Digital Toolbox #3: Word Clouds in the classroom
The third installment in my 2-3 weekly Digital Toolbox for teachers at OLMC is the use of word clouds in the classroom. As you may have read previously, I write short pieces for the Staff Bulletin and Intranet with some relevant links on the tool included on OLMC’s Intranet. This week rather than focus on one specific tool, I decided to do a short, summative write up informing the teaching staff of what word clouds are and some possible uses in the secondary school classroom. I did include an example of a Wordle, Tagxedo and Tagul with the new curriculum document for the VCE Media (Year 12) Outcome 1 requirement on Narrative (film study). I will embed these into this post further below.
Word clouds turn text into a visual representation or an information graphic. They are easily created by pasting text in any language into a free word cloud generator, such as Wordle, Tagxedo or Tagul. The word clouds, or visual representations of text, give prominence to words that appear more frequently from the original text – in other words the more frequently a word appears in the text, the larger its size in the visual design. The user can alter the colours, style and layout of the word collage. Word clouds can be saved to your computer, to a gallery or printed for display.
Word Clouds are much more than just about creating pretty images with words. They are great visualization tools that can become a catalyst for discovery, understanding, insight and discussion with students about a particular text or texts. They are ideal to introduce new topics to be studied in class.
Word clouds have great appeal to visual learners and there are many uses of them in the classroom. Teachers can use word clouds for textual analysis by looking at language and vocabulary in detail. Ideas for using word clouds might include:
• overview or revision of a unit of work;
• making predictions – use word clouds before students read or listen to a text and ask them to make predictions about the content of the text based on the word cloud;
• text comparisons – create word clouds from several poems, short stories or articles and have students read the complete texts and match them to the word clouds.
• create word clouds based on famous speeches and analyse the results by looking at the common words.
• create a word cloud wall where students can brainstorm synonyms, antonyms or definitions for lists of vocabulary words.
50 Interesting Ways To Use Wordle in the Classroom by Tom Barrett
Below are three word clouds using different word cloud tools with the VCE Media Unit 3 Outcome 1 (Narrative) Study Design (2012-2016). I simply copied and pasted the text from Outcome 1 from the new Study Design that will take effect next year. I deliberately added emphasis to certain words, such as the key knowledge and skills, to make those crucial/important terms stand out.