My First Pinterest Learning Party!

Earlier this school year, a comprehensive survey was done of students, staff, and community for the school system. While looking at the results, my boss at the time (he is not anymore) noticed something interesting …

When teachers were asked about their use of technology … Pinterest was the third most popular answer (behind email and facebook I think).

He shared that information with me in hopes that we might be able to use that information in some way …

Teachers are told to find out things they students enjoy and meet them where they are ….

So I took on the challenge (somewhat self-imposed) of figuring out how to use the teacher interest in Pinterest to a learning advantage ….

So I started thinking about ways to connect Pinterest and learning …

What do people do on Pinterest?

They search for ideas …

They share ideas …

They decide which ideas to keep (pin) and which to pass …

Then I started to see some connections!

What do we want for our students to do?

We want them to search for ideas (research).

We want them to share ideas (effective communication in various forms)

We went the to look at ideas and resources with a critical eye to determine which ones are credible and which ones are not (analyze and evaluate)

Do you see the connections?

I started having some ideas about the discussion we could have …

But I had to figure out a way to get people to come to staff development …

I did not want it to be a required one because it would not meet the needs for all, and I wanted the people there to actually be there because they wanted to be …

When I visit teachers and sit in on meetings, I almost always hear people sharing what they found on Pinterest …

So I decided to have a Pinterest Learning Network Sharing Party!

I created digital invitations and individually emailed them to teachers at the schools I work with as well as to my coworkers. I also sent the invite to others to share and had it posted on the technology blog for our school system.

(The Big, Bad Weather Monster hit and the party had to be rescheduled, so I also developed an online way to share ideas for those who could not attend, but that is another story)

I tried to create a welcoming environment by moving the tables into a circular shape (rather than straight rows) to encourage sharing. I scattered yellow paper in different sizes on the tables in case anyone wanted to make a quick note (I know we can take digital notes too but I was trying to be helpful and it made the tables looks better).

Since Easter was approaching, I put large handfuls of Easter Candy on the tables too! And the closer you got to the front of the room, the better the candy!

And no Pinterest Party would be complete without a snack made from a recipe found on Pinterest! (I even used Spring-colored M&Ms in my S’more Bags)

In my mind, people would go up to the computer and show the websites, activities, or pins they had to share … I even made a sign up board!

That did not happen …

But it was so much better!

Once we got going (the candy helped with that), teachers were sharing resources and ideas. With a little bit of guidance from me, we started talking about how we search for what we are looking for and how we decided what to keep(pin).

It did not matter what grade or subject you taught, ideas were flying. There were K teachers sharing things that gave 5th g teachers some ideas. They shared the types of things they liked finding as well as how the found certain things. I asked a few questions about how they decided what things to add to their pin boards and why they chose what they did.

There was even one person there just to see what we were doing since he had not really used Pinterest before. Teachers shared helpful hints and strategies for ways to not get overwhelmed as well as ideas for keeping your pin organized (I listened very closely to this part since I need more help with that).

The Pinterest Party that day started with teachers who did not really know each other, but I think it ended with a community of sharers who look forward to the next time!

We all learned something and were inspired to try something new or in a new way ….

One of the things I learned was to start the ball rolling and then get out of the way to let the real learning happen … even if it doesn’t go according to my plan!

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