14 Sep Using Pinterest to Differentiate Professional Learning
Just when we had started feeling comfortable with Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads…Franki Sibberson and Brenda Powers told us, “You know, you really need to look at Pinterest.”
Our immediate reaction – AHHHHHH! Not another social media tool to learn.
But did we cry, goodness no! We took a lesson from our good friend, Pete the Cat. We took a breath; we set up a Pinterest account and began exploring Pinterest boards. Of course after spending just a few minutes on the site, we knew it would be an amazing tool for us.
A Pinterest board is like a basket of texts in the classroom, yet the basket never gets too full. We can keep adding items to the Pinterest board as we learn about new resources and materials. The other great thing is that instead of our baskets of resources simply being collections of text, we can expand them to include videos, podcasts, photographs, quotes, and blog posts.
This fall we are using Pinterest Boards as a new way to organize how we share professional resources with schools. Some of the Pinterest boards we created are on topics we are studying with teachers this year: close reading, interactive read aloud, monitoring for meaning and inferring. Typically we provide a list of recommended readings to our partnering schools. Usually we only list one or two resources to read so that we don’t overwhelm anyone. With Pinterest, we can now list lots of resources on a topic. Teachers can preview all of the resources by reading the descriptions of each item on these boards and choose which professional resources make the most sense for their own professional growth and learning. If there is a specific article or chapter we will be discussing at an upcoming session, we can simply put a “#” sign at the bottom of the “pin.” This way everyone knows that this is a required reading for the upcoming professional development session.
Teachers work so hard to match books to each reader in their classrooms. We hope to do a better job at offering a variety of resources through Pinterest so professionals can choose a “good match” for their learning. When a grade level team, a school or district is beginning a new initiative or learning about specific instructional practices together, Pinterest may be a way to offer a variety of resources. This will provide opportunities for teachers to meet with colleagues who read the same resources and discuss their thoughts about a particular text. They can also talk with teachers who read different resources and teach each other about the new ideas and concepts they learned.
Pinterest boards also broaden the possibilities for sharing resources and getting a glimpse into each other’s classrooms. When a grade level team or school decides to study a particular topic each teacher might “pin” anchor charts that they made with their class, additional resources they found, mentor texts they used or even videoclips of their lessons. Now the resources on the Pinterest board are more “classroom-based pins” and therefore personal to the learners. This type of board is a great “springboard” for using your own community for professional learning. Groups can select new resources to read and watch, and then meet again to discuss their learning. This allows teachers to share and teach each other based on their own experiences applying the practices in their classrooms.
As teachers discuss the classroom-based items on the board and teachers share what they tried in their own classrooms, a natural next step may be to set up times for teachers to visit each other’s classrooms. As Lucy Calkin’s says, “The greatest gift you could give a colleague is to say, can I come learn from what you are doing.” Pinterest boards might be a first step in a process of sharing practices in a building. The classroom artifacts on the board may automatically spark conversations such as “How did you teach that? What did the students do? What texts did you use?”
We are looking forward to learning more about how to use Pinterest as a tool for professional learning during this school year. We can’t wait to explore Pinterest with teachers, administrators and literacy coaches. We hope our boards will become interactive tools that will be revised and added to as we learn from other “pinners.” You can follow our learning on our Pinterest site. Let us know how you are using Pinterest boards to enhance professional learning? We look forward to learning from you.