At the end of one of his infamous daily “good morning Ames High School” announcements, principal Spence Evans briefly added, “follow me on Twitter!” Curious as to what this strange announcement was all about, many students stormed onto Twitter and found the profiles of Mr. Evans, as well as most of the English department.
“I thought it was really funny, especially Mr. Webb’s tweets,” senior Renee Chang said. “I just wanted another way to get information out to people,” Evans said. “When the trees were cut down in the courtyard, for example, I tweeted about it.”
On the day of his announcement, an ecstatic Mr. Evans came into the English department’s office while the department was eating lunch.
“He was yelling, ‘I have six followers already! You guys better get on board,’ “ English teacher Mr. Schmidt said. “We all decided to get twitters. It was kind of on a whim and a joke.”
Many English teachers, like Schmidt, had never even heard of the website. However, English teacher Mrs. Engelkes was already familiar with the site.
“I’ve had a twitter for a couple of years, and I got it while I was teaching a Technology in Education course at Iowa State. Most of the people I follow on twitter are professionals in education, English education, and technology in education,” Engelkes said. “I get ideas for using technology in the classroom.”
Twitter, a social networking website launched in 2006, has gained popularity amongst high school students with the recent ease in access through smartphones. “I can get on easily through my iPhone,” Chang said.
With a majority of students having Twitter accounts, the English department as well as Mr. Evans have began posting class and administrative announcements on Twitter, as well as wishing a “good luck” to those students involved in sports and other activities.
“I usually tweet to students I’m thinking about, hoping that they do well in the things that they are doing, like the swimmers,” Evans said. The teachers have had a little fun with Twitter as well.
“Sometimes I tweet fun things like, ‘be the hammer not the nail’,” Evans said. Schmidt tweeted when he completed the Des Moines Half Marathon, and Engelkes uses Twitter to reconnect with the students she taught in Korea. With the English department as well as the principal on Twitter, it is possible that a technology revolution will soon take over Ames High School.
“We’d like to be a one-to-one school, where every kid has a computer in every class,” Schmidt said. ”We’d like to get there, and maybe that’s what this whole twitter thing is about.”