I have long heard of Word Webbing, Words Diagrams, Word Art, but how about a Word Cloud? By now you may be either familiar with a Word Cloud, have googled the Weather Channel to get a better idea, or maybe have taken a look out your window to see if there really is such a thing. The concept of a Word Cloud maintains that “If a picture paints a thousand words, then what can a thousand words paint?” The answer of course is a Wordle. Yes, Wordles are amazing Word Clouds that can be created by all. On a recent internet surf I found that this Word Cloud holds the sky as the limit while providing an abundance of sunshine for the educational setting.
So, Wordle is an application that creates Word Clouds (pictures made of words) based on the frequency of the words that are entered in the Wordle Site. A great explanation can be found at Wikipedia and Many Eyes. The University of Oxford even defines a word cloud as “Graphical representation or word frequency that presents a picture of the most common words used with those used more often displayed larger”. As I reflected on Wordle Word Clouds it occurred to me that they were a reflection in themselves. They display our very words and in a sense give an analytical look at who we are, and what we write. This is where my Wordle Addiction first began. I immediately needed to find my biography on a website and “Wordle It”. Wow, what an awesome idea, kids write a biography and Wordle their biography! My addiction did not end there. How about writing a paragraph about my favorite college football team and another on one I despise the most. Wordle them both separately and compare, then contrast! Michigan and Ohio State provided a great lesson and it is hard to walk away without understanding the standard of compare and contrast. Imagine the possible contrasts between the Red Sox and the Yankees! My need to Wordle grew as I discovered summaries of author’s books, main ideas of textbook paragraphs, collaborative thinking of groups of people, menus from restaurants, favorite lyrics from songs, an entire poem or ballad, descriptions of characters from books, movie summaries, and weather reports from across the nation. I found that editorials that I agreed with made great Wordles!
While I never ran out of my own ideas I had the need to surf the internet to find how others were creating their own Wordles. I found a collection of famous and current presidential speeches . In fact, the Boston Globe published an analysis of McCain’s and Obama’s presidential speeches. How about a website that provides a Wordle Quiz to guess song titles. Take a look at these famous speeches through history as viewed through a Wordle. You can even Wordle your Twitter as displayed at this site. A country’s constitution may be an insightful Wordle, perhaps even two contrasting constitutions as displayed in the USA/India Wordle. I looked hard and could not find Wordles to match ingredients found in food. Being a past science teacher I desired a Wordle displaying the make up of a compound using the chemical equation and element word frequency. Unfortunately no such Wordle!
Which leads to using Wordle in the classroom, if you hadn’t already noticed I had started this topic. Your imagination and creativity is the best approach, but if you need a jump start some of these websites may help. You may want to check out 20 ideas at the Clever Sheep. How about this slide presentation created by Todd Barret that discusses Thirty-eight Ways To Use Wordle. The Wordle Users Group also has a wealth of ideas and information if you are willing to dig through the forum. These Ten Insights come from the U.K give an abundance of ideas to build on. I am excited about extending my new addiction with other past addictions. By multitasking these addictions I could super impose a Wordle over an existing graphic or picture. Think of the implications in animating your Wordle. Both of these are ideas that I will be exploring in the future on my 21centuryedtech wiki that is hosted separate from this blog. Check it out!
In the mean time start Wordling! Be sure to learn more about Wordle and how to use it at at Many Eyes. Take a look at the video at the bottom of this posting from Teacher Tube. It is truly amazing and rewarding to come up with ideas for your own personal Wordles while you explore the many classroom applications. I have yet to see a Wordle of curriculum standards but I am sure it exists! Of course, I couldn’t resist doing a Wordle of this Blog which I shared at the top of this post. I hope you enjoyed it, and yes I will be sure to report my newly made Wordle of this blog post to my wiki and even send out a short tweet! But first I have a new Wordle to make.