For this week’s blog, I decided to find out about a popular website that I knew barely nothing about and never tried out myself : Pinterest. Many of my friends were on this website, telling me how fun it was, and I had heard the name many times on TV or on the web, but for some reason I had never even checked it out. Recently, I heard that it was a great tool to use in a classroom, so I decided to take a look and discover what the hype was all about.
The name of this app/website really gives away what it is about : pins and interest. The moment you suscribe, they ask what interests you in life. Architecture, movies, gardening, travelling, the list is long. Depending on the categories you select, they will suggest you some boards to follow. “Boards” are like a photo album of pins that have a common theme : for example, in a board about Europe, there would be pictures of the Eiffel Tower or the streets of Venise. Then, what you can do is create your own boards with a theme each or pin what inspires you to the board your created. The number of boards that exist on Pinterest is insanely huge. There really will everything for everyone. By creating your own profile, you save, or “pin” the pictures that you like so you can find them easily later. It is a very interesting website to discover artists, get hairstyle ideas or to see historical pictures. I know that I will probably keep the account I just created. There is great stuff there.
But how can we use it in a classroom ? In a lot of ways, actually. Pinterest is a place about creativity and inspiration : that’s how you should use it in your class.
What is interesting is that you can consult Pinterest itself to find ideas about how to use it in your classroom (http://www.pinterest.com/crhebert/using-pinterest-in-the-classroom/). There is a special category about education, full or resources, ideas, projects (and even tips on how to decorate your classroom). A lot of teachers use Pinterest to help other teachers, so don’t be shy to go take a look at what they put out there. There really is some amazing stuff.
You could create a Pinterest account for your class, and create boards for specific units. If you are working on food, for example, create a board about it and pin stuff that is relevant to what you and your students are doing in class. Pictures of food, sure, but why not recipes or stories ? If your students are doing a project about travelling, why not create a board with pictures of cities or places in it ? You could also create a board to motivate your students, full of inspirational quotes and stories. You could even create a board full of reading material suggestions, with book covers or excerpts of chapters (http://www.nea.org/tools/52865.htm).
Pinterest is a great way to create visual projects (http://www.edudemic.com/guides/the-teachers-guide-to-pinterest/). It is new way of sharing visual content with your students (other than Power Points or the Smart Board). You could always create a project in which students have to discover more about a specific time period. They could create in board with pictures that inspire this era in order to make sure they understand what it is about. Other students in the class can also refer to it if they ever need to. This could be a great way for them to revise before an evaluation ! If they don’t remember anything about a subject the class discussed, they can go back to the Pinterest board to get a general idea.
As a teacher, you can also use Pinterest to organize your lesson plans, or to communicate with other teachers all around the world (http://www.edudemic.com/guides/the-teachers-guide-to-pinterest/). What you have to keep in mind, though, is that Pinterest is still a social network and that you have to be careful. If you want your students to create their own account, they should be at least 12 or 13, and with parental consent.
I discovered that Pinterest is easy to use, free and fun. It is full of great ideas and inspirational pictures. I think that, by getting creative, you can create amazing projects with the website, so I would definitely recommend it to you.