I love Pinterest.
I know I say it a lot, but Pinterest was the only type of social media that I actually used prior to this class. I love it because I can learn so much about really anything I want. I have learned to make a series of breakfasts, lunches, suppers, and desserts-in-a-mug (some healthy, some not so much). I have learned how to make centerpieces, how to plan a wedding “on a dime”, what’s the proper wedding etiquette, and how to plan a bridal shower. I have learned what books I need to read in my 20s, new ideas for SmartBoard lessons, the mind of a middle-schooler, how to make Math centers, how to use interactive notebooks in a Science class, how to organize my classroom, and even how to decorate my home. The list can go on and on.
Now its helping me learn Italian.
Several weeks have gone by, and I feel as though I am starting to get the hang of basic Italian. Thanks to DuoLingo and Mango, I have learned several new words, verb conjugations, cultural references, and basic grammatical explanations. Thanks to Forvo and WordReference, I can fill in the blanks with pronunciations I need repeated or new words I still have not yet learned (i.e. this week, I had to look up tired in a conversation I had with my husband, as you will see below). Listening to Italian radio TV on BBC has helped me acquire an ear for Native Italian speakers. Following Italian Language on Twitter has also given me a challenge of using the daily words they present in Italian. All in all, I feel as though I am finally getting the hang of learning online. At first, I was overwhelmed with options. Now, I have my set of resources that I can use to help me fill in any blanks I may have. Best of all, these things are all free, which demonstrates yet again the beauty of Open Education.
However, one thing that has really been difficult to overcome, as I have previously mentioned, is the prepositions and other little grammatical problems that I seem to have difficulty with when trying to construct a sentence from scratch. That is where Pinterest has come in to save the day.
A simple search on Pinterest for Italian prepositions, Italian grammar, or simply Learn Italian yields a multitude of results (see below). Now, there are advantages to this, as well as disadvantages.
Beauty of Pinterest – Myriad of Resources
What I love about Pinterest is the amount of resources it brings together. It amasses resources from blogs, websites, and any other online source and presents them to you simply via picture and a short description by a fellow pinner. You can see a multitude of resources all at the same time, and with a simple click, you can access these resources. These resources touch on any topic imaginable, from health and fitness, to wedding and fashion, to education and games. Anything you want to know, you can probably find on Pinterest.
Problems – Time, Value, and Money
Doesn’t it always come down to time and money? I won’t lie; I get drawn into Pinterest. Before I know it, two hours have gone by, and I have pinned hundreds of ideas and resources. There is an overwhelming amount of information presented on Pinterest, seemingly endless. I have the tendency to keep looking until I have exhausted my resources, to ensure I have found the perfect one for the task at hand. This is practically an impossibility with Pinterest, and definitely was when I was looking for help with learning Italian. After I have spent hours pinning what seem to be good resources, I then need to spend the time to go through these resources, check out their original source, and see if they are of value. Hours will go by, and I will have found a couple of resources that I will actually use.
Now, I don’t mind spending the time to do this. Actually, I find it engaging to see what other people have come up with and how they achieve their goals. One of the biggest problems with Pinterest, however, is the value of the resources. Often, something will look amazing and I will pin it for later. Once I go to check it out, sometimes it is simply a picture, with no explanation attached to it. Other times, it sends me back as the content has been flagged inappropriate. Then there are the other times when it sends me to a website the buy the content. My fault, I know, that I pin before checking it out. Something I need to change in my own learning process.
I appreciate when people share resources. In fact, we had a larger discussion around this topic last week when we broached the importance of open education. That being said, I understand why people charge for their ideas and resources. When you work for something, you often get paid for it. So when I go on Pinterest and find all these resources I love and think would be great for my classroom, I click on them, and get sent to Teachers Pay Teachers to buy the resource. In a beautiful world, I could afford to buy all of these resources. However, I cannot. Which leads me to go back to my original page to look for other free resources.
What Pinterest does, and doesn’t do
So Pinterest doesn’t distinguish or categorize resources for you as your Google App Store will. It won’t tell you which resources cost money, which are free, which are most downloaded, and which are not. It requires one to spend time prior to researching to determine what he or she really wants. Going into Pinterest without a goal is like going to the Mall without actually wanting to buy something specific. You can peruse for hours, come out with things that may be of use, maybe find that gem that you have been wanting, but you also may go home with nothing. Pinterest does, however, encourage critical thinking, in the sense that you have to analyze the sources presented to you, and determine what is best. You need to know when to stop looking (something I need to work on personally), and when to start working with these sources.
Overall, however, Pinterest does help. In particular with this Learning Project, it has helped me fill in some gaps in my Italian learning. Not only has it presented me with pictures that help me fill in things I still want to know, but it links me back to that website that will often explain the picture that initially taught me something new. For example, in searching for prepositional explanations, I found this informative yet simple graph noting the different prepositional combinations that exist in Italian:
This, alone, helped me understand when to use the different prepositional combinations. However, I was still confused when to actually use gli instead of i, as they are both plural forms of the. Then I followed the link from this table, which sent me to a GREAT blog explaining a variety of grammar rules in Italian. This blog posts weekly videos and explanations for different grammatical concepts in Italian, as well as some things simply in Italian. This helps me read in Italian, and force myself to translate what he is saying to understand it. It was a great find, and it would not have happened if not for the beauty of Pinterest.
This was but one of the many treasures I have found on Pinterest relating to my learning project. Explanations of particular prepositions used after specific verbs (a similar trend in French), flash cards with pictures describing the action, everyday Italian expressions, and specific beautiful words to use daily are but a few of the other things I have found on Pinterest that have helped me further develop my Italian.
Although this blog post focused mainly on my success with Pinterest this week, I have accomplished my regular weekly tasks. I worked on DuoLingo and Mango, I listened to Italian speakers, I spoke and texted with my husband, and I completed my ten new words this week. Here they are:
- Il forno – the oven
- Il tempo – the time
- Il coltello – the knife
- Il tostapane – the toaster
- Cuocere al forno – bake
- Arrostire sotto una fonte di calore – broil
- Decongelare – defrost
- Il microonde – microwave
- Il tagliere – cutting board
- Il elemento riscaldante – heating element
(Italian is in purple while English is in green).
You may have noticed that I was supposed to have a conversation with my husband this week in Italian. I have found this conversations to be trite and not as practical as was my intention. Therefore, instead of planning a conversation with my husband, instead I focused on conversing more often with him in Italian in person and over text message. These seem more real to me, and more helpful in the long run. Again, he is the one putting in more time into his Italian text messages, but I am improving, and hope to do more in the coming week.
My goals for next week include:
- Continue DuoLingo
- Continue Mango
- Use Pinterest, WordReference, and Forvo when blanks need filled
- 10 new household words
- Vlog #4
- Explore resources shared by Ellen on our Google+ community (use these instead of BBC this week for listening activities)
- Continue using Italian in everyday language and situations with my husband.
Arriverderci, i miei colleghi! I hope you have una settimana eccezionale!