I’m not an artsy person so when I find something that makes it look like I know something about design and graphics without requiring a lot of effort on my part, I love it. I came across wordle several years ago at a tech conference and it has become a tool that I use with my students almost every year. Wordle is a simple word cloud generator. You provide the text and then wordle generates a word cloud based on the frequency of the words used in that text. Once the word cloud is generated you can tweak them by adjusting the fonts, colors and layout of the word cloud. Then you can save, email or print off your word clouds.
This is a tool that has TONS of applications but it requires a bit of creativity to come up with meaningful ways to use this in the curriculum. So the only concern is that it is used as an add on rather than something that truly enhances what we do in the classroom.
I’ve used this each year with my students as an end of the year gift. The students write down words they would use to describe the best character traits of the other students in the class then we type them into the word cloud and certain words always pop up as their key characteristics. Then I print them out, have the students make a simple frame and send it home as an end of the year gift. The kids love it because it’s encouraging and I love it because it’s a great gift to wrap the year up with.
When you are studying theme this is a great tool to use to see what words stand out in a text. The students can copy and paste the text or part of it into Wordle and see which words are the most frequently used in the text. This also works with student writing if you are trying to teach students about the importance of word choice.
Do I plan to use it?
Yes! I have used it at least once for the past 5 (or so) years.
Commitment and Learning Curve
Best for ES MS or HS?
Any level. I’ve even used it with staff.
Free! The only cost comes if you decide to get your word cloud printed on some of the items they sell like cups or t-shirts.