Pinterest is one of my favorite web tools for teaching ideas and inspiration. It is a digital curation tool that allows you to capture an image (and link) of something that you want to “favorite” and save: teaching ideas, recipes, fashion, inspirational quotes, websites and blogs, you name it. If you do not know what Pinterest is, think of a bulletin board that you have to display important and inspirational ideas, notes, and photographs. Pinterest is like a bulletin board online. You can have multiple boards. I currently have eleven boards that range from teaching themes to kids stuff and food. Anyone can lurk at other people’s boards, follow a board, or start creating his or her own thematic boards.
As a teacher, I find that pinterest is a treasure trove for lesson plans, classroom decorating, book lists, unit plans, and worksheets. One idea that I pinned last week from the blog, A Teacher’s Treasure I used this week with both my middle school students and graduate students. I am always on the look out for ideas that engage my students in conversations with each other about books we are reading. I want my students to know that proficient readers dialogue with the text and with themselves while reading, and after reading, dialogue with others about what they’ve read. This dialogue goes beyond, “What did you think of the book.”
I tell my students to always ask themselves while reading:
“What does the author want me to know?”
“What do I need to do with this information?”
“Why does this matter?”
We had just finished reading the short story The Most Dangerous Game and reviewed elements of plot and the types of conflicts in fiction so I created giant thought bubbles and then wrote a dozen reflection questions for students to answer in small groups – an idea that I had pinned from A Teacher’s Treasure blog.
The questions in the thought bubbles addressed elements of plot, conflict, themes, figurative language, and author’s purpose. And, did I mention that the students had to wear the thought bubbles for the full effect of “readers are thinkers.”
Here are the questions that I included on the thought bubbles:
- What text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections can make from the reading?
- What is the conflict?
- What is the moral of the text?
- What themes are present in the text?
- How would you describe the main character and what textual evidence can you share to support your ideas?
- _____________ is important because . . .
- What is the significance of the title?
- What mood does the over all text have?
- How does the author use figurative language in the text?
- What can you infer about the author based on the text?
- What real world connections can I make to the text?
- How did this text change your thinking?
And the learning doesn’t stop.