George Lucas Educational Foundation
Curriculum Planning

How to Make Pinterest Work for You

Teachers can use this social media platform as a springboard for creativity in planning class projects and activities.

December 17, 2021
Teacher works on a laptop at her desk
M_a_y_a / iStock

Looking for classroom ideas and inspiration? Try Pinterest—it’s more than a spot for party-planning concepts. It’s a robust platform full of user-submitted content that can totally transform your classroom. From lesson plans to suggestions for student projects, Pinterest can be a game-changer.

Using Pinterest as a teaching resource isn’t a new idea—the platform is full of teachers who post their favorite anchor charts and kid-friendly apps, or who use Pinterest to look for ideas without ever posting or sharing a “pin” themselves.

Let’s look at three reasons you shouldn’t ignore Pinterest and why you should revisit Pinterest if it’s been a while.

Pinterest Is Essentially a Search Engine

Instead of a Google search, which brings up a wide range of text-based results, Pinterest provides users with a search bar that shows graphics, short captions, and links as part of its results. Although you can toggle between a few different options in Google, like seeing news, images, or videos as part of your results, Pinterest is essentially a search engine tied to content that can solve a problem, offer an idea, or provide inspiration. There’s a search bar at the top of the page where you enter a keyword or a query like “back-to-school activities” or “picture books about kindness” or anything you’d like to find.

Educators around the world use Pinterest to bookmark and organize favorites. With a keyword search in Pinterest, you can find a blog post written by a teacher in another part of the globe. Or you might discover a video clip from a content creator you want to follow on Pinterest, Instagram, or another social media platform.

It’s important to build your edtech tool belt, as I stress in my new book EdTech Essentials: The Top 10 Technology Strategies for All Learning EnvironmentsPinterest offers ways to search for new types of tools, such as 11 Teacher-Recommended Math Apps and Online Tools, or for new resources and new uses for tools that are already in your tool belt.

There Are Many Student Project Examples

Pinterest is full of student project examples and lesson suggestions, like ideas for poetry lessons or teaching equivalent fractions. Many educators use this platform and add pins (links with the image featured) to lots of teacher-friendly resources. Here’s an example of one of my pins connected to virtual reality lessons. A quick search for the type of project, subject area, and even grade level can bring up oodles of pins to search through. Even a quick search using the words “water cycle projects 5th grade” can bring up visuals to go along with blog posts, lesson plans, and multimedia resources.

The visual aspect of Pinterest makes it a great place to quickly gather ideas. Search results can include a photograph someone posted as a student work sample or simply an eye-catching graphic that confirms what the link behind the pin will take you to, and offers a quick peek at what’s covered in a blog post. As with any search engine, the results that come back from your search will vary in quality and quantity. Pinterest has content that connects to blog posts and podcast episodes that are free of charge, as well as material that’s behind a paywall.

If TikTok Isn’t for You, the Videos on Pinterest Might Be

While TikTok has become popular with educators, if you hear “TikTok” and cringe, but know that videos are a powerful way to learn something new, consider Pinterest. In addition to the traditional pins that have an image, title, caption, and link to content hosted somewhere else on the internet, video pins are 4 seconds to 15 minutes in length.

When you scroll through Pinterest search results, video pins may come up alongside the traditional pins. Although video isn’t as popular on Pinterest as on other platforms, keep your eyes peeled for video in your feed. These videos tend to unpack a big idea, such as steps to follow, or provide a more in-depth look at a topic than a quick static visual. I sometimes make video pins to share information and updates instead of just using the traditional pins. Here’s an example of one of my video pins that gives a rundown of the new features on my blog from that week, and here’s one from Microsoft in Education with a quick tip about Microsoft Teams.

To make the most of Pinterest, think of it as a search engine, essentially a space that can give you meatier results than you’d get in a Google search. Try out a search for student project examples by combining subject areas, topics, and grade level if you’re on the hunt for inspiration. And finally, keep on the lookout for videos that can help bring ideas to life with engaging visuals.

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