Tag Archives: wordle

Reinventing…Transforming…Remixing Educations Best Lessons

A time out from my series on Advanced Google Searching for a moment on reflection and reform. In my over thirty years in education I have encountered many educators from a wide range of disciplines that teach using outstanding and powerful lessons that truly promote student learning and success.  It is important to recognize members of the teaching profession for these great ideas that have had a positive impact on generations of students. Our culture and society continues on a journey from industrial, to informational, to the age of innovation at an ever increasing rate. Educators, one of the best professions in the world, continue to work hard at the amazing goal of educating ever child to their full potential.  As our society enters this digital age of innovation, so must education. Educators must integrate 21st century skills, Project Based Learning, STEM education, and the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) into past lessons that have already provided success and achievement. It is this remix and reinvention using  today’s technology, that will  make past lessons  new 21st century learning experience for students!  Please take a moment to read and reflect on the role that new technology can assist in assisting all educators in taking those very first steps towards transforming what is already one of the best, and making it even better!

Transformation is a process whereby an earlier idea goes through change in order to remain relevant and effective as other things around the original idea also change. Often in my presentations, I have posed the question of whether education is closer to the Jukebox or the iPod. Are our lessons emulating the Industrial Age, Information Age, or the Age Of Innovation?  I bring this up because as educators we must  transform practices that have been valuable, instead of always coming up with something new. There are many great lessons and educational units of study that may just need an injection of 21st Century Ideas. How can you as an educator transform ideas, practices, and lessons with the technology you may already have?

First, lets take a look at the history of creating an on-demand music collection for public use.  The jukebox was one of the first devices that allowed for the instant play of music, on demand, from various artists, from a large collection of databases. The jukebox was invented in 1889. It was referred to as the Nickel-in-the-Slot Machine and was invented by Louis Glass and William S. Arnold who placed a coin-operated Edison cylinder phonograph in the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco. An Edison Class M Electric Phonograph in an oak cabinet was refitted with a coin mechanism patented (U.S. 428,750) by Glass and Arnold. There was no amplification and patrons had to listen to the music using one of four listening tubes. Sure sounds like today’s iPod and its reliance on the ear-bud in the early stages.  In its first six months of service, the Nickel-in-the-Slot earned over $1000. Over one hundred years later Apple Computer transformed this same idea with the technology of the 21st Century. Launched on October 23, 2001 the original iPod had a 5 GB hard drive that put “1,000 songs in your pocket.” As of September 2008, more than 173,000,000 iPods had been sold worldwide. The 2008 120 GB model allowed for instant retrieval of over 24,000 songs. Apple did not invent the idea, they transformed an excellent and proven idea  already in existence!

As educators, we must enlist our collective database of lessons and practices and adapt it with technology that is already in our schools. This concept allows us to make immediate transformation happen. I would like to share one example. Many of us have been part of a NASA lesson that had us work in a group to decide what we would need  to survive on the moon We were given a list and as a group we worked collaboratively to prioritize it. Many time the bell would then ring and the lesson ended, trapped inside of the physical walls of the classroom. It is now possible to transform the lesson and go beyond the physical classroom using the technology that is available today. The lesson could be put in a Moodle or Edmodo, both are a free collaborative on-line virtual classroom. Students could collaborate online through chats, Google Docs, Wallwisher, and TitanPad. I recently found a tool available for free from Intel called “Thinking Tools”. It allows students to collaboratively prioritize and examine the “wisdom of their classroom crowd”. They compare their rankings with others and with the class average through teacher-made accounts. In this process they also share information and reasoning with the teacher. The results can be shared through a Power Point presentation or Prezi, and a visual ranking of the data can be displayed using a spreadsheet. How about a video conference or online chat to compare with experts in the community? Students could put it all together by word importance in a “Wordle” that illustrates their findings. Most schools have the technology, connection, and software to make this Old Lesson transform into a 21st Century experience. Remember,  Open Office can even serve as a no cost alternative to Microsoft Office. Feel free to check out my 21centuryedtech wiki for more information.

Teachers have a wealth of resources and proven lessons. It is time for educators to explore new possibilities by transforming what has always worked. Do not wait for a new purchase in order to engage students in 21st Century Learning. You already have what it takes to transform the educational jukebox into an iPod. The result will be educational experiences that are more productive, efficient, connected, authentic, and engaging to the digital generation. It will facilitate important 21st Century skills that are essential to our students’ future.

Thanks for taking a moment to read and reflect. I invite you to join me on an educational journey to the 21st Century. Please take a moment to follow and subscribe by RSS or email and also explore the vast amount of resources at my 21centuryedtech Wiki. You can also follow me  on twitter at @mjgormans. I would like the opportunity to learn from your comments to this post and ask that you join the conversation. Be sure to join me in my future post that will reveal parts of a Google Advanced Search that you or your students may want to learn more about!  Until next time… transform, educate, and inspire! – Mike

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Tagxedo: Exciting New Word Cloud Generator Rich With Features!

Welcome to another informative mid-week post. Today I  want to introduce you to Tagxedo, a brand new Word Cloud Generator that has just been released in Beta. I first learned of it after receiving an email from its creator, Hardy Leung, several days ago. I was very impressed and feel it needs to be added to a list of Word Cloud Generators I created a few month ago in my Welcome Back Wordle Blog which generated almost one thousand reads.  If you have never read it, be sure to take a look. Take a moment to learn the features and future plans for Tagxedo. As always please feel free to follow me on Twitter (@mjgormans), I will keep you up-to-date and will be sure to follow back! Now let’s learn about a new site ! – Mike

Update from Tagxedo Creator Hardy Leung – I just want to clarify that, since Tagxedo was beta-released a whooping 3 days ago, it has been upgraded many times, and the latest version already supports the “future plans” of using either image or words as shapes. Also, you can now save to both Jpg or Png.

I often get emails from people who wish to have their site reviewed. I always take the time to check out these inquiries and pass on worthy findings to you. I am very excited to share with you this just beta-released word cloud application called Tagxedo. The website proclaims, “Tag Clouds with Style”, a mission I feel was accomplished. You will discover that this cutting edge program is an outstanding free application very similar to our good friend,  Wordle .  The creater of  Tagxedo emphasized to me that Tagxedo has a few extra qualities  not found in all Word Cloud Generators. After visiting and experimenting with the site I agree that Tagxedo does offer some awesome features.

So what  makes Tagxedo stand out? Some of the features that Leung pointed out to me include; highly interactive (no server round-trip), fast cloud generation time, custom shapes and themes, powerful layout engine (very nice shape hugging), and  lots of fonts (including custom user fonts and fonts from Font Squirrel). Most importantly, the interface allows the user to save “word clouds” as PNG image files and it also saves a History View (allowing user to see all “versions” and pick the one they like).

As you explore the site be sure to read the FAQ page which includes directions and future plans for the product. It is school friendly, due to the fact that it does not require a user log-in. Tagxedo is new and powerful, but the interface is still somewhat under construction.  In fact, two features that will arrive soon are the ability to use images as custom shapes and the ability to use specific words as custom shapes. The on-line gallery provides an idea of the capabilities that reside within Tagxedo. Please take the time to check out all the features of Tagxedo. As you do, I am sure that you will want to share Tagxedo others!

Thanks for stopping by for another post. Please be sure to subscribe via email or RSS. I encourage you to share this post with others and please return again. I will always keep you up-to-date on Twitter at (@mjgormans). A reminder that I will also facilitate an ISTE Webinar (21st Century Education and Technology Integration: No Cost and Low Cost Investments with Rich Results for Students) on May 12, 2010.  You are also welcome to visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki filled with great resources to facilitate educational transformation. Now, take a moment and discover Tagxedo and remember to reply!  Thanks – Mike



8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Welcome Back Wordle… Plus 7 Other Free Word Cloud Generators!

Word Clouds have caught the attention of the country and have become a part of the 21st Century classroom. While Wordle is the king of Word Cloud Generators here are some other word cloud tools that have some outstanding capabilities that are worth investigation.  Each tool provides a unique way  that can be used in  the classroom to facilitate the creation and study of word clouds. I especially was impressed with a few tools that actually helped students analyze a group of text using more then just the generated cloud.

Thanks for the visit, and as always please feel free to follow me on Twitter (mjgormans), I will follow back and we can learn from each other. Also, be sure to check out all of the free resources at my 21centuryedtech Wiki! – Have a great week! – Mike

Wordle – (http://www.wordle.net) The king of word cloud generators generating awesome results with full editing capabilities. Check out the advanced tools for even more capabilities. Want to put words together so they stay together in the cloud, then just put a (~) in between – Example (Fort~Wayne). To have students avoid forums and galleries that may not be  appropriate be sure to link them using  the address (http://www.wordle.net/create). No log-in or email are required. Program allows printing, in order to save right click on Wordle picture and save as a jpeg andor make a screen print.

ABC Ya – (http://www.abcya.com/word_clouds.htm)  This application may be the most Wordle like and, in fact, operates much like Wordle. It creates final results that allow for font change, color change, and a randomized layout.  It does not seem to provide the function on word frequency, important to older users. Save options are in  jpeg format and there are print options. If you are used to Wordle this application may be an good alternative. It does not require email or log in.

Tagul – (http://tagul.com/) – Tagul has some features that Wordle doesn’t, like custom shapes selection and multiple fonts usage in one cloud. It also allows for the use of tagged words that can act as pointers to URL’s if embedded in a web page. It abounds in options but registration may limit classroom use.  Requires a log in with email.

Word It Out (http://worditout.com/) – Much like Wordle, it creates word clouds out of any text that you paste into the text box. This application allows  the word cloud to be customized by size, font, and color scheme.  Word It Out also allows the user to  ignore certain words and thus  keeps them out of the word cloud.  Can be used without a login, although the saving option requires an email. Can work around this option by right clicking to save as jpeg and/or screen print.

Tag Crowd (http://tagcrowd.com/) – While it does not give the color,unique style, or layout variation of of Wordle, it does allow one to see frequency of words. It also allows a file to be uploaded or a URL address to be used.  The word cloud creations can be saved as a PDF files or  printed from a full screen print menu. No login or email is required and free use of the product is for nonprofit use listed under creative commons.

Wordsift – (http://www.wordsift.com/) – This hidden gem from Stanford University doe not give the pretty effects of Wordle,  but does give several awesome  features that allow students to really analyze a word cloud. One unique feature allows words to be listed by how common or rare they are. Also allows for words to be listed in alphabetical order. Wordsift allows the user to click on words to view in an online visual thesaurus with dictionary, google  images, and word sentence placement. It even allows the user to view words by subject area and cross curricular areas by unique color coding and definitions that relate to specific disciplines.  Watch this video lesson on using Wordsift with students on a lesson about Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. What a great way to analyze a speech!  It even covers assessment of students using Wordsift. No login or email required. Any printing or saving would need to rely on a screen print.

Make Word Mosiac – (http://www.imagechef.com/ic/word_mosaic/) – A creative tool put out by Image Chef. This is one tool in their suite of tools to be used for people who like to create.  It allows for different shapes, colors, and fonts. It makes a real cool word cloud but may have limited use in the classroom. Items can be emailed and embedded in different social network forums. By pressing the more button you can save a jpeg. Larger images with higher resolutions are available for a price. Login or email does not appear to be required. Be sure to read terms of use of any usage outside of personal.

VocabGrabber – (http://www.visualthesaurus.com/vocabgrabber/) – Another creative tool that allows students to analyze a group of words. While it lacks the flashy pictures and clouds that Wordle can create, it has substance in creating lessons that can be used to really understand a word passage.  VocabGrabber analyzes text and generates lists of the most useful vocabulary words then displays how  those words are used in context. Copy text from a document and paste it into the box, and click  Grab Vocabulary! VocabGrabber will automatically create a list of vocabulary from the  text, which can be sorted, filtered, and saved. Click on any word in the cloud and a snapshot of the Visual Thesaurus map appears along with definitions for that word, and  examples of the word in the text.

TagCloudGenerator – (http://www.tag-cloud.de/) – This is a service that does not allow pasting in of text, but instead goes to a website that is entered by the user. The effects are impressive since the results are a moving flash file that can be downloaded. It also provides an HTML tag cloud.  It even provides a service for WordPress Blogs.

TagCloud – (http://www.tagcloud.com) – A word cloud generator since 2005 and is currently offline getting an overhaul. It is listed here so that it can be reviewed when it is back on-line.

Thanks for taking the time to check out these resources. Hope it helps as you and your students continue to make Word Clouds. As always please feel free to follow me on Twitter (mjgormans), I will follow back and we can learn from each other. Also, be sure to check out all of the free resources at my 21centuryedtech Wiki! – Have a great week! – Mike

25 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

I Can Back Off My Blogging, Turn Down My Tweeting, And Even Wrap Up My Wiki, But I Can’t Wane My Wordling

wordle

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.

Happy Wordling!

Michael Gorman

Wordle Tutorial

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized