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Share Ideas, Paper-Free: Pinterest for Educators

Pinterest has been a pretty big buzzword lately, as everyone from fashionistas to bakers to teachers has used this new invitation-only Web site to collect and store visual ideas.

But can it help in the educational realm? Definitely. Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board where users save photographic “pins” based on interesting content (and photos) around the Web. Users can follow others’ boards, allowing them to glean inspiration from like-minded people.

If you are new to pinning, or haven’t tried out Pinterest yet, it might be time for you to jump on board. For a quick how-to, see Pinterest 101 for Teachers: Getting Started on our educator community. Also see Pinterest for Teachers: Follow "Power Pinners."

PinterestWhy Use Pinterest?

If the idea of collecting interesting images and ideas you see around the Web hasn’t piqued your interest yet, there are many good reasons to start pinning. First, Pinterest can replace files of magazine clippings and Web printouts. It’s a paperless way to save ideas and easily find them.

Moreover, navigating through the pins is as simple as scrolling--and doesn’t take nearly as much effort as deciphering a list of bookmarks. But that’s not the only reason Pinterest is good for teachers. It’s also a great way to share ideas with your peers.

“What makes Pinterest so useful is not just the images, but the depth of content it connects to on the Web. I also enjoy resources that other Pinterest users find interesting--in fact, I find the Pinterest search feature far more helpful than a typical Google search,” said teacher Theresa McGee, who blogs at The Teaching Palette.

Benefits for Teachers

Many educators have already joined Pinterest and are following each other, something that pushed David Gran, who blogs at The Carrot Revolution, to start using it regularly. Gran says he really got into Pinterest after seeing it talked about a lot on Art Ed 2.0. “I found a large community of art educators who were posting beautiful art that inspired them, and project ideas for their students,” said Gran.

And within communities--both the online kind and the real-life kind--educators can share boards easily. “One of the best features on Pinterest is the ‘board collaboration’ option. In my district art department, we are trying to find solutions to help students with low fine-motor skills. Instead of just pinning in isolation, we have begun to work together as a team to pin fine-motor ideas to our collaborative board,” said McGee.

But Pinterest is not only great for helping teachers work together. Gran hopes to have students start pinning images on a shared board in one of his classes. “I often pin images that I come across that might help students develop their themes. As we go along, my goal is to have them pin along with me, and collect images as a class,” he explained.

Organizing Your Pins

Once you join Pinterest, it will become important to find a meaningful method of organizing your pins. “I try to organize pins by class, but lately as those boards fill up, I've been realizing that I should really start organizing them by project,” said Gran.

Gran has been using that method for the “Surrealistic Me” project he’s been working on with two other educators. “We're collecting surrealist self-portraits from classes around the world, and will be publishing them in a book upon the project's completion,” he explained. “As inspiration for this project, I've created a number of boards that demonstrate various techniques for transformation the students can try as they develop ideas for their projects.”

For McGee, her initial thought was to organize pins on a board called “art ideas,” but the content quickly became too varied. “I then created boards in the same way I organize my lesson ideas at school. In my case, I organize by grade level. Others have organized by art media such as ceramics, printmaking, drawing, etc. It is really what works best for you,” she said.

Ready to Get Pinning?

After you’ve joined Pinterest, be sure to follow Education World’s boards. We can’t wait to pin with you!

Article by Sarah W. Caron, EducationWorld Social Media Editor
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