Pinterest is yet another foreign country with which I am not quite familiar, but I’m fascinated and excited to explore it, to the point of having cramps in my index finger from over-pinning!
What’s Pinterest? It’s an application that allows you to click on websites and links you find interesting, as you search for specific information or ideas. Think of it as a digital bulletin board; as you find things that interest you, you digitally “pin” them to the board for future reference. It enables you to organize these links according to categories you create and each link shows up as a picture, making it easier to visually recall its content. Unlike just a picture, though, you can click on it and go to the webpage where it originally appeared. Since it’s online, it takes no physical space, and you can get to it anytime from your laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
Remember walking lazily in Paris, in Angers, or any other place you were visiting during a vacation? One little street calls to us: a detail on a porte cochère, this church, that hôtel particulier, this angle for a photo and that boutique for foie gras. In the end, you have seen things that were not in your guidebook or on your original itinerary, but which you wouldn’t have wanted to miss. Well, once I entered ‘Pinterest land’, I found myself getting lost following interesting paths and pinning crazily in fear of losing a precious bit of wisdom gathered by someone surely more adept at pinning than I. Yes, you could ‘pin’ your own links, but what ends up happening is that you discover a trove of ‘pins’ by many other people who share your same interests. So, you pin and pin and go on unexpected journeys.
I came to Pinterest as a French teacher motivated to use a few more new tech tools and I have not regretted it! Thanks to Pinterest, I found a tool with which to start reining in the chaos of links, pictures, and ideas. I found that other French teachers had organized their pins in interesting ways; I am still struggling with how to best organize mine. As an instructor barely coming back to teaching the AP French Language and Culture course, I created categories that correspond to the AP themes. Then, I realized that, perhaps, I should instead consider the subthemes because each category seemed too broad. Lesson plans, decorating ideas, classroom posters…just by searching “French classroom” a treasure trove appears on the screen!
Once I “pin”, how do I use what I’ve found? When you click on something you’ve pinned, you can go directly to the original website. Think of the pinned photos as a visual reminder of what you’ve researched. You can access your Pinterest account from any computer, so it is easy to quickly find the links you need for your lessons. I have found interesting ‘infographie’ charts on various subjects, sites with narrated short stories, the usual songs, advertisements, and ideas for lessons. I am always in the process of adding, deleting, and contemplating, while I marvel at the resourcefulness of other language teachers. You can decide to follow certain people who have interesting pins. You decide your own level of privacy. For instance, my professional pins are public, but my personal pins are not.
If you are not yet familiar with Pinterest or have not thought about using it in the context of your teaching, I am encouraging you to give it a try. It’s a lot of fun! Beware though, once you start…
About the author…
COACH Team member Silvia Battigalli has taught French in Southern California for 29 years. In addition to her native Italian, she speaks French, Spanish, Latin, Ancient Greek and English.