“When a Pin Drops” – Pinterest for Teachers

by Michael Kline

When a Pin DropsRoughly two years ago I was trolling through the statistics area of my website, as I am wont to do on occasion. Nothing makes an artist feel better than knowing that someone is actually looking at his or her work, even if the comments seem to favor terms like “juvenile,” “childish,” and “unsophisticated on a wholesale level” (one of my favorites). All the niceties aside, I was astonished to find that I’d garnered over 1,600 hits on a single afternoon. Feeling rather proud that my scribbles had suddenly “come of age,” I went in search of exactly where those hits were coming from.

Pinterest? What on earth is Pinterest? For those who are uninitiated (as was I), Pinterest is a photo/video/website that allows people to share similar interests by “pinning” theme-based collections to their personalized “wall.” (Sorry about all the “quotes,” but the internet has away of redefining a lot of words.) Then people share those collections with others, and that’s when the fun begins. It’s a bit like a snowball rolling down a hill: Given the proper conditions, it can become enormous. If you’re unfamiliar with the website, here is the link: https://www.pinterest.com/‎

It costs nothing to join, save for the time you will likely lose searching through everything the site has to offer. Just to be clear, the web-sharing service does have a substantial (though not as complete as say Google or Bing) search feature, and can be used to find most anything–though it caters mostly to women and craft-type persons, especially Do-It-Yourselfers. My personal items of choice are large, handmade shower stalls, things made with wine corks, and ways to clean things with white vinegar. (I’m sure there’s a connection there somewhere.)

My reason for bringing this up is not necessarily to garner even more momentum for Pinterest, but to point it out as an extraordinary resource… for teachers.

Rarely has then been a time or space where so much information can be shared with so many. Pinterest has thousands of educator sharing pages and academic information with thousands, perhaps millions of like-minded educators, and the list is growing daily. Some web-tracking services even put the image-sharing website in front of the venerable Facebook as far as actual web traffic.

When you visit the site, you’ll see a Search button in the upper left-hand corner, allowing you to define what it is you might be looking for. In addition (to the left of that button) is a dropdown menu of categories most looked for by visitors (animals, architecture, art, and so on). Though I “follow” many teachers–whose pins show up automatically on the news feed–I find great fun in using the Search button as it will introduce you to pages (via keywords) of folks you don’t know of yet. For example, on my Pinterest homepage today, I’ve noticed the following instructions for classroom activities: How to build a tower using spaghetti and marshmallows, how to make a snowman portrait with shaving cream (it lasts longer) and construction paper, suspending orange slices outside of a school window to attract butterflies, planting classroom gardens in thrift store coffee cups, and an infographic on what a Polar Vortex is (a new phrase we’re discovering given the bitterly cold month of January, 2014).

To get you going, here are a couple of the more prolific pages on Pinterest for teachers and classrooms…

http://www.pinterest.com/medkharbach/, a page that spotlights many free resources for educators, along with links to other technological assists.

http://www.pinterest.com/lauracandler/ Laura Candler is a teacher, an author, and a consumate gatherer of all kinds of educational resources, including lesson plans and printables for many grade levels, in addition to having over 80,000 followers.

I won’t go into the mechanical aspects of Pinterest, save to say that you should block out some time and just go in and play with it. You’ll be amazed at what’s there. And though I’m the first person in the room to stand when someone shouts “Shameless self-promotion!”, I’m not going to direct you to my Pinterest page. Let’s just see if you can find it.

Hey, I’ve just found another use for white vinegar!

Teach. Learn. Enjoy!