November 17, 2016

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.

Reflector2Chromebook

 

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!

November 7, 2016

Reflector 2 Classroom Checklist

ChecklistAs education enters a new age of mobility, classrooms are starting to resemble modern-day coffee shops. Teachers aren’t limited to standing up at the front of the room doing most of the talking. Students can collaborate through technology and take charge of their own personalized learning no matter where they are seated in the classroom. Classrooms are transitioning to more of a comfortable and collaborative learning environment.

Today’s classroom arrangement bears little resemblance to the classroom we experienced as kids. Chalkboards are now interactive whiteboards, students are turning in their textbooks and notebooks for iPads and ordinary pencils are being tossed aside for stylus pens. Who would have pictured a classroom like this 10 years ago?

We pose the question: with all of these devices and technology competing for attention in the classroom, is it possible for students to actually be collaborative with one another? How about with teachers?

The answer is yes. The Reflector 2 screen-mirroring software allows students to take a hands-on approach to their education and facilitates collaboration while they apply key concepts in the classroom. Students can share their work side-by-side, present group projects and have competitions when working with apps such as Kahoot or Quizlet. Teachers can even be collaborative with their students by showing instructions next to student results.

So, what do you need to make this collaborative, mobile classroom a reality? Here’s your Reflector 2 classroom checklist:

  1. Mac or Windows computer to run the Reflector 2 software
  2. iOS, Android, Chromebook or Surface Pro* devices that students can share content from
  3. Projector or interactive whiteboard if you want to display student content to the whole class
  4. Reflector Director (optional) for teachers to access the Reflector 2 controls from their iPad or iPhone instead of from their computer
  5. Reflector Student (optional) to show students the same Reflector 2 display on their iOS device that the teacher sees on the computer, as well as provide connectivity alternatives for schools with restrictive networks

Pro tip: You can wirelessly connect as many mobile devices to Reflector 2 as your school network allows (sweet spot is usually between four to five devices).

That’s it! Pretty simple, right?

If you would like to learn more about Reflector 2, you can watch our “How To” videos, including How to Connect to Reflector 2 and How to Record Mirrored Devices on our YouTube channel. Or, you can visit our website to learn more about Reflector in the classroom.

*Microsoft Surface Pros require our sister app, AirParrot 2, to wirelessly connect to the teacher’s computer because Surface Pros do not come equipped with a native screen-sharing functionality such as Apple’s AirPlay or the Chromebook/Android Cast technology. 

October 31, 2016

Moving Around the Classroom with Reflector Director

If there’s one thing educators know about Reflector 2, it’s that it allows students to truly be “mobile” with their iOS, Chromebook or Android devices. If students can be mobile, why do educators seem so restricted with their devices?

We wondered the same thing. That’s why we created Reflector Director – an iOS companion app that allows teachers to move about the classroom and interact with students all while still accessing the controls of Reflector 2 from their iPad or iPhone. Goodbye to the days of teachers being chained to their desk, and hello to the new era of teacher mobility.

Reflector Director gives educators the ability to:

  • Show and hide student devices without disconnecting or reconnecting
  • Highlight one student device to spotlight important content
  • Eliminate distractions with full-screen mode
  • Change frames for optimum screen compatibility
  • Observe screen previews of each connected student device before displaying to a larger screen

Reflector Director

Let’s take a step back for a moment and ask ourselves, “why is it important for teachers to have mobility in the classroom?” All of these features mentioned above are useful, but what does that really do for the efficiency of a classroom?

Here are seven reasons why teacher mobility is important for efficiency in the classroom:

  1. Teacher mobility saves time by keeping teachers from running back and forth to their desks to control Reflector 2
  2. It’s easier to walk around and give students more one-on-one attention
  3. Teachers are able to guide and educate students on the usage of technology to prepare them for real-world environments
  4. The teacher becomes the encourager, advisor and coach of classroom technology
  5. The overall efficiency and flow of the classroom improves
  6. Teachers stay engaged with students throughout the lesson plan
  7. Technology barriers between teachers and students are removed

Reflector Director In Use

With educators being called upon to find beneficial ways to incorporate technology into their classroom, they need to find solutions that empower them and give them confidence. Keeping up with the change in EdTech can leave a teacher overwhelmed and discouraged, therefore leaving the teacher unable to influence students in the best ways. Reflector Director was designed to allow teachers to feel confident using their classroom technology by making collaborative learning via mobile devices easy.

Teachers play an essential role in every student’s education, behavior and development. In the EdTech world, it can be difficult to manage a mobile classroom by concentrating on every student. With the help of powerful remote-display-management apps, like Reflector Director, this is made easy, and each student gets the attention they need.

Check out Reflector Director for yourself. We’re sure you’ll be impressed, and want to make it part of your everyday classroom routine.

August 31, 2016

Attention Educators! It’s Time to Vote for Alpha Squirrels at SXSW!

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The seventh annual SXSWedu will return to Austin, Texas, in March 2017. SXSWedu showcases four days of compelling sessions, in-depth workshops, engaging learning experiences, mentorship, film screenings, startup events and much more!

We are lucky enough to have three Alpha Squirrels in the running to be speakers at this prestigious conference. Speakers for these programs are selected in part by PanelPicker – a two-step, crowd-sourced platform that enables the community to have a voice in the programming selected for SXSWedu 2017.

SXSWedu empowers the community to use this platform to submit innovative session ideas by filling out a digital proposal. The public is then given the opportunity to provide feedback and vote on the collected submissions.

The following Alpha Squirrel EdTech Experts have submitted proposals to present at SXSWedu:

Richard Anderson (@techatwis) – Curriculum Mapping with Google Apps for Education

Katrina Keene (@techintechgal) – Adapting a Learn – Play Balance in Classrooms

Jennifer Williams (@JenWilliamsEdu) – Conversations on Diversity with Young Learners

So, what does this mean for you?

You can vote for our Alpha Squirrels by clicking on their respective session links above. Voting ends this Friday, September 2. Every vote counts! Help our Alpha Squirrels get nominated for an experience of a lifetime!

July 28, 2016

Get ready, higher education! Here we come!

Squirrels Campus Tech 2016

Next week, two members of the Squirrels team will travel to Boston, Mass., to attend the 23rd Annual Educational Technology Conference (Campus Technology 2016). Thought leaders and industry experts will explore innovative EdTech solutions and develop strategies fit for a campus setting.

Our Reflector, AirParrot and Ditto screen-sharing solutions are a hit in K-12 schools all across the world. It’s time to bring those collaboration tools to colleges and universities.

Exhibiting at this higher education conference will allow Squirrels to explore a side of the education industry that we have not had much exposure to. Connecting with 300+ colleges and universities represented at this must-attend event will show us how the needs of educators change from K-12 to higher education. Plus, we will be demoing our most recent screen-sharing solution, Ditto!

Ditto is a smart screen-sharing service that allows anyone in a room to immediately share their computer screen to an Apple TV, Chromecast or Reflector-enabled display by visiting connect.goditto.com and entering the room’s unique code.

If you made plans to attend Campus Technology 2016, you must stop by the Squirrels booth (booth #400) to see how we make sharing content in the classroom easy.

Here is a peek at the Campus Technology 2016 speakers and exhibitors:

Speakers

  • Sadik Al-Abdulla – Director of Security Solutions, CDW
  • Sarah Horn – Vice President of Retention Services, Helix Education
  • Jill Albin-Hill – Vice President for Information Technology and CIO, Dominican University
  • Matthew Karlyn – Partner and Co-Chair of Technology Industry Team, Foley & Lardner LLP

Exhibitors

  • Schoology
  • Freshdesk, Inc.
  • HoverCam
  • Panasonic
  • Sony Electronics

So, stop by booth 400, say “hi” and let us open you up to the world of possibilities that our screen-mirroring solutions create!