By Scott Sterling
We all know a teacher who forwards a nugget of wisdom from Pinterest on a daily basis. Above all the others, it’s the social network designed for stealing ideas—and no one is better at stealing ideas than teachers.
Although these teachers tend to use Pinterest to steal lessons, bulletin board ideas, and organizational tips, it can actually be a very valuable learning tool used to enhance your students’ college and career readiness skills and move them toward more rigor.
The next generation of standards calls for students to be able to master collaboration skills as a mirror of what they will be asked to do in the workplace.
Yes, collaboration still occurs in the classroom, but it also occurs online, and out of the tools that have been built to aid groups working together, Pinterest might be the best suited. A group can start its own board to share the components of a project. The members can pull down the things they need and everyone gets to see the progress.
Many schools and districts actually require teachers to keep a brag board up in the classroom full of student work. To be sure, this is a good practice, but who will see it other than the students and the occasional administrator?
A Pinterest board, on the other hand, can be shared with everyone, including parents. Digital work can obviously be pinned easily, and for more graphical evidence, all you have to do is take a picture with your phone. Maybe then the school will let you use that bulletin board for something more impactful.
Yes, we are in the age of high-stakes testing, but we can all agree that portfolios have a place in assessment. Shockingly, students aren’t often known for their organizational skills or their ability to keep paper in good condition. That’s where a digital portfolio on Pinterest can make a difference. The premise is the same as the brag board, just organized collaboratively by you and the student. Another upgrade is that group work can be shared between student portfolios, which isn’t possible on paper.
In research, students aren’t likely to use paper anymore. You’ll be doing well if you can convince them not to use Wikipedia. Where are they supposed to keep all these sources?
Pinning their sources on Pinterest can make MLA or other citation much more simple. Then, instead of printing a works cited page, all they have to do is share the link. They’ll appreciate the convenience and the practice will better reflect how they’ll work in college and career.
Create a famous person’s Pinterest feed
We talked about this idea with Facebook pages last week, but Pinterest might actually be a better idea, due to the lack of privacy issues. Simply have students put themselves in the place of a person they would like to study, then have that “person” tool around the Internet looking for things to pin to a board that reflects aspects of their personality, work, and ways of thinking. Then, as usual, their project only has to be shared out.
Journaling is a great reflective exercise, but the writing process can intimidate many students. Just have them start a board and look for images, poems, articles, and anything else on the web that reflects what they think about the topic. You’ll get a lot more engagement and a lot less groaning.
Naturally, ELL students respond much more to visual interaction rather than verbal or written. Instead of writing the day’s lesson plan on the white board, share out a Pinterest board with the concepts you would like to cover and the work they will be asked to accomplish. They will be much more likely to be able to put the pieces together.
By the way, Learning Sciences International is on Pinterest! Follow us at https://www.pinterest.com/LearningSci.
New book from
Organizing for Learning: Classroom Techniques to Help Students Interact Within Small Groups
By Robert J. Marzano and Deana Senn