they’d put together:

Download Handout_BuildingLinkCollections




In the end, this was a great project because it gave my kids the opportunity to make several decisions about the quality of the content that they were finding on a controversial topic.

Each decision was a mini-learning lesson, forcing my students to practice evaluative skills that are essential for success in an information-soaked world.

It was also a great project, though, because it allowed my kids to publish a nice-looking final project that they are proud of.

They see their page of resources as a public service — a place that others can turn if they want to quickly learn more about a topic that matters.

So whaddya’ think?


Related Radical Reads:

Managing Information in the 21st Century [SLIDE]

Making Good Technology Choices

Teaching the iGeneration

Hiding the Aspirin in the Applesauce




12 thoughts on “Teaching Kids to Curate Content Collections [ACTIVITY]

  1. texas holdem

    Another great post of yours, I enjoyed reading. It’s a fact nowadays the high tech occupies an important place both in our professional life and in our leisure activities. It is great, as long as people are not addicted to it, it is not always just a game !

  2. Bill Ferriter

    Hey Penny,
    First, thanks for stopping by the Radical! Always jazzed when people leave comments. Shows me that others are listening!
    Second, your curation lesson is GREAT! I really liked the reflection questions that you asked students to be on the lookout for on page 2 of your article. They were incredibly thoughtful and an example of what I like to call building a bridge between what we know about efficient and effective learners and what our kids know about technology. Focusing your students on those questions is just plain good teaching. Using Scoop.it for the activity makes it possible for the kids to interact with that content in an easy and engaging way.
    Well done!
    If youre interested and/or willing, Id love to let you write a guest post here on the Radical about your lesson. I think a TON of people would really like to see what youre doing with curation.
    Maybe you could take your article and cut it down a bit and we could use that?
    If youd like to give that a whirl, let me know! Either way, thats for sharing what youre doing. Its really got my mind flying this morning and thats cool.
    Rock right on,

  3. Bill Ferriter

    Glad you dig it, Rachael!
    And hope youll come back to comment again with your reflections after using it with your kids. While I certainly found the activity productive, I know full well that someone might run in a new direction with it and come up with something better!
    Rock on,

  4. Rachbath

    This is a fantastic way to use scoop.it with your students. Thanks for sharing and I will be #stealingthis idea and applying it with my students in 2013.
    Awesome job!

  5. Bill Ferriter

    Thanks a ton, Robin — for stopping by AND for the kind words on this content.
    Means a lot coming from you, thats for sure. Ive been following your work for as long as I can remember.
    Rock right on,

  6. Robin Good

    Great job Bill. I think you are doing absolutely the right thing and your writing in this article shows also you well understand the huge potential without getting lured by the sexy fascination of technology tools per se.

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