Classroom Twitter account makes history


Photo Credit: Kaitlin Stansel

The new US II Social Media account, run by Mr. Paul McCrary, is indicative of the changing educational trends leaning toward social media connectivity.

by Kaitlin Stansel, Social Media Editor

Nonchalantly scrolling through your Twitter feed, you come across a tweet from @US_II_Glen_Rock, “Imperialism starts Monday”- an oddity amongst the humorous, celebratory, or even vexed tweets that frequent the famed social media site marked by the familiar blue bird.

On Oct. 6, Mr. Paul McCrary designed Glen Rock High School’s first classroom Twitter account, following in the steps of other school Twitter accounts such as @TheGlenEchoGRHS and @PrincipalGRHS.

“Basically, we created the Twitter account to make Fusion more efficient,” said McCrary, history teacher. “If we can have students follow the Twitter it will pop up once or twice a day as oppose to fusion which sends out eight million emails.”

The Twitter account was implemented in an attempt to simplify the process that was taken by students to access information on School Fusion, an online service used by the Glen Rock School District that provides staff, students, and parents secure access to all district, school, and classroom information.

“The goal was to make sure the kids stay up on the work because you guys are busy and none of you ever log onto the school accounts from home. Whereas if you’re on Twitter, you may check it,” McCrary said. “You guys have a lot going on, you’re seventeen years old and you’re busy. It just becomes overwhelming at times. So if we streamline it and make you aware of what’s do when, I think the better off you’ll be.”

McCrary was proactive in initiating the social media movement inside the classroom, contacting both Principal John Arlotta and Vice Principal Michael Pasciuto in order to start the Twitter account for his history courses.

“It was really streamlined because both Mr. Pasciuto and Mr. Arlotta want us to use more technology, because that’s how you guys do everything,” said McCrary.

The increase in the presence of social media use corresponds with the increased use of online resources, like social media sites, in schools across the nation. According to Education World, “Studies suggest that approximately 70 percent of all organizations engage in structured collaboration using online social learning tools such as blogs, wikis and podcasts.”

Dr. Richard J. Light, professor at Harvard’s School of Education, advocates social constructivism, a group-teaching mechanism that is shown to promote effective learning since students are interacting with other learners. Light encourages educators to employ social media in the classroom as a platform for “virtual study groups.”

This modern-day study mechanism can be most frequently exhibited on sites like Twitter and Facebook, where hashtags and pages allow individuals to discuss specified topics.

In the future, social media sites such as Edmodo and Saywire may become more prominent in the classroom because they are safer options for students due to their privacy settings and tools that allow teachers to monitor interactions between students.

Light further endorses social media as a tool that can be used in schools for its ability to attract youthful learners. Social media platforms enable many engaging classroom activities that deviate from the contemporary classroom setting. Such activities include, “communities of practice” where students can interact and exchange ideas.

The response from both students and parents alike has been positive. Julia Rooney, junior and student in McCrary’s United States History II class, said, “I like how Mr. McCrary made the Twitter page to announce homework because it’s easier to find than having to go on the website.”

“As people realize that it’s easier for them than fusion we’ll get more and more followers,” McCrary said.

McCrary’s blossoming social media account is  only the beginning of Glen Rock High School’s social media movement.

“I think overall we need to [have a stronger social media presence], and I think Mr. Arlotta is working on this with his Twitter account. It’s going to have to happen because the senior grade is the last of people who existed before social media really,” McCrary said. “If you think about it, you were in fourth and fifth grade when Facebook and everything happened. The freshmen never have been a teenager or anything without having Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Snapchat or whatever else. That’s their whole universe. So we’re going to have to modify to fit them or else they’re not going to pay attention.”