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 27, 2018

Computer science: How To Teach It In Your Primary Classroom

This is the third 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?, and part two, How To Teach Computer Science If You’re Not A Computer Scientist.

Computer Science_ How to Teach itand What to Consider-2.png

In 2017, I received a grant that supported our district's efforts to implement computational thinking in the K-5 classroom. In order to achieve a successful implementation, we needed to consider how our approach to computational thinking would complement:

Our team, consisting of teachers, media specialists and various other education professionals, created a scope and sequence for each grade level that incorporated both plugged and unplugged activities.

In this post, I will share with you lessons to take back to your classroom that we have found useful. To learn more about the grant, you can reach out to me on Twitter @mrskalthoff.

State standards and district curriculum
As a reference point, I’ve included state standards that we considered when developing our computational thinking lessons.

English language arts standards state that students should be able to:

  • Participate in collaborative conversations
  • Create individual or shared multimedia work for a specific purpose
  • Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions to clarify ideas, thoughts and feelings
Mathematics standards state that students should be able to:
  • Solve and represent real-world and mathematical addition and subtraction problems
  • Understand how to interpret number sentences
  • Understand the relationship between the size of a unit of measurement and the number of units needed to measure
Computer Science Framework
We focused on the following concepts and subconcepts of the Computer Science Framework. Lessons are provided for each.

Algorithms
When students understand the relationship between algorithms and programs, they can take a list of instructions and encode it into a language. By the end of 2nd grade, the computer science framework states students should know that people follow and create processes as part of daily life. Many of these processes can be expressed as algorithms that computers can follow. Impacts of computing
Computing technology has positively and negatively changed the way people live and work. Computing devices can be used for entertainment and as productivity tools, and they can affect relationships and lifestyles. Debugging
Computing systems might not work as expected because of hardware or software problems. Clearly describing a problem is the first step toward finding a solution. Devices
People use computing devices to perform a variety of tasks accurately and quickly. Computing devices interpret and follow the instructions they are given literally.

Additional lessons can be found at https://hourofcode.com/us/learn.

Acknowledgments 
I would like to thank the wonderful group of classroom teachers, media specialists and various other education professionals that I was able to collaborate with on lesson creation and implementation.

Teachers
Brenda Thielen, Sally Davidson, Lindsey Nagorski, Jodi Heinen, Cathy Bautch, Amy Jensen, Julie Nefs, Brandi Richards, Kelli Ritter, Ted Hanson, Pam Holubetz, Eric Maas

Media Specialists
Jenny McNew, Linda Hollenkamp, Jennifer Dahlstrom-Lage, Cole Bacon, Sara Martini, Jessica Moore, Holly Nelson, Paul Olsen

Specialists
Amanda Anderson, Jason Menth, Jodie Kragness

University Partner
Diana Fenton

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!

February 13, 2018

Squirrels Team Connects with Local Educators at OETC

Squirrels has covered a lot of ground in the last month.  

FETC: ✔

TCEA: ✔

Up next…the Ohio Educational Technology Conference (OETC) in Columbus, Ohio. 

We're making the quick two-hour drive from our North Canton offices for our fifth OETC experience. OETC is one of our favorite conferences of the year because it gives us a chance to catch up with our local Alpha Squirrels, share our latest technology and meet tons of hard-working Ohio educators.

What to see at OETC

Our Reflector software will be on display as usual, but you may notice a few differences – like the ability to screen peek and screenshot connected devices. That’s because we recently launched an education-streamlined version of Reflector called Reflector Teacher.  

Reflector Teacher is specially optimized for teachers and students for fast and reliable screen-mirroring in the classroom. Teachers can wirelessly display student devices on the big screen for the whole class to see. 

ClassHub is a device management and monitoring solution that allows teachers to maximize every moment their students spend with technology. With a suite of easy-to-use tools that keep class on track and engaged, educators can accomplish their number one objective: prepare students for future success.

Attending OETC with your district admins? Bring them by our booth -- we're happy to show you how to put ClassHub to work in your school. Contact us for more information.

Who to see at OETC

No conference is complete without sessions from members of our team and from our certified Alpha Squirrels. Be sure to check out these OETC sessions:

Tuesday, February 13

Keven Rinaman
3D Printing in the classroom
3 – 4 p.m.
B240-241

Wednesday, February 14

Becky Shiring
Emily Carle Hafer
Pizza, Projects, People: Create a Startup Culture in Your School
8 – 9 a.m.
A215

You know the drill, educators. Visit booth 235 for all your student device mirroring, monitoring and managing needs! OH – IO!

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!