February 6, 2018

What to expect from Squirrels at TCEA

The Squirrels team is headed to the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) conference in the beautiful city of Austin! We’re ready to show Texas educators what we’ve been up to since they last saw us at ISTE 2017.

TCEA is an organization that’s devoted to the use of technology in education. We’re honored to share our solutions at its annual conference to show educators how to use technology to improve collaboration, save time and eliminate common inefficiencies caused by classroom devices. 

What to look for at TCEA?
Discover how to make your classroom devices an integral part of the learning experience with Reflector Teacher and ClassHub.

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. 

Come see Reflector Teacher for yourself in booth 1257. Not going to TCEA? Learn more on our website

ClassHub is a device management and monitoring solution that opens amazing new possibilities for teachers and students in the classroom. It’s sure to jump to the top of your wish list once you see how ClassHub changes the way educators use classroom devices. Hint: you won't have to wonder how students are using devices ever again!

Attending TCEA with your district admins? Bring them by our booth -- we're happy to show you how ClassHub can be used by your entire school. Or, contact us for more information. 

Sessions to attend at TCEA

Squirrels director of professional development Becky Shiring and Alpha Squirrels program manager Emily Carle Hafer are bringing their “Pizza, Projects, People: Startup Culture in the Classroom” to TCEA! Don’t miss an in-depth discussion on taking risks, innovation and of course…the pizza wheel!

Plus, keep sessions by Alpha Squirrels Vanessa Perez and Cori-Coburn Shiflett in mind when building your session schedule! Information below.

Wednesday, February 7

Becky Shiring
It’s Gettin’ HOTT in Here: Promoting Higher Order Thinking with Technology
12:45 – 1:45 p.m.
Room 18A

Thursday, February 8

Vanessa Perez
Hands On: Sketchnoting for Students and Teachers
1:30 – 3 p.m.
Room 4AB

Emily Carle Hafer
Becky Shiring
Pizza, Projects, People: Startup Culture in Schools
3 – 5 p.m.
Ballroom G, Poster 8

Cori Coburn-Shiflett
Walking the Walk with Apps That Talk
3:30 – 5 p.m.
Room 9B

Find us in booth 1257 where you’ll see the latest and greatest in classroom technology from Squirrels! See you in Texas!

January 23, 2018

Squirrels Team Goes To FETC

Members of the Squirrels team are ditching the frigid Ohio winter to travel to the Sunshine State for the 38th National Future of Education Technology Conference. We can already feel the sun on our frostbitten skin!

What’s FETC?
FETC is one of the largest EdTech conferences where preK-12 educators connect and collaborate to learn how to leverage technology for student success. Educators from Florida and beyond gather for an intensive, highly collaborative exploration of new technologies, best practices and pressing issues.

What to look for at FETC
Make sure booth 1545 – the Squirrels booth – is on your must-see list!

Reflector Teacher is making its first public appearance. It’s equipped with an all new user interface, and it’s now specially optimized for teachers and students using devices in the classroom.

Attendees also have an incredible opportunity to see ClassHub in person. ClassHub is a device management and monitoring solution that opens amazing new possibilities for teachers and students in the classroom. It’s sure to jump to the top of your wish list once you see what you can accomplish with ClassHub in the classroom.

Alpha Squirrel sessions at FETC
No conference is complete without Alpha Squirrel sessions. FETC has 52! If you want  details on the latest and greatest education trends, tips and practices, check out the sessions below. These are just a few of the many great FETC sessions hosted by Alpha Squirrels. 

Wednesday, January 24

Avital Aharon and Orly Rachamim
Tomorrow’s Teaching Toolkit: Using EdTech to Enhance Instruction
4 – 5 p.m. Booth 2405

Thursday, January 25

Monica Burns
Tasks Before Apps: Elevate and Energize Traditional Learning Experiences
10 – 11 a.m.
North 320AB

Bryan L. Miller
EdTech Brand Partnerships, Ambassadorships and Beyond!
4:20 – 5:00 p.m.
North 320H

Friday, January 26

Michael Meechin
Sixty in Sixty: 60 Instructional Technologies in 60 Minutes
10 – 11 a.m.
North 320AB

Other great FETC sessions

Check out these sessions hosted by Squirrels director of professional development Becky Shiring and Squirrels program manager Emily Carle Hafer.
 

Drowning in Devices? Learn to Manage the Digital Classroom
Thursday, January 25, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Bayhill 20 

Pizza, Projects, People: Create a Startup Culture in Your School
Friday, January 26, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Booth 2405

Also, catch our friend Leslie Fisher's session:

Tools You Can Use Tomorrow to Lead With Technology
Thursday, January 25, 1 – 1:40 p.m.
North 320AB

Don't forget...
Stop by booth 1545 at FETC to see the latest and greatest in classroom technology from Squirrels.

January 22, 2018

Vote Alpha Squirrel Session Proposals to ISTE 2018

For the first time ever, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is asking you to help pick session topics for its annual conference and expo in Chicago!

The People’s Choice contest allows anyone to vote for their favorite proposal ideas. ISTE will include the top vote getters in the final conference agenda.

We’re proud to announce that we have 10 Alpha Squirrels in the running to present at ISTE 2018, as well as Squirrels director of professional development Becky Shiring. 

Vote now through January 26 until 5 p.m. Browse proposals and vote for as many as you like. As Cady Heron from the movie “Mean Girls” would say, the limit does not exist!

Click the links below to vote for Alpha Squirrel sessions.

Phil Hintz (co-presenter Carl Hooker, Leo Brehm, Adam Phyall)The 4 Horsemen of the APPocalypse
Phil HintzCoding Across the Curriculum: Building a Culture of Coding in Elementary Classrooms
Travis LapeEliminate Grade Levels and Empower Learners to Drive Their Learning
David LockhartBuilding it up with Bloxels
David LockhartThe Super Spark: 60 Tools to Start the Fire
Natasha Rachell/Felissa Ford/Melissa Dandy WalkerPeanut Butter and Jelly, Google and Microsoft, You Don’t Have to Pick
Natasha Rachell (co-presenter Aleigha Henderson-Rosser)Facebook/Twitter Took Over Our District and We Couldn’t Be Happier
Tricia LouisIs Your District Web Content Accessible
Billy SpicerSmart Video Creation to Empower the Student Broadcaster, Reporter and Reflective Learner
Rosalyn WashingtonElevating Student Voice with Hip Hop and Instructional Technology
Jason Davidson (co-presenter Eric Bennet)Pod Save the Classroom: Podcasting in Education
Angie Kalthoff (co-presenter Diana Fenton)Beyond the Hour of Code
Raymond Africa - Empowering Student Voice Through EdTech Apps
Becky ShiringIt’s Getting’ HOTT in Here: Promoting Higher Order Thinking with Technology

Get ready. Get set. Get voting! This is your chance to help shape the 2018 ISTE Conference and Expo. 

Attend the winning sessions starting Sunday, June 24, at ISTE 2018 in Chicago.

January 18, 2018

Everything you need to know about A Major New ClassHub Update

A major ClassHub update debuts a new user interface, improves performance, resolves issues and simplifies login and deployment.  

ClassHub Teacher
The Class Manager that teachers traditionally accessed through Reflector 2 now has its own dedicated application called ClassHub Teacher. ClassHub Teacher has all of the same great capabilities that were in Reflector 2 and more. This move eliminates confusion and creates a more seamless and improved ClassHub experience for teachers. 

Simplified login
The ClassHub login process is easier than ever. Students using Chrome OS devices never need to log in to ClassHub. All other devices only require students to log in one time. Students were previously required to log in to ClassHub every day or periodically. 

Administrators also have the ability to pre-assign students to devices. This preemptively helps teachers stage a classroom and accommodate changes to devices and class rosters. These login updates save time and minimize the possibility of user or technical error. 

A Windows update similar to the Chrome OS login update is in development. Upon release, students with Windows devices will never be required to log in, even on first use. 

Performance
The Class Manager contains a number of under-the-hood improvements that create faster performance for the end user.  

Additional updates

  • Resolved issue where newly enrolled Chrome OS students could still be required to log in once
  • Added a new platform filter for classroom app lock and app install 
  • Resolved an iOS app login issue when logging in to Clever with a Google account
  • Improved session handling to reduce occurrences of duplicate users and devices in a class
  • Restored logout/settings for users in certain ClassHub layouts
  • Restored Lock Application icon to Desk view when student is locked into an application
  • Fixed issues with the Configuration > General drop-down options
  • Enabled manually created school admins to properly select the schools they should administer
  • Added a more intuitive message than when enrollment codes expire
  • Resolved an issue with updating DEP profile configuration
  • Mirrored student devices automatically disconnect when a class ends
  • AirPlay/Cast Broadcast name automatically updates to <Teacher Name> - <Class Name> when class starts and back to default when class ends

Get ClassHub
ClassHub is a device management and monitoring solution that provides the tools needed to keep class on track, engaged and collaborative. 

Learn how to put ClassHub to work for your district today.

Schedule demo Learn more 

 

January 16, 2018

How to Teach Computer Science if You're Not a Computer Scientist

This is the second installment of a three-part guest post series from Technology Integrationist Angie Kalthoff analyzing computer science in the K-12 education system. Read part one: Are We Too Late For Computer Science Education?

How to teach computer science if you're not a computer scientist-1.png

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. 

“I can’t teach computer science because I’m not a computer scientist.”

That statement may seem valid, but it's inconsistent with our views on other subjects. 

Do you have to be a mathematician to teach math?

Or a published writer to teach someone how to write a sentence?

Or a historian to teach students about the Civil War?

Any teacher can incorporate computer science into curriculum. I’m going to tell you how.

Computational thinking

People always talk about how kids should learn how to code. Yes, but it’s more important to introduce computational thinking to students at an early age. Computational thinking is not coding or computer science. It’s important to know the difference.

In the simplest terms, computational thinking is taking big problems, breaking them down into smaller problems and solving them.

This excerpt from Digital Promise’s “Computational Thinking for a Computational World”  explains the differences.

“Coding is the practice of developing a set of instructions that a computer can understand and execute.

Computer science is the study of computers and algorithmic processes, including their principles, their hardware and software designs, their applications and their impact on society.

Computational thinking is ‘a way of solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior that draws on concepts fundamental to computer science.’”

Computational thinking in the classroom

Look at the standards we are already teaching, then design learning experiences that tie in computational thinking concepts and approaches.

Don’t build lessons around a cool coding platform or fun robots. Build lessons around the ideas, and use the tools for hands-on investigative exploration.

You can categorize lessons in two ways:

  • Plugged
  • Unplugged

Plugged lessons
Plugged lessons require student access to a device like a laptop, Chromebook, iPad, tablet, etc. Many plugged lessons involve block-based coding platforms to help students learn computer science concepts. Code.org, Kodable, Scratch JR and Scratch are a few of my favorites.

These resources allow students to collaborate on pair programing lessons. Pair programing in an app like Scratch JR teaches valuable computational thinking skills as students create programs for characters to move across the screen. Students learn to spot patterns and remove unneeded information (abstraction) as they evaluate the efficiency of their programs and fix mistakes (debugging) that occur.

Unplugged lessons
Unplugged lessons do not require students to access devices. Sites like CS Unplugged, Kodable’s lesson library and the unplugged lessons in Code.org’s CS Fundamentals help make real life connections around new concepts.

Computational thinking can be a foundational element of unplugged lessons.

For example, planting a seed or making paper airplanes teaches students about “real-life” algorithms. Have students learn programing by turning their friends into robots or teaching a robotic turtle how to access a jewel.

Challenge your students
Here’s a simple unplugged lesson that you can challenge your students to solve with computational thinking.

Suppose you have a friend with dirty hands. To help your friend, you need to:

  1. Decompose the problem (dirty hands = problem)
  2. Break down the steps required to successfully wash their hands by creating an algorithm for them to follow.

If the friend had never washed his or her hands before, you couldn’t simply say “wash your hands.” You would need to provide step-by-step instructions.

This lesson and others like it require children to think about the way they think. It’s an easy way to introduce the concept of computational thinking.

Stay tuned... 
In the third and final post in this series, I will dig deeper into lessons, share plans and provide valuable advice I've learned from my experiences working with teachers in the classroom. 

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!