January 24 , 2017

Gym Class JitterBug: How To Play The Game Teachers Are Raving About

A video began circulating on Facebook about a week ago that showed elementary-aged kids frantically throwing dodgeballs at a wall trying to smash virtual bugs. That video now has over 30 million views, and it recently became the number one post on the front page of Reddit.

What is this game….and how can you bring it to your school’s gymnasium? Turns out it’s pretty simple.

The video was originally posted on the West Elementary School (Batesville, Arkansas) Facebook page. The teacher is using an app called JitterBug. The app was created by Friskies® (yes, the cat food brand) and was originally intended to allow cats to tap interactive bugs on their owners' iPad® or iPhone® (also available for Android™). If you’ve ever owned a cat, you know they have an irresistible urge to swat anything and everything.

Educators have found a new way to use Friskies’ JitterBug app in gym class. They simply wirelessly display their iPad or iPhone onto the wall using a projector. When a student hits a bug on the wall with a ball, the teacher taps the bug on his or her screen to make that bug disappear. To the students, it looks like they are making the bugs disappear when they hit one. In reality, the teacher simply monitors the wall to see which bugs the students hit and then taps the same bugs on the device. Pretty cool, right?

How to projector your iPad or iPhone on the wall

It sounds complicated, but this is very easy as well. In the video, the teacher has the iPad wirelessly mirrored to an Apple TV®, and the Apple TV is connected to a projector. However, PhysEd teacher Jared Carder did it by wirelessly mirroring his iPad to Reflector® software on his computer. His computer was connected to the projector, so he didn’t need an Apple TV at all. Reflector software ($15) is a more cost-effective alternative to Apple TV ($149).

Either way, what a cool use of technology to get kids engaged and moving. The ingenuity of teachers around the world amazes us every day.

Learn more about the Reflector screen-sharing software used in schools around the world.

January 23 , 2017

Squirrels Presents Classroom Technology at Bett and FETC

Who run the world? Squirrels!

Thirteen members of the Squirrels team will travel a total of more than 9,400 miles by plane, cab, Uber and train to Orlando, Florida, and London to attend two of the world's premier EdTech conferences.

British Educational Training and Technology Show (Bett)
January 25-28
London, England

The Squirrels team is set to attend the Bett Show for the second time. We're eager to show more than 34,000 educators, administrators and EdTech professionals from over 138 countries how our products and services are used in the classroom.

This international EdTech conference is designed to create a better future by transforming education and bringing people, ideas, practices and technologies together so educators and learners can reach their full potential. Every educator can make a difference in education given the opportunity, which is what Bett aims to provide.

Featured conference keynotes include:

If you’re attending Bett feel free to stop by and say hello to the Squirrels team in booth E378! We would love the chance to meet and connect with our international customers and friends!

Future of Education Technology (FETC)
January 24-27
Orland, Florida

While four members of our team are busy in London, the other seven will be in Orlando exhibiting at the 37th National FETC conference. FETC is one of the largest EdTech conferences where preK-12 educators connect and collaborate to learn how to leverage technology for student success.

If you are attending FETC, make sure to catch these EdTech leaders at one of their sessions:

  • Blended Learning Coach, Marcia Kish
  • Director of Innovation and Co-Founder of Edventure Quests, Katrina Keene
  • Literacy Specialist at Calliope Global and Professor at Saint Leo University, Jennifer Williams
  • EdTech Specialist at Kennesaw State University, David Lockhart
  • Educational Technology Professional Development Trainer, Kathy Schrock
  • Principal at Poinciana High School, Michael Meechin
  • Instructional Coach, Billy Spicer
  • Educational Technology Coordinator at PA Leadership Charter School, Courtney Kofeldt
  • Director of Fisher Technologies Inc., Leslie Fisher
  • K-12 Director of Instructional Technology at Oakland-Alabama Central Schools and Adjunct Professor of Educational Technologies at Canisius College, Rob Zdrojewski

Squirrels co-founder Andrew Gould will give in-booth presentations featuring our new classroom technology on the following days:

Wednesday, January 25
3:15 p.m.
4:15 p.m.

Thursday, January 26
9:45 a.m.
2:45 p.m.
4:00 p.m.

Friday, January 27
9:45 a.m.
11:15 a.m.

Stop by booth #1945 to say hi to the Squirrels team, demo our products and learn about our newest EdTech solution!

Happy learning, all! To see where the Squirrels team will be this year, check out our 2017 conference schedule.

December 1 , 2016

We hope you found a friend – 2016 Edcamp Roundup

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Our 2016 Edcamp season is officially over, and we think this was our most successful year to date. We sponsored 34 events in 19 states!

In February, we revamped our Edcamp efforts and committed ourselves to empowering educators with resources to take charge of their professional development. We created a new system of submitting Edcamp sponsorship requests, updated our swag and offered higher monetary donations and special Reflector 2 deals for attendees. Most importantly, we built long-lasting relationships with educators. We appreciate all of the hard work that went into making each of these events a success!

We are honored to be a part of the experiences that help educators gain confidence, ignite their passion for education and share ideas with one another in a comfortable environment. These motivated educators inspire us to continue making products that help them accomplish their professional goals.

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If you’ve been to a Squirrels-sponsored Edcamp before, you know that we provide fun goodies for you to take home, including Squirrels lanyards, prize packs with various swag items and free copies of Reflector 2. We also provide monetary donations to organizers for breakfast, lunch, refreshments or any other expenses. Speaking of lunch and breakfast, we’ve seen some tasty-looking lunches come out of our donations! Whether you attended one or many Squirrels-sponsored Edcamps this year, we hope our contributions helped make these professional development experiences the best ones yet.

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Check out the Edcamps we sponsored in 2016:

We would love your feedback on how we can improve our sponsorship efforts as we gear up for 2017. Feel free to leave a comment telling us how we can make your experience better as an attendee or organizer.

If you are hosting your own Edcamp and are interested in a Squirrels sponsorship for 2017, fill out our Edcamp Sign Up Form. Sponsorship may include monetary or swag donations, discounts on our products and more!

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November 22 , 2016

From the Classroom to the Real World: How EdTech Increases Student Success

Every student going through school is taught concepts that can be applied to real-world experiences. For example, learning the Pythagorean Theorem in math class may cause students to question when they would ever need to know it as an adult. Although the student may not understand it at the time, this theorem can be applied to a number of real-life experiences, including taking a road trip, determining what size TV to purchase or calculating how far it is to throw a baseball from first base to third base.

Can this same logic be used to determine if technology used in the classroom prepares students for future careers and experiences?

About 20 years ago, students learned basic computer skills in a specially designated computer classroom. Now it’s hard to find a classroom that isn’t using computers and technology. Some educators argue that schools have a responsibility to give students the confidence and skills to use technology. Colleges and employers expect students to be digitally literate when they graduate. Digital literacy helps students navigate the workforce, college and use creative thinking to solve problems.

EdTech 1

Students develop essential skills and knowledge when they are exposed to technology at a young age. They need to be taught to think and understand what technology is and how to use it in the right way to prepare themselves for a tech-infused post-grad world. They can use educational games to learn how to read, use classroom devices to develop research skills and participate in Makerspaces to creatively explore their ideas.

Education technology decreases learning gaps that appear most often in early childhood. A student who struggles to learn early may find it difficult to prepare for college or the workforce because learning is cumulative. Identifying these gaps is important because early learning facilitates later learning. If you notice a student is struggling with reading or math skills, try using one of the many learning applications, such as Math Shake, DoodleMath, Photomath and BrainPOP to get the student back on track.

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Have any comments or feedback about how education technology increases student success? Feel free to share in the comments below!

November 16 , 2016

Oh, Brazil: Alpha Squirrel Guest Post, Part Three

This is the third post in 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 closing the math gap for marginalized students using tablets and math apps. 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. Read part one and part two of Marc’s journey.

Oh, Brazil
Our time in Brazil wrapped up with a visit at the mayor’s office and a meeting with the University of Pernambuco at the British Consulate. Both of these meetings were organized to plan for the future. Great progress has been made with local schools and partners here over the last 13 days. Moving forward with the onebillion math intervention seems likely. On my final visit to ABA Global school, I was presented with a gift from Francisco Gomes de Matos, peace linguist and President of the Board at ABA Global Education:

“Oh, Brazil, about you what can I foresee well? You will be internationally admired. You will be educationally developed. You will be scientifically and technologically advanced. You will be interculturally comprehended.”

This resonates with me and our trip here. This articulates our goal to work with Brazil and assures me that Brazil makes a perfect partner for our projects and research.

In my first blog post, I explained three projects we brought to Brazil:

  1. Closing the Gap in Math – “How can mobile technology and the onebillion software support marginalized learners?”

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In March 2017, Laura Outhwaite (Ph.D. student in the School of Psychology at the University of Nottingham) will return to Recife, Brazil, to work with ABA and DAMAS schools to pre-test children. Teachers will then implement the math gap intervention for 12 weeks. This will happen in English, Portuguese and with a control class – a design based on an international model used in England, Canada, South Africa and Malawi. During my visit, teachers have been trained to use the onebillion software. They are excited about this intervention. The teachers have also had a hand in designing the study so that it works with their curriculum and timetable. Laura will return again in June 2017 for a post-test and to receive feedback from teachers. Afterwards, the findings will be included in an international, cross-cultural evaluation of the software. And as the research is teacher-led, the schools will continue using the software and support the likely expansion of this project in Recife. Beyond the pilot study, there has been great interest with other partners in this work. We look forward to the possibility of expanding this project beyond the pilot study.

  1. Stories of a Lifetime – “How might we keep local legends, myths and fables alive while also sharing our place in the world?”

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ABA and DAMAS schools both joined the project, and in our second week here a third school, Red Balloon in San Paulo, Brazil, joined as well. These three schools will use the project with different aged children who will research and retell folklore from Brazil and Recife. On my final project day in Recife, I taught a group of children at ABA Global School. Part of this lesson time introduced them to the Stories of a Lifetime project. They learned the story of Robin Hood, designed their characters and retold the story in their own words using Puppet Pals. I will share this response to the story back in my school with Digital Leaders and upload this work to the Stories of a Lifetime website.

  1. Connecting Classes Across Continents – “How might we develop deeper understanding through the use of global connections to broaden learners’ perspectives?”

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In my second week, I returned to ABA Global School to work with a group of Year Five children on this project. They spent time with me learning about Nottingham and they read the book about Burton Joyce, authored by Year Six children form my school. They met with the Burton Joyce children over FaceTime and exchanged knowledge about their place in the world. Following this visit, they will work on their own school book to share with Burton Joyce children and a second call will take place when I return to work. These two books will be combined as a case study text and published to the iBooks Store in the same style as the collaborative book my school published with St. Francis Xavier, Goa.

I have learned that visiting schools is a great way to share knowledge and expertise. Being in a setting gives many more opportunities to collaborate and provide practical ideas bespoke to that place. I’ve learned this through my own consultancy role in England and from managing the Apple Regional Training Centre in Nottingham. Applying this to an international context has been a beneficial way to further develop my skills as a leader and advocate of educational technology.

An international visit is much different to working with schools at home. Even though we had an agenda planned, opportunities arose that were unexpected. New relationships brought about detailed discussions that allowed our plans to evolve quickly. We had no contacts to rural schools before this trip, but we were able to make a visit because of the relationships we formed in our first few days. The advice from The British Consulate gave new avenues for collaboration beyond our visit. We have so many more contacts and ideas to explore now.
Meeting teachers in schools with technology gave new opportunities for me to share my projects and develop them in new, exciting ways with educators beyond the Apple Distinguished Educator network. Our priority was to launch a pilot study of the onebillion software in Recife, and this was finalized by the end of our trip with training provided to teachers and an implementation designed with school coordinators.

MarcF3.8Working with researchers and academics has been very interesting as well. My partnership with The University of Nottingham began over 18 months ago with the evaluation of the onebillion apps in the U.K. I’ve been involved in study design, implementation and evaluation of this research in the U.K. To have an involvement in the beginnings of a new pilot study in Brazil is very rewarding. I offered my own, first-hand knowledge and experience as a teacher and leader who has implemented a similar, successful pilot study. I explained the positive impact this study had on the children that I teach in math and other areas of learning. I look forward to offering support to these educators as they begin implementing their pilot of the onebillion software in Recife.

Working internationally has taught me three things:

  • Time is precious
  • Relationships are key to success
  • The work is hard

Moments of high energy and inspiration are met with moments of complications or exhaustion.  Problem solving, decision making and patience are needed as agendas change and challenges arise. Our plan altered on a daily basis. We were always on the go preparing for the next unexpected meeting whilst reflecting on the one we had just had. But when you see the children who deserve quality education, and you believe that technology can unlock talent, you know that the hard work for these children will pay off.

MarcF3.9 Jose Guido Correa de Araujo, Emeritus Professor, International Relations Officer, University of Pernambuco

As I board my first of three flights back to the U.K., I leave Recife looking forward to collaborating with all of the friends I have met here. I look forward to seeing Connecting Classes grow with a new link school and case study publication growth. I look forward to seeing Brazilian legends told in Stories of a Lifetime. And I look forward to working on Brazil’s first pilot of the onebillion software in March 2017.

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“Oh, Brazil, what will be your legacy to every coming generation? Oh, Brazil, may all of these things happen to you; may you inspire Brazilians only good things to do” 

I would like to thank Squirrels for their support with this visit, for sharing my story and showcasing what is possible when technology enables quality learning. I need to thank the Apple Distinguished Educators who work tirelessly on projects which have a truly global reach. I thank them for committing their own time to these innovations and for encouraging me to share them beyond our community. I also send much love to Marie Neves for her friendship before, during and after this trip; see you in December! And also to Ricardo; our dedicated driver, intelligent interpreter and gracious guide.

I must end with a thank you to my partners at The University of Nottingham, particularly Dr. Nicola Pitchford. The time that you invest in my work, and the support you give me, means so much. This trip has been a career highlight. Thank You.

*Marc submitted this post to Squirrels on November 3, 2016. You can contact Marc and follow his education journey on Twitter

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!