Posts Tagged DigitalEducationRevolution

Using Pinterest as an ‘inspiration board’

I have been using Pinterest a fair bit this year to collect links and images of interest to me an my students. It’s a nifty platform for curating – it’s highly visual and has an app for both apple and android that I find myself using often when surfing my mobile devices in front of the telly.

When introducing Pinterest to newcomers, I am often asked the question: “how does this website full of pictures of cupcakes have anything to do with learning?”. It’s a good question! Pinterest at first glance presents as a space filled with links to homewares, fashion, craft and cooking. I know some people claim that Pinterest is therefore “for girls”, but plenty of people refute this.

One way that I have seen Pinterest used very powerfully in education is for the creation of ‘inspiration boards’.

Tania Sheko has provided an excellent account of examples from her school in a recent blog post. I’ve included her screenshot here to give you an idea of what is covered:

Pinterest screenshot by Tania Sheko

Pinterest screenshot by Tania Sheko

Working as a librarian in her school Tania was able to really boost the teaching/learning resources available in a visual arts unit by creating a range of boards with images to INSPIRE students in their project making.

What a great idea!

If I was teaching English right now, I could definitely apply this strategy. I would probably start by making inspirations boards for:

  • Shakespeare
  • journalism
  • poetry
  • different genres (a gothic board! a crime fiction board!)
  • characters for story writing
  • locations for story writing

So there you have it – INSPIRATION BOARDS. An excellent way to utilise the (wonderfully visual and digital) Pinterest in your teaching.

Thanks to Tania for sharing her ideas!


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NSW Laptop Tweets

For those of you out there who are about to receive (or are lucky enough to have already received!) one of the NSW DET issue Lenovo Laptops, this list of Twitter contacts may help you build your Personal Learning Network.

The following is a list of Twitter users that wove their hands about with great enthusiasm when asked who wanted to discuss and share resources for teaching with the new laptops:

You can join Twitter and start following these excellent people at

If you’d like to be added to this expanding list, add a comment with your twitter username and some info about your role and region.   There seems to be a lot happening in the Hunter/Central Coast region, surely the rest of us can give them a run for their money 😉

Also let us all know if there are networks springing up in other spaces – for example, English teachers can now join the Teaching English with Laptops ‘Ning’, a site specifically focussed on using the laptops in the English classroom.

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Great expectations

As I wait with baited breath to receive my new laptop courtesy of the NSW DET, an invigorating post by Melissa Giddins has got me planning how to introduce change to my faculty. Only where Melissa as Head Teacher has the authority to set the pace of change in her faculty (laptops used in some way every lesson for the first few weeks, then moving to every second lesson on average – I love it!), as a rank-and-file classroom teacher I can only lobby for such change.

My major strategy will be resource sharing at our faculty meetings – a new teaching idea each fortnight, starting with using features of Word to annotate texts (using formatting, comment, track changes etc.) and moving through to more time consuming activities such as making a digital story.  Luckily the teachers in my faculty are all quite excited about the arrival of the laptops, though some will need more tech (and moral!) support than others.

Download my handout on using comments in Word

Download my handout on tracking changes in Word

During these meetings I’ll also be able to model some key pieces of software starting with Audacity (for making podcasts), Adobe Premier Elements (for movie making – most staff are familiar with MovieMaker…), and taking a look at where to find things in Word 2007 (most still working on 97-03 versions).

Another important strategy is to share work samples from my own classes and discuss what worked, and what didn’t work.  For teachers to feel confident in explaining a task or activity to student, I think they have to have a picture in their mind’s eye of what the product will look like.

All very ‘lead a horse to water…’, I know.  So far though, so good – I’ve been doing this kind of thing (without the software modelling) all this year, and the mood in the faculty is feeling far more positive these days.

But…what could people a bit higher up than me initiate that may bring about change more rapidly?  How about:

  • Head Teachers set high expectations for their faculty – laptops to be used in some way every lesson for the first few weeks, then moving to every second lesson on average, sounds good to me
  • Paper based ‘Daily Notices’ and ‘Staff Bulletins’ be sent electronically – ensures that teachers check email daily/weekly to retrieve these
  • Form a Technology Leadership team, with representatives from each faculty, to meet regularly to share ideas/resources and take ideas back to the faculty level
  • Add links to resources for teaching with laptops to school intranet homepage (e.g. TaLe, Curriculum Support)

I’m sure there’s loads more.  What can you think of, or what have you been doing already, in whatever role you are in at your school?