The easiest way to describe word clouds is to call them collages made with words. The fun part is that you get to decide on the words. When I was a kid, I used to cut words and pictures out of magazines to create collages that described me. This was a common art project used as an icebreaker to help get kids talking about themselves. Word clouds generated through websites offer a 21st century twist.
Making a word cloud is as simple as entering a URL and pressing submit. The following are a couple word clouds I made with my direct URL on the Reality 101 blog:
Word Cloud by Wordle.
Word Cloud by Tagxedo.
Wordle and Tagxedo are so user-friendly; every one of your students will have fun making them. Besides the inherent entertainment of popping in text and generating visually aesthetic images in various shapes, colors, fonts, and directions, word clouds help identify the most oft-used words. For instance, one of the biggest words I use is “students.” Surprise, surprise!
Some other ways you can use word clouds:
- Spelling words;
- Math and science terminology;
- Pre-reading activities;
- The cover for your student portfolios at Open House;
- The bulletin board for your classroom;
- A block of text from a classroom novel or textbook reading, to see which words jump out the most and foster discussion on whether or not they’re the best choices;
- Student-penned essays, to help them identify the themes of their own narrative or expository writings.
Now, you tell me: how would you use word clouds?