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A Pentad of Piquant Pinterest Boards for Social Studies Students and Teachers
Wednesday, October 30, 2013

According to its “About” page, Pinterest is a “tool for collecting and organizing things you love.” Scroll down and you’ll find links to “pinboards” (on which users “pin” photos, images, or anything else gleaned from the web) about topics as varied as “unexpected burger toppings” to “homes on stilts.” But students and teachers alike are using Pinterest more and more these days for educational purposes. In fact, there’s a Pinterest board entitled “Using Pinterest in Education,” which includes 61 pins from sources such as teachthought.com, edutopia.org, and pbs.org–all with information about ways to use Pinterest for the classroom.

Drawing from this new and exciting tradition, we decided to explore Pinterest boards devoted to history and the social sciences. Overall, we found many wonderfully colorful boards, well-pinned with images and links to a wealth of useful information for both educators and students. Here are five (a “pentad”) of our favorites:

5. History, by National Geographic: This pinboard, with over 40 pins and 2,100 followers, has the look you would expect if you’re familiar with the iconic magazine that curates it. In sum, it’s filled with classic black and white stills and action shots that captivate viewers and bring history to life. A series of recent pins highlights athletes competing in the 1908 London Olympic games (don’t miss the strong and elegant female archers adorned in floor-length gowns). Other pins include graphic images from World Wars I and II, and colorful “Milestones in Underwater Geography” repinned from reefbuilders.com.

4. Historical Thinking, by Karyn Gloden: This pinboard is filled with a wide array of resources especially useful for history teachers, such as snapshots of worksheets and other activities from middle and high school courses. We love the pin of Emanuel Leutze’s famous painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware, with thought and speech bubbles extending from the heads and mouths of Washington and his troops (an activity repinned from historytech.wordpress.com meant to get students writing and thinking about history). Other useful pins include a “Facebook Page for Historical Figures” activity (from messyjofu.blogspot.com) and a highly detailed dissection of the words and symbols on a one dollar bill (repinned from livinginmedia.com). Kudos to the pinboard’s curator, Karyn Gloden, a tech-savvy educator from North Carolina.

3. High School Economics, by Joshua Sherk: The curator of this pinboard, Joshua Sherk, is a Senior Business Intelligence Analyst at Kellogg Foods, and his board--on the subject he clearly knows well--is as bright and colorful as a box of Kellogg’s Fruit Loops. He has a knack for finding some of the most visually-stunning infographics about economics, such as the rainbow-bright overview of US Education Spending (repinned from edudemic.com) and the hamburger-themed “Big Mac-Ro Economics” chart (repinned from creditsesame.com). This board is a bookmarking-must for both teachers and students of high school economics.

2. All About Psychology: This master pinboard, curated by the founder of its eponymous website (all-about-psychology.com), David Webb, is a great one-stop-shop for all-things-psych. Webb, a Brit who lectured in Psychology at the University of Huddersfield and Tweets from the handle @Psych101, has composed a fantastic collection of psychology-specific pinboards organized by topic, from “Psychology Hall of Fame,” which features photos and other visuals related to history’s most famous psychologists, to “Psychology Movies,” which includes, among other things, a list of the “Top 10 Psychological Movies of All Time” (#1, according to over 2,000 voters, is A Beautiful Mind).

1. Smithsonian. The Smithsonian Institute’s tagline at the top of this pinboard cheers, “We're not a museum. We're 19 of them! Plus 9 research centers & the National Zoo.” It’s not surprising, therefore, that the iconic museum’s presence on Pinterest includes 38 subject-specific boards followed by over 23,000 users. Topics include “Flags at the Smithsonian,” “Women in Science,” “Cool Jazz,” and much, much more. Teachers will certainly find this board useful as a resource for webquests and other projects, and students will appreciate its convenient organization of links, images, and videos.

These pinboards represent only a tiny fraction of all of the great social studies-related material available on Pinterest, and an even tinier fraction of all the great educational material ready to be explored. To find out more about using Pinterest for educational purposes, click here.