Keirsten Heckel

Recent Posts

March 27, 2018

#SquirrelsChat Recap: Designing for #FutureReady Learning

Classroom design has remained largely the same for centuries – heavy metal desks and chairs lined up in columns and rows, while a teacher lectures at the front of the room.

Despite the stagnant classroom design, lesson plans have evolved to include technology, collaboration, innovation, creativity and flexibility. This leaves a major disconnect between today’s innovative curriculum and outdated classroom furniture.  

This month’s #SquirrelsChat explored how teachers can transform their traditional classroom into a space where students feel welcome and want to learn. You’ll learn how the physical environment of a classroom impacts learning, what factors to consider when redesigning, how to involve students, design hacks and more! 

Related: #SquirrelsChat Recap: Student Engagement

Join #SquirrelsChat the third Thursday of every month for the best education tips, strategies and ideas at 8 p.m. ET. You can stay up to date on chat topics and moderators by following us on Twitter (@Squirrels). 

How physical environment impacts learning + collaboration

A physical classroom environment can either foster collaboration and promote learning, or it can limit it. Every space has its own vibe – make yours positive!

 

What factors to consider when designing a learning space

Start by looking at what your goals are for the class and students. Design your space around that. A learning space should be a combination of things that benefit students and make sense for you as the teacher.

How to involve students

Simply put – go straight to the source! Ask students to describe their favorite place to hang out. Sometimes the best ideas come out of the most creative answers!

Design hacks for making a future-ready classroom on a budget 

Dish racks, ironing boards, beach chairs and tennis balls are all options for redesigning on a budget. Take a look at how educators are using these easy-to-find items below.

Advice to overcome redesign obstacles

We can’t stress this enough…start small! Something as small as changing sound and lighting in a room can bring positivity and inspiration to a space.

Don’t miss the next #SquirrelsChat on April 19 at 8 p.m. ET!

March 6, 2018

Cut The Cord On Your Cable Subscription With These Five Tips

The days of cable television’s dominance in entertainment are clearly coming to an end. With a wealth of online streaming content and HD local channels, it’s easier than ever to live without a cable subscription. If you’ve been thinking about cutting the cord, there are a few bases to cover to make sure you’re not stuck without your favorite shows.

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Life without a cord

Netflix, Amazon Prime and Google Play pour millions of dollars into content production, hoping to draw audiences away from cable subscriptions. Even traditional cable channels like HBO release enough web content to satisfy any binge session. This gamble is paying off, and people continue to become “cord cutters.” With that said, you should consider a few key things before you cut your cord.

  1.   Pick your favorite streaming services

There’s no clear winner in the world of online streaming. Netflix, Google and Amazon all have headlining shows and vast libraries, making it hard to run out of things to watch. The additional perks of Google Play and Amazon Prime make it easier to stomach the cost of subscriptions to all three.

  1.   Measure your reception strength

TV reception has changed drastically since the days of bunny ears. Today’s antennas pick up TV channels in HD, adding local channels like Fox, CBS, NBC and more to your entertainment library for free. However, these channels don’t have reception everywhere. Confirm that you actually have access to a digital signal before you get rid of your cable subscription. Use a calculator like Tablo to determine which channels reach your particular neighborhood.

  1.   Upgrade to a Smart TV

Smart TVs combine a traditional TV with a built-in operating system and a host of apps for viewing additional content beyond your typical channel selections. These operating systems work similarly to a smartphone or tablet; you can download apps for things like YouTube, the weather or some of your favorite channels.

If your TV is newer, it may already have smart TV capabilities. If it doesn’t, consider installing a streaming device like a Roku or Apple TV, or add a video game console like a PlayStation or Xbox to give your TV a little intelligence boost. These devices open up other possibilities, such as mirroring your TV’s programming on other handheld devices like a tablet or smartphone.

  1.   Wirelessly mirror your computer screen

You can also consider using your laptop or a dedicated computer as the “brain” of your smart TV. Computers allow a substantial level of customization for the interface, but generally require a bit more research and technical savvy than the plug-and-play devices. Use solutions like AirParrot 2 to screen mirror your Mac or Windows computer to receivers such as an Apple TV or Chromecast.

  1.   Calculate your savings

Cutting the cord might not be viable for everyone. There are a lot of factors to consider, including the cost of new hardware and the amount of content you want to access. You can use an online calculator to determine what your final savings will be. And last but not least, you might want to figure out how to spend all the extra money you’ll save.


Cut The Cord On Your Cable Subscription With These Five Tips is a guest post from Alex Haslam of CutCableToday.com.

March 5, 2018

What to Know Before You Attend MACUL 

Think. Create. Inspire.

That’s what the Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) hopes to accomplish during its annual conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

MACUL attendees, this is your chance to explore new classroom technology, discover the latest trends, gain valuable resources, network with like-minded people, share lessons learned and most importantly, say hello to the Squirrels team!

Before you go, we’ve scouted some of the key conference highlights so you don’t have to. Check ‘em out below! 

Keynote speakers

Thursday, March 8
8:15 – 9:30 a.m.
Bonnie St. John: Resilience Ringleader, Olympic Medalist

Friday, March 9
8:15 – 9:30 a.m.
Jack Andraka: Visionary Teenage Scientist, Inventor

2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Dr. Joe Sanfelippo: Superintendent, Author

Alpha Squirrel sessions

Friday, March 9
Theresa Stager: The Power of Positive Communication: Sharing and Connecting
12 – 1:00 p.m.
Gallery Overlook D 

EdTech Products

ClassHub is a device management and monitoring solution that opens amazing new possibilities for teachers and students in the classroom. This software gives teachers the tools they need to manage classroom devices and keep class on track, engaged and collaborative.

The all new Reflector Teacher is a leap forward from our classic Reflector technology. It's specially optimized for teachers and students for fast and reliable screen-mirroring in the classroom. Display devices on the big screen for everyone to see. 

See both Reflector Teacher and ClassHub for yourself in booth 244. We’re happy to show district administrators and teachers alike how our products are benefiting classrooms around the world!

Final thoughts
Feel free to engage with us during the conference by tweeting at us (@Squirrels, @ReflectorApp, @ClassHub) and using the hashtag #MACUL18!

See you in Michigan!

Related: Squirrels Strengthens OETC Partnership at APDX and IPDX

March 1, 2018

#SquirrelsChat Recap: Student Engagement

Student engagement is the name of the game in education. Every educator wants students to be invested in their learning and take the necessary steps to achieve their goals.

Consider the following actions.

  • Turning in work on time
  • Participating in a class discussion
  • Attending class
  • Raising a hand to answer a question
  • Listening to instructions

All can be regarded as student engagement depending on the educator’s views. Broad topics like student engagement require a framework to base ideas off of in order to bring clarity to the topic as a whole. While the concept seems straightforward, it can take on many different meanings in education.

February’s second #SquirrelsChat focused on the work of Phillip Schlechty to guide our discussion about student engagement. This recap covers strategies to de-escalate a rebellious situation, encourage active participation, avoid minimum engagement, empower student voice and choice and more!

Join #SquirrelsChat the third Thursday of the month for the best education tips, strategies and ideas at 8 p.m. ET. You can stay up to date on chat topics and moderators by following us on Twitter (@Squirrels). 

De-escalating a rebellious situation

Let’s face it. Sometimes rebellious situations are unavoidable. But by working to understand the situation, keeping your cool, being present and even rehearsing responses, you can ease the problem effectively. 

Encouraging active participation

From talking tokens, to synchronous text for collaboration, to formative assessment, there are many ways in which educators can encourage active participation. Remember to always let students know you are invested in their education and want them to be successful.

Avoiding minimum engagement through meaningful & varied assessments

Understanding how a student learns (audio, visual, tactile) can make all the difference when it comes to student engagement. Avoid the “one size fits all” approach and give students a chance to choose based on their learning preferences.

Going beyond the “game of school”

According to Schlechty, strategic compliance can often trick the observer into thinking the student is engaged, but upon further review, they aren’t at all. To avoid this, keep students involved and celebrate their successes no matter how big or small.

Entry points to empower students to have voice and choice

Allowing students voice and choice in the classroom creates more engagement in their learning and empowers them to become self-directed learners.

Using Schlechty’s framework to enhance conversations with colleagues

Use the framework discussed in this chat to educate a colleague and help them take measures to enhance their own students’ engagement. Take a minute to re-familiarize yourself with the levels of engagement.

Don’t miss the next #SquirrelsChat on March 15 at 8 p.m. ET!

February 19, 2018

Squirrels Strengthens OETC Partnership at APDX and IPDX

The ingredients for a successful EdTech conference:

  1. A relevant theme
  2. Top EdTech speakers
  3. Fun, like-minded educators

AcceleratED (APDX) and IntegratED (IPDX) meet all three.

APDX and IPDX are annual events hosted by the Organization for Educational Technology and Curriculum (OETC) in Portland, Oregon that focus on administrators and EdTech leaders.

Related: How Schools Save on ClassHub: OETC Edition

Relevant theme

Technology integration is a hot topic in schools around the country, so it’s no surprise that this year’s conferences focus on technology integration strategies. As educators look to understand the pedagogy of technology, integration can often be a challenge.

Here’s a thought from “10 Big Ideas for Technology Integration by Tony Vincent to get you started: Technology is integrated well when instruction is modified to meet the needs of the digital-age learner.

Top EdTech speakers

EdTech speakers offer insight, expertise, tools, tips and even a laugh or two to inspire attendees to reach their goals. Their powerful messages propel attendees forward and show them a different way of thinking that empowers and excites the idea of change.

One speaker we’d like to highlight in particular is our friend Leslie Fisher. Leslie is the director of Fisher Technologies, Inc., and the creator and operator of lesliefisher.com. She’s a former K–12 systems engineer for Apple who now consults, trains and presents with educators around the world.

We’re lucky enough to co-present with her to spread the word about Squirrels and our classroom device management and monitoring technology. Find our session information below. 

Wednesday, February 21 – APDX
Device Management for Administrators
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Cascade C

Thursday, February 22 – IPDX
How to Make Student Devices Teacher Friendly
1:15 – 2:15 p.m.
Cascade C

Like-minded educators

When you surround yourself with educators that inspire you, support you, challenge you and ultimately make you a better person/teacher, your conference experience becomes all the more rewarding.

APDX and IPDX are committed to offering a supportive community of educators who are all working together to improve education. Workshops are designed to be small, personalized environments where educators can teach and learn collaboratively.

Final thoughts

Whether you’re attending to see us co-present with Leslie, collaborate with your colleagues or hear industry leaders speak, we’d love to meet you! Although the Squirrels team won’t have a booth, we’ll be there to learn, connect and educate.

And remember…if you’re a member of OETC, you’re eligible for a discount on our classroom technology! Ask us more at one of our sessions or if you see us around!

About Us

Squirrels is a software development company based in North Canton, Ohio. We create high-quality, budget-friendly screen mirroring and device management software that’s compatible with today’s most popular devices. To date, our software can be found in hundreds of thousands of classrooms, businesses and homes. Follow our blog for all the latest product updates, Squirrels news and technology insight!