By Leah Peterson

This post is inspired by a COABE conference presentation by Kathy Tracey, Curriculum Director at i-Pathways.

Have you considered using Pinterest in your classroom? If you’ve never heard of Pinterest, or if you see it as merely a way to collect pictures of delicious looking recipes you’d like to try – read on for some ideas of how Pinterest can be helpful in your classroom. If you already use it for your class, share your site with us in the comments!

Pinterest is a free easy-to-use way to gather interesting resources for students that they can access in the classroom or on their own. In her conference presentation, Kathy Tracey showed us some of her boards, including math, book lists, documentaries, worksheet generators, inspiration, favorite TED talks, and more. Of course, part of the fun of Pinterest is that you can create any boards that are relevant to your students’ needs and the content that you are covering.

But first, for those of you who are new to Pinterest, check out this YouTube video introducing Pinterest as an educational tool. Also, this much-pinned infographic sums up some ways that teachers use Pinterest – to curate content, organize ideas, collaborate with others, and for student projects.

Once you’ve got your site set up and have browsed other boards, you’ll want to consider the best use for your own classroom. While it’s easy to gather items for inspiration or to group links to more resources, you may want to consider using Pinterest as a tool for collaborative projects. Here’s a lesson idea of my own.

  • Assign each group of students a country (or have them select one).
  • Have them create a board about the selected country, making sure to add a note in the comments for each item they pin explaining what it is and why they’ve added the item.
  • The groups could first meet together to sort out who will find what, for example, one student could find images of traditional foods and games, and another images of interesting places in their assigned country.

The easiest way to allow many people to post to the same boards, is for students to set up their own accounts, then you can share the boards with each of them. This would enable students to add pins outside of class. If you do not want to take the time to set up individual accounts – which require students to have a working email address – students could research and compile the list of pins then add them just using your program’s account during class.

Some other logistical tips to consider from Kathy’s presentation:

  • Create an account for your school or program instead of using a personal page to keep your page professional and help it retain a clear focus.
  • Be clear about the goals and relevance of selected materials as well as the validity of sources. State why you’ve pinned an item in the notes.
  • Be forewarned – Pinterest is addictive! Limit the amount of time you allow yourself to add pins. Set aside a specific time to pin materials so that you regularly add new things but don’t get sucked in to spending too much time on it.
  • Have Pinterest posts automatically post to Twitter with your own class hashtags so that students who follow it will know when there’s something new without going to the site.

And finally, because I can’t resist, here’s a board that I think is a fun idea – a collection of interesting picture prompts for writing (or for speaking in an English language learners class). Instead of just using this board though, you could start your own and have students contribute the images.

Leah Peterson

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