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How Pinterest is changing your child's education

Maureen used to be obsessed with baseball -- and then she had children. After she welcomed her son, Charlie, and his extra chromosome, she discovered her passion for writing about Down syndrome and disability-related issues.

With two...

Scissors not required

You know those hours you've lost, poring over projects, crafts and recipes on Pinterest you know in your heart you'll never make? Good news! Your kids' teachers are right there with you — but their return-on-(time)-investment involves enhancing your child's education.

Pinterest heart | Sheknows.com

Photo credit: zakokor/iStock/360/Getty Images

When Pinterest realized the number of teachers using its site, they did the next natural thing — they created an account for it. Teachers on Pinterest launched in August 2013 and now has almost 80,000 followers.

"Pinterest is a tool for collecting and organizing the things that inspire you," a Pinterest spokesperson explains. "We started with the teacher community because they've been such an engaged and collaborative group on Pinterest over the years, as they discover and share classroom and lesson plan ideas to make learning fun."

Beginning last year, teachers were selected based on outreach by Pinterest teams who identified some especially active pinners in the teaching community. Meet three avid pinners who happen to be educating the next generation — and for them, Pinterest doesn't necessarily mean scissors, glue or even anything remotely crafty. Who knew?

Sutton's Favorite board

Why it rocks: "This is a board that is relatively new, but a bunch of teacher bloggers are really beginning to add some incredible pins for 'practical solutions in the classroom,'" Sutton explains. "These can range from class management, literacy group strategies, technology integration, writer's workshop and so much more."

Special education

Matt Sutton is a special education teacher who has taught for nine years, to elementary school children from kindergarten through fifth grade. He credits social media — and Pinterest specifically — with helping teachers worldwide connect, create, share and collaborate in a way that gives a "visual glimpse into schools," he says.

"People have long said that teaching can be a very isolating profession. You go to school, shut the door and teach," Sutton says. "Well, those norms are beginning to change and not just from a collaboration standpoint, but with the ability to grab a teaching idea that was used in England or Australia and implement it in your class in Naperville, Illinois.

"As corny as it might sound — that is exciting. And this is happening more and more every single day." Sutton's three requisites for a winning pin? "Simple, clean and quick."

Sutton's Pinterest projects

Minecraft motivation

"This is a quick and easy way to get reluctant writers to write. We were working on sequencing and I pulled in their favorite video game (Minecraft) as a way for the student to show me how to give step-by-step details." Find the pin here.

"Without Pinterest, [this project] wouldn't have gotten the exposure for other teachers to see," Sutton says. "This could be just what a teacher needs when they're trying to connect with a student. They need that spark or engagement tool to grab the kid — this was it for mine — and I felt that it needed to be shared."

Valentine's Day hand cards

"Around Valentine's this year we created these simple V-Day hand cards, and on the inside of each hand (which held a heart) students had to tell why they loved school (see the connection of love?). This worked out really, really well and the students got a kick out of creating their own versions," Sutton says. Find the pin here.

"This was the perfect project for kids (and teachers) and after it was all over they decorated the doors and classroom. Not only that, but many of the second graders didn't even know how to cut out a symmetrical heart (by folding a piece of paper and cutting) so as we went through this lesson we found many skills that they'd never been taught.

"Was this simple? Yes. Was it fun? Yes. Was it still rigorous for some students? Of course, and it also allowed them to practice their collaboration skills because they weren't allowed to ask a teacher for help until they asked two friends for advice. You see, it's these small little projects that you find which make the biggest difference," Sutton adds.

Cardboard carnival

"I just love this idea and everything that goes with it, which is to create a carnival using only cardboard resources," Sutton says. I've had this pin tucked away since I saw it in September and I am just amazed at what the students were able to come up with (even with help from parents)." Find the pin here.

"It really leans toward project-based learning and thinking — kids creating some kind of game, contraption, device and then having a carnival to shown them all off."

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