The Educator’s Guide to Pinterest

Your classroom probably has a bulletin board. It’s the perfect spot to organize information and show off great work. Increasingly, learning is happening online, and so it’s no surprise that the bulletin board has moved online. Enter Pinterest. Teachers of young students are using the online application to find lesson ideas and stay organized, while middle and high school teachers are getting their students to use the app themselves for planning projects or collecting materials for class discussions. And librarians are running reading programs and creating book lists with that handy little Pinterest button. If you’re wondering whether you should join Pinterest, read on. We’ll show you how to get your account set up, how other educators are using Pinterest, and where to find inspiration on the app.

Pinterest Guide Image

Image via Flickr by Morten Oddvik

Getting started

Of all the social media sites you could be using, Pinterest may be the most intuitive to learn. Enter your email and choose a password at the Pinterest homepage, and you’re ready to begin.

Set up boards

From your homepage, click on the “Create a Board” box. Now you can choose what that board will contain, and you can decide whether the board will be public, which means everyone on Pinterest can see it, or private, meaning only you can view the contents. You can also add categories and descriptions, which will help other Pinterest users find your boards. Finally, you can list any other users you want to be able to pin on that board.

Find inspiration

You can search Pinterest for things you would like to pin. Fair warning: When you start looking, it’s hard to stop. You will often find multiple good ideas on a board, and each board will be linked to other great boards. You can follow other Pinterest users, so search for friends, colleagues, and education leaders. Some publications and businesses have Pinterest pages as well.

Start pinning

From the Pinterest goodies page, you can download apps for iOS and Android, or you can add a Pinterest button to your browser. Most websites have a Pinterest button that allows you to easily pin photos, stories, and ideas. If you have a website or blog, add a Pinterest widget so that others can borrow your ideas.

You can add pins from your Pinterest homepage as well. After you have created boards, select the board that you want to work in, and then select “Add a Pin.” Pinterest will prompt you for a web address. After you add a pin, Pinterest will show you other boards that might be of interest. You can also “like” pins, much as you do in Facebook or Twitter. When you click the heart in the upper-right corner, Pinterest will keep track of that item for you but won’t add it to your page for all to see. This way you can collect a lot of ideas but only share those you love.

Uses for Educators

Plan lessons

Timing is everything. If you always stumble upon the perfect back-to-school lesson in the middle of the school year, Pinterest can help. Save lessons that won’t work now but could be perfect later. Or if you’re going to be changing curriculum or teaching something new, get a jump-start on planning. The boards make it easy to arrange your ideas by subject, date, or level.

Organize projects

If your students are beginning their first research papers or class presentations, you can create boards to lead them in the right direction. Teachers and librarians who don’t want their students to wander aimlessly across the Internet can pin books, articles, and archives for students to use in their research. Even when students do their own research, a few sample links can show them the quality of material they need to find.

Foster collaboration

The visual nature of Pinterest makes it a good way to get students excited about a presentation or project. Children must be at least 13 to create a Pinterest account, so if you’re teaching middle or high school, take advantage of this tool. Group projects can be tricky because of students’ busy schedules. A shared board on Pinterest allows students to gather ideas collectively but on their own time. You can also supplement your class lessons by asking students to add relevant pins to a shared board.

Create book lists

Keeping up with student reading can be a challenge. You’re juggling many students at many different reading levels. Keep track of new books you would like to share with your class. Or keep lists for individual students who need just the right book for motivation. Librarians are using Pinterest to showcase new books and materials that arrive at the library. Teachers and librarians can also create summer reading lists to share with students or parents.

Share ideas

Use Pinterest when giving a presentation or workshop so that attendees can access the information later. Likewise, seek out what other teachers have shared. Pinterest has comment and message features so that you can continue a conversation online. Many educators also use Pinterest to find classroom and library display ideas.

Pinterest Inspiration

If you know exactly what you’re looking for, start at Pinterest’s Education page. You can use the search box or click through categories. If you just want to browse, start with some of these boards by your favorite educational sites. Oh, and maybe set a timer so that you don’t lose an entire day to gawking.

National Geographic

Thousands of beautiful photos here can provide an illustration for lessons or simply something cute for a classroom display.

NEA Today

From special needs education to classroom management, the Pinterest boards for the magazine of the National Education Association are packed with ideas to make your work more successful.

PBS

You will find an amalgam of pins, many with some connection to PBS shows. The boards include Back to School, Fun Stuff for History Buffs, and Women & Girls.

Scholastic

With nearly 8,000 pins, the Scholastic boards provide ideas about summer reading programs, bilingual education, the Common Core, and much more.

Smithsonian

This is a great resource for research papers and group projects for older students. You will find links related to history, science, and art. There’s even a quirky Mash Up board that shows how art and history intersect.

Teaching Channel

Find tons of links here to help you both inside and outside the classroom. There are dozens of boards with ideas for education technology, arts integration, project-based learning, and more.

TED Talks

Nurture your own mind, or show your students that lectures really can be interesting.

You will find links to articles and TED talks about education, technology, work, and much more.

Often your fellow teachers have the best resources. Here are a few Pinterest sites packed with ideas from educators.

Hands-On Science

This site skews more toward elementary students with a lot of hands-on activities, but there are ideas for students through high school.

Living Montessori Now

There are great resources here for all types of teachers, even those in traditional schools. Your biggest difficulty may be narrowing down the ideas.

Math Classroom Ideas

The lessons here are largely for elementary students, with plenty of hands-on activities.

Reading and Writing Readiness

Find reading lists, journal ideas, and tricks to get reluctant writers scrawling away.

Share the wealth

When you’ve become more confident with Pinterest, tell your colleagues about your account. You will probably find some of them on Pinterest. Whether you’re planning the school Earth Day celebration or the spring musical, you might find that you can increase collaboration without having to increase time spent in meetings. We could all use that kind of efficiency in our lives.

Editor’s note: This article is a revision and combination of several older Edudemic articles, updated and re-analyzed to reflect the latest innovations.

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