October 31 , 2016

Meet The Fall 2016 Class Of Alpha Squirrel EdTech Experts

Become an Alpha Squirrel at alpha.airsquirrels.com!
The fall 2016 Alpha Squirrels class includes 26 EdTech experts from four countries and 14 states. We’re excited and honored to introduce them as part of the fourth class of Alpha Squirrel EdTech experts.

This group of education thought leaders from the U.S., U.K., Canada and France is made up of teachers, technology integrationists, technology directors, assistant principals and more.

Check out our full list of Alpha Squirrels team members!

These individuals are considered experts and advocates in the global EdTech community. Alpha Squirrels attend and speak at education conferences around the world to share their expertise and introduce fellow educators to the Squirrels suite of classroom technology solutions. You can catch some of them presenting at FETCTCEA and many other edcamps and conferences around the world in 2016 and beyond.

Alpha Squirrels might use or highlight our classroom technology such as ClassHub, Reflector or Ditto during a presentation, but sometimes they aren’t included in the presentations at all. We simply offer Alpha Squirrels the opportunities to be heard and learn. Our goal is to assist them in their professional development journey and provide them with resources to help other educators improve the student learning experience. We value their input and often look to them for ideas and inspiration as we move forward with new initiatives.

In addition to Squirrels-sponsored conference attendance and speaking engagements, Alpha Squirrels receive:

  • First access to unreleased Squirrels products
  • Squirrels welcome package – T-Shirt, coffee mug/tumbler, sticky notes, water bottle, headphones, pens, pencils, etc.
  • Video interview opportunities
  • Free AirParrot 2 and Reflector 2 licenses
  • An Alpha Squirrels member certificate
  • “Alpha Squirrel” signature badges for Twitter, Facebook and email
  • Product training, press kits and talking points
  • A chance to visit Squirrels Headquarters
  • On-demand interaction with Squirrels product designers and managers

Congrats to all of our new Alpha Squirrels! We’re proud to have you represent us in the EdTech community.

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.

October 27 , 2016

Alpha Squirrel Guest Post: Using Technology To Improve Math Education In Brazil, Part One

This is the first of a three-part blog series* featuring Alpha Squirrel EdTech Expert Marc Faulder. Marc is an educator and Interactive Technologies Leader at Burton Joyce Primary School in the U.K. He has spent the past two years working with the University of Nottingham in England on a research project about using tablets and math apps to close the math gap for marginalized students. They used math apps from onebillion, a London-based nonprofit, to measure the impact that this intervention has on learning.  

Marc is traveling to Brazil with his team to continue the research project and scope out the possibility of launching the onebillion initiative in Brazil. They’ll also train teachers on the use of technology in the classroom.

The Journey to Brazil
Today I travel to Recife, Brazil, and it feels like the beginning of a great adventure. But whilst I wait for my connecting flight to Sao Paulo from Amsterdam, I look back at the 18 months which led up to this moment.

Unlocking Talent Through Tablet Technology
Unlocking Talent is a research project supported by Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) and the Norwegian Government. Led by the University of Nottingham in England, the project evaluates how onebillion is using innovative math apps to give marginalized children access to this critical math education. The apps allow children to learn at their own pace and in their own language. Beginning in the African country of Malawi, this research found that from six weeks of using the apps, children received the equivalent of 18 months of learning gains in math skills.

As this research continued, the university and onebillion questioned whether or not this way of working could be replicated beyond Malawi. This is where I joined the team. We ran a pilot study across the schools in the federation that I work for. We found similar learning gains here, as well as in other small-scale pilot studies from U.K. schools. In June, we launched the U.K.’s first large-scale evaluation of tablet technology and math attainment.

The apps are used with Early Years children that have been identified as working below age-related expectations. They work on activities set by the teacher in the app for up to 30 minutes a day. The learning is 1:1, personalized and self-paced. These children use this app as well as normal teaching practices and traditional interventions. When combined like this, the learning gains have been huge.

The findings from the initial U.K. pilot studies can be found here.

A Cross-Cultural Study
Today I travel to Brazil with Dr. Nicola Pitchford, an associate professor at the University of Nottingham, and Laura Outhwaite, a Ph.D. student in the School of Psychology at the University of Nottingham. These two have been instrumental in the success of the research in both the U.K. and Malawi. Our initial trip to Brazil is a scoping visit and came about following a visit from researchers from CESAR Recife, an innovation centre that promotes transformation through technology, back in January. Marie Neves and Flavia Nascimento came from Recife to Nottingham to observe best practices in my classroom using both onebillion software and iPads to enhance learning. You can read more about this visit here: https://enabling-environments.co.uk/2016/01/19/brazil/

MarcFaulder

Inspired by what they saw and with a good knowledge of the schools they work with in Recife, Marie invited us to partner with CESAR and look into the possibility of bringing onebillion to their schools.

During our initial trip this November, we’ll meet with teacher training institutions, local and state government representatives and Portuguese schools in the area. Marie and I have also organized a conference for 30 teachers where they can learn some ways to best use iPads in the classroom and how to maximize learning gains when embedding this practice in a learning environment.

A Chance to Reflect
There is much to learn on this visit. Plenty of time in this trip has been dedicated to meeting professionals and observing current practices in Recife schools. This visit is about hearing teachers’ stories and learning about their ways of closing the gap in math. Our purpose in these conversations is to exchange knowledge and share what we are finding in the U.K. and Malawi.

The most exciting part of this trip for me is looking at different learning contexts from the same perspective; closing the gap in math. It’s easy to look beyond your home country and see what is different. But to make comparisons based on learning gains for math provides a common ground for any teacher, no matter what the context is. What are we doing to support the children who are working below age-related expectations? Whether this be 10 children in a class of 30 in the U.K., or 80 in a class of 100 in Malawi, teachers are united by the way in which will tackle this issue. Being able to share the same resources to close our gaps is such an exciting way to collaborate and bring these school contexts together.

I look forward to sharing more of my visit with you as it unfolds over the next two weeks.

*Marc submitted this post to Squirrels on October 24, 2016. You can contact Marc and follow his adventure on Twitter

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!

August 15 , 2016

Alpha Squirrel EdTech Experts Attend Worldwide Apple Distinguished Educators Institute in Berlin

Five of our Alpha Squirrel EdTech experts recently attended the Worldwide Apple Distinguished Educators (ADE) Institute in Berlin to collaborate, share and learn with educators from around the globe.

Alpha Squirrels ADE Global 2016 Berlin

Alpha Squirrels Kelly Croy (@wirededucator), Kyle Pearce (@mathletepearce), John Shoemaker (@shoewee), Marc Faulder (@marcwithersey) and Monica Burns (@classtechtips) were among 400 educators at the invitation-only event.

Croy was featured as an ADE Global presenter. He showed fellow educators how he uses Reflector and AirParrot to promote a more engaged student learning environment in his classroom. His recent contribution to the Global Education Institute blog explained how his students use these EdTech tools to share and record mobile device screens.

“Berlin was fantastic,” Croy said. “I couldn’t have made it there without the support of Squirrels.”

The Worldwide ADE Institute is just one of the many education technology conferences and speaking engagements Alpha Squirrels attend throughout the year.

Check out some of the social conversation around the Alpha Squirrels program during the event!

Thanks to all Alpha Squirrels for their relentless efforts to positively represent, endorse and validate our place in the education technology world.

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.

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June 28 , 2016

The Importance of Being a Connected Educator

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Any educator knows that being connected in the EdTech community takes hard work, dedication, commitment and most of all, passion. Attending conferences, engaging in countless Twitter chats and staying up-to-date with a network of educators and influencers can seem like a daunting task, but the outcome outweighs the work by a landslide.

Here are three important traits of a connected educator:

  • Learning from like-minded educators
  • Connecting with EdTech companies (we might know of one in particular)
  • Taking advantage of professional development opportunities

Learning from like-minded educators

Who knows what’s happening in the education industry better than teachers themselves? Learning from other educators is a constructive way to discuss success stories with one another, relate to their challenges, share ideas and realize that you are not alone in this journey. Tips and tricks from other educators creates value in that you hear first-hand how a new app, technology or teaching environment works. You can apply what you learn to your own classroom.

Connecting with EdTech Companies

Collaborating with an EdTech company, like Squirrels, can provide educators with many new opportunities. Most EdTech companies offer programs to provide education leaders with resources that encourage and support professional development. We are lucky enough to have our own group of connected leaders called Alpha Squirrels who are experts and advocates for our screen-mirroring technology. We provide them with the funds, opportunities and connections that will transform their profession and in return, they create discussion about their experiences with our products and how they can be used with technology that’s already in the classroom.

Taking advantage of professional development opportunities

While you’re busy learning from educators and working closely with EdTech companies, it’s important to do it in an environment that encourages creativity and collaboration. Creating an environment for teachers to learn from other teachers while discussing their favorite EdTech solutions is important. That’s why we are big supporters of Edcamps. This year alone we have sponsored 17 Edcamps all across the U.S. More recently, we sponsored Edcamp Magic, which was attended by four of our Alpha Squirrels. Most of them have never had a chance to meet in person, and this event allowed them the opportunity to do so. Each of those Alpha Squirrels came out of that experience with deeper roots in the EdTech community, ideas and friendships with colleagues they can treasure for years to come.

 

About Us

Squirrels is a software development company based in North Canton, Ohio. Our excitement and passion lies in creating high-qualty, budget-friendly software that can be used to enhance the devices already found in today's home and work environments. Follow our blog for all the latest product releases, #TeamSquirrels news and industry insight!