What in the World is Wordle?
It's free, online, and useful for helping students to identify the main ideas in a text and what has been omitted. It creates beautiful word clouds that act in some ways like a graph - a visual representation of information.
"Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends." (quote taken from wordle.net)
This week I used Wordle after a class brainstorm on our ideal classroom, ideal teacher and ideal classmate. Students wrote their thoughts on post-it notes. I took these and typed the text into Wordle. Wordle then generated a word cloud that I could print out and display on the wall as a reminder for students about what they thought. It was interesting to see how highly 'sport' and 'computers' featured in these word clouds.
I'm planning to use a scanner to scan in newspaper articles during our unit on newspapers. I'll grab the text, pop it into Wordle and use it to help teach students about visually scanning a text and determining main ideas.
Here are some more ideas that you might find useful:
Speeches of US presidents have been transformed into word clouds. This information gives a visual representation of issues that were pertinent at the time of the speech.
This Wordle was made using the text from the apology speech of the Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd on 13 February 2009.
A number of teachers have been putting together ways to use Wordle in the classroom. You can find Tina Coffey's great ideas at Teaching with Technology. Tom Woodward at Bionic Teaching shares some great ideas for Looking at Poetry through Wordle.
This last one's just for fun - No prizes for guessing what I Wordled.