Online social pinboard services let you "pin" images, videos, text, and more (depending on the service) onto virtual bulletin boards. You can create new boards for different topics, rearrange pinned items on a board, share your pins, and follow other users' boards that interest you.
To use a social pinboard service, you'll need to register. Registration is free, but may require you to have a Facebook or Twitter account. (If you're considering having students create accounts, make sure to read the Terms of Service first. Children must be 13 or up to register on Pinterest.) Once registered, sign in to begin making boards and pinning content.
Depending on the service you choose, what you can do with your pinboards and pins will vary. First, you will need to create a board or boards. A board is a blank space on which you can pin related content. For instance, you could create boards titled "Civil War Primary Sources" or "Ideas for Constitution Day." You can create new boards at any time, and can invite other users to contribute to a board.
Once you've created a board, you can start pinning content to it. On Pinterest, you can pin images and videos that you find online or upload from your computer by using the "Add a Pin" or "Upload a Pin" options; to "Add a Pin" from online, you will need the URL of the image or video's original location. You can add a brief caption to each pinned image. Clicking on a pinned image will take you to the image's original location. Drag the Pinterest button to your brower's toolbar, and you can pin content as you surf the Web.
Use the service's search engine to search for other people's pins and boards that might interest you. If you find a board or user you like, you can choose to follow them. If you find pins that you like, you can "repin" them on any of your own boards. Similarly, other users can follow you or any of your individual boards and repin your content on their boards. These social features let you share your own online finds and benefit from others'.
You can use social pinboard services to share and communicate with both students and other teachers. Many users use pinboard services to connect with their peers, locating users who teach similar subjects or have similar interests and following them for inspiration and resources. Pinboards also let you collect and organize content you find while surfing the Web. If you're searching for materials to put together a lesson plan, you can pin everything you find that might be useful on one board; if you're surfing casually and happen across a photo or article you'd like to remember, you can pin it to a board full of similar content, to look at later. Pinboards can help you save content, organize what you find, and share it with others.
You can also create boards and share them with students. For instance, you could direct student research for a project or paper by pinning content from reputable websites to a board. Share the URL with the students, and they now have access to an online "reference shelf." Create a board of primary sources-—maybe engaging photographs or artwork—and use it to start off a lesson, or send the link to students before the lesson and ask them to look over the images and come in the next day with questions ready.
If your students are old enough, they can also use Pinterest for themselves. Introduce them to the tool, and they can use boards to keep track of their own research, collaborate to create shared boards populated with materials they find on webquests or other scavenger-hunt-style projects, or curate mini exhibits with visuals and captions.
For more ideas, check out Online Universities's infographic "16 Ways Teachers are Using Pinterest" or Best College Online's "37 Ways Teachers Should Use Pinterest." Educational consultant Angela Watson also offers a quick rundown of tips for using Pinterest. Education World suggests four "power pinners" to follow or use as models.
Visit Teachinghistory.org on Pinterest here!