July 16, 2018

Summer Reading Recommendations from Squirrels

Whether you choose to do your reading poolside or in a frosty air-conditioned room, lazy summer days are the perfect time for catching up on some reading. Once again, the Squirrels team has compiled a list of its favorite summer reading recommendations. This eclectic list of books (and podcasts) is sure to have something for everyone.

Happy Summer!

Summer Reading Twitter Cards

Becky Shiring, Director of Professional Development and Continued Learning

“A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness and a Trove of Letters Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression” by Ted Gup

This book shows how the smallest acts can counteract some of the greatest problems. This true story takes place in Canton, Ohio, and includes a ton of historical information about my new town!


Emily Carle Hafer, Alpha Squirrels Program Manager

“Harry Potter” by J.K. Rowling

It's never a bad time to read the Harry Potter series. You can read it in tandem with Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, the mobile role-playing game. 

“Tasks Before Apps: Designing Rigorous Learning in a Tech-Rich Classroom” by Monica Burns

Monica creates amazing resources for educators implementing technology in their work. She includes personal experiences from her work in education as well as her travels around the world. This book allows educators to start with a strong foundation and build up to effective technology integration. 

“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas

A powerful message to provoke meaningful conversations in and out of the classroom. It's been a must-read for over a year now, but this fall you'll see the book come to life as a movie.


Erica Betz, Admin/HR Rep

“Anya's Ghost” by Vera Brosgol

This graphic novel is a sweet and spooky coming-of-age story. I got the digital version and read it on my phone in just a few hours. Great for traveling and car rides!

“The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for Your Instant Pot” by Kathy Hester

This book is full of really simple, healthy and DELICIOUS recipes. I love the lentils and rice recipe, but there are a variety to try!

“When You Are Engulfed In Flames” by David Sedaris

This collection of essays will have you lost in thought and laughing aloud as you read. Sedaris is famous for witty, dark humor and anecdotes that leave readers wanting more. I loved all his books, but this one is my favorite. Perfect to pick up and read one essay at a time or all in one sitting!


Matt Elsey, Director of Web Technologies

“The World According To Mister Rogers: Important Things To Remember” by Fred Rogers

Few people have the ability to encourage and uplift like Fred Rogers. This book is a great collection of quotes, thoughts and reminders of what's important. It's a quick and easy way to get perspective in your daily life.


Jon Zelasko, Senior Developer

“The Old Man and The Sea” by Ernest Hemingway

Though brief, this book is meant to be consumed leisurely like a fine whiskey. Its plain language disguises deeper meaning that changes over time. And like all classics, it tells a story that somehow captures a moment in time perfectly. I recommend enjoying it by an ocean as a way to escape a world filled with too many distractions.


Mike Bruin, Junior Developer

“Locke And Key, Vol. 1” by Joe Hill

This is a great graphic novel that combines horror, interesting art and a story that you can't help but follow. If you aren't familiar with graphic novels, this is a good one to start!


Jon Bishop, Creative Director of Marketing

“Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury

A book that'll make you think twice before playing Candy Crush or tuning in to 24-hour news.

“1984: New Classic Edition” by George Orwell

This book is full of eerie correlations to current affairs: demagoguery, authoritarianism, information control, deletion of government records, the list goes on. I deleted my Facebook!


Nate Wendell, ClassHub Support Specialist

“One Second After” by William R. Forstchen

An extremely grim look into life after a catastrophic failure of the power grid. You will cry at several points, but you won't be able to put it down either. 


Christina Lamanna, Implementation Specialist

“Lilac Girls” by Martha Hall Kelly

The book was inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine. The story revolves around three women who experience life in unimaginable ways. It's one of those books you feel bounded with after reading.


Joseph McCulty, Business Analyst

“Frasier: A Cultural History” by Joseph and Kate Darowski

This book provides an excellent overview of the greatest sitcom of all time. Whether you are looking for a guide as you watch Frasier for the first time, or you’ve already watched it in its entirety five-plus times like I have, it offers a lot of great insight.


Alissa McGill, Developer Relations Engineer

“Limited Resources” (Podcast) by Marshall Sutcliffe and Luis Scott-Vargas

I love this podcast because it is the perfect combination of funny and deep strategy for the best trading card game to ever exist - Magic the Gathering.


Alisha Pero, Sales Administrator

“Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where The Hell Are My Keys?” by Billy Crystal

I love hearing about his life. He is hilarious, thoughtful and keeps you engaged throughout the whole book. I like the audible version because he actually reads it himself! Try it. It is fantastic!


Connal Kelly, Account Executive 

“In the Dark” (Podcast) by Madeleine Baran

A true crime podcast about the failures and cover-ups of two county sheriffs' offices. The first season investigates a well-known child abduction case. The second involves a man who has been tried six times for the same crime and has remained in prison for the past 21 years even after winning appeals. So mysterious and engaging!


Aaron Rinier, Director of Support

“They Call Me Supermensch: A Backstage Pass to the Amazing Worlds of Film, Food, and Rock'n'roll” by Shep Gordon

Shep Gordon is an amazing storyteller and a very interesting man. Pretty easy, fun read.

 

Those are just a few of our favorites we’re taking to the beach. What are your favorite summer reads? Comment below or tweet us @Squirrels with your own recommended page-turners.

June 20, 2018

Martians, Pizzas and Squirrels, Oh My! What to Expect at ISTE 2018

 

Squirrels Presents ClassHub at ISTE 2018

Squirrels is back at the International Society for Technology in Education Conference & Expo (ISTE) for our sixth consecutive year! ISTE is one of our favorite expos and we can’t wait to sojourn in Chicago next week for all the EdTech goodness. We’re showing off our newest ways to make educators’ lives easier – and a whole lot more fun, too. Here’s what you can expect at ISTE 2018:

1. Learn how to effortlessly collaborate across the entire classroom with our newest product, ClassHub – and demo it in real time. 

Since so many of our friends and teachers love Squirrels education apps like Reflector Teacher, we developed new technology that takes classroom devices to the next level. Enter ClassHub, the solution for mobile device management (MDM) in schools. Stop by booth #2262 to learn how you can share screens, push web pages and monitor an entire classroom of student devices with ClassHub.

We kissed wires, cables and chaos goodbye a long time ago, and we built ClassHub so teachers can too.

Two students and a teacher using ClassHub in a classroom

2. Learn from the brightest and best education experts – Alpha Squirrels are here.

We’re pumped to meet up with our ISTE Alpha Squirrels. Aside from being our biggest fans, Alpha Squirrels are EdTech experts with a whole lot to say. Good news is you’ll find a lot of them sharing their expertise in technology and education resources all around ISTE 2018. Swing by booth #2262 to meet a few and discover why they love what we do.

Speaking of awesome resources for teachers …

3. Is your classroom culture stuffy and worn-out? Wish you could inject it with a healthy dose of creative energy? Try "Pizza, Projects, People."

Teachers, we’ve all been there. Sometimes it’s hard to inspire your students to learn when your classroom seems to do the exact opposite. Your school building may be stuck in the past, but your school culture doesn’t have to be … and Squirrels is here to help.

Join us on Wednesday, June 27, at 8 a.m. in the Skyline Ballroom for Pizza, Projects, People: Create a Startup Culture in Your Classroom to get all the details on how the startup culture used in tech companies can fuel classroom creativity. Amplify the learning process with:

  • Real-world research
  • Practical examples from startup culture award-winners
  • Useful ways to design and reinforce a winning atmosphere for both students and teachers

Presentation: “Pizza, Projects, People: Create a Startup Culture in Your Classroom”

Date: Wednesday, June 27, 8-10 a.m.

Location: Posters; Level 3, Skyline Ballroom Pre-function, Table 13

Presenters: Emily Carle Hafer and Becky Shiring, Squirrels education experts

4. Andy Weir is here to propel leaders in STEM.

You’ve seen “The Martian,” right? The highly praised film starring Matt Damon is based on a novel by Andy Weir – one of the ISTE 2018 keynote presenters! Before writing bestselling novels and source material for Hollywood films, Weir was a software programmer. He’ll talk us through how to successfully fuel and launch students’ curiosity in STEM.

Weir is joined by a slew of fellow keynote speakers who bring connectivity, inclusiveness and creative methodologies to education. Find the full list here.

Catch all the #EdTech awesomeness June 24-27 at #ISTE18 by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

And if you’ll be there in person, remember to stop by and say hello at booth #2262. It’s going to be a great conference – we’re excited to meet you!

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

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!

December 8, 2017

Are we too late for computer science education?

This is the first of a three-part guest post series from Angie Kalthoff, Technology Integrationist at a Minnesota public school district. In this series, Angie analyzes where the K12 education system stands with computer science education. 

Students often get their first dose of computer science education in high school. 

For many, that’s too late.

Studies show that if students are not exposed to computer science by fourth grade, stereotypes about people who are not good at science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) begin to form. These social stereotypes deter girls and students of color in particular from entering the computer science field.

This is a problem.

Computer science introduces critical literacies, such as coding, and skills that are fundamental to the development of college- and career-ready students in the 21st century.

How do we fix this?

We can provide earlier access and opportunities while highlighting self-efficacy in computer science. Students should begin learning computer science as early as kindergarten. That will help build a diverse computing landscape.

Introducing computer science in kindergarten will help prevent education stereotypes from forming during the time when students are curious, learning about the world and developing their interests.

Why not bring more technology experiences into our primary classrooms?

Based on a study of classroom teachers’ experiences, the primary motivation for teachers to use technology is the belief that technology will make them better educators and positively impact student learning. 

While most teachers believe that technology benefits students, few of them successfully integrate technology into their curriculum in a meaningful way. My colleague and friend, Diana Fenton, is working to change this by introducing her preservice teachers to technology integration best practices and computer science education early in their college experience.

Resources
Teachers who are not able to take Diana’s class can use the following resources for professional development opportunities:

TPACK
Teachers who are currently in a classroom setting can follow the TPACK model for guidance on technology integration. By working together, we combine our skillset in the following areas: Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge, which encompass TPACK. My district encourages this type of co-teaching.

Challenge yourself
I didn’t think that I could introduce computer science at the beginning of the school year when I was a kindergarten English language teacher. That’s an important time for developing relationships and establishing routines.

Then I challenged myself to think of how one of those routines could incorporate a computer science station in small group rotations. I saw the progress we made with computer science integration and decided to introduce it even earlier the following year to see what we could do with a whole school year.

Coming Up...
Stay tuned! In the second installment of this three-part series, I share how computer science lessons are integrated into our classrooms and how they connect with state standards, the ISTE Standards for Students and the CS Framework. 

To dive deeper into the research, visit the following resources:

Google. (2014). Women who choose computer science—what really matters: The critical role of exposure and encouragement.

Mountain View, CA: Author. Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-E2rcvhnlQ_a1Q4VUxWQ2dtTHM/edit

Huebner, G. (2017, April 20). Coding for Kids | 5 Reasons to Teach Kids to Code. Retrieved November 07, 2017, from http://blog.kodable.com/2014/07/07/5-reasons-to-teach-kids-to-code-2/

Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T., Glazewski, K. D., Newby, T. J., & Ertmer, P. A. (2010). Teacher value beliefs associated with using technology: Addressing professional and student needs. Computers & Education, 55(3), 1321-1335.

Young programmers -- think playgrounds, not playpens | Marina Bers | TEDxJackson [Advertisement]. (2015, January 20). Retrieved October 10, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOQ-9S3lOnM

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!