Last week we had our district wide inservice day. I’m in the small minority of educators who actually enjoy attending trainings. Not only do we have the chance to learn something new, inservice days allow us to network (okay, socialize) with other educators across our area. Our presenter that day focused on the content and strategies from Robert Marazano and Debra Pickering’s book The Highly Engaged Classroom. Integrating technology into classroom lessons was one of many strategies presented that can be used to increase student engagement in the learning process. One of the really cool tech tools the presenter introduced was the use of word clouds. Here’s an example of a word cloud that I made using Wordle for an upcoming Response to Intervention training.
Okay, I’m not the most technology-gifted person. I will tell you that making a word cloud was super easy using Wordle. There are two programs that you can use to make word clouds, Wordle and Tagxedo. I’ve tried both and Wordle is by far the easiest although you have many more options with Tagxedo. To make a word cloud in Wordle all you do is go to www.wordle.net and click the “create” link. You can either copy and paste text from a document or type in your own words. Words that appear the most will be larger. To create the RtI Wordle, I copied the definition of RtI from our policy manual into the text box. I wanted to be sure that the word “intervention” was larger so I just typed the word in several times at the end of the text. Once your text is in box, just click the “Go” button and the program creates the Wordle. You can easily change the font, color scheme and direction of your Wordle. There are two little tricks I’ve learned. First if you want specific words to stay together you have to link them with the ~. So, in my example, I wanted problem solving to stay together so I typed them in as problem~solving into the text box. If you do not want a specific word in your Wordle (e.g. and) simply right click on the word and it disappears. Once your Wordle is complete you can print it directly or “open in Window” in which you can save it as a picture to your computer.
Are you wondering now how you could use Wordle in your classroom? One very simple way is to have your students make their own Wordle describing their own characteristics. I had my daughter, Lizzie, create her own. See above.
Another creative way of using Wordle is typing words from an upcoming reading selection and having your students predict what they think the story will be about. Lizzie’s teacher typed in text from the book A Raisin in the Sun and created a Wordle such as this. The students then had to make their prediction. Lizzie is in high school, but you can do the same with any text from an elementary-appropriate book.
How about having your students create a Wordle describing a character from a book? Using Wordle for vocabulary words? The options are endless. For more ideas on using Wordle in the classroom, simply type in Wordle+classroom into google and you’ll have tons of links.
Interested in more strategies to engage learners, be sure to check out Marazano and Pickering’s book The Highly Engaged Classroom.