Word Clouds: Shaping the Way we See Text




I love word clouds. While word cloud creators are not a new web 2.0 tool, they have definitely earned a spot in the classroom by offering  a unique and interesting way to view text.  Aside from being pretty to look at, word clouds can be an engaging supplement to instruction.

A word cloud is a graphic representation of text where the size of the word indicates its frequency. The use of  word clouds have evolved to span across content areas and grade levels.

Which word cloud generators are educators using? Most notably, Wordle and Tagxedo are the generators of choice. However, there are additional, easy to use word cloud tools to add to the list.

ABCYA– Considered a favorite site for educational games, ABCYA offers a word cloud generator suitable for the younger grades. Students simply cut and paste text to create an image. Clouds can be modified using action buttons at the top of the page.

 VocabGrabberVocabgrabber does just what its name implies. It grabs vocabulary words based off of a selected text and displays it in word cloud format.  Words can then be sorted by relevance, familiarity, or occurrence. Larger words correlate with frequency while colored words indicate various subject areas. Simply click on the word and a visual display will provide the definition, and examples of the word in context.

How are word clouds being used?

  • Create a word cloud using text from story problem. Discuss which words are relevant to solving the problem.
  • Create a word cloud to display mathematical vocabulary or understanding of vocabulary.
  • Create a word cloud using the lyrics of a song.
  • Mystery person- Create a word cloud on a favorite musician, artist, or author without using their name. Allow students to guess who the cloud is about.
  • Develop a word cloud as a supplement to a biography project. Discuss the frequency of  certain words and why they are relevant to the individual.
  • Create a word cloud to convey the theme of a story.
  • Analyze frequency of word usage in student writing.
  • Use a word cloud to display poetry.
  • Create a word cloud to describe the elements of plot.
  • List the traits of a character using a word cloud.
  • List spelling or vocabulary words for discussion and practice.
  • Use word clouds to classify.
  • Describe scientific concepts using word clouds.
  • Collaborate and create a word cloud describing each student.
  • List adjectives to describe a noun in word cloud format.
  • Use a word cloud to initiate class discussion.
  • Use a word cloud as a writing prompt.
  • Use a word cloud to compare and contrast.

How are word clouds being used in your classroom?






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