Whether they’re mastering scientific vocabulary, writing poems, or analyzing presidential speeches, students are immersed in words. Encourage lively conversation about words with the help of tools that turn text into visual displays.
Wordle (wordle.net) is a free tool that turns a block of text, or simply a list of words, into a cloud pattern. Words that are used most frequently are displayed most prominently. You can play with layout, font, and colors to change the appearance or highlight certain vocabulary.
Teachers across subject areas and grade levels are finding good uses for this simple to use tool. For example, as a prereading activity, you might use Wordle to highlight key vocabulary. Are there unfamiliar words here that students will need to understand? Patterns to pay attention to while they are reading?
Students can create Wordle displays using their own writing, too. They will gain new insights into word choice. Are they using certain words too often? Or is their word repetition deliberate? This information can lead to more productive writing conferences and will help them as they move on to the revision stage.
Some teachers recommend Wordle as a tool for reflection. By combining students’ reflective entries into one Wordle display, you can see at a glance what students are
thinking about. Their “hot topics” can be the jumping-off point for a lively classroom discussion.