Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Tech Tips for Teachers: Wordle

At our first faculty meeting, our assistant principal demonstrated to teachers and staff how to make a wordle. We conducted a staff circle, stating one word that summed up Pine Road. Not surprisingly, caring was the word that ended up taking top billing. When creating a wordle, a list of words is input, or a famous speech, or, well, just about anything with words. If you would like two or more words to stay together, they can be joined with a tilde (~). An example of this might be the title of a book. In fact, I will illustrate that example shortly. Common words or articles are left out when calculating the most frequent word. So the, a, an, and, or of would not end up being the biggest fish in the sea. Wordle represents words by size. So, whatever word is in the list, or speech, or text most often will end up in the largest font size. Different color schemes and even custom color schemes can be chosen. You can randomize text to try out different fonts and colors. When you are finished, you can choose to post your wordle to a public gallery. Wordle is quite popular, so don't expect yours to stay on the front page for too long. Copy the HTML code to embed your wordle in a webpage or blog so that it will link back to the original or print it out to keep a copy.

In the library, we created Summer Reading wordles with each class in grades 3-5 as an opening circle activity. Last year, most students had read from a prescribed summer reading list, but this past summer we tried something different. Students were able to read any book at all. It's interesting to see which books, characters, and series rise to the top, even without a list. It's also helpful to me to create a consideration list of books students are mentioning that we do not (yet) have in our library. Wordles are being created for each class and then I plan to compile lists for each grade and then a combined list for all the upper grades in our school.

Wordle: 3A Summer Reading

What are some other ways teachers can use wordless in the classroom:
  • Surveys (if you would make a graph, you can make a wordle)
  • Feelings

Wordle: Feeling Survey

  • Favorite color

Wordle: Colors

  • Mode of transportation to school

Wordle: Transportation

  • Famous speeches, songs, passages from a book, and students' own writing can take on a new form.
  • Take a political figure's speech, put it in a wordle and see what they are REALLY saying.

Wordle: Obama Inaugural Speech

  • In music class, import the lyrics to a song and see if students can identify the song based on the wordle.

Wordle: The Wheels on the Bus

Can you guess?

  • Ask students to create poetry with words and create a visual representation. They can repeat the words they want to emphasize.

Check out wordle at

If wordle has you wondering, check out tagxedo for more word artistry using specific shapes.

What ideas do you have for incorporating wordle or tagxedo into your teaching?  Share in a comment below.

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