December 20, 2017

#SquirrelsChat Recap: Computer Science + Coding in the Classroom

Students need certain skills to survive and thrive in our digital world.

Problem solving. Critical thinking. Designing. Creating. 

These are the skills that worksheets and busy work simply cannot provide.

But coding can.

The December #SquirrelsChat took a dive into the topic of coding as innovative educators shared strategy, real-world examples, advice, resources and more for teaching computer science. This chat focused on the first three practices of the K-12 Computer Science Framework.

Building an inclusive computing culture

Considering the needs of all students is essential to producing an inclusive computing culture. Start by involving all students and make coding part of everything they do. Build it into the curriculum, form computer science teams, create after-school clubs, etc. This allows all students to experience coding, incorporate it into what interests them and increase their enthusiasm about the topic.

Collaboration in the classroom

Effective collaboration can lead to better computing outcomes in the classroom. Give students opportunities to work together, talk, build and create. Encourage leadership and team building by allowing students that have more experience to help and teach others.

Applying computational skills

Being able to recognize opportunities to apply computational thinking is a skill that is central to coding. Let’s take a look at a few real life applications from educators using this approach in the classroom.

Hour of Code

This year, 153,941 events registered for the Hour of Code. This global movement is a way of bringing awareness to coding and an introduction to computer science. Anyone can participate in and organize an Hour of Code event. Here are some first-hand experiences.

Coding and computer science resources

There are many computer science resources, programs and applications that help educators jump into coding – Kodable, Minecraft and Code.org to name a few. Take some time to research the tools that make it easy to introduce concepts to students. Remember, start small!

Related reading: Are We Too Late for Computer Science?

How to bring computer science into the classroom

Implementing computer science into the classroom is daunting. Many educators don’t know where to start. A good place to begin is to connect with others, do research, don’t be afraid to ask students for help and jump in. Coding is fun, it’s everywhere and anyone can do it!

Want more great insight into the world of education?

Join #SquirrelsChat every first and third Thursday of the month starting in January 2018. You can stay up-to-date on topics, moderators and any time/date changes by following us on Twitter (@Squirrels). 

Coming up on January 4: Tasks Before Apps with host Monica Burns.

December 8, 2017

Are we too late for computer science education?

This is the first of a three-part guest post series from Angie Kalthoff, Technology Integrationist at a Minnesota public school district. In this series, Angie analyzes where the K12 education system stands with computer science education. 

Students often get their first dose of computer science education in high school. 

For many, that’s too late.

Studies show that if students are not exposed to computer science by fourth grade, stereotypes about people who are not good at science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) begin to form. These social stereotypes deter girls and students of color in particular from entering the computer science field.

This is a problem.

Computer science introduces critical literacies, such as coding, and skills that are fundamental to the development of college- and career-ready students in the 21st century.

How do we fix this?

We can provide earlier access and opportunities while highlighting self-efficacy in computer science. Students should begin learning computer science as early as kindergarten. That will help build a diverse computing landscape.

Introducing computer science in kindergarten will help prevent education stereotypes from forming during the time when students are curious, learning about the world and developing their interests.

Why not bring more technology experiences into our primary classrooms?

Based on a study of classroom teachers’ experiences, the primary motivation for teachers to use technology is the belief that technology will make them better educators and positively impact student learning. 

While most teachers believe that technology benefits students, few of them successfully integrate technology into their curriculum in a meaningful way. My colleague and friend, Diana Fenton, is working to change this by introducing her preservice teachers to technology integration best practices and computer science education early in their college experience.

Resources
Teachers who are not able to take Diana’s class can use the following resources for professional development opportunities:

TPACK
Teachers who are currently in a classroom setting can follow the TPACK model for guidance on technology integration. By working together, we combine our skillset in the following areas: Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge, which encompass TPACK. My district encourages this type of co-teaching.

Challenge yourself
I didn’t think that I could introduce computer science at the beginning of the school year when I was a kindergarten English language teacher. That’s an important time for developing relationships and establishing routines.

Then I challenged myself to think of how one of those routines could incorporate a computer science station in small group rotations. I saw the progress we made with computer science integration and decided to introduce it even earlier the following year to see what we could do with a whole school year.

Coming Up...
Stay tuned! In the second installment of this three-part series, I share how computer science lessons are integrated into our classrooms and how they connect with state standards, the ISTE Standards for Students and the CS Framework. 

To dive deeper into the research, visit the following resources:

Google. (2014). Women who choose computer science—what really matters: The critical role of exposure and encouragement.

Mountain View, CA: Author. Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-E2rcvhnlQ_a1Q4VUxWQ2dtTHM/edit

Huebner, G. (2017, April 20). Coding for Kids | 5 Reasons to Teach Kids to Code. Retrieved November 07, 2017, from http://blog.kodable.com/2014/07/07/5-reasons-to-teach-kids-to-code-2/

Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T., Glazewski, K. D., Newby, T. J., & Ertmer, P. A. (2010). Teacher value beliefs associated with using technology: Addressing professional and student needs. Computers & Education, 55(3), 1321-1335.

Young programmers -- think playgrounds, not playpens | Marina Bers | TEDxJackson [Advertisement]. (2015, January 20). Retrieved October 10, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOQ-9S3lOnM

November 26, 2017

Cyber Monday Sale: Save Big On Squirrels Items

The Squirrels Cyber Monday sale features huge discounts on many of our most popular products. Save on the newly released Reflector 3, Reflector Teacher, DropStream and more.

Squirrels Cyber Monday sale

All Cyber Monday discounts on Squirrels wireless screen-mirroring and streaming technology are listed below. 

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Reflector 3
20% off

BUY FOR $11.99 →
Regular $14.99

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Reflector Teacher
20% off

BUY FOR $11.99 →
Regular $14.99

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DropStream
25% off

BUY FOR $7.49 →
Regular $9.99

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AirParrot 2
30% off

BUY FOR $9.09 →
Regular $12.99

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Airparrot Remote
50% off

BUY FOR $3.99 →
Regular $7.99


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Reflector Director
57% off

BUY FOR $2.99 →
Regular $5.99

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Reflector for Android

BUY FOR $6.99 →
 

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Reflector for Fire TV

BUY FOR $6.99 →
 



Remember: The Cyber Monday sale is your best opportunity to save big on Squirrels technology. These are the best prices you’ll see all year.

November 21, 2017

Introducing Reflector 3 and Reflector Teacher screen-mirroring receivers

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Today we’re launching two new applications: Reflector 3 and Reflector Teacher. Both apps build on our previous screen-mirroring experience and customer feedback to create refined, faster and more reliable screen-mirroring.

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SALE $11.99 →
Regular $14.99
TRY FREE →

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SALE $11.99 →
Regular $14.99
TRY FREE →

What’s new?

Miracast
In addition to AirPlay and Google Cast mirroring from iOS, Android and Chrome OS, Reflector 3 accepts Miracast connections. 

These new versions of our Reflector screen-mirroring software are compatible with a new set of devices that were not previously able to mirror to Reflector 2. Miracast is compatible with Reflector 3 and Reflector Teacher on most Windows 10 computers.

Under-the-hood improvements 
This generation of screen-mirroring technology introduces greatly improved speed, performance and stability. Faster connections and a more reliable screen mirroring experience should be expected.

iPhone X Frames
A new display engine allows Reflector 3 to display the edge-to-edge iPhone X screen with a frame.

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Screenshots
Instantly take full-resolution screenshots of any connected device.

Windows-Specific Upgrades
On Windows, Reflector 3 is located near the Start button instead of the system tray by the clock where Reflector 2 was located. Connected devices are now visible in a window instead of a pop-up menu. This makes devices easier to locate and manage.

Interface and Experience Updates
Reflector 3 was redesigned for modern operating systems and includes interface updates that make mirroring and managing connected devices easier. Common user actions are easier to find and use.

 

What’s Reflector Teacher?

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Reflector Teacher is an education-streamlined version of the Reflector software that educators use to wirelessly display iPads, Chromebooks and other devices in the classroom.

Since Reflector technology is already used in more than 100,000 classrooms worldwide, it only made sense to create an education-specific version of Reflector.

Reflector Teacher includes:

  • Reflector Student compatibility
  • Reflector Director compatibility
  • Preconfigured settings ideal for classrooms

Other education-focused enhancements are planned for the coming months. 

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Get Reflector 3 or Reflector Teacher today!

A seven-day free trial of both apps is available, but hurry, launch pricing is ends soon!

Reflector 3 and Reflector Teacher are regularly available for $14.99 USD. For a limited time, users can receive 20% off their purchase at the Squirrels online store.

Upgrade pricing is available for anyone who previously purchased Reflector 2. Simply open Reflector 2 and check for updates to receive an upgrade offer.

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SALE $11.99 →
Regular $14.99
TRY FREE →

RFT-WhiteBG.gif

SALE $11.99 →
Regular $14.99
TRY FREE →

For more information about both apps, visit www.reflectorapp.com.

November 20, 2017

Squirrels Chili Cook-off 2017: The Dethroning of “The Jons”

It seemed impossible to do. Who possessed the chili-making skill that could FINALLY dethrone the “Jons,” and take on the Chili Champion title?

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During out fifth annual Squirrels Chili Cook-off, it happened. Connal Kelly, a Squirrels account executive, came out victorious with her chili, Ezekiel Peppers Direct. This is Connal’s first win and her first chili cook-off appearance. Ezekiel Peppers Direct is a simple, yet highly delectable chili with a spicy kick that’s sure to satisfy your taste buds. The full recipe is below. 

When asked what the secret to her success was, she responded, “There were a lot of ingredients.”

Her chili rendition consisted of 27 total ingredients including Bell’s Amber Ale, ground beef, Anaheim chilies and Italian sausage.

Here’s the complete Ezekiel Peppers Direct recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 Anaheim chili peppers, roasted, peeled and diced
  • 4 Poblano chili peppers, roasted, peeled and diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced jalapeno chili peppers, minced
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 1 head of garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 lb. bulk hot sausage
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons granulated onion
  • 2 teaspoons hot paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 12 oz. Bell’s Amber Ale
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 16 oz. can kidney beans
  • 1 16oz can pinto beans
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • ½ cup water

Directions:

  1. Add the olive oil and butter to a large stockpot over medium high heat.
  2. Add the Anaheim chilies, poblano chilies, red bell peppers, jalapeno chilies and onions, and cook until caramelized, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute longer. Remove vegetables and set aside.
  4. Add the ground beef and sausage to the stockpot and cook until the meat is browned and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes.
  5. Add the chili powder, cayenne, coriander, cumin, granulated garlic, granulated onion, paprika, salt and black pepper, and cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in the beer and cook for another 3 minutes.
  7. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste and stock; cook about 5 minutes.
  8. Add the kidney and pinto beans; lower the heat and simmer, about 2 hours.
  9. After 2 hours if you would like a thicker chili, mix together 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and ½ cup of water in a bowl, combine.
  10. Stir into chili and simmer for another 15 minutes.

 

Five other members of the Squirrels team also entered their chili into the contest with hopes to get their name engraved on our chili trophy. We couldn’t have made this day happen without the rest of the amazing chilies that are all winners in our hearts (in order from 2nd – 4th place): El Caribe (Nate Wendell), Coup De Grace (Jon Bishop) and Bourbon N’ Bacon (Becky Shiring). Rabbit Food (Mike Bruin) and #NotMyChili (Kyle Gritzan and Jessica Chevalier) tied for 5th.

In addition to the delicious chili, we also enjoyed Fireball Sangria, cornbread, pumpkin chocolate chip cookie dough cups, pumpkin trifle and apple crisp.

Note: The Fireball Sangria tied for third place with Coup De Grace. Yeah, it was that good!

If you try out the Ezekiel Peppers Direct recipe, tell us what you think in the comments below! Enjoy!

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!