Thursday, August 9, 2012

Teachers + Pinterest = Genius!

Pinterest as Collaboration Tool for Teachers

It's one of the first lessons learned in Kindergarten: Share with others. Teachers are naturally good at sharing, unless, of course, it's the week before school starts and the local teacher supply store is running low on the hottest sale items. Then of course, it's fend for yourself! But most days, if a teacher has a good idea for her classroom, she's likely going to share it with her coworkers at her school. But give a teacher a Pinterest account and she will share those great teaching ideas with teacher friends, friends of teacher friends and other teachers around the world... all with the click of a button.

If you haven't yet joined Pinterest, here's how it works: Pinterest is a free virtual bulletin board that allows the user to "pin" a webpage or blog post while capturing the link that takes you back to the source from which it was "pinned."

Old School: when teachers found an idea or resource to use in their classroom they photocopied it and put it in a notebook or pinned the page with a thumbtack to a bulletin board for later reference. With Pinterest, teachers can save those great ideas they find on professional websites and blogs onto their Pinterest account by creating and organizing virtual bulletin boards and "pinning" the picture links to their boards. They can then go back and click on the pin (or picture) and it will take them to the website or blog where they found that great idea in the first place. They can also "Repin" pins that other have found and "follow" other pinners or other boards. Here is where the sharing comes in. Everything that you pin can be viewed by other pinners that follow you as well as other pinners that just happen to explore the topic you organized it under. (If you aren't in the sharing mood, you can also limit who sees your pins.)

I have pinned numerous recipes, home renovation tutorials and nifty craft ideas in the short time since I joined Pinterest. While browsing pins of those I "follow" I could not help but notice my teacher friends are pinning like crazy! Popular pins include everything from bulletin boards and favorite read alouds to research projects, math center ideas, Web 2.0 resources and Common Core Curriculum. As the first day of school inched closer, the number of teaching pins increased so much that I found myself secretly blaming the teachers who had become Pinaholics avid pinners over the summer break as the reason the Pinterest app on my phone was moving so slow. No kidding! It is working fine now that school has started.

Pinterest makes it easy for teachers to collaborate on themes by allowing multiple pinners to pin on the same board. True story: Erin, a second grade teacher was frustrated with the low writing scores in her class. She browsed pins on Pinterest about teaching writing. After finding many great ideas for Writer's Workshop online and from other Pinners, she created a board, "2nd grade Writer's Workshop" and shared the board with the other teachers on her grade level. After giving her coworkers access to pin to the board, her teammate Jan, then browsed the board adding in the comment box on one of the pins, "This will work great for teaching author's purpose too. What do you think?"  The other 2nd grade teachers also added to the board and commented on the pins already there. They can each access the board individually from school, home or on their cell phone via the Pinterest app. At their next collaborative planning meeting they were able to go back to several of the ideas they pinned to their shared board for a quick reference to the new resources.
If only we could get PD credit for all our "Professional Development" time spent on Pinterest! Oh, wait, I think I saw a quote about that on Pinterest the other day...

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