May 9 , 2017

Why We Appreciate Teachers on National Teachers’ Day

"The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth." - Dan Rather

Teachers are introduced in our lives at an early age to help guide us as we grow and mature. The countless teachers we are exposed to in our lifetime shapes our minds and helps us discover our passions, strengths and weaknesses. Their professional efforts change the world by creating the presidents, doctors, lawyers, policemen and engineers of tomorrow. They teach us not only about important subjects, but about life lessons that help us understand the world. Most of all, they inspire us to follow our dreams and to never give up. 

From the bottom of our hearts, we say thank you to the teachers that have helped us, to the teachers that are helping the future and to the teachers that we are lucky enough to work with every day.

This National Teachers’ Day, members of the Squirrels team reflect on the teachers that have had a positive impact on their lives. 

Emily Carle Hafer, Alpha Squirrels Program Manager: 

“I have a love of reading today because of the positive learning environment provided for me in elementary school. I remember my teacher, Miss Ruth, reading “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” out loud to the class, which turned me into a Harry Potter fan for life and a fervent reader. Outside of our read-aloud time, I was picking up every book I could, which I still do today!”

Becky Shiring, Director of Professional Development and Continued Learning: 

“Hands down, the teacher that had the largest impact on my life was Rick Tubman, my high school field hockey coach. He wasn’t my teacher in the traditional sense, but he was also an elementary educator. When I expressed an interest in becoming a teacher, he let me volunteer in his 5th grade class. He knew how to find the strength in every player and every student and then use that strength to help them excel. He helped even the most timid students and players believe in themselves. He inspired teamwork and empowered others to become leaders themselves, which is what true leadership is. I learned about the type of leader and teacher I wanted to be from Mr. Tubman. It’s no surprise that he’s a school principal now.” 

Alissa McGill, Developer Relations Engineer:

“To Ms. Filliez for teaching me to pay attention to detail by mercilessly taking off points for misspelling French words and missing accent marks in her class. To Ms. Filliez for teaching me creativity with projects that required us to put on fashion shows, present mock weather forecasts and write and illustrate our own storybooks. To Ms. Filliez for rewarding good grades on exams with free homework passes and challenging us not to use them even after we had worked so hard to earn them. To you Ms. Filliez, a teacher whom I will remember long after I have forgotten how to speak French.”

Joe McCulty, Business Analyst:

“The teacher who has most positively impacted my life was Sue Bugansky, my Spanish teacher of three years. In addition to teaching me Spanish, I also learned more about the English language from her than any other teacher. Beyond that, she gave me my first real glimpse of the world beyond the familiar bubble of my rural high school. Part of that comes with the territory - it is a foreign language - but Señora B was particularly suited for this task. She has seen so much and experienced so much of the world. Hearing stories, seeing pictures and holding souvenirs from the person teaching you makes a huge impression.

I’m not the only one who has been impacted by her. All her students were automatically members of Spanish Club. She would have the senior students organize events at one of the nearby Mexican restaurants every couple of weeks. Spanish Club was a great boon to students who didn’t normally sign up for extracurricular activities. Señora B has since retired, but the Spanish Club tradition lives on. A good group of her former students still calls her up to plan new events, including paella days! She’s pretty much the coolest.”

Happy National Teachers' Day to all the teachers of the world! You make learning fun and that’s a reason to celebrate you every day. 

February 28 , 2017

Introducing ClassHub: Advanced Student Device Management and Monitoring for K-12 Education

ClassHub-2.pngThe latest classroom technology from Squirrels LLC resolves a longstanding issue for educators, district administrators and EdTech professionals.

Technology such as Chromebooks, iPads, MacBooks and Windows devices are now commonplace in classrooms, but teachers are generally powerless when it comes to managing and monitoring those devices. 

Our global network of EdTech experts and countless conference attendees have expressed this frustration to us through the years. We listened to their feedback and created something that combines collaboration, device management and device monitoring capabilities into one tidy package. It’s called ClassHub. CH 1.png

What is ClassHub?

ClassHub aids instruction by giving educators a way to manage and monitor student devices from the ClassHub Classroom Manager that runs on a teacher’s Mac or Windows computer. Once teachers open ClassHub, they can:

  • See each and every student device screen in the classroom
  • Push content and messages to student devices
  • Lock student devices into a specific app… or lock devices entirely
  • Initiate teacher-to-student or student-to-teacher screen sharing
  • Install and remove apps across devices
  • Open webpages across devices
  • Send alert notifications to student devices

ClassHub is an important second step for any school or district that has acquired classroom devices. We made it easy to deploy, and we’re committed to providing the professional development needed to get districts started.

ClassHub for students

In addition to the ClassHub Classroom Manager for teacher computers, there is a companion application for student devices that connects each device to ClassHub. We understand the diverse technology environments in many schools today. That’s why we made the ClassHub companion application compatible with 97 percent of student devices, including:

  • iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
  • Chromebook
  • Surface Pro and other Windows devices
  • MacBook

ClassHub for school IT administrators

In most cases, ClassHub will be deployed by your school or district IT administrator. Our ClassHub web portal gives IT professionals an easy way to manage or view status details for every iPad, iPhone, Chromebook, Mac and Windows device in a school or district.

IT Image.png

Student security and privacy

We get it. Student information security is a hot-button issue. ClassHub is FERPA and SOPIPA compliant, and we are committed to working with each district to ensure compliance with student data and privacy policies.

How to bring ClassHub to your school or district

We’ve partnered with the Clever student information system (SIS) integration service to make ClassHub setup and deployment as easy as possible. You can expect to have it up and running in a few weeks. We know you will have additional questions about ClassHub, student privacy, implementation and professional development opportunities for educators and staff. We’re happy to answer all of them.

Let's Talk  Learn More

 

November 17 , 2016

4 Classroom Management Tips For Teachers Using Tech

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Note: This is a guest blog post by John R. Sowash, author of the new book, The Chromebook Classroom featuring Reflector 2! Read through to the bottom for more information on John’s book and a chance to win a free copy!

"With great power comes great responsibility." That's what Uncle Ben Parker said. The same is true in a technology-filled classroom. Student technology provides access to the world's information, but it also provides access to ALL of the world's information.

How can you encourage your students to remain focused on the tasks at hand and not wander aimlessly around the internet. Here are four ideas to help.

1. Be engaged!
The best way to ensure your students are using their time and technology wisely is to be engaged with them throughout the class period. You must be on your feet (not behind your desk) actively participating in the class (not grading papers) working directly with individuals and small groups of students.

Many teachers ask me if there is "lab monitoring" software that will allow them to see every student's screen at once. While such software does exist, it is not a replacement for active classroom management. Technology is not a babysitter.

2. Re-arrange your room!
The physical layout of your classroom will have a significant impact on your ability to engage with and monitor student activity. Make sure you have ample room to move between student desks. I also recommend that you configure your room so that approximately 25 percent of your students screens are visible no matter where you stand in the room. It is NOT advisable to have all of the screens facing the same direction.

I taught high school science and my room layout could not be adjusted  because there were too many gas and water lines. I would frequently teach from the BACK of the room so that I was able to keep an eye on what students were doing.

Using a tool like Reflector can make you, the teacher, more mobile and able to move around the room rather than be tied to your computer.

Download Reflector software on the computer that is connected to your projector. This will allow you to wirelessly mirror your phone or tablet to the computer, giving you the freedom to walk around the room as needed.

Reflector2Chromebook

 

3. Don't be boring!
The #1 reason that students get off task is that they are bored! It's hard to blame a student for wandering the internet if there isn't anything interesting going on in class!

One way to increase the amount of student engagement is to use an interactive presentation tool like Pear Deck or Nearpod. These two tools mix direct instruction with formative assessment. It's easy to ask a multiple choice, short-answer or interactive question during your instruction time.

Kahoot, ClassKick and EdPuzzle are three more tools that require active engagement from each of your students. The more engaged they are, the fewer issues you will have.

4. Don't freak out!
While it is important that we help our students focus on learning, we don't have to freak out about every little thing that they do. Is it okay for a student to check up on the playoff scores? To play music while working? To watch a quick video?

I learned this lesson when I was a student teacher in a school that had a strict "no phones in class" policy. One student was particularly distracted during any individual work time. The smallest noise would catch his attention. One day he asked if he could listen to music on his phone because it helped him focus. I said sure. He was much more productive from that point forward.

It all comes down to classroom culture. The ultimate goal for every teacher is to create a classroom culture that silently communicates the expectation that each student will get their assigned work done on time. As long as students follow this guideline, the teacher does not need to micromanage student activity.

Have faith that your students will rise to meet your expectations. Those who do not will quickly face additional scrutiny and evaluation to ensure that learning goals are accomplished.

Challenge
Managing a classroom full of devices isn't easy. What are your tips for helping students stay focused and on task? Share with the #chromebookEDU community!

If you enjoyed this blog post you will love John’s new book, The Chromebook Classroom, which contains over 30 lesson ideas for using Chromebooks at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Enter your email below for a free copy of chapter one of The Chromebook Classroom. You will also be entered to win one of two free copies being given away!

November 7 , 2016

Reflector 2 Classroom Checklist

ChecklistAs education enters a new age of mobility, classrooms are starting to resemble modern-day coffee shops. Teachers aren’t limited to standing up at the front of the room doing most of the talking. Students can collaborate through technology and take charge of their own personalized learning no matter where they are seated in the classroom. Classrooms are transitioning to more of a comfortable and collaborative learning environment.

Today’s classroom arrangement bears little resemblance to the classroom we experienced as kids. Chalkboards are now interactive whiteboards, students are turning in their textbooks and notebooks for iPads and ordinary pencils are being tossed aside for stylus pens. Who would have pictured a classroom like this 10 years ago?

We pose the question: with all of these devices and technology competing for attention in the classroom, is it possible for students to actually be collaborative with one another? How about with teachers?

The answer is yes. The Reflector 2 screen-mirroring software allows students to take a hands-on approach to their education and facilitates collaboration while they apply key concepts in the classroom. Students can share their work side-by-side, present group projects and have competitions when working with apps such as Kahoot or Quizlet. Teachers can even be collaborative with their students by showing instructions next to student results.

So, what do you need to make this collaborative, mobile classroom a reality? Here’s your Reflector 2 classroom checklist:

  1. Mac or Windows computer to run the Reflector 2 software
  2. iOS, Android, Chromebook or Surface Pro* devices that students can share content from
  3. Projector or interactive whiteboard if you want to display student content to the whole class
  4. Reflector Director (optional) for teachers to access the Reflector 2 controls from their iPad or iPhone instead of from their computer
  5. Reflector Student (optional) to show students the same Reflector 2 display on their iOS device that the teacher sees on the computer, as well as provide connectivity alternatives for schools with restrictive networks

Pro tip: You can wirelessly connect as many mobile devices to Reflector 2 as your school network allows (sweet spot is usually between four to five devices).

That’s it! Pretty simple, right?

If you would like to learn more about Reflector 2, you can watch our “How To” videos, including How to Connect to Reflector 2 and How to Record Mirrored Devices on our YouTube channel. Or, you can visit our website to learn more about Reflector in the classroom.

*Microsoft Surface Pros require our sister app, AirParrot 2, to wirelessly connect to the teacher’s computer because Surface Pros do not come equipped with a native screen-sharing functionality such as Apple’s AirPlay or the Chromebook/Android Cast technology. 

October 31 , 2016

Moving Around the Classroom with Reflector Director

If there’s one thing educators know about Reflector 2, it’s that it allows students to truly be “mobile” with their iOS, Chromebook or Android devices. If students can be mobile, why do educators seem so restricted with their devices?

We wondered the same thing. That’s why we created Reflector Director – an iOS companion app that allows teachers to move about the classroom and interact with students all while still accessing the controls of Reflector 2 from their iPad or iPhone. Goodbye to the days of teachers being chained to their desk, and hello to the new era of teacher mobility.

Reflector Director gives educators the ability to:

  • Show and hide student devices without disconnecting or reconnecting
  • Highlight one student device to spotlight important content
  • Eliminate distractions with full-screen mode
  • Change frames for optimum screen compatibility
  • Observe screen previews of each connected student device before displaying to a larger screen

Reflector Director

Let’s take a step back for a moment and ask ourselves, “why is it important for teachers to have mobility in the classroom?" All of these features mentioned above are useful, but what does that really do for the efficiency of a classroom?

Here are seven reasons why teacher mobility is important for efficiency in the classroom:

  1. Teacher mobility saves time by keeping teachers from running back and forth to their desks to control Reflector 2
  2. It’s easier to walk around and give students more one-on-one attention
  3. Teachers are able to guide and educate students on the usage of technology to prepare them for real-world environments
  4. The teacher becomes the encourager, advisor and coach of classroom technology
  5. The overall efficiency and flow of the classroom improves
  6. Teachers stay engaged with students throughout the lesson plan
  7. Technology barriers between teachers and students are removed

Reflector Director In Use

With educators being called upon to find beneficial ways to incorporate technology into their classroom, they need to find solutions that empower them and give them confidence. Keeping up with the change in EdTech can leave a teacher overwhelmed and discouraged, therefore leaving the teacher unable to influence students in the best ways. Reflector Director was designed to allow teachers to feel confident using their classroom technology by making collaborative learning via mobile devices easy.

Teachers play an essential role in every student’s education, behavior and development. In the EdTech world, it can be difficult to manage a mobile classroom by concentrating on every student. With the help of powerful remote-display-management apps, like Reflector Director, this is made easy, and each student gets the attention they need.

Check out Reflector Director for yourself. We’re sure you’ll be impressed, and want to make it part of your everyday classroom routine.

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!