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The Top 10 Ways to Use Wordle at School

written by: Bright Hub Education Writer • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 11/29/2012

Wordle is becoming one of the most used new technology tools for teachers. It is free, and versatile enough to be used in any area of the curriculum. This article contains ten of the best ideas for Wordle lessons in the classroom.

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    Using Wordle

    Believe it or not, incorporating Wordle into your classroom lessons is quick and easy! They can be used in all curricular areas, and are great for promoting critical thinking skills in your students.

    Below, you will find a collection of some of the most innovative uses of this versatile word cloud generator, but feel free to add any favorites of your own to the comments at the end.

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    Lesson Ideas

    1. Personal Narratives: Write, or copy and paste, a personal narrative into Wordle. Students will be able to see what is important to their peers from the words that are produced from the Wordle word clouds. Compare the words that are used most often by boys, or girls, by age group, or by class/grade level. These Wordle lessons make great displays outside a classroom.

    2. Famous Speeches: Enter the text of a famous historical speech into Wordle. Analyze the results by looking at the most commonly used words, or even the words that are not used. What does this tell us about the orator and their intentions? Go to http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/previous.htm or http://www.americanrhetoric.com/top100speechesall.html for a list of historical speeches you may want to get started with.

    3. Create a Wordle Gift: Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparent's Day, or even Teacher Appreciation Day, can all be celebrated with Wordle. Input your favorite adjectives for your chosen person, generate the word cloud, and add it to a greeting card, poster, calendar, or whatever else you choose. Remember, Wordle clouds can be downloaded as JPEGs or PNGs if you take a screenshot of your word cloud and save it to your computer, (command+shift+4 on a Mac, or try the Windows 7 Snipping Tool).

    4. Classroom Polls: Instead of your traditional bar graph or pictograph, try using Wordle to organize your data. What is the favorite color in your class? Have all students take turns at entering their favorite color in to Wordle and generate the resulting cloud. Bigger words = more popular colors. Repeat with ice cream flavors, pets, family members, etc.

    5. Compare and Contrast: Use Wordle as a compare and contrast tool. Compare and contrast the word clouds of two or more students' writing, famous speeches, song lyrics, news reports, book reviews or whatever else you may need to compare in your classroom studies.

    6. Student Profiles: I have done this with PowerPoint before, but recently saw someone do the same with Wordle lessons. Have all students in your class write a few positive adjectives about each of their classmates anonymously. Compile all the papers, input the adjectives for each student into Wordle, and generate a student profile word cloud to give back to the student. Children always enjoy this positive feedback exercise, and it can be a great end of year activity to take home from the last day of school.

    7. Current Affairs Analysis: Copy and paste a news story into Wordle. What could the story have been about? Can you guess what the headline would have been? Where could have it taken place? These questions and more make this a worthy discussion exercise.

    8. Wordle Word Walls: Brighten up your word walls with this fun idea. Students can brainstorm synonyms, antonyms, or definitions for their list of vocabulary words. Add your word clouds to your existing word wall work to help stimulate those higher thinking skills in your students. Keep a tally of the targeted vocabulary words that the children use in speech on a daily basis, and them to a Wordle cloud to show which are used most often.

    9. Unit Review/Preview Posters: Students can create KWL charts on what they would like to learn and find out about a given topic. Alternatively, create word clouds at the end of a unit to summarize the key learning points or vocabulary from a given topic.

    10. Historical Document Analysis: Have you ever wondered what the Magna Carta or Declaration of Independence would look like when pasted into Wordle? Try it and see. There will be lots of talking points from the resulting word cloud. What do you predict you will see? What themes can you identify? How does the word cloud fit in with the historical context of the document?

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    Beyond Wordle

    There are a lot of fun and interesting things you can do with Wordle lessons in the classroom. Challenge your students to come up with some uses of their own, and remember that Wordle is not the only word cloud generator out there. Try these alternatives to Wordle for even more flexibility and discover a variety of new features that can expand your options even further.

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    References

    Thanks to jenuinetech.com, peterpappas.blogs.com, and ictlearning.net for their innovations with Wordle in education.

Technology Tools for Teachers

The articles in this series reveal some of the best technology tools for teachers that are used in the classroom today.
  1. The Top 10 Ways to Use Wordle at School
  2. Creating Free Online Slideshows with Animoto in the Classroom
  3. Teaching Social Bookmarking with Diigo Education
  4. How to Create Websites and Student Blogs with Weebly
  5. Using Glogster in the Classroom