January 24, 2017

Gym Class JitterBug: How To Play The Game Teachers Are Raving About

A video began circulating on Facebook about a week ago that showed elementary-aged kids frantically throwing dodgeballs at a wall trying to smash virtual bugs. That video now has over 30 million views, and it recently became the number one post on the front page of Reddit.

What is this game….and how can you bring it to your school’s gymnasium? Turns out it’s pretty simple.

The video was originally posted on the West Elementary School (Batesville, Arkansas) Facebook page. The teacher is using an app called JitterBug. The app was created by Friskies® (yes, the cat food brand) and was originally intended to allow cats to tap interactive bugs on their owners’ iPad® or iPhone® (also available for Android™). If you’ve ever owned a cat, you know they have an irresistible urge to swat anything and everything.

Educators have found a new way to use Friskies’ JitterBug app in gym class. They simply wirelessly display their iPad or iPhone onto the wall using a projector. When a student hits a bug on the wall with a ball, the teacher taps the bug on his or her screen to make that bug disappear. To the students, it looks like they are making the bugs disappear when they hit one. In reality, the teacher simply monitors the wall to see which bugs the students hit and then taps the same bugs on the device. Pretty cool, right?

How to projector your iPad or iPhone on the wall

It sounds complicated, but this is very easy as well. In the video, the teacher has the iPad wirelessly mirrored to an Apple TV®, and the Apple TV is connected to a projector. However, PhysEd teacher Jared Carder did it by wirelessly mirroring his iPad to Reflector® software on his computer. His computer was connected to the projector, so he didn’t need an Apple TV at all. Reflector software ($15) is a more cost-effective alternative to Apple TV ($149).

Either way, what a cool use of technology to get kids engaged and moving. The ingenuity of teachers around the world amazes us every day.

Learn more about the Reflector screen-sharing software used in schools around the world.

December 28, 2016

2016 Squirrels Company Recap

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It’s hard to pinpoint the best place to begin our 2016 Squirrels year-end recap. No individual highlight or accomplishment would do this year justice. Only the culmination of many unique moments– from national recognition and globalization to new products, team members and more – can reveal the complete picture of our best year to date.

So we’ll start at the beginning.

January 2016

Squirrels Supercomputer Verifies Largest Prime Number Ever Discovered
The in-house supercomputer at Squirrels HQ is 2,400 times faster than today’s average consumer computer. It was built by Squirrels employees using their “10-percent time.” We used this computer in a coordinated global effort to find the largest prime number ever discovered (GIMPS). The efforts paid off in January 2016 with the discovery of a prime number that is 22,338,618 digits long.

Fortune Magazine Ranks Squirrels Among Top Three Best Workplaces For Technology
Fortune Magazine honored Squirrels in its Best Places To Work list after analyzing feedback from 48,000 employees at various companies around the country.

Squirrels Visits London
The Squirrels team made its first trip across the pond to attend a major education technology conference called Bett.

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February 2016

Squirrels Releases Reflector 2 For Android TV
Our AirPlay and Cast receiving software became available for Android TV, allowing people to wirelessly stream and mirror content from a wide range of devices directly to their TVs.

March 2016

Squirrels Named North Canton Business Of The Year
The North Canton Area Chamber of Commerce honored Squirrels as its business of the year. The company received recognition from several Ohio representatives. An annual awards dinner was held on March 2.

Squirrels Releases AirParrot Remote
The release of this new iOS app enables AirParrot users to control AirParrot from an iPhone or iPad. This was a significant release covered by publications such as 9to5Mac, LifeHacker, MacStories and iMore.

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April 2016

New Class Of Alpha Squirrel EdTech Experts
Squirrels selected its second class of Alpha Squirrel EdTech Experts. It included 19 teachers, principals, EdTech specialists, tech coordinators and more.

Reflector 2 And AirParrot 2 Add Support For 13 New Languages
We have a global customer base. It made sense to expand the language offering in Reflector and AirParrot to make our products easier to use for non-English speakers around the world.

June 2016

Squirrels Releases Cloud-Based Ditto Screen-Sharing Service
Squirrels released a significant new development in screen-mirroring technology. Ditto is a smart screen-mirroring solution that allows anyone with a Mac or Windows computer to walk into a Ditto-enabled meeting space and instantly (and wirelessly) present their computer to any screen connected to an Apple TV, Chromecast or Reflector-enabled device.

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Summer 2016 Alpha Squirrel Class Announced
Squirrels selected its third class of Alpha Squirrel EdTech Experts. It included 15 educators and EdTech specialists.

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Squirrels Attends ISTE 2016 In Denver
The Squirrels team took 15 employees to Denver for our largest and most ambitious conference exhibition to date. We also unveiled our DIY 20-by-20 island booth. It was a head turner.

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July 2016

Pokemon Go
…..because we were as addicted to it as everybody else.

Ditto Adds Audio Support
Squirrels added audio support after it was a highly requested feature in the first month of the Ditto release. Users can now share a screen and have accompanying audio come out of the TV or display that the user is connected to.

August 2016
Squirrels Adds iOS 10 Support To Reflector 2
Squirrels released the compatibility update to its flagship app, Reflector 2, before iOS 10 was publicly released.

Squirrels Sponsors North Canton Main Street Festival
It’s always good to give back to your local community, right?

September 2016

Squirrels Volunteers With Habitat For Humanity
Squirrels partnered with Habitat for Humanity for the fourth time to spend a day helping the organization build and restore homes for local families.

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Squirrels Company Retreat To Destin, Florida
The Squirrels team takes a weeklong trip each year to spend time collaborating, reenergizing and building camaraderie.

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October 2016

Fall 2016 Alpha Squirrel Class Introduced
The fall 2016 class included 26 EdTech experts from four different countries and 14 states.

November 2016

Cyber Monday 2016
Cyber Monday 2016 was the biggest sale in Squirrels history.

December 2016

Squirrels Holiday Party
Our annual holiday party took place at Chop and Swizzle in Uniontown, Ohio.

Whew! On top of all of that, we revamped our Edcamp sponsorship program and attended too many education conferences to name in one blog post. The Squirrels team had an incredible year, and we’re excited for an even better 2017. We would like to thank every customer, employee, educator and friend who helped make this year so special. We wouldn’t be here without you.

Stay tuned — 2017 is going to be a big year.

November 28, 2016

Cyber Monday 2016 is the Biggest Squirrels Sale Ever

Cyber Monday is finally here! We have great deals every Cyber Monday, but this year is different in all the right ways. Today is the biggest sale in the history of Squirrels!

We could talk about how excited we are, what you can do with our screen-mirroring solutions, or how cool we think all of you are, but we know you don’t care about any of that. It’s all about the deals!

Here are the Squirrels 2016 Cyber Monday deals. Simply click the picture to purchase!

Reflector 2: 40% off (20% off on Tuesday, Nov 29)

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Reflector Director: 50%(ish) off

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AirParrot 2: 40% off (20% off on Tuesday, Nov 29)

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AirParrot Remote: 50% off

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Reflector 2 for Amazon Fire TV: 50% off

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Reflector 2 for Android TV: 50% off

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ScreenToss: 80% off

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All merchandise: 40% off + free shipping

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November 17, 2016

Reflector 2.6 is Now Available for Mac and Windows

Reflector 2.6 is now available for Mac and Windows. This release brings major performance and stability upgrades to mirroring and streaming with AirPlay and Cast technology.

You can update Reflector 2 by selecting “Check for Updates” from the Reflector 2 preferences menu. Additionally, you can download the new version from the Reflector 2 download page.

Reflector 2.6 release notes: 

Mac:
  • Reduced the amount of memory used when screen mirroring and recording
  • Improved reliability and performance of YouTube live video streaming
  • Improved reliability and stability of iOS 10 connections
  • Reduced CPU utilization when using Reflector Student
  • Numerous bug fixes and performance improvements
Windows
  • Reduced the amount of memory used when screen mirroring and recording
  • Added legacy renderer setting for users that experience a black screen when mirroring
  • Improved reliability and performance of YouTube live video streaming
  • Improved reliability and stability of iOS 10 connections
  • Reduced CPU utilization when using Reflector Student
  • Numerous bug fixes and performance improvements

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4 Classroom Management Tips For Teachers Using Tech

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Note: This is a guest blog post by John R. Sowash, author of the new book, The Chromebook Classroom featuring Reflector 2! Read through to the bottom for more information on John’s book and a chance to win a free copy!

“With great power comes great responsibility.” That’s what Uncle Ben Parker said. The same is true in a technology-filled classroom. Student technology provides access to the world’s information, but it also provides access to ALL of the world’s information.

How can you encourage your students to remain focused on the tasks at hand and not wander aimlessly around the internet. Here are four ideas to help.

1. Be engaged!
The best way to ensure your students are using their time and technology wisely is to be engaged with them throughout the class period. You must be on your feet (not behind your desk) actively participating in the class (not grading papers) working directly with individuals and small groups of students.

Many teachers ask me if there is “lab monitoring” software that will allow them to see every student’s screen at once. While such software does exist, it is not a replacement for active classroom management. Technology is not a babysitter.

2. Re-arrange your room!
The physical layout of your classroom will have a significant impact on your ability to engage with and monitor student activity. Make sure you have ample room to move between student desks. I also recommend that you configure your room so that approximately 25 percent of your students screens are visible no matter where you stand in the room. It is NOT advisable to have all of the screens facing the same direction.

I taught high school science and my room layout could not be adjusted  because there were too many gas and water lines. I would frequently teach from the BACK of the room so that I was able to keep an eye on what students were doing.

Using a tool like Reflector can make you, the teacher, more mobile and able to move around the room rather than be tied to your computer.

Download Reflector software on the computer that is connected to your projector. This will allow you to wirelessly mirror your phone or tablet to the computer, giving you the freedom to walk around the room as needed.

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3. Don’t be boring!
The #1 reason that students get off task is that they are bored! It’s hard to blame a student for wandering the internet if there isn’t anything interesting going on in class!

One way to increase the amount of student engagement is to use an interactive presentation tool like Pear Deck or Nearpod. These two tools mix direct instruction with formative assessment. It’s easy to ask a multiple choice, short-answer or interactive question during your instruction time.

Kahoot, ClassKick and EdPuzzle are three more tools that require active engagement from each of your students. The more engaged they are, the fewer issues you will have.

4. Don’t freak out!
While it is important that we help our students focus on learning, we don’t have to freak out about every little thing that they do. Is it okay for a student to check up on the playoff scores? To play music while working? To watch a quick video?

I learned this lesson when I was a student teacher in a school that had a strict “no phones in class” policy. One student was particularly distracted during any individual work time. The smallest noise would catch his attention. One day he asked if he could listen to music on his phone because it helped him focus. I said sure. He was much more productive from that point forward.

It all comes down to classroom culture. The ultimate goal for every teacher is to create a classroom culture that silently communicates the expectation that each student will get their assigned work done on time. As long as students follow this guideline, the teacher does not need to micromanage student activity.

Have faith that your students will rise to meet your expectations. Those who do not will quickly face additional scrutiny and evaluation to ensure that learning goals are accomplished.

Challenge
Managing a classroom full of devices isn’t easy. What are your tips for helping students stay focused and on task? Share with the #chromebookEDU community!

If you enjoyed this blog post you will love John’s new book, The Chromebook Classroom, which contains over 30 lesson ideas for using Chromebooks at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Enter your email below for a free copy of chapter one of The Chromebook Classroom. You will also be entered to win one of two free copies being given away!