The following article is by Julie Delello of the University of Texas at Tyler. She can be reached at jdelello[at]uttyler.edu if you have any questions or comments.
Children learn social skills by interacting freely with peers. Playgrounds provide an opportunity for children from different classrooms to interact and enhance skill development. What if there was a place for the teachers to play, learn new skills, and network with others?
For some, the relatively new social network site Pinterest has become a virtual playground allowing users to “pin” inspiring images from around the web.
As a new teacher, it’s easy to become overwhelmed trying to create motivating lessons while managing the responsibilities within the classroom. Noted educator Harry K. Wong, writes in his book The First Days of School, that the teachers who beg, borrow, and steal good techniques are the teachers whose students will achieve. Unfortunately, with the daily pressures of teaching and just living, it is difficult for teachers to get together to share their ideas on effective lessons.
Pinterest, created in 2009 and launched in March of 2010, has been ranked 10th out of the top visited social networking sites across the world, allowing users to search for pins with a specific theme or subject. According to Pearson (2011), teachers can easily bookmark or “pin” lesson plans across the web for a later date, organize resources for the classroom, share unique ideas, and allow for collaboration with students, parents, and colleagues. A good example of pinning can be found in a blog-post entitled 30 Inspiring Pinterest Pins for Teachers (2012) where the author shares 30 specific pin boards covering everything from arts and crafts to methods of classroom management through visually stimulating images. While perusing these ideas, I decided to create a group board for my own students to collaborate with one another and other teachers from around the world.
Pinterest is straightforward and doesn’t require a lot of technological experience to get started. Educators should review their school district’s policies to make sure they are in compliance before opening a Pinterest account as it is a public site and any ideas that are “pinned” may be re-pinned to another user’s site. In order to create a Pinterest group for a course you are teaching, you will need to do the following:
- Set up an account. Because Pinterest is an “invite-only” site, you must either register for an invite at www.pinterest.com or receive an invite from another user. You will also need a Twitter or Facebook account. I created a Twitter account just for the course and then reset the password in Twitter once the Pinterest account was set up. I used my University email since the students already had access to it and created a password which was specific to my class course. I would have preferred for each of my students to have set up their own accounts but in order to have a group board on one page, I would have to follow at least one board belonging to each student and then add each individual student to the class board.
- After setting up a group account, you will need to edit the profile, creating a display name, profile picture, and short description of the purpose for the group.
- Under the add category, I edited, created and re-arranged basic pin boards (categories) which I believed would be valuable to all pre-service teachers.
- I demonstrated the site in class and gave each student the group name and password to access our Pinterest page. We named our site TEACHFORKIDS.
- Once the site was in existence, it was time to start pinning. Each student was required to pin a minimum of 10 items in various categories with descriptions as to how the pin would be relevant to teaching. Their categories included boards on anti-bullying resources, motivating lesson and classroom management plans, educational advocacy information, digital news clippings, art and craft designs, and community service applications.
The students were very excited and engaged to have a place to network with other teachers. “I want to come up with inventive and fun ways to teach the students… If another teacher has a great lesson or anything else that they find to be beneficial and provide positive results, I say use it… We learn from each other”. Another remarked, “By using the best from everyone, it might just make our own class better”. Throughout this experience, both I and my students realized that effective teaching strategies don’t have to be confined to the classroom. Today, we have over 30 boards and 1300 pins.
- Best Colleges Online (2012, January). 30 Inspiring Pinterest Pins for Teachers.
- Dugherty, H. (2011). Pinteresting Trend in Social Media.
- Morrison, A. (2011). Four Ways to Use Pinterest in Education.
- Wong, Harry & Wong, Rosemary. 1998. The First Days of School. Mountain View,
- California: Harry K. Wong Publications Inc.