For three elementary school teachers in San Francisco, Pinterest is a window into other classrooms – a virtual chalkboard where they can view lesson plans and fresh ideas from other educators without leaving their desks.
“The uses are endless!” said Brianna Boedecker, who teaches 4th and 5th graders at Grattan Elementary school. Boedecker was planning her dream wedding on Pinterest when she discovered that she could get ideas for school projects there as well.
She shared her find with her colleague Cate Walter, also 4th and 5th grader teacher, who has been in the business for 10 years. After a while, said Walter, “You get stuck in your ways.” Pinterest offered a chance for her to “freshen up and get new ideas,” she said.
It was there that Walter found an idea for creating a flower with petals made of paper thank-you notes to give to parents and guest speakers who volunteer in the classroom.
Another thing that teachers will find on Pinterest are Anchor Charts, which are visual representations of what the students should be learning in class. Teachers post them all over the classroom to reinforce what they discuss in class and to help the visual learners. “So much of school is auditory,” Walter explained. “It’s really important [to have] visual tools.”
Teachers need visual tools as much as the students do. Danielle Edgeman, a first grade teacher at Paul Revere Elementary School, said she uses Pinterest for everything anchor charts to classroom decor to classroom management techniques. “It’s really important to see what other teachers are doing,” she said. “Every time I do an art project, I search to see if someone has done it already.”
Pinterest has been keeping an eye on this growing trend. According to Pinterest’s Mithya Srinivasan, ”Teachers have found Pinterest to be a great resource. With Pinterest, teachers are able to discover new project ideas, find tips on how to decorate their classrooms, share great resources they’ve found across the web, and more,” she said. “We’ve even heard from teachers who have been able to connect with other teachers around the globe to share ideas and inspiration.”
All three elementary school educators mentioned TeachersPayTeachers, an open marketplace where teachers can sell their best lesson plans and activities to other teachers, as a source of great pins.
In recent months, Pinterest has worked to improved its search functionality to make resources like these easier to find on the network. ”You have to be a pretty tech-savvy teacher to find what’s on there right now,” said Boedecker, “but it’s getting better and better.”
One advantage of Pinterest, however, is its bookmarking functionality. The newly updated layout highlights the collections of pins, called boards, that pinners can now flip through like a magazine.
“Pinterest also gives teachers a place to organize and collect all the interesting content they’ve found,” Srinivasan said, ”and we’re glad that there are so many boards dedicated to education on Pinterest.”