Pinterest is a social site that you’re no doubt familiar with. And if you’re counted among its 100 million users worldwide, you’re not only familiar with Pinterest, you’re obsessed.
While many people use Pinterest as a pastime to daydream and window shop, there are a lot of practical uses for this visual bookmarking site as well. You can use Pinterest to make your job as an educator so much easier.
Educators all over the globe log onto Pinterest to share resources, get a dose of inspiration, and network with others. It’s a valuable tool that can give you sanity and stoke your creativity.
Have you ever considered using Pinterest for your classroom? If not, you definitely should. Let’s dive into how you can actually use Pinterest to enrich your classroom, whether that’s through gathering ideas from fellow educators, collaborating with students, or showcasing your accomplishments for parents’ approval.
And if you already use Pinterest, let’s discuss how to maximise your time on this tool – including some ideas that you’ve probably never even considered before.
We’ll also highlight real examples you can learn from. But first, here’s a quick introduction to Pinterest and how it works:
What is Pinterest?
Never used Pinterest before? Never even heard of it? No worries!
Here’s what you need to know: Pinterest is a social media platform that’s used to share ideas, hacks, designs, and inspiration of all types. From capsule wardrobes to DIY home hacks, Pinterest is a virtual smorgasbord of images.
Think of it as a visual catalog where you can bookmark your interests.
It was launched in 2010 and is one of the fastest growing social media sites in history. In terms of social importance, Pinterest is right up there with Twitter, Instagram, and even Facebook.
Should You Be on Pinterest?
I’ll get straight to the point. The answer is a resounding yes!
Pinterest is technically a social platform, but it’s also a visual catalog of ideas. Instead of bookmarking great sites to your Internet browser and immediately forgetting about them, you can Pinterest to save, store, and then call up those bookmarks quickly and visually.
But, it’s also a gift for visual learners (and most of us fall into that category). It’s faster for us visual learners to see and digest images than read text. Some statistics say that the human brain can process images up to 60,000 times faster than text.
So, not only is Pinterest easy to use, it’s a huge time-saver.
How to Get Started on Pinterest as an Educator
Let’s talk about the mechanics of getting up and running on Pinterest.
> Sign Up For Pinterest
Before you get started, be sure to check your school’s social media policy. Signing up is as easy as heading to the Pinterest home page and signing up with a valid email address.
> Create Boards
After signing up, you’ll want to start saving ideas and inspiration. You’ll do that by creating boards (as many as you’d like) and then “pinning” images to each of those boards.
Ideally, you’ll want to create a board for each idea. For example, you may choose to create one board for classroom decor and another board for parent/ teacher conferences.
Not only do boards help you keep your ideas organised, there’s also a social element to consider. Other Pinterest users (known as “pinners”) may choose to follow your individual boards, or all of your boards at once.
> Start Pinning
Now it’s time to browse and pin! The more you pin, the more Pinterest will be able to understand what you like and will then display pins accordingly.
Grab the Pinterest browser widget to pin from different websites on the fly.
The good news is that your pin will automatically include a link back to the original source, so it’s really as simple as clicking the pin button, selecting the board you’d like to save the pin to.
Pins for these boards will show up on your Pinterest home page feed. Your followers will be able to see them and re-pin your pins to their boards.
> What can you pin?
You can pin just about anything! From blog posts to books, recipes to reading recommendations. It’s a good idea to have an idea of who you’re curating your pins for. This will determine the type of content you save onto each board.
For example, you can curate pins for:
– Your students – Appropriate content may include research, study ideas, and project help
– Yourself – Appropriate content may include ideas that can help you build a better classroom
– Other teachers – Appropriate content may include lesson plans and educational resources
– Parents – Appropriate content may include student portfolios and classroom policies
How should you organise your boards?
You can organise your boards in whatever way make sense to you.
Here are a few ideas:
32 Practical Ways to Use Pinterest as an Educator
To make it easier, I’ll organise educational use of Pinterest into four groups: Students, Self-Enrichment, Fellow Educators, and Parents. Let’s get started.
Here’s how to use Pinterest to improve your students’ experience.
01. Keep your students protected
First and foremost, it’s important to keep your students safe online, and this also extends to Pinterest. Here’s a helpful post by USC Rossier School of Education on how to practise Internet Safety on Pinterest. Among the eight tips, here are two to pay special attention to:
– Set up secret boards – Instead of creating boards that are open for the entire Internet, set up secret boards and invite your students to participate. They’ll still be able to see the content of the board.
– Use fake avatars – Keep the identities of your student private by assigning them fictional names. Consider going with literary or historical figures to protect your students’ identities.
Follow Pinterest’s terms of agreement. Students must be at least 13 years or older to participate individually, however you can still create a classroom board.
02. Set up a collaboration board for your students
After you’ve set up secret boards for your classroom, invite them (and/or their parents) to collaborate. You can add multiple users to one board. On this board, you can share relevant classroom information, such as homework, field trips, extra credit printables, and test prep strategies.
03. Encourage your students to brainstorm on Pinterest
Students working on a project? Set up a collaboration board for your students that gives them the opportunity to collect ideas and brainstorm with each other. Because many of your students are visual learners, they’ll enjoy seeing images to represent ideas and it may make it easier for them to contribute to the project.
04. Offer feedback
Become part of the brainstorming discussion, too! Check in on collaboration boards and offer feedback to your students. You can leave notes in the comments section of each pin.
05. Pin interesting facts about historical figures
Are you studying an important person in class? Instead of relying on textbooks alone, dedicate an entire Pinterest board to the figure. You can pin images, statues, biographical information, books of interest, and important quotes about the historical figure you’re studying. As a sidenote, if you can’t figure an image of the quote you’d like to use, you can also make your own quote on Canva for free.
06. Create a visual study guide
Set up a Pinterest board dedicated to studying. You can populate the board with class-specific study material, or you can offer general study tips and strategies.
07. Get to know new students
At the beginning of the school year, ask your students to pin information about who they are to a secret, individual Pinterest board. Obviously, you want to steer clear of personally identifiable information (such as address, phone numbers, etc.). Even though it’s on a secret board, it’s still “out there” on the Internet, so you want to stay guard. However, you can provide them with a list of “getting to know you” questions and ask them to find the relevant pins for them. Ask about hobbies, favourite subject, and favourite food. This is a great option for learning more about your students.
08. Let new students get to know you, too
You should create a Pinterest board for yourself, too. Pick around 25 pins that describe who you are as a teacher. Ideas to pin include: your favourite tv show, your favourite quote, and your favourite book.
09. Create a reading list
Do you give reading recommendations for the summer? Perhaps you have a list of books you’d like for your students to read and report on every month. Create and curate a Pinterest board for that very reason.
10. Provide a visual catalog of your reading list
Do you have hundreds of books in your classroom library? Keep a visual inventory of your books on Pinterest. Create a board for your digital library on Pinterest. You can also organise your library by leaving a comment on the pin directly with the name of who checked it out and when the book is due back.
11. Encourage your students to create a photo journal
A photo journal is a creative way to document class life, an experiment, or a year in the life of. Create secret boards for each of your students and ask them to upload images to the board regularly. By the end of the year, you’ll have a huge selection of images– some of which can even go in your yearbook!
12. Set up a classroom spotlight
Highlight your students’ work with a Pinterest board dedicated to recognizing special achievement. If you teach multiple classes, also consider creating a separate board for each class. This is a great way to support rockstars in your class, encourage others to do their best, and share accomplishments with parents.
13. Plan a virtual field trip
Don’t have the budget to go on field trips to amazing and educational locales? Use Pinterest to find and collect virtual field trips to some of the best destinations– around your town and around the world.
You can also encourage your high school aged students to create their own college planning board(s), including information related to campus tours.
14. Curate a virtual art gallery
Curate your very own art gallery on Pinterest. Create a board (or several) dedicated to fine art masters. Explore the different art disciplines, such as pointillism, impressionism, and cubism right on Pinterest. Use the description box to discuss key facts and why you selected each piece.
Here’s how to use Pinterest to improve your workload:
15. Create lesson plans
Whether you love it or loathe it, as a teacher, you’ve got to create lesson plans. Wouldn’t you like some help either way? Save your time and sanity by turning to Pinterest to find lesson plans, including templates, tips, and binder ideas.
16. Find inspiration for your classroom decor
Facebook is great, Instagram is even better, but nothing beats Pinterest for finding classroom decor inspiration. With Pinterest, it’s easy to see several posts at once and filter out the ones that you’re not interested in.
By the way, do you create bulletin boards for your classroom? Don’t forget to grab inspiration from Pinterest. With just a little bit of digging, you can find some of the most creative, awe-inspiring bulletin boards in existence.
17. Finally get organised!
Organisation– it doesn’t have to be one of those fleeting feelings that leave after the start of the semester. Turn to Pinterest to find organisation tips that will last you throughout the year.
18. Discover classroom management tools
Class management got you down? Pinterest to the rescue! Find tips to stave off the chaos and stay in control of your classroom. Use Pinterest to hunt down classroom and interpersonal strategies for staying on top of your game. Whether you’re dealing with unruly, disengaged, special needs, or something else entirely, you’ll find the solutions to your problems right on Pinterest.
19. Get book recommendations
Look for book recommendations that you can use in your class. A casual search on Pinterest will uncover tons of genre – or grade – specific book recommendations. Some of these books you’ll know and love, but undoubtedly, you’ll always find a new book that you hadn’t heard of before.
20. Find educational blogs
Searching for more blogs to follow? The good news is everyday, someone is creating an educational blog (no exaggeration). The bad news? It’s practically impossible to weed through these blogs by searching on Google. Fortunately, you can use visual search through Pinterest to find educational blogs that align with your needs and interest.
By the way, create a board for your own blog, if you have one. Then, actively pin from your blog to this board. That way, other Pinterest users can find you and your resources.
21. Search for hands-on experiments
Are you a science teacher or do you teach it all for younger students? You’ll be happy to know that Pinterest is a great source for science education. Find hands-on experiments ranging from chemistry to S.T.E.M. Usually science experiment pins link to thorough, image-heavy blog posts that explain the experiment in-depth and how to duplicate it in your own class.
22. Look for printables
Pinterest has a plethora of printables (try saying that three times fast!). Not only can you find educational resources to supplement your text and workbooks, you’ll also find cheerful and inspirational printables that can serve as decor around your classroom. Quotes, props, name tags– you name it, there’s a pin for it.
23. Get test prep ideas
Test prep. Sounds ominous? Not with Pinterest. Use the tool to research how other educators are preparing their class for an upcoming test. You’ll be amazed at the wealth of information you can glean from a simple Pinterest search. From test taking strategies to fun freebies, you’ll find everything you need on Pinterest.
24. Plan a class party!
Everyone loves parties! If you’re the party type, you have at least one or two class parties through the course of the year. Perhaps you even have one each month! Find interesting ideas for party planning on Pinterest. Pinterest is the ultimate DIY resource that gives you incredibly creative, crafty ideas you can replicate on a teacher’s budget.
FOR OTHER TEACHERS & EDUCATORS
Pinterest is perfect for connecting and networking with other educators. Here’s how:
25. Follow boards from fellow teachers
Look for and follow fellow teachers on Pinterest. One of my favourite ways to find groups on Pinterest is with a tool named PinGroupie. Simply enter a keyword (i.e “educators” or “8th grade Spanish”) into the description and click “filter”. PinGroupie will automatically pull up any Pinterest group that matches those parameters. You can further filter based on number of pins, collaborators, or followers, among other options. PinGroupie makes it easy to find active and popular boards that may interest you.
Once you find a board that you’d like to participate in, contact the board creator (they’ll be listed right next to the board’s “blurb”) to find out if you can join and curate for the board. This is a great networking opportunity, and a chance to share your pins with a larger crowd.
26. Share resources
As I mentioned above, one of the best uses for Pinterest is to share resources. For this reason, you should make it your mission to seek out all the opportunities you can. This includes joining active educator boards and also linking to your own resources. Do you have a blog? Share posts from your blog on Pinterest. If you give away freebies on your blog, be sure to link to those freebies on Pinterest, too.
Here are a few ideas on how to include parents in Pinterest.
29. Create student portfolios
Create a board dedicated to your student’s work. Whether you’re displaying art, creative writing, dance videos, or more, Pinterest can assist you in highlighting your students. You can also share these portfolios with your students’ parents so that they can catch of glimpse of their child’s progress.
30. “Publish” a digital magazine or newspaper
Use Pinterest to teach digital journalism. If you’re teaching older students, consider publishing a Pinterest digital magazine. Each pin can be linked to a blog post that each of your students have written.
31. Run a smooth open house
Looking for ideas for your open house? When it’s time to meet the parents and make a good first impression, turn to Pinterest for all the inspiration you need. Search for terms like “parent teacher conference” or “school open house” to locate ideas that can spark your imagination.
32. Show what the students are up to
A common complaint that many parents have is not knowing what their kids are up to during school. Sure, you can send quarterly progress reports, and keep them updated through email, but what about a visual touchstone that you can share with the parents?
Use Pinterest to keep parents informed on the latest happenings in your classroom. Create a Pinterest board where you share all things related to your daily or weekly classroom. You can also link the pin to your password-protected class blog.
Pinterest is not just a source of inspiration and daydreams, it’s also a valuable tool for educators worldwide. Use Pinterest to organise, network, share, and teach. With this handy social platform, you’ll be able to create a more efficient classroom and find resources that engage your students beyond the textbook. And what’s so amazing about Pinterest is that it’s absolutely free! So, if you haven’t already hopped on board, now’s the time!
Are you already on Pinterest? How do you use (or plan to use) Pinterest as an educator?
By the way, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out our Teacher’s Guide to Twitter.
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