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

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.

Want tips and tricks from the most innovative educators using Reflector in the classroom? Watch our free 5 Fresh Ways To Use Reflector In The Classroom webinar. 

Replicate these ideas at your school to boost collaboration and sharing in the classroom.....or to get kids moving in gym class!

Reflector collaboration technology for education

Don't forget: Use the comment section below to let us know what innovate ways you're using technology this school year! 

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.

EdTech 2

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

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!