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March 20, 2012 Making Wordle Work for You -- Beyond Word Clouds 101 By Addie Albano
Grades 6–8

    If you haven’t heard of it already, Wordle is a website devoted to making instantaneous word clouds and gives new meaning to the expression, “you have a way with words!” What makes Wordle attractive to teachers and students alike is that it is free, user friendly, and the results are different upon each use. Simply type in your desired text and voila! A randomized configuration of words is displayed. This type of creative freedom can be used in any classroom, by people with different technical skill levels, and across all content areas. Check out the following ways that Wordle can be used:

    • Create a beginning of the year “Get to Know Me” project or a “What I’ve Learned” year-end course wrap-up
    • Build Unit or Chapter Quizzes (try out Project Gutenberg which provides copyright free books where you can copy and paste text into Wordle)
    • Introduce classroom rules, behavior or homework contracts in a more interesting way
    • Brainstorm a list of synonyms or antonyms prior to looking definitions up in the dictionary. Then create a comprehensive list as a post assessment
    • Create a Common Core Curriculum Standard Map for your professional development portfolio
    • Use as a writing prompt generator
    • Make a Kindness Map where students all write something nice about their classmates and then you create a Wordle listing all of the wonderful comments for each student
    • Compare and Contrast
    • Use bolded text to highlight key words or concepts
    • Make study guides, chapter outlines, or concept maps
    • Replace your word wall with a Wordle wall that displays the variations amongst student designs
    • Determine author’s purpose by inserting key passages and then discern which words identify theme

    After determining what works best for you, a time will come when you will want to take your projects to the next level. Whether you’re a novice or a “master Wordler,” here are some ways to break out of your word cloud rut!

    Word Mosaic provides the freedom to create almost any type of word art in the format of your choice.  Poems, narratives, or writing prompts take on a new look with ease. Simply choose a preferred template and color, insert your text, and watch your design take shape. Word Mosaics are the perfect compliment for projects that include song lyrics.


    Similar to Wordle, Word it Out  creates randomly generated word clouds at the touch of a button. Along with being extremely user friendly, you can transfer your designs into personalized gifts. I plan on making something with my students using this as part of my end-of-school tradition.

    If you’re searching for an advanced application for higher level learners, or a way to spice up your professional development plans, look no further than Tagul. What sets this site apart from its competitors is the ability to create hyperlinks or tags to generated words. This would be ideal for students who lack research skills or those who need the challenge of more difficult text. Another benefit of Tagul is the ability to create unique or theme-based word cloud as seen below.

    No matter what format you choose, the end result should be student creations that show mastery in a wide variety of areas that fit your curriculum. They should also reflect actively engaged learners who are truly having fun. Now those are some “words to live by!”

    Have you tried using Wordle in your classroom? What activities would you suggest?




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