SAN DIMAS, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say three women riding on a personal watercraft were killed when they crashed into a motorboat at a Southern California reservoir.
Los Angeles County fire Inspector Matt Levesque (luh-VECK') said the Saturday collision at Puddingstone Lake also left three men from the boat with serious injuries and a woman with minor injuries. They are all expec
Now he's got more than 14,500 followers on Twitter from around the country. That's more than a "Today" show co-host and nearly as many as the U.S. secretary of education.
His goal? To tap into the oceans of educators everywhere using social networking to share tips, ask advice and promote what they're doing. "I'm opening up what I'm thinking as a principal to the global society," he says.
While some skeptics may see a stream of 140-character updates as a time-consuming distraction, Sheninger ticks off the benefits for his school of roughly 700 students. One contact he made through his Twitter life spurred a company to donate cameras that scan documents. Another invited him to bring students to a United Nations summit on women in education. And another led to a teacher's free trip to Israel, with a later visit to the high school by Israeli educators who talked to his teens about the Holocaust.
"It's not about how many followers you have," said Sheninger, 36. "It's about the substance of those you follow."
The former science teacher's zeal for the savvy use of new technologies was on full display Saturday in a conference called "Edscape," expected to draw more than 300 educators from the tri-state area to New Milford High School. Sheninger made a pitch on Twitter for presenters, and ended up with workshops on digital storytelling, podcasting, productive use of iPads and SMART Boards, plus math in the "Jetsons' Age," a reference to the space-age cartoon family.
The conference aimed to show them how to make the most of modern tools so they're not just cool gadgets. As Sheninger cautions, "When you don't have a clear lesson plan, the technology is fluff."
While many schools ban cellphones during class time, Sheninger embraces them as "mobile learning devices" and pushes a BYOD — for bring your own device — agenda. He spread word among his staff about polleverywhere.com, a free website that lets students use their phones to answer questions by text message, so a teacher can instantly see how many students understand a concept. (It's a bit like voting for American Idol.) Most kids have unlimited text plans so it doesn't cost extra, he said, and any students who don't have phones are paired with those who do.
"Take out your cellphones, turn to Page 73, and text in your answers," geometry teacher Jeff Fiscina told his 10th-graders one morning this week during a class on complementary angles. After a bar graph of their responses flashed on a SMART Board screen, he smiled and announced, "100 percent got it!"
Some teachers acknowledged sheepishly they don't follow their boss on Twitter, but Fiscina said he did. "Our ability to share resources has grown incredibly with social networking," he said. In the old days, Fiscina added, collaboration meant "talking to the teacher across the hall, but now you can talk to someone in California."
Many of Sheninger's tweets (using the handle (at)NMHS_Principal) are links to articles, inspiring quotes, answers to followers' questions or tips about new apps. He said he never tweets when observing a teacher's class; his missives often come after school or in the early morning (a father of two, he gets up at 4:45 a.m. to commute from Staten Island).
Despite his fascination with social networking, it's still out of bounds for students on campus. The school blocks access to Facebook and Formspring, which has been widely castigated for inflaming bullying. Only teachers have access to YouTube, which some use to download short documentaries.
Sheninger said he hasn't heard complaints about his prolific tweeting since one goof early on. Back in 2009, when he first started using Twitter to broadcast news on school sports scores, report card schedules and the like, he taught parents how to make tweets appear instantly as text messages on their cellphones. One parent asked if he could please stop making his phone buzz on Saturday mornings with alerts about "collaborative learning and differentiated instruction."
After that, Sheninger set up a separate account for news for his local audience ((at)NewMilfordHS), which has about 300 followers.
School board member David Foo, a 58-year-old engineer, at first thought the notion of 140-character bursts was odd, but he has come to see its value. He's been tickled by the ways kids find information differently these days — his son, for example, Googled "how to tie a necktie" instead of simply asking him. "I'm an old-timer but it's important to keep an open mind," Foo said.
Is there any evidence yet that all this social networking and new technology have actually increased student learning?
"The education community as a whole is waiting for that big study to come out," Sheninger answered. Even if student achievement rises in coming years, he noted, it won't be clear whether that's due to high-tech advances or other factors, such as improvements in teacher quality or more stringent standards.
There's one point Sheninger feels certain about, however: To compete in the future, kids will have to adapt quickly to rapid changes in the world around them. "We're trying to unleash student creativity by allowing them to use the tools of the 21st century," he said. "How do you prepare students for jobs that don't even exist yet?"
Information from: The Record, http://www.northjersey.com
ted to survive.
Authorities say the women, ages 25, 35, and 60, were all riding on the same Sea-Doo watercraft when they crashed. Paramedics declared all three dead at the scene.
Sheriff's homicide detectives and county lifeguards are investigating the crash, but have not said what may have caused it.
Puddingstone is a popular recreational reservoir inside Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park, some 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.