I've been keen on the idea of a Digg style site that can be customised for a classroom since last year but the demise of CrispyNews put paid to that avenue. But I'm been using another site, CoRank, to build something similar for this year and it looks promising. I haven't seen much in the edublogosphere about this site so I thought I'd let you know.
You basically set up an account (valid email only required) and then you can choose from a few templates to set up your site. You can then invite others to join the site so that they can help submit news stories and websites that can then be commented upon and voted up or down Digg style. This way you set up your small voting community and watch as topical stories surface and climb or fall according to the preferences of the participants. There are tabs where you can see all stories submitted, they can sorted by tag, rank, and every user can see their activity history as well.
Why might this be useful in the classroom?
I figure it can be useful in a number of ways. Firstly, there is a lot to be learnt in terms of the students sensibly starting and managing a web account and how to be protective of their identity via their profile and the creation of a fun avatar. It can be useful in terms of teaching younger kids how to start contributing to the web without having to author original material but instead getting them to start making insightful comments. It gets them thinking about the wider world and making judgement calls about suitable material for the site both by voting up or down and then via posted contributions.
You can get a bit of an idea by looking at the site I created. I've gone with the SpinTheGlobe theme thinking that we might restart our connection to Doug Noon's class with this as one distributed point where we can find topics of interest together for 11/12 year olds. Already, students have been really keen and have added some articles already, and started the commenting. The voting feature is a hit - please bear in mind that this is barely a week old but it is a tool that is worth a good look in terms of tapping into your students' interests and assisting with information literacy skills and general internet awareness. Check it out.