August 15, 2018

Vote for Squirrels to Present at SXSW

Squirrels at SXSW EDU 19 Blog

Team Squirrels is going south … South by Southwest, that is. We have the chance to present at SXSW EDU in 2019! Squirrels Director of Professional Development Becky Shiring, Program Director Emily Carle Hafer and Alpha Squirrel Travis Lape have all submitted proposals to present at this groundbreaking conference on the future of education.

But we need your help. Proposals to present are accepted if the public votes them in, now through Aug. 30, 2018. You can help Squirrels present at SXSW EDU by voting for both sessions below.

Vote for Pizza, Projects, People.

Vote for It's Gettin' HOTT in Here.

What’s South by Southwest EDU? We’ll let them tell you:

The SXSW EDU® Conference & Festival fosters innovation in learning by hosting a community of optimistic, forward-thinking, purpose-driven stakeholders with a shared goal of impacting the future of teaching and learning.

Conference Date: March 4-7, 2019

Location: Austin, Texas

If you’re on the bleeding edge of education and know where it’s headed in the future, you’re at SXSW EDU.

Help Us Get There.

Here’s what you can do to get us to SXSW EDU 2019:

Vote!

Vote for both of our Squirrels presentations here: sqrls.co/culture and sqrls.co/hott.

Share!

Tell your friends, social media followers and PLN all about this opportunity to see Team Squirrels at SXSW EDU. We’ve championed education from the start, and we want the world to know how culture, technology and forward-thinking people can improve education for good.

Here’s an example post. Copy and paste this into your own Twitter feed or write your own social media post:

Team @Squirrels is all about the future of EdTech and they’ve got the chance to present @SXSWEDU. I voted to get them there. Now it’s your turn to help! Go here to vote! sqrls.co/culture

So what are we presenting? Here are the details:

Pizza, Projects, People: Creating a Startup Culture in Education

Presented by Becky Shiring, Emily Carle Hafer and Travis Lape

Schools don't have to be stuck in the past. Learn how startup culture can boost creativity, enhance communication and create collaborative environments in your classroom.

It's Gettin' HOTT in Here: Building Higher Order Thinking Skills with Tech

Presented by Becky Shiring

Preparing students for the future means they must be challenged with higher-order thinking tasks. Learn how to design cognitively challenging lessons that utilize technology to promote deep, meaningful learning in the classroom.

Session proposals are selected to officially present if they receive enough votes from the public (that’s you) and are approved by the SXSW EDU Advisory Board and Staff. So get out there and vote!

TL;DR

View our session proposals here and here, create an account and vote to see us at SXSW EDU during public voting through August 30, 2018.

Here’s to advancing the future of education with technology. Hope to see you there – and thank you!

August 7, 2018

Why I Code Like a Girl

Why I Code Like a Girl from Alpha Squirrel Velvet Holmes

Today’s guest post is written by Velvet Holmes, Information Technology Literacy Teacher for Oregon School District in the greater Madison, Wisconsin, area. Velvet works with students and staff to integrate technology efficiently into their curriculum and learning journey. She is also a member of our Alpha Squirrels program.

I don’t teach statistics, but there’s a stat from Girls Who Code that always catches my attention:

Only one in five computer science graduates are women.

That’s a problem.

The tech industry is exploding, but too often girls are left behind. Something needs to change, and it’s going to start with me.

I’ve worked to create several programs in my school district that empower girls socially, academically and vocationally. I hope my story can inspire other teachers, educators and business leaders to create environments where women are included and inspired to contribute to the tech industry.

Words I live by:

According to a study by Google, encouragement from adults and peers is the number one contributor to a teen girl’s decision to pursue computer science.

It’s no question that social encouragement and modelling positive behavior and are huge when guiding young women, especially when it comes to career choices. So how do I do it?

By coding like a girl.

In 2016, the Code Like a Girl party made its debut in our district. It’s an afternoon of celebrating women in computer science. Inspired by Made with Code, a site created by Google, Code Like a Girl teaches our district’s young women in grades one through eight how to code during workshops and collaborative sessions.

Picture3

We’ve met speakers from Google and Epic Systems, been inspired by stories of real women working in the software industry, crafted binary necklaces and made many friends. It’s truly important and inspiring to see our girls learning vital skills in an environment where they’re interacting positively with each other and having fun.

At Code Like a Girl, our young women have:

  • Met special guests from Google, Epic Systems and Filament Games
  • Learned how to use HTML to create webpages
  • Explored how to prepare for jobs in the computer software industry

Student-coded website

We’re in the process of building a middle school program with Girls Who Code, a national organization that empowers young women to pursue computer science and engineering.

While creating these initiatives in our district, I’ve learned some key takeaways:

Be present.

Girls need the encouragement and presence of female role models that work in the computing field. It’s the most effective way we’ll get more women interested in tech jobs.

Trying is more important than succeeding.

The learning process is benefited most when students show up and try. It’s not about the end result at the finish line. The real benefit is if they learned a programming language or grew during the process.

Build your program from the bottom up.

We started small and used the devices available to us. We are persistent in our mission to get more girls excited about computer science and all the doors it can open for them.

Don’t give up!

I am always learning new things myself while teaching, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I may not be an expert coder, but I can encourage students and be a confident role model for problem solving and perseverance.

That may be the most important way to code like a girl.

July 18, 2018

Introducing the Next Class of Alpha Squirrels EdTech Experts

AS-Logo-1We’re proud to introduce our next class of Alpha Squirrels. They’re modern educators. They’re EdTech experts. They’re classroom innovators. Now, they’re Alpha Squirrels.

These EdTech professionals lead presentations and workshops around the globe, advocating for Squirrels and sharing their passion and resources for modern education. We saw many of them at ISTE this year, and you can find this growing community discussing and sharing ideas every month on our Twitter #SquirrelsChat.

The 11 newest members of our Alpha Squirrels program come from five states in the U.S., joining the ranks of more than 125 educators around the world.

Meet the Alpha Squirrels

In addition to teachers, this is a class full of technology integrationists and digital learning specialists. Meet our newest members:

  • Juli Gilbert – Instructional Technology Specialist, Georgia
  • Wanda Hanley – Instructional Technology Facilitator, North Carolina
  • John Kramer – Technology Integration Specialist, Ohio
  • Aaron Murdock – Digital Learning Specialist, North Carolina
  • Benton Palmer – Instructional Technology Specialist, Georgia
  • Valtika Rhodes – Elementary Technology Specialist, Georgia
  • Adam Rogers – CTE Technology Coordinator, Oklahoma
  • Ryan Schwartz – Teacher, California
  • Brittany Ware – Instructional Technology Specialist, Georgia
  • Marcus Williams – Teacher/Consultant, Georgia
  • Katy Wyborny – Digital Learning Specialist, North Carolina

See our full list of certified Alpha Squirrels on our website.

Hear it from them

Here’s what a few of our newest Alpha Squirrels have to say:

 
“I want to be able to share and teach other teachers as an Alpha Squirrel. I want to learn from other educators and students.”

QuoteAdam Rogers
CTE Technology Coordinator


 “Squirrels is a leading educational technology company. They really listen to teachers and educators in order to improve their products.”

QuoteKaty Wyborny
Digital Learning Specialist

 
“With our ever-changing environment, having a community of like-minded educators gives us a platform to communicate, connect and learn from each other.”

QuoteWanda Hanley
Instructional Technology Facilitator


Congratulations, Alpha Squirrels!
We have big things on the horizon: Squirrels swag, product news, EdTech conferences and expos, just to name a few. Thanks for cultivating innovation and technology in the classroom and in our schools.

AS-Badge

The selection process for our Fall 2018 class of Alpha Squirrels ends Sept. 30. Apply today at alpha.airsquirrels.com.

Are you a teacher or EdTech professional interested in becoming a certified Alpha Squirrel? Contact Emily Carle Hafer at alpha@airsquirrels.com for information about our next class of Alpha Squirrels.

April 23, 2018

Should you attend EduTech Asia 2018?

Should You Attend EduTech Asia 2018?

I was inspired. I was motivated.

Everything I want in a conference was everything that EduTech Asia 2017 in Singapore gave me.

The question is: will it inspire you?

I’ve recounted my experience below for anyone who may be uncertain about attending EduTech Asia 2018 this October. I hope my thoughts give you a general idea of what to expect and help you decide if it’s worth the investment. 

Looking back at EduTech Asia 2017

EduTech Asia 2017 was the first conference I attended as a member of the Alpha Squirrels program created by Squirrels. The company helped send me there so I could speak to attendees about student voice and digital citizenship, but my time at the conference became so much more than a speaking opportunity.

What’s EduTech Asia?

EduTech Asia is a three-day conference and exhibition of innovation and technology in education. It gathers educators, EdTech specialists, education leaders and startup leaders from all around the globe to share and explore how technology impacts learning and creates positive changes in education.

That’s standard boilerplate language, but the conference lived up to its billing. I witnessed education enthusiasts sharing and learning from each other to achieve a common goal: bettering education for the world’s youth.

More than a speaking opportunity

Like I said, this was more than a speaking opportunity. I achieved my goal of sharing knowledge with others, but I also acquired knowledge that will benefit me on a professional level for years to come.

EduTech Asia 2017 showcased all that is great in education technology innovation. It was amazing to experience the keynote presentations, panel discussions, roundtables, collaborative EduSlams and innovative on-floor activities.

I was treated to an exciting array of technology products and services on display on the exhibition show floor. I found technology that helps me prepare my students for the future globally competitive and technologically equipped workforce. 

Designed to fit your goals

The conference is constructed in a way that makes it easy to find topics that align with your needs. Attendees can choose between eight tracks designed to provide an in-depth understanding about how technology shapes the following education sectors: 

  • K-12 leaders
  • Tertiary leaders
  • IT leaders
  • Special needs
  • Early years
  • Educational policy
  • Vocational
  • Business leaders

Events and exhibitions included sessions for educators by educators, live demos of the latest innovations and technologies, a tech showcase and startup theatre featuring the latest EdTech deployments in schools, institutions and classrooms, and an AR/VR Zone that demonstrated how this emerging technology is used in the classroom.

Robotics

Want to explore robotics? You're in luck!

The EduTech Asia robotic pavilion hosted mini robotics and coding workshops, as well as the 5th Singapore National CoSpace and RoboMaker Challenges 2017.

Additionally, the IMDA Digital Makerspace provided a series of workshops to nurture a new generation of digital natives with a passion to create with technology.

Looking forward to EduTech Asia 2018

EduTech Asia 2018 returns to Singapore Oct. 8-11 where a ton of talented educators and EdTech coaches will be on hand to share stories and expertise with attendees.

Connect with me on Twitter, and be sure to look me up if you decide to go. I look forward to meeting you and swapping education adventures.

Raymond Mitchel Africa is a Middle Years Programme (MYP) science teacher at an international school in Xiamen, China, and a member of the Alpha Squirrel program

March 27, 2018

#SquirrelsChat Recap: Designing for #FutureReady Learning

Classroom design has remained largely the same for centuries – heavy metal desks and chairs lined up in columns and rows, while a teacher lectures at the front of the room.

Despite the stagnant classroom design, lesson plans have evolved to include technology, collaboration, innovation, creativity and flexibility. This leaves a major disconnect between today’s innovative curriculum and outdated classroom furniture.  

This month’s #SquirrelsChat explored how teachers can transform their traditional classroom into a space where students feel welcome and want to learn. You’ll learn how the physical environment of a classroom impacts learning, what factors to consider when redesigning, how to involve students, design hacks and more! 

Related: #SquirrelsChat Recap: Student Engagement

Join #SquirrelsChat the third Thursday of every 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). 

How physical environment impacts learning + collaboration

A physical classroom environment can either foster collaboration and promote learning, or it can limit it. Every space has its own vibe – make yours positive!

 

What factors to consider when designing a learning space

Start by looking at what your goals are for the class and students. Design your space around that. A learning space should be a combination of things that benefit students and make sense for you as the teacher.

How to involve students

Simply put – go straight to the source! Ask students to describe their favorite place to hang out. Sometimes the best ideas come out of the most creative answers!

Design hacks for making a future-ready classroom on a budget 

Dish racks, ironing boards, beach chairs and tennis balls are all options for redesigning on a budget. Take a look at how educators are using these easy-to-find items below.

Advice to overcome redesign obstacles

We can’t stress this enough…start small! Something as small as changing sound and lighting in a room can bring positivity and inspiration to a space.

Don’t miss the next #SquirrelsChat on April 19 at 8 p.m. ET!

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!