Wordle-a fantastic teaching tool

Posted by Peggy George on Aug 19, 2008 in web2.0

Many edubloggers and people in the Twittersphere have been buzzing about Wordle. I have spent some time exploring it and can see what the excitement is about. It has amazing potential for inspiring critical thinking both for classrooms and in adult professional development sessions. Wordle is a very simple tool (online and free) that allows you to create word clouds from text or tagged bookmarks. Of course, I had to play with it a bit, and created several different Wordles with my tagged bookmarks in Diigo and Del.icio.us.

You just copy text in any language, paste it into Wordle and it will analyze it and create clouds from the most commonly occurring words in the text. You can then edit the shape, the colors and the font in the cloud to make it more visually appealing, and even remove words you don’t like by right-clicking on them (command-click for Macs). Try it out on some text and see what you discover. You could copy/paste text from your school newsletter or a memo from your principal and see if there are any words that emerge as larger images in your Wordle. The more frequently you use a word, the more emphasis it is getting. You could paste an article you’ve written or even a section from your resume to see if you’re over-using certain words or if key words are missing. It was very revealing in my bookmark tags to see what I considered important by what I chose to bookmark. It was amazingly accurate! It is a powerful way to visually analyze information and use it for conversation with others by asking them to share and interpret what they see. Ask a few of your colleagues to create a Wordle of their bookmark tags, print them out and then have a conversation comparing the results. 🙂

I read a fantastic blog post by José Picardo, a high school teacher at Nottingham HS in the UK entitled: Wordle: Using Word Clouds in a Lesson. He provides an excellent example for a lesson using two online newspaper articles to create and print Wordles. He asked his students to use the Wordles to try to determine what the article was about (just from the key words). He said it provides a great way for students to analyze text, vocabulary, and language in detail. It ws also a great tool for elicit speaking and creative writing. You can read the details on his blog post. (Box of Tricks: ICT and Education)

Try it out and share your results in a comment. I’d love to see more examples. 🙂

I found a great tutorial on YouTube created by a student who expains how to add a Wordle to your blog. He makes is sound very easy–and it is!

Adding a Word Cloud from wordle.net to your Blog

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