#edtech #cotlf #edchat Over the past several years, word clouds have become extremely popular. You’ve probably noticed them online, and of course our profile photo is a word cloud as well. Two great, free programs for creating word clouds online are Wordle & Tagxedo. Both programs take long text passages and convert them into word clouds, increasing the size of frequently used words, which helps make the main idea of a passage really pop! (Our profile picture is a word cloud made from the ISTE Tech Standards for Students.) Wordle is very simple to use, and Tagxedo has the added feature of being able to form word clouds into shapes. The photo below shows word clouds that were on display in a 6th grade classroom at Boltz Middle School. Students created word clouds to showcase their personalities and interests.

Word Cloud Example

Check out the list below for some other ways to use word clouds with students.

Student Reflection/Exit Ticket: Have students fill out a simple Google survey asking them either what they learned at the end of a unit or what questions they still have. Copy and paste their responses into a word cloud to see which words stand out. Remember, the larger the word, the more frequently it was written—this can give you a great overview of what they’re thinking!

Class Summary: After students post blog entries or contribute to an online discussion, use all their text to create a word cloud to see what the group’s main ideas were.

Revision: Ask students to copy and paste a draft they’ve written into Wordle or Tagxedo. They can use the resulting word cloud to determine if their main idea is what they intended or if they’re overusing any particular words or phrases. This can help them realize that they need to revise their writing to get their point across or use better vocabulary.

Visual Aide: Students can create a word cloud from a final draft and use the result in a report cover, title slide, etc.

Prediction/Scaffolding: Create a word cloud of a text students are about to read and have them make predictions about the unit, discuss unknown terms, think about themes, etc. (Many textbooks come with a CD version that includes digital text you can copy and paste.) You can also use their responses to determine what they already know about the topic and use that to help shape your unit.

Unit Review: At the end of a unit, create a word cloud of the text and any content from that unit and ask students to use the word cloud to summarize what they’ve learned. Build up a collection of these end-of-unit word clouds and pull them out randomly to help students remember past units, vocabulary, and so on.

Personal Narratives/Analysis: After students write a personal narrative, use their work to create a word cloud. Use the results to discuss words that are commonly used by girls or boys, by age group, nationality, etc. The resulting word clouds also make great bulletin boards!

Famous Texts/Speeches: Make a word cloud from a famous historical speech or document (US Constitution, for example). Analyze the results and discuss what can be learned about the speaker/document, what intentions they seem to have, etc. Check out The History Place http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/previous.htm & American Rhetoric http://www.americanrhetoric.com/top100speechesall.html for text from famous speeches.

Compare & Contrast: Use a word cloud to compare and contrast two students’ writing, famous speeches, news stories, lyrics, poems, book reviews or anything else!

Current Events: Transform a news story into a word cloud and ask students to think about what the story was about, guess the headline, where it happened, etc.

Word Cloud Word Wall: Ask students to brainstorm synonyms, antonyms or definitions for their vocabulary words, and add those word clouds to your word wall.

Concrete Poetry: Ask students to write a poem about an object, then have them create a word cloud in the shape of their object in Tagxedo using the text of their poem.

All About Me Word Cloud: Have every student write 3 words to describe each of their classmates. Compile the words about each child into a word cloud and display in your classroom. This is a great beginning of the year/feel good activity for students!

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