TIP #1: Word Clouds
Today's tip is a free online tool that has so many cool functions to it, they're called word clouds. Word clouds take words that you have entered and create a "cloud", or shape, using those words in different fonts, colors, size, direction, etc. They create a great visual that can be used in so many ways in your classroom.
Wordle is the most common program used for world clouds. I like it because it is very simple to use and you don't need to create an account or have additional plug-ins installed. You just type in the words you want to use to create your word cloud. The more times a word is typed, the larger the word becomes. However, it doesn't save your text so if students aren't careful they can loose everything they've typed. For younger kids I suggest having students type in Word and copy+paste their words into Wordle. You can also create a Wordle for an entire website by entering the url. Once you have your text entered you can begin to play around with the fonts & colors. Unfortunately your only option is to print or create a screen shot of your word cloud. It doesn't allow you to save the image.
I like to use Tagxedo, it's another free program that creates word clouds. It works similarly to Wordle, but it allows you to save your image and choose a shape. You also only have to type the word once and it will fill it in throughout the image. I used Tagxedo to create the word cloud below.
So what can I use a word cloud for?
I've used word clouds for many things! Here are just a few!
- Get to know you - This is one of the first "tech" thing my students do at the beginning of the year. It's a way for me to get to know the students and they LOVE this activity. You can take the image and do many things with it. I let them put it on their webpage, which is their tech portfolio.
- Notebook covers - These make great notebook covers. Your students can type in all the words that come to mind for a specific subject (for example math: division, times, fractions, money, etc). They can use these word clouds as their notebook covers.
- Main Idea - Students struggle with this concept, but you can use wordle to help you get the message across. Have a passage that you can copy the text from. Have students read the passage, then use wordle to paste the story in the program. The words that were used the most will be larger. This lets students focus on what the main ideas for the story are. (This won't work in the Tagxedo program)
- Word Banks - word clouds are a unique way to give students a word bank for their writing.
Here are 52 other ways you can use word clouds!
How do you use word clouds? I would love to hear about it! Until next Thursday....