Friday, December 4, 2015

Teaching Educator Digital Literacy With A Pinterest Party

This post is sponsored by Samsung. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I will freely admit that Pinterest is one of those services that I haven't been a big user of. When it first appeared my wife took to it instantly. Now, she is a teacher but she didn't go in the hunt of resources for the classroom. She was looking for recipes, design ideas and oddly enough, wedding dresses (we were already married so I'm still not really sure about that one).

During a multi-day workshop I was running in one of my schools a few years ago, we had teachers divide up in to curriculum teams to investigate and find resources for a unit of study they felt they were weak in. As soon as we turned them loose to get started, multiple hands went into the air.

"Why is Pinterest blocked?"

"I need to get to Pinterest to get started and I can't!"

I heard this over and over from across the room. The teachers, when setting out on a task to find resources for their classroom were not going to Google like they had done traditionally. They went to Pinterest to find what they needed. I had no idea it's popularity (nor did I know it was blocked in our schools). I had it unblocked and teachers went about their way.

But then we had a problem.

Most of the resources they were finding and wanting to use just weren't right. Some where not aligned to the correct content area. Others were just not pedagogically strong. And still others were copyrighted material that should have never been posted in the first place. The problems came when the teachers said the lessons looked great, or pretty, or fun. They weren't evaluating the resource, rather they were evaluating the look of the resource.

I am sure there are wonderful resources for the classroom and learning that are posted there. Many folks that you know through social media have boards there on a variety of subject areas. But Pinterest wasn't designed for sharing instructional resources. It's a visual medium for food and design and fashion. So if we are going to use it to share instructional resources, we have to take additional steps to ensure what we are finding is right for the classroom.

Traditional professional development in the realm of digital literacy can be quite boring. With all PD we have to rethink the way we do professional learning, especially when thinking about technology related PD. The learning needs of the educators has to be considered as well as the classroom environment.

This led me to an idea.

Curation and digital literacy are such necessary skills today. Understanding where to find the best information, how to vet that information, organize and share that information are crucial skills in this digital age. (Shameless plug-So important I wrote a book about it!) What if we combined the values of curation and resource sharing on Pinterest into an event.

A Pinterest Party!

The way it works.

Invite anyone, teachers, coaches, instructional staff to your Pinterest party. These could be teachers of the same subject or grade level or a mix of the two; however you want to do it. Then there are 2 rules. They must bring a board of resources they've collected that they are using in the classroom for an upcoming unit of study. And they must bring a dish that they found on Pinterest to share with everyone.

Who wouldn't want to come to a professional development with tons of food!

While we are trying out all these great dishes of food we can get down to business. Talking about digital literacy. For each resource participants need to answer 4 questions:
  • Where did the resource come from? Can you tell from the post who the original poster of the information was?
  • Based on where the information came from, is it copyrighted? Can you reproduce it, post it yourself, or even use it without proper license? 
  • Is the resource aligned? Look at your standards/units/instructional plans and decide, does this resource help you meet a teaching goal? 
  • Will this resource help students learn? The most important question to answer, we have to look past how fun or "cute" a resource looks and determine if it will really help students meet an instructional objective. 
The goal is less about the actual resource finding and more about teaching those necessary digital literacy skills to find the best information in the classroom.

While Pinterest can be great medium for finding resources we've got to ensure they are the best resources.

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Photo credit: balloons via photopin (license)
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