Friday, December 16, 2011

Meeting Standards Using Online Resources

As part of my instructional technology responsibilities, I try to help teachers use whatever resources they have available in their lessons. Teachers have access to computers, the Internet, some interactive whiteboards and numerous applications so they can create new activities and assessments and/or use SMART or ActivInspire lessons that coorelate with the desired standard.

I have really enjoyed finding resources and helping the teachers learn where to look for different types of activities to compliment the standard they are teaching. The Learning Village resource has been our one-stop shopping experience for finding everything from a grade-level pacing guide, instructional tool such as Thinkfinity, links to subject-area wikis, technology integration activities, and much more. Learn 360 and netTrekker are two resources that correlate the videos, images, etc. to a specific standard. This makes it very easy to develop an activity or assessment. Some of my favorite reading/language arts activities come from ReadWriteThink and Wonderopolis.

Our elementary group has pulled together many of the Elementary Resources into Livebinders by grade level. They are on our DIT wiki and available to the teachers. We update the binders and wiki pages as we find resources for the core subject areas.

If you need an idea for an activity or are looking for a website to reinforce an objective you've taught, why not check out one of the above online resources. I highly recommend any (really all) of them to help make learning fun.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ah Ha Moments - Using Student Response Systems with Websites!

In one of my workshops we were viewing, testing, and working with lots of online resources trying to find more ways to integrate a technology piece into vocabulary curriculum. The website brought about a lively discussion; each spoken idea sparked another way to use the site in all subject areas.

Free Rice is a site that can be viewed in English, Spanish, Italian, French, and Chinese. Everything on the site changes into the chosen language. What a way to practice another language! It appeals to those who want to help others, make a difference in someone else's life, and just have fun learning new words and their meanings or the multiplication tables or Chemical symbols. For each correct answer, the United Nations World Food Programme donates 10 grains of rice to help end hunger. The teachers quickly figured out ways they could find time for the students to participate and even set up a "challenge" to see which class could help contribute the most for this non-profit organization.

As we discussed the possibilities for the site to be incorporated with Social Studies, one of the teachers shared an idea of how she was going to use her student response system with the site. She is going to create a questionnaire with A, B, C, D responses to choose from for the students to respond to as she marks their answers on the website. They all will be able to participate, learn new vocabulary and help end hunger. Some of the teachers were going to create vocabulary questions, using the terms from their studies, and have the students do quick assessments with the response systems. They felt the students become more engaged when using the technology.

It was so much fun to see the "Ah Ha" moments of how to use the websites with the technology available to the teachers and students. Maybe you could share one of your "Ah Ha" moments - the more, the merrier!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Listening is Powerful

This past week I have been attending PLC and LTM meetings in my elementary schools and talking about how I could help them with technology activities that would go along with their lessons ( Yeah, TPACK). I learned so much as I sat and listened to each grade level break down an objective into What to Teach and How to Teach.

It was very interesting to "see" their thought processes as I listened to the teachers pull out key words, discuss what basic skills were needed and how they could teach the students. Individual teaching methods and comfort levels with technology were evident. Listening to the ways they were going to teach the skills made me think of numerous ways to use technology to produce the same results.  The availability of technology in the classrooms produced some concerns, but we were able to work with what they had and everyone could see the possibilities. The teachers were very appreciative as I shared resources they could use to develop an activity. Offering my time and services to help them with it made them realize more possibilities were within their reach.

I found that providing a listening ear was very powerful - we listened, we heard, we learned and the students are going to be major winners.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More Summer Ideas

OK, so your children (and maybe you, too) are home for the summer and you hear the first, "I'm bored." They are home from summer camp, family vacation trips, or wherever and need something to occupy them. My husband and I were in the same frame of mind last summer when our 11 year old granddaughter came to stay with us for a month. Luckily, we had lots of ideas and events from the local community and pulled a few more fun things to do from our technology backgrounds.

So when swimming all day, every day loses its appeal, you could check with the local YMCA and Chamber of Commerce to see what activities are on the schedule. I've included some websites below that have tons of ideas; everything from puzzles to making crafts and even some cooking.
July activities from Activity Directory Today
Enchanted Learning Crafts and Activities
The Teachers Corner
July Calendar Events
Activity Ideas That Work

Summer Activites from Barbara Feldman / Surfnetkids
International Joke Day is July 1st : submit your joke
National Ice Cream Day is July 17th - make it, take it, definitely eat it!
Newest Coloring Pages - free downloads, print out and color

Thinkfinity ideas for creating Comics, book/CD/DVD covers, trading cards, stories and more

These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg (or putting one toe into the water since it is summer). What are some of your summer activity suggestions and how do you keep the boredom out of their time off?

images courtesy of Glitterfly, 123Greetings, Authentic History, and Carvel

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Words in the Clouds

 I have been having fun using Wordle to create word clouds for about everything and adding the created  image to blog posts, wiki pages, handouts, and more. While working on a presentation I was going to do at the AIG conference, I found a very similar resource called "WordItOut."  It also allowed me to create a cloud of words from my own text but with some additional features.

My presentation included different ways to teach vocabulary and use words from any subject area. What fun we had taking a paragraph written on a given topic and pasting it into WordItOut. We tried Math terms, Science vocabulary, Social Studies events . . The ideas were flowing. Instantly the words were put into a design that showed the most often used words in larger and bolder print. We could change the colors, the layout and even the target area where the word cloud would show on the page.

WordItOut is another free, online resource and you don't even have to register to use it. The Create tab is where you can start your own word cloud. Just type in the words you want to use or copy the words from a story, blog post, or list and paste it into the box. The word cloud can be changed to fit the mood or style needed - the possibilities are almost endless with all the colors, shapes, angles and more. The Discover tab lets you view page after page of creations created by others. Wondering about a special topic - just type in a keyword search to get an idea and see what has been done. It doesn't show you how many word clouds go with the search, but I don't mind clicking on the Next button to see more.

To find out the latest news or maybe need to report a problem, just click on the Community tab. You can read and share comments or check out the FAQs. If you have an idea for a feature that might make WordItOut even better, send in your suggestion under the Ideas button. I really like the fact that they are open to suggestions that might make their program work better for the end user.

A fun, end-of-the-year project would be to have the students help design a word cloud of things they have learned and then put it on a t-shirt or bag. WordItOut has a great feature to create and purchase customized gift items. What a way to share what is going on in your classroom! Check it out in the Community section.

Here are some other resources and links for ideas and uses of WordItOut and word clouds:
    I suggest giving WordItOut a try with your next lesson and see how your words look in the clouds.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

More Than Bookmarking with Diigo!

There are so many resources available to us now through the internet that I am having a hard time keeping up with all of them or remembering where to find the information. Sure, I can use the Favorites menu to mark a site, blog, wiki or whatever catches my eye; but I've noticed my list and folders going completely out of control and it takes me longer to find what I was looking for than necessary.

Others have mentioned using Diigo as their social bookmarking choice and I wanted to share how I've been taking advantage of its features. Some of my favorites are
  • building my Library of favorites,
  • organizing by tags, lists and groups,
  • networking with other users with the same interests.
When I need to pull information together, I can go to, login and type in a tag name that will instantly bring up all my bookmarks for that search. I didn't have to remember where they all were on the web. Albert Einstein said it the best when a reporter asked him (during an interview) why he had to look up his own phone number. "Einstein replies, “Why should I memorize something when I know where to find it?”

While I'm "bookmarking" sites or articles I want to go back to later, Diigo gives me the ability to annotate a link, highlight a portion of the page, take a snapshot of the page, create lists, and even generate reports. This video from Diigo talks about each of these features.

Diigo V4: Research ~ annotate, archive, organize from diigobuzz on Vimeo.

Since I was able to import my Delicious bookmarks, I'm still working on organizing everything into a complete Archive and Lists. I love being able to access my bookmarks from anywhere that has internet access. Having my own personal database to reference and share with others are great benefits. Adding others to my network is as easy as searching for their name, choosing Follow and adding them to a Friend's List. So many resources, so much to share!

The regular Diigo account is free and being an educator, our account has some special priviledges that will allow us to create and manage student accounts and class groups. I see more collaboration in the making. My next task is to work with a teacher and her class on a collaboration project. Want to be in my network or part of a project?

Maybe you would like to try social bookmarking as a way to keep in touch and share information and resources. Give it a chance by setting up your Diigo account and adding my Diigo profile to your network by following me as a friend.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Web Tools for Brainstorming

Brainstorming can take all shapes while developing an idea. Students used to get excited when you asked for ideas about a topic and they saw those ideas written on a piece of paper or on the board and how they were all connected. Some still brainstorm that way. Computer programs like Kidspiration and Inspiration have made brainstorming on curriculum topics even easier - visually and connecting to ideas on the web. More resources have been made available through the internet and as our District has increased the numbers of SMARTBoards and ActivBoards in the classrooms, more student interactivity accompanies each developing idea.

While preparing to present at conferences and helping teachers find more resources to help develop 21st Century skills, I've found several tools worth checking out. Some of my favorites are:

Most all of the online, brainstorming tools now are free. Some do ask you to register, but it isn't required. I like being able to work with others and see the changes and additions as they happen.

Here are links to a blog post of the Top 5 Web 2.0 Brainstorming Tools and take a look at the Brainstorming page in our Student Online Collaboration livebinder. Have fun brainstorming on one of your favorite topics and let me know which program you liked the best or share one of your own.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Need Videos for Your Curriculum?

It seems that most of the time when we think about using a video to go along with our lesson, YouTube pops into our minds. I know it is probably the most popular website for videos, but it really causes concern for teachers and school districts because of the inappropriate content available to anyone and everyone. WS/FCS blocks YouTube in our district like so many other school districts.

WS/FCS has two fantastic, educational paid solutions, Learn360 and netTrekker, for teachers to find video. They are correlated with the NCSCOS and many examples have already been linked inside the lessons in Learning Village. The videos within both applications have been checked out by educators and are approved by our District because they follow CIPA guidelines.  Along with these two wonderful resources, maybe you would like to check out a few additions and/or alternatives that have been approved by our Software Clearinghouse:

Great educational site with videos, images, and other Teacher Resources

        Wonderful site where you can browse categories, find Educator Resources, watch and upload videos, and much more.

Kid's video site, filtered and has two rules - be kind, positive, and encouraging with comments and NO profanity

Although there are many choices out on the web, why not try using one of these to compliment your next lesson?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

March - Women's History Month

There are many aspects to think about for Women's History Month.  

We could focus on the struggle for women to win the right to vote. Find out more at Social Studies for Kids and check out who was arrested for trying to vote for president and ordered to pay $1,000. Maybe we would have a woman mayor, lawyer or even president some day.

Graphic courtesy of ArtToday


Thinkfinity has a great listing of lesson plans, newsletters, and calendar events noting women's accomplishments throughout the years. 

How about getting the scoop on who was the first First Lady and how she changed the way people thought about the presidency in EDSITEment. So many lessons, student resources, and websites to become acquainted with.

There are over 400 search results for Women's History in netTrekker. It was exciting to view the online exhibits from the National Women's History Museum and become a part of the history through audio, video, and images.

Here are a few other resources with activities, lessons, timelines, and much, much more:
Women in World History Quotes
Time for Kids
TeachersFirst: Women's History Month Resources
Women's History Month Livebinder by KB..Konnected (Resources tab)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

March Resources

Even though there isn't a National Holiday during the month of March; many more events are happening. You can find events that are celebrated for the whole month, for a week, or for each day of the month. has a "Long List of March Holidays and Special Days such as
Women's History Month
Irish-American Heritage Month
Youth Art Month

It was really interesting to see that March 7th was the day that Alexander Graham Bell's Telephone Patent was granted and that the first paper money was issued on the 10th. What a fun way to do trivia questions, journal entries, or a great lead-in for a project.

Check out these other websites and resources for lessons, videos, and activities.
Learning Village:
Outside sources:
Most of these can be subscribed to so you will get updated information monthly, some are weekly.

Here is a website for teachers called The Teacher's Corner with lots more lesson plans, thematic units, and activities. The calendar can be printed to help remind you of what is coming up next.

Image created in Wordle

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Technology Humor

This comedy sketch from BBC One gives you a different point of view of technology support and will have you laughing out loud. There are a few "innuendoes" that might make it not "classroom safe." It starts out with “My blackberry is not working." “What’s the matter? It run out of juice?” “No, no. It’s completely frozen!” Ronnie Corbett and Harry Enfield are the stars of the skit shown from The One Ronnie Show.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Reading with eBooks

I was posed with the challenge of finding books for my granddaughter to read. Naturally we went to the local library first. After picking several that interested her, we looked at each other and thought, "OK, which one of us is going to carry out this arm load full of books." I can fully understand why doctors are worried about how carrying around all that weight, either for recreational or school-related subjects, is causing damage to students. Along with the weight of so many books came the fact that we really didn't have a place to store them as she read.

Angie helps keep me in check with the way children are different from a few years ago. She does love to hold a book and read, but is also a true "digital" child. We got to talking about other ways to read books and magazines. The eBook, an electronic version of a book, was one of our other solutions.

I have an account with Free-ebooks and was able to find some fiction and nonfiction titles from their thousands of offerings for her to downloaded to our PDA. The titles were available immediately and we transferred them to our desktop machine for her to be able to read later and not lose her place in the book. Manybooks is another good site with over 21,000 eBooks available as free downloads. They take donations to help keep the site up and running.

All of the eBooks we downloaded use the free software, Microsoft Reader that works on PC desktops, laptops, Tablet PCs, and Pocket PCs. The software is easy to install and use. The interface is simple so you can concentrate on your eBook. Since the eBooks were on the PDA and we had text-to-speech enabled, I am able to listen to the eBook while driving the car. It's exciting to watch her choose a title, start reading it and then jump from the page to a linked audio or video. Everything is hyperlinked, making it easy to go back to the written page or to another topic.

Using the technology comes easily and naturally to this younger generation. The next item on the Angie To-Do List is to create her own eBook. We're working on the story in MS Word 2003 and will be able to convert it using the Read in Microsoft Reader feature. The Table of Contents, hyperlinks and images will be automatically converted from Word to the eBook. As an upcoming fifth grader, she hasn't learned all about how to create the table of contents for her chapters - I'm off to lend some assistance.

Collaborative Photo Books and Albums

Sharing pictures and photo books seems to be getting easier all the time. We used to take the pictures, have them developed, and then let others go through them to share in our experience. Sometimes we put them in a book with some sayings around each picture and add a little flair to go along with a theme (scrapbooking, my sister calls it). Now, with the online software Mixbook, we can take the photos, create a book online, allow friends to help put it together, and share it for all to see or print it out as a picture book.

Mixbook is really easy to use. After joining the site for access, there are just three steps to create a book or photo album - Start with a title to create the book and invite your friends, upload your photos (friends can add some of their own), and Automix to add pages and make edits. Although friends collaborate and add their own personal touches, the creator controls the final product.

My granddaughter is here with me this month from Maine. We are building a book around her activities and sharing it with her dad. Since the cost of a hard cover album with 20 pages is only $12.99, we will probably get one printed for a keepsake. It will be exciting to watch the album develop as her dad and other grandparents contribute to the book.

Some other ways to share using Mixbook would be to create Memory books (Weddings, Guest Books, Baby's 1st Year, School Years or a Yearbook), Family Photos, Scrapbooking, and Digital Storytelling. Everything is online, no software to download. It comes with hundreds of layouts and the frames and text can be customized. Once you've picked a layout, just drag-and-drop your photos onto the page. Each page can have a different layout. A special feature I really like is the way it integrates with other photo storage sites such as Facebook, Picasa, and Flickr. No need to start from scratch each time. You can add an entire album to Mixbook with a couple of clicks. Then you can use them for any book.

Every day with a ten-year old brings new adventures that we can share online and it is exciting to see what has been added from the others. The final step will be to embed the Mixbook player on our blog so all the family and friends can also enjoy the events.

Displays That Bend and Twist

When I am watching CSI, I sometimes get lost in all their technologies. Especially when they are recreating scenarios and use a computer on the desk linked to the triple screens up front and then can "toss" the visuals from one of the screens to another, enlarge them with a touch, and it all looks like it is floating in mid air. I look forward to having that type of technology in everyone's hands. Oh to be able to bend, move, and twist those images.

I was very young when I started working with different technologies that were available. I helped my dad build radios and televisions when I was nine years old. We still used tubes and transistors then with soldering irons for connections. Everything was so big to house all the parts and for heat control. Advancements came quickly; radios and TVs got smaller and much more affordable. I remember as a teenager asking my dad if there would ever be a way we could touch the TV screen to make it change channels instead of one of us girls having to get up, walk across the room, and change the station. His response was, "Soon." Short and to the point.

Look at the way phones have advanced in such a short period of time. We used to have to carry around that big bag to hold the phone and power supply and the cost was unbelievable. Now, I've seen phones the size of a credit card that hold a charge for days at a time, have touch screens or are voice-activated. One computer used to fill an entire room and now it will fit in your hand. Along with the main hardware changes, come advancements for all the accessories - keyboards, monitors/screens, mice . . . If I don't want to use my laptop keyboard, I have a keyboard that will roll up like a newspaper. It is very flexible, connects with a USB cable, and doesn't take up much room when I pack my computer bag. The wireless mouse works with bluetooth, and I can connect to a TV for a big-screen view. My thrill would be to have a display screen that would roll up like my keyboard and be able to place it anywhere, such as a wall, a window, or on a table.

According to Jim Brug with HP Laboratories, flexible displays will "evolve into real product designs within five years." Researchers have been working with "ink jet" printing of the transistors onto a thin polymer sheet, imprint lithography, and stainless-steel foil that can withstand high temperatures. Nokia Research has been working on a cellphone that will rollup, stretch out and twist into a bracelet shape. IPhones are great, but just think what it would be like to be able to pull the corners and make it stretch out to a bigger display or be able to roll it around your wrist and wear it like a watch. Samsung has a 4 inch flex display that is only .05 mm thick. Small, but powerful.

If it can be imagined, there is someone working on the process to make it real. I'm just waiting on them to make it affordable.

Last Days of School

Everyone is preparing for the last days of school. Students are studying for exams, catching up on the last few assignments, dreaming of vacations. Teachers are trying to teach and share the last bits of knowledge, review for end-of-year tests, dreaming of some time off to catch their breath. With all the tests, classroom or state, given and taken the last few weeks of school to find out how much has been learned, have you ever wondered how the students really felt about your class and how the year unfolded. A blog post by Vickie Davis, the CoolCatTeacher, reminded me of my days in the classroom and how I could learn more about the students and how to make my teaching better for them and myself. We both used anonymous feedback but with different methods - paper/pencil vs online.

I attended the Scholastic Banquet sponsored by the Kernersville Rotary Club the other night and was amazed at all the accomplishments of the top ten juniors and seniors from East High School and Glenn High School. The seniors were accepted by top-notch universities, all but a couple had declared their majors, and most had secured thousands of dollars in scholarships for the next four years of their lives. One item on the agenda that made this such a special event was when the seniors got together and gave an award and recognition to the teacher they had nominated as "Best Teacher of the Year." The students shared the reasons why and how this teacher influenced them. The number one reason was that the teacher had shown the students they really cared about them and wanted them to be all they could be and achieve their dreams.

When I was teaching in the classroom (let's just say I'm not quite as old as dirt) I used to ask my elementary students to write a paragraph about their year. Yes, it was on paper with a pencil but it had the same effect as when we do surveys with them online now. I did the survey so they didn't have to put their name on the paper. They seemed to feel more powerful and answered honestly because they were anonymous. Using some of their suggestions and ideas helped make me a better teacher with a progressive learning environment in the classroom.

A great way for teachers to do an end-of-the-year survey is to use the custom form page feature on their SchoolCenter website. Create text area boxes for their answers with open-ended questions asking for their honest opinions. The students could take the survey during a lab time or even from home. There will be some silly answers, but since they are anonymous you will probably get their true feelings. Not all the answers will be what you want to hear or read; some may make you really think about the way you've presented the material and hopefully there will be that one special response that makes your day, your year worth every minute of the time you've put into your teaching career.

In these last days of school, why not survey the students to find out what was important or not, how could the year be improved and ask for their HONEST opinion. We'll show them we are listening and they'll feel like they have been heard. All in all the year will end on a positive note.

Boosting Your Memory

May brings in beautiful flowers, but also a heavy testing schedule. Lately there has been a lot of buzz about remembering everything that has been taught so students will do their best on the end-of-year tests. While looking for more ways to review, we found the program called MemoryLifter. It is flashcard freeware and uses all the senses while learning and remembering information through images, audio and video.

MemoryLifter has free downloads in subject areas such as Languages, Arts, and Social, Applied and Natural Sciences. This free flashcard program is PC-based. The cards can be downloaded and printed out for use or they are a great way to practice using an interactive whiteboard. A couple of my favorites were the US States and Capitals and Musical Intervals.

Once you've installed the free program and downloaded a set of flashcards, you will be able to edit the cards to fit your needs. A card collector feature and an audiobook generator are included. The card collector allows you to generate cards using drag and drop or copy and paste. Many more modules can be purchased from $2.95 to $75.95. Sharing your own flashcard set is easy to do with just a few clicks. The LearnLift staff will review the content and then post is so everyone can have free access to it. They will also consider purchasing your module if you would prefer to sell it to them because it is a specialized unit or has a lot of time invested in its creation. Either way, it is a great way to share knowledge.

ePals - Friends From Around the World

Remember the "You've Got Mail" alert on your computer? As an educator, I like to try many different ways to help students learn about the world around them and become more connected. One way to do that is through a free, email application called ePals SchoolMail. I have worked alongside the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce setting up the student email accounts and monitors for three schools on a project involving the communication between students and businesses. They were working on their writing skills while finding out more information about different careers.

ePals SchoolMail is a student-only email service that was founded in 1996. It is free to the users and free of advertising as well. Tim DiScipio, epals' co-founder stated "We're looking for educationally relevant sponsors and foundations." They develop partnerships with these businesses and organizations so SchoolMail is ad free. Students can then focus on the email. Although it is a free service, guidelines and educator controls are in place. While ePals maintains the overall filtering system of content and language, the teacher/monitor for the classroom can monitor all incoming and outgoing email, adjust the level of protections, establish settings determined by student ages and needs, block or regulate attachments and even limit correspondence to certain students or classrooms.

Email is another way of providing cultural exchange for students around the world and preparing them for our global society. With SchoolMail there are no boundaries. It is easy to find another online classroom using the ePals map, which includes 8 regions with 200 countries using 136 languages. Educational projects with classrooms in the global community and virtual field trips allow students to be more connected and aware of the world around them. The email exchange with groups give them firsthand knowledge of each other's culture, help them develop a personal connection and see a lot of value in the other cultures.

Teachers monitor emails for appropriateness and being coherent; looking for correct grammar, spelling and punctuation, no texting slang, and providing more insight to different terms used in different cutures such as "football vs soccer." These guidelines have shown a positive effect and writing to students with limited English helped improved students' writing skills. They were more careful with sentence structure and helped each other with grammar and spelling.

Younger students can use email to help them learn about other local schools, counties and states, cyber etiquette, and various parts of an email as part of the Standard Course of Study. Some teachers have expanded the one-to-one email features by creating a SchoolBlog to communicate as a group. They post questions, answer others' questions, and share ideas. The enthusiasm to participate and learn more on a subject increases dramatically when the students start receiving responses. They start asking more questions, learn new terms, and will login at home if have access.

Email is another way students can live in the "now" with their global community and become stronger in their education. Let's think how we can put them in touch with the world around them and how it can make a difference.

Traditional Textbooks

What do you think of when someone mentions a textbook? Does a big, thick book with lots of information that was written for a specific grade and course come to mind? As I work with the Software Clearinghouse committee, I see more challenges arising in ways to meet educational needs of the students.

The times are "a changing." Information is out there for anyone to claim and use. Events are current, posted online almost to the minute of them happening. Several school systems are taking a look at the way information is given to students. They are making allowances for all the newer technologies - internet resources, interactive media, data devices. Districts are looking for ways to incorporate these technologies into their existing textbook curriculum to help with budget concerns and to help make the curriculum more interesting.

Our textbooks come up for adoption renewal every five years and the decisions are made for the next term based on information that has already happened and organized to fit our standard course of study. Some of the facts are already "wrong" before we start using the new texts because of the fast-paced changes in our world and society. Publishers have begun to use CDs with their textbooks, but even that is static information. They almost have their hands tied when it comes to textbooks because of having to prepare for all the different states' requirements, standards, and budgets.

Indiana has taken the initiative to ask publishers to provide better and more interesting materials that incorporate the newer technologies. Virginia is using a nonprofit organization to help them develop their own content and has textbooks in physics, math, and biology online. Chapters and lab experiments have been developed by teachers and are posted for other teachers to use. Textbooks haven't been replaced, only supplemented with online instructional materials. Florida is trying to provide more flexibility in their budget by allowing the school districts to use instructional material funds for texts or anything else. Once the teachers and students have gotten a taste for materials that are online, interactive, or otherwise digital, I think it would be much easier to bring the textbooks to life.

I believe we need textbooks, whether they are paper or a digital resource. As our world changes minute by minute, hopefully publishers will try to keep up (or ahead) and provide us with more possibilities for teaching materials. Learning styles, as well as ways to find and receive information, have changed. Let's try to keep improving the quality of the educational materials we provide for the students.

Excel Tips

I've been working in Excel with several teachers lately. They have found the program as a great resource tool for all subject areas. Sometimes we needed basic tips and then that information led to more advanced features. We built spreadsheets for K-5 students that displayed as labeling games, pictographs, questionaires, and much more. The help menu in Excel is great, but it always helps to have more backup.

While searching for more tips and suggestions for them, I found a really great resource website called ExcelTips. It is one piece of the publication which is a division of Sharon Parq Associates, Inc.. Allen L. Wyatt, writer and editor, started it ten years ago and has over 39,000 subscribers. He freely shares all the tips, tricks, and tutorials online or in a newsletter.

The free subscription to his site must be confirmed through your provided email link. Your email is not made public and they don't sell their mailing list. Watch for the latest publication every Saturday and it covers all the versions from Excel97 through 2007. The tips are noted with the version when it calls for different information. The site is searchable with links or keywords and information from past issues can be accessed online. If you want to have all the information available when you aren't online, a CD is available for purchase. He does have a version that provides more that the free version called ExcelTips Premium and has a nominal annual charge.

Using the Helpful Links and Newest Tips sections on the website, we were able to learn more ways to make Excel become an integral part of our curriculum. All we had to do was think of an activity to be used in a lesson and the tips, tricks, and tutorials were there waiting for us. If you want to find out what is happening at the moment, just follow him on his twitter account or sign up for the RSS feed that will give you an ExcelTip daily or weekly.

Telling a Story

We start at a very early age "telling stories" to family members and friends. The stories could be about what happened while playing in the backyard, going on a trip with the family, or a big event such as a wedding, graduation, birth of your first child. Many people document their lives in stories and publish them in books or magazines. A free web tool to publish your story is Story of My Life.

The site has the largest collection of stories from a wide variety of writers. The topics are limitless. There are featured stories, blogs, Top 10 list, videos and pictures available - all without registering for an account. Once you have setup your free account, you can begin writing your story, decide whether to let everyone read it or share it with a special group. The Timeline feature is very interesting in that you can set a time and date of when your story, pictures, or videos can be viewed. Some are going to go public in a few hours and others are not going to be ready for months or years. Can you imagine the changes in our lives from now till then?

I got to thinking of ways my sisters and I could capture the events in my parents' lives that would help us hold onto them a little longer. We have the pictures and taped conversations. There are some stories written down on paper. Maybe this would be a good way for us to keep the story alive.

Learn Your Vocabulary

Many of the teachers I've been working with recently have been discussing ways to help the students with vocabulary words, especially to prepare for end-of-year testing. They have been using the free Hot Potatoes application to create online activities in several formats: multiple choice, fill in the blank, matching, flashcards, and even crossword puzzles.

Another online solution to help you learn vocabulary and similar material is a fairly new website (only four years old) called Quizlet. It was developed by a 15-year old in 2005 to help himself learn a big assignment of French terms. The main idea behind the site is to make learning vocabulary fun. By making it fun, the learning is more effective and retained longer.

Vocabulary words from almost any subject can be found and used on the site without a login. Scoring is done on the spot, term lists can be printed out, and flashcard templates are available. Teachers and students are creating and sharing the quizzes. Thousands of new flashcard sets are created daily and hundreds are online, either creating more flashcards or using the site.

This site is a great way to test your knowledge and makes you want to get the answers right. It is another fun resource to introduce, practice, or test your vocabulary.

Telling Stories with Timelines

Years ago I used paper, pencil and a ruler to document the events of a story. Yes, I'm older than dirt or feel that way sometimes. Tools advanced and I helped the students draw out their timeline events in a word processing program. Drawing the pictures to go along with each event spiced it up a bit. Finally, we got a computer program that let us type in the event dates and descriptions and it would create a timeline for us to scroll through history. We were on top of the world but still wanted more. The program was updated and now we could include some clipart. Creating timelines are like everything else; the more you have, the more you want.

Time flies by and new technologies are developed even faster. If you think about it, someone is usually already working on it. Now we don't have to install a program on one computer to create timelines and print them out to share with others in the class. I've been working with two web-based timeline programs: Timeglider (used to be Mnemograph) and Timeline Builder.

Although you need to sign up for an account, Timeglider is free and there is an educational account. They only ask for feedback as payment. Some of the timelines featured on the front page represent historical events such as "The Wright Brothers" and "World War I". Dates appear when you hover the mouse over an event title and annotations show in pop-up windows when you click on the title. It is very easy to create your own timeline by giving it a title and start entering your own events or importing them. This collection of events becomes your timeline. Images and links can be added to the events or imported through RSS feeds, Flickr, Wikipedia and Facebook. Timeglider is working on "how to" videos and has an easy to use set of instructions.

Timeline Builder is web based and provided by The Center for History and New Media. Their collection of historical timelines are called projects with three sections: Teaching & Learning, Research & Tools, and Collecting & Exhibiting. Some of the timelines use images, essays, and discussions to tell the story and others have video that walk you through the time period of events. The collections are made available from digital records, archived documents, and historical exhibits. Again you will need to create your free account to start building a timeline. The program is in Beta format - a work in progress. Although you will be able to share your timeline with others through a URL generated as you add events, Timeline Builder doesn't have as many features available through the free account. It comes with five categories for your events but you can't change the colors for the categories or change the default names. When you enter an event, it only accepts the month and year. This gets a little confusing as you add events for the same month. Adding pictures is not an option at this point in time. As they update the Builder, I look forward to being able to create a timeline as detailed as their collections.

Creating and sharing stories and events on a timeline have definitely changed since my first years of teaching. Using all the different types of media available now allow the students to use their creativity to the fullest. As mentioned before, the more we have, the more we want. Just think how we will be able to share a timeline of events six months from now - touch a screen and drag the information from another source into the timeline calendar or speak to the computer and tell it where to look for the information and pull it into your timeline.

Wait - we are thinking about it. I wonder who is already developing the way to do it!

280 Slides - Easy Way to Make Presentations

Any time I've needed to put information into a presentation, it usually started with Powerpoint - until lately. MovieMaker, PhotoStory, Voicethread, and Google Docs are some of the choices I've used to present information to others, help with training methods, and share findings. In this ever-changing world we are always looking for new and better ways to share.

While at the NCTIES 2009 conference, I went to the Web2.0 Digital Tools for Digital Kids session with Dr. Howie DiBlasi. One of the free tools he shared from his top 53 web 2.0 sites was 280slides. Basically, it is free powerpoint that is web 2.0 based. The learning curve is minimal and it is very easy to use. The first time you use the program it will ask you for an email address. Then just click on the Launch button, choose what kind of presentation you would like to do - create new, open a saved file, or import an existing file - and begin working. All the familiar tools are right there for you.

As you work on your presentation, 280slides autosaves every few minutes so you don't have to worry about losing your work and it will always be the latest version. Since everything is saved to their server, you can get to your presentation anywhere, anytime as long as you have an Internet connection.

Already have some presentations you would like to use at a distant location and not carry them on a thumbdrive? 280slides will import existing Powerpoint presentations so you can make changes and/or additions, or use them as they are. The reverse works as well - create your 280slides presentation and then download it as a PowerPoint file (even 2007), an open document, or a PDF. When you feel the need to share it with others, just click on the Share button and email it to someone (2007 format only), publish it to the web through SlideShare, or embed a link to it on your website.
The toolbar has everything at your fingertips so you can start fresh, import, or publish. It was easy to upload photos and movies from my own sources or from a website, even YouTube, and Flickr. Changing themes and layouts was a breeze. One click on the yellow note icon and you have a place for presenter notes. All in all, this is a fun and easy to use web-based program.

Need to create or work on a presentation? Let's think about meeting at a Starbuck's or Panera Bread, get comfy in a chair, logon and put the web to work. See you there!

Gizmos - Gadgets for Math and Science

One of my favorite benefits from attending conferences is learning new ways to help students learn. I attended a session at NCTIES 2009 that used an interactive whiteboard and an online program called Gizmos from ExploreLearning.

Gizmos is an online simulation program for science and math. It has multimedia activities for grades 3-5, 6-8. and 9-12. The activities target higher order thinking skills. Because they are visual and interactive, students seem to enjoy practicing the skills. ExploreLearning follows the research findings of Robert Marzano's teaching strategies that show positive effects when students use computer-based manipulatives.

The 380+ multimedia activities are correlated to state standards and textbook adoptions. When you go to the site, scroll down to the bottom of the page and choose "Gizmo correlations (to states and textbooks)" to go to their catalog listing. There you can browse through Math, Science, state correlations, textbook correlations, or a full list of their collection - by grade level or topic. Each of the NC standards had one or more activities linked to it. Included for the activity was Teacher Materials and Student Lesson Materials with guides, objectives, vocabulary and assessments.

Gizmos will let you work on any of the activities, but if you stay on one for longer than five minutes, it will kick you back to the main screen and ask you to login or register to try a free, 30-day trial version. Once you're registered, you can copy graphs that have been created during the activity and paste them into a document. There is a screenshot feature and you can design your own worksheets from the pictures and documents.

I saw lots of possibilities with the computer-based manipulatives and especially using them with an interactive whiteboard. Think of all the fun you could have "seeing" your problem "come to life."

Need to Calculate?

One of the NCTIES presentations included information for free calculators and supplies through a group called RentCalculators. Their mission is to support education by supplying calculators and supplies at a much lower purchase cost, renting them cheaply, or even free. Students can calculate online, rent the calculators for as low $4 per month or purchase one for $9.00. The site is designed for students to be able to use the technology even if they can't afford to buy it.

Students can use RentCalculators' Free Online Graphing Calculator with ease. It is online and accessible anytime they need to use a calculator for their homework. Once the link is clicked, the window can be resized to full-screen. Just type in the problem to be solved through one of the tabs - Equations, Settings, Intersection, and Plot Points - and see the immediate results.

This organization uses donations to help make technology affordable for students. Their goal for 2009 is to make the first month's rental free. Check out their site and share the wealth!

Play Music By Ear

I've always marvelled at anyone who could play a musical instrument, especially those who play without sheet music. My youngest neice can hear a piece of music and then play it on the piano or her clarinet. Amazing. I used to have one of those electric organs that you could punch in a number and it would play the song or you could program some background tones and then you play the song. I did finally learn how to play several songs but it was only because the keys were numbered/lettered to match the songbook. Sad, I know.

I read an article by Nick Yingling about how to improve your musical knowledge at This is the web home for a Free Online Ear Training program. Numerous resources are made available to help you learn how to play music by ear - starting out at a beginner level with simple melodies. The program teaches intervals and the basic concept is learning the distance between notes. Watching the beginning tutorial on how to use the program is a must to learn how to use it. Then with practice, it became easier and made sense.

The Pictorial Guide is very helpful; explaining how to move through the 12 intervals. Some of the options are:
  1. Limiting the number of questions.
  2. Playing the notes in a different order
  3. Creating your own songs
There is an option to use keystrokes for those who feel a bit slowed-down by the mouse and you can use game controller software to connect the keys to a gamepad or joystick.

Music teachers and their students would enjoy this program. It would be another way for them to practice and learn music when not in class. For more options, check out the 10+ sites and programs listed on their site for more online ear training.

Wireless Reading

While looking at one of my favorite sites to buy books, I found an advertisement for Amazon's Wireless Reading Device. Curiosity got the best of me and I clicked on the link to take a tour of their new device called the Kindle 2.

It is about the size of a small paperback book but thin as a credit card and only weighs in at 10.2 ounces. Most of the books I read are a lot heavier than that. Unfortunately for my pocketbook, the cost is just over $35 per ounce. All the controls to turn the pages, go Home or Back, or pull up menus are easily accessible. The full keyboard and 3G wireless access makes it a breeze to order more books, magazines, newspapers or visit blogs. It will hold up to 1500 titles.

Downloads are $9.99 or less and can be done in 60 seconds or less. This is much cheaper than most of the books I buy. One of my favorite authors is Stephen King and most of his books are hundreds of pages long and several inches thick. He has written a book just for Kindle called UR. If you turn the wireless off, the battery could last up to two weeks. Its text-to-speech feature is a big selling point for me because I check out a lot of books on tape from the library so I can "read" while I drive. The Kindle will let you switch back and forth from it "reading to you" or you sitting somewhere and reading from its display with 16 shades of grey and adjustable text size. For those of us that are getting older and may not carry our glasses all the time, this is a great feature. Now most cars don't have a cassette player in them and it's not that easy to find all the books on CD.

Connect the Kindle to your computer and you can download MP3 files to it so you can listen to your favorite music while reading. Since it has wireless, you can even email Word or PDF files. Amazon tries to have every book title available on their site and they have over 230,000 titles available for the Kindle. Whether you like to read books, magazines, newspapers, or blogs, the Kindle will be an asset. I just hope the price for this new and exciting technology comes down soon.

Google Going Green

Everywhere you turn now there is a mention of "being green," or "going green." Green is the color for everything - clothes, food, lightbulbs, air we breathe and even technology. Google is now in the midst of it.

The top stories and articles in The Sunday Times of London, The Washington Post and The Australian all mention the physicist, Alex Wissner-Gross, and he posits that a single Google search generates 7g of CO2 versus 15g for a tea kettle. He calls it a "definite environmental impact." Other studies show books, cheeseburgers, and definitely cars emitting more than 350-500 times more CO2. Looks like Google is definitely on the low end of emissions; but with more than 200 million Google internet searches done daily, we should have a concern regarding the massive amounts of electrical energy required to power a user's computer and then send the request to multiple servers. Some articles feature Google as the bad guy with secrets and everytime anyone does a search they are contributing to the problem.

According to Google's response to both the Times and The Australian, a single search is actually only 0.2 g of CO2. A Google Australian spokesman stated, "They are trying to be in the forefront of green computing. We've committed to being carbon-neutral worldwide - that is, zero net emissions - for 2007 and beyond, by creating what we believe to be the most energy-efficient data centers in the world, using renewable energy sources and investing in high-quality carbon offset projects." This will be a tough job since everyone wants their search results faster and each search goes through more than one server. There are servers in the US, Europe, Japan, and China; each emitting CO2.

I agree with Jason Kincaid of that Google may actually be helping our environment in one way. Getting information through searches (takes just a few seconds) creates much less CO2 for the planet than getting in my car and driving somewhere, especially when I have to go to a second or third location to complete the task.

Even though we have the need for speed and want our information brought to us faster and faster, let's hope Google will continue to work on keeping the CO2 levels down to a minimum and stand behind their claim of being among the most efficient internet search providers. Please join me in making our world greener by "searching responsibly."

Have Fun with SUMO Paint!

Freehand drawing is not one of my given talents, but I do like to use drawing and paint programs to create images that go with curriculum I'm teaching. SUMO Paint is a free, online paint and image editing program that is fun and easy to use. This program has most of the higher quality features of Photoshop but is as easy to use as Paint or Kid Pix. Just a few of the offered features are layers with various filters, special blending and opacity effects, and numerous brush variations. Color schemes seem limitless. The best part is you don't have the expense that goes along with the "big name" products. Saving your creation online makes it available everywhere and anytime. Setting up the free account takes just a few seconds.

Images created by others are available to load into the program for a new creation or can be saved, printed, and even rated. Different views and sizes of each image are offered. The images library is searchable in the personal or public domain. The images have a size limitation of 15MB. Your creations can be copyrighted.

SUMO Paint is a wonderful tool to use with your students since it is all online and you don't have to purchase any other software. Images can be created and printed without a login. Why not try introducing it in your classroom and watch the creativity grow!

One more Powerpoint Presentation!

Ever hear the statement, "If I see one more Powerpoint presentation!" Many times when students, teachers, or any presenter needs to share information they reach for the usual application, only to find it is an outdated version or won't work on a particular computer. As our ideas become more vivid in current technologies, another choice for making a presentation look awesome as well as be accessible by others would be SlideRocket.

Since SlideRocket is web-based you don't have to worry about using up your hard drive space or filling up a home directory on the server. Creations can be stored and shared from centralized libraries where everything can be searched, tagged, and sorted. Imported personal images, flash animations, and video can be stored in the Assets section. Video from Flickr, TeacherTube and other sites can easily be imported. Its plug-in architecture allows for an endless number of slide transitions and effects, 2-D and 3-D, that will work on a PC, Mac, or Linux.

Sharing your work with everyone is as easy as publishing the URL or embedding it into your webpage. You can control who sees your creation by only inviting certain people. Once shared, either to a few or many, you have control and can see when it was viewed and by whom, and how long they spent on each slide. Any Google spreadsheet can be imported and then it becomes a fully styleable table or chart. There are shapes and drawing tools to make annotations or diagrams. Hyperlinking to any element is a breeze.

SlideRocket is another solution to help make presentations look great and add a little more "attitude." As Nick Yingling says, "Sometimes its not always what you're saying so much as how you're saying it."

Video Conversations

Feel like sharing an idea, thoughts on a subject, or just express an opinion? Sounds very similar to blogging or twitter. I've been looking at a video conversational site called Seesmic. It allows you to communicate online through video conversation and have others from around the world respond.

The site is intended for posting a short video (most are between 1 1/2 - 3 minutes) and then have others respond to your topic. Video can be recorded directly onto the site with your own camera or mobile phone, uploaded from a computer, or linked to a video posted on a social network site.

The site is developing at leaps and bounds with conversations of various topics. Some are open-ended questions; while others state an opinion and then ask for your thoughts to see what direction the conversation will flow. All conversations are put in a public access area when first recorded and can be moved to a private area for monitored discussion and responses. Seesmic posts topics for discussion. Using the site with students would require strict monitoring while they were online and not giving them free run of the site.

KartOO Search Engine

While looking for different search engines to use, I found one called KartOO. Not really sure about the way it is pronounced, maybe "kar - too" like a sneeze or maybe "kart - oh". It was developed in France and can be searched for websites, images, videos, and Wikipedia content. KartOO is a free, cartographic search engine that retrieves results from numerous other engines, such as Yahoo, AltaVista, Hotbot (and the list goes on) and then shows them in a visual, interactive map using Flash.

You can choose which language you want to see the results in and the words and menus are specific to each country. The left-side column shows the initial search in categories. Then as you move the mouse cursor across the result pages, keywords are highlighted and a brief description appears on the left side of the screen. A separate window opens when you click one of the pages. Gold lines link the subjects and sites. Clicking on one of the Topics in the left column takes you to more interactive maps.

There is a filtering system, bit it is very weak. Some words would give the message that if you were under 18, please do not go on into the site instead of blocking it. Our District filter caught most of the "usual" searches, but unfortunately some others came on through. I wasn't able to create my own custom search engine like I do in Google so only specific sites can be searched.

A first time user may not find KartOO very user friendly. The graphics aren't displayed in any type of organization, just kind of thrown around on the page. Options for saving and printing the maps are two very usable features.
If you have found a search engine you would like to recommend, please leave us a comment.

Kid-safe browser - KidZui

My 9-year old granddaughter from Maine was visiting over the Thanksgiving holiday. One afternoon she came and asked me to help her with an assignment that needed to be completed before returning to school on the following Monday. It was an interview where they were comparing how our lives from "a long time ago" were different from now. After we went through her list of questions (and she got over the fact that I had to watch what my parents chose on the TV and music came from a radio that sat on top of a table - yes, I'm older than dirt), we needed to go online and do some backup research for specific time periods.

I didn't want to turn her loose with Google and had just started testing a kid-safe browser called KidZui. It is used mostly by children under 12 and is a free download to your computer. Parents set up the main account and add their children's accounts with a login and password. KidZui only allows them to go to certain sites and selected content from YouTube. An extensive list of approved sites/content has been created by teachers and parents over a period of about three years. Parents even have the rights to see which sites they've visited.

Angie easily found the information she wanted and then got side-tracked checking out all the educational websites that caught her attention. She was happy as a clam using her new technology to find out more about my old technologies.

If We Can, Should We?

I love new technologies as much as the next person, probably more than most. One question I ask as a teacher is – Just because it is out there to use, should we? There is an increasing use and the appearance of a dependence on collaborative tools such as blogs, wikis, and podcasts. Wikipedia seems to be one of the most well-known and used wikis. It is an online encyclopedia featuring articles that can be edited by anyone, anytime. Hard to know what is really true or just a personal opinion.

We, as educators, should try not to fall under the spell of using this new technology just because it is there; but to find the educational benefits of wikis. One way would be to encourage students to compare this source of information with other sources. Check, re-check, trust but verify.

These new tools allow everyone to have input on any and all subjects. They show advantages in keeping users up-to-date and the “first to know.” As students complete school projects through the use of blogs, podcasts, and wikis, they use skills such as doing research, writing and editing, and collaborating with others.

Sometimes there seems to be a fine line on knowing when to use these technologies, when to reject them, and which one fits the appropriate situation. Hopefully we can guide students to make informed decisions so they will know when it is appropriate to use the technologies.

The UStream Experience!

Watching a UStream presentation by Will Richardson yesterday was amazing. It was as if we were sitting there in the Baltimore session and participating. He discussed many different ways students and teachers can use easy creation and publishing tools to bring the media into the classroom. Using the live chat was as informative as the discussion. One presentation was about how multimedia content creation is increasing at a phenominal speed and it shows no rate of slowing down. Ideas were bouncing back and forth from the audience and the chat group, which included people from all around the world. I was especially impressed that one viewer was a teacher on her break - she had to sign off so she could go pick up her students. Will's blog space has the resources for his workshops and presentations.

I'm looking forward to seeing more presentations from Will Richardson on UStream.

New Adventures

The NCTIES conference theme was discoverying new adventures. They provided speakers, sessions, and vendors that shared many ways and ideas to help teachers and students develop and extend their 21st century skills.

As part of my experience, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the North Carolina Special Interest Groups (NCSIGS) booth where people with similar educational interests and issues could Get Connected! to share resources, best practices, and collaborate on new technologies. There are 17 groups available on the Ning with more to come as the interests unfold. You can join as many of the groups as you have an interest in and join throughout the year. I look forward to being a part of this initiative and sharing the resources.

Over 80 vendors and sponsors were available to discuss ways of integrating technology into the curriculum with their latest resources. I wasn’t lucky enough to win one of the document cameras, iPods, or periodical subscriptions, but it wasn’t because I didn’t try.

Ron Clark was our luncheon speaker – what adventures in life he has had and created. Started teaching in rural North Carolina, taught in Harlem, honored by the President for his accomplishments, wrote a best seller, and started The Ron Clark Academy just to mention a few. He is very inspirational and makes you want to hang onto every word to hear what he might say next. The hardest part is keeping up with him – there are no limits on his energy.

Notes from the sessions I attended are on our NCTIES 2010 wiki. Hope you enjoy and maybe discover an adventure or two for you and your classroom.

Ninja Words - A Super Fast Dictionary

While looking on the web for more reading resources, I found Ninja Words, a super fast online dictionary created by Phil Crosby. Type a word in the search box and Ninja Words shows the definition(s) within a few seconds. Wiktionary provides the definitions. You can get single definitions by typing in the word in the search box and pressing Enter or typing in a combination of words separated by a comma and get multiple definitions to compare. Typing the terms in the browser address bar is another quick way for results. The history of your searches will show on the right of the screen or can be hidden from view.

Students would find this a good resource on any computer for all subjects. They could create their list of definitions for a particular assignment or topic and then bookmark it for later use or even send that link to other members of the class. Divide and conquer the work load!

Linking Ninja Words on your blog would allow students to quickly look up words they were having trouble with understanding or pronouncing while reading the blog articles.
Firefox or IE 7+ allows you to type in the Ninja Words address plus the words in question in your search toolbar and will bring up definitions, synonyms, antonyms, and thesaurus examples.

For those of you with an iPhone, try out the Ninja Words application by Matchstick Software. Some of the features listed on the site are:

• Works completely offline.
• Spellcheck!
• Word of the day each time you start the app.
• Touch to get a random vocabulary word.
• Recents.
• Favorites.
• Thesaurus (each definition has synonyms)

One of my favorite features would be Pronunciations! Although it requires network access, it has audio pronunciations for words with a click on the speaker icon. I wonder if there are different languages.

So, if you want to be like a Ninja – smart, accurate, and really fast – try using Ninja Words the next time you need a definition.