To try and help teachers become better consumers of Pinterest, I developed a simple yet thought provoking activity called "Pin It or Bin It?" This activity helps us to collectively evaluate Pinterest resources against a set of best-practice criteria. Below is an example of how this worked during a recent workshop on close reading, but it can easily be adapted to any topic.
Close reading has a wide-variety of interpretations. For this reason, it was important that we, as a district, developed a shared definition and understanding of close reading. We spent a considerable amount of time exploring characteristics of effective close reading practices. To build this shared understanding, we relied on the work of Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey (Text Dependent Questions: Pathways to Close and Critical Reading). This critical first step helped us to move beyond our own opinions to identify a set of 'best-practice' criteria for close-reading.
In our workshop, we explored how anchor charts could serve as a 'third teacher' for close reading. What types of charts could we use with students to scaffold their attempts at close reading? To get some ideas, we turned to Pinterest. One at a time, I projected a chart on the screen so we could all discuss it with a critical eye. To guide our conversations, I established "The Three A's of Anchor Charts" (Accuracy, Accessibility, Action). The Three A's allowed us to collectively vet Pinterest resources by providing us with a common set of best-practice criteria.
- Accuracy - Is the resource accurate? Does the content of the chart reflect the best-practices that we established in Step 1?
- Accessible - Is this chart accessible to all students? This takes into account word choice, font size, graphics, and general layout. From the perspectives of our students, could we read, understand, and most importantly use this chart to help us engage in close reading?
- Action - Does this chart invite some level of action on behalf of the students? Was there evidence that students helped to build the chart or evidence that students continued to interact with the chart? Below is an example of an anchor chart that supports primary students to begin annotating texts. During independent reading, the teacher invites students to jot down examples from their own books and add them to the anchor chart. This type of co-construction creates motivation, meaning, formative assessments, and ultimately mastery.
After chatting about the chart and comparing it against "The Three A's", we then made a collective decision - Do we pin it or bin it? If we agreed to pin it, it meant that our group agreed that it was a good example of a best-practice approach to close reading. If we binned it, it meant that the example did not align with our criteria for best-practice.
'Pin It or Bin It?' is not about bashing the ideas of other teachers. It's about using resources on Pinterest to leverage collegial conversations grounded in standards of a profession. Teachers learn best from other other teachers, whether it's sharing ideas or questioning ideas. We need to look at resources with a critical eye, to question our colleagues, to disagree with each other, and to continuously learn.