Lesson Plan: Use Wordle to improve spelling

This is great lesson plan put together by one of my colleagues Beth Higgins.  The focus of the lesson to use Wodle to improve spelling in the junior years and is very easy to follow.  I hope you enjoy it and you can access it here.

TagXedo - Makes Wordle look Pretty Boring

Wordle has long been the staple of many educators and I have to say I use it a lot .  I even put together the ultimate guide to Wordle for educators earlier this year with heaps of great Wordle activities and alternatives.  But I think I am about to jump ship from Wordle to Tagxedo.

Tagxedo turns words -- famous speeches, news articles, slogans and themes, even your love letters -- into a visually stunning tag cloud, words individually sized appropriately to highlight the frequencies of occurrence within the body of text.

It really looks a great deal better than Wordle and if nothing else is definitely worth a look.  Totally free loads of creative options for it so check it out here.

Forget Wordle & check out TagXedo: Word clouds with style!

Wordle has long been the staple of many educators and I have to say I use it a lot .  I even put together the ultimate guide to Wordle for educators earlier this year with heaps of great Wordle activities and alternatives.  But I think I am about to jump ship from Wordle to Tagxedo.

Tagxedo turns words -- famous speeches, news articles, slogans and themes, even your love letters -- into a visually stunning tag cloud, words individually sized appropriately to highlight the frequencies of occurrence within the body of text.

It really looks a great deal better than Wordle and if nothing else is definitely worth a look.  Totally free loads of creative options for it so check it out here.

Some alternatives to Wordle

Wordle seems to be an obvious tool of choice for teachers who want to generate text based concept maps.  And for good reason too, it is very easy to use and provides a multitude of open ended teaching and learning opportunities.  If you would like to read the Ultimate guide to Wordle for Teachers click here to see these many ideas.

Wordle is however not the only option for you to use in when creating word clouds in the classroom as there are a couple of new competitors each with their own unique features that separate them from Wordle.

Worditout is VERY similar to Wordle n the fact that it offers the ability to create word clouds from web pages, text input and RSS feeds but the 2 features that set it apart from Wordle is that it creates an embeddable Word cloud for you to drop into a blog or website and it also allows you to import tables into worditout.  It is not as visually appealing as Wordle but does not require sign up which is brilliant for short sharp learning sessions.

Click the link below to see my Edgalaxy Cloud

Made with WordItOut

I would like to have shown you the embeddable version but could not get it to function.  Maybe you might have more luck.

Tagul

takes word clouds to the next level.  They look great they have interactive roll over text that allows you to click on a word in the cloud and be taken to a hyperlink.  It is fully customisable layouts and can be placed inside a shape such as a love heart or circle.  The only downside to Tagul is that you have signup to be a part of the action.  (It is free however) It is very lightweight in that all clouds are under 50kb when finished.

In short if Tagul required no sign up it would be the leader in this field in education as it offers a multitude of web 2.0 features looks great and offers far deeper presentation options than wordle or worditout due to its interactive text.

Check it out

here.

If you know any others I'd love hear about them

Diagrammr: Magically convert words into diagrams in seconds

Diagrammr is an unusual tool that still serves a common purpose.  I am sure you have scribbled something on the back of a napkin or a coaster trying to explain something using arrows, boxes and words in a bar late at night.

Well Diagrammr does exactly this by you simply entering steps of a procedure as text and it magically appears as a workable diagram. 

The diagrams are very simple simple but is the idea.  You can embed, print or hyperlink to your diagram once completed.  Once again it seems a little strange but so was Wordle at first.  I will continue to play with this a little further and find out what else it has to offer.  It is totally free and does not require any sign up or messing around to get into it.  Check it out here.  Example Below

The Ultimate Guide to Wordle for Educators

For the uninitiated Wordle is essentially a word cloud generator that creates word clouds from text you either manually enter or draw from websites, news feeds or utilise tags from a del.icio.us account to create a visually appealing word cloud which you can customise and stylize to suit your needs.

The beauty of Wordle is that there is no signup or login and the whole process can be completed in as little as a minute depending on how complex you wish to get.   Here is a Wordle I generated from my website at www.edgalaxy.com

Wordle is incredibly popular with teachers and students because of its simplicity and capacity to offer multiple open-ended opportunities across all curriculum areas.  So today I am going to share some of my knowledge of using Wordle and some Lesson ideas that will hopefully make Wordle your preferred option next time you do a class brainstorming session or you are looking for a tool to inspire some creativity in your lessons.

First off here are a few things you need to know about Wordle:

Wordle graphically emphasises words that have been repeated.  So if you are doing a class survey on your favourite sports teams always remember to enter terms that have been included, These emphasised terms appear larger and bolder on your finished word cloud depending upon the number of times entered.

Wordle does not understand multiple words such as Harry Potter.  This can be very annoying at times as Harry Potter will be recorded as two single words.  You can get around this by joining words.  Ie:  Harry-Potter, Harry~Potter, Harry_Potter or HarryPotter.

Managing Your Wordle

Your finished Wordle can be output in either three ways.  Printout, link to webpage to be viewed in a public Gallery or you have to manually screen capture it and create a digital image.  It is almost criminal that such a great program does not have a button to generate a Jpeg Image or something similar then and there but...  

You don’t have to stop with your customiisation just there as there are a few little tricks you can do to spice up your Wordle beyond randomizing colour schemes and fonts. Such as..

Overlaying Wordle on a background Image.  This can add some real impact to your Wordle.  Simply select an image to put in the background and then follow the instructions below.  The finished product looks like this.  This is Barack Obama's inaguration speech put over a soft White House Logo.

To do this : screen capture the Wordle and then open it in Paint Shop Pro (you can use any program) Import your background image as a new layer and moved it to layer 1.

Use the magic wand (the selection tool to erase all the excess white space on the Wordle. And lay it over the top of your Background Image.  Bingo!! You can also add effects such as drop shadows to your Wordle at this stage to further enhance.

 Importing and Cropping your Wordle.  There are numerous ways to do this depending upon the Platform and Software you are using but this video explains in detail how to do it in Microsoft Word.  It is a simple task in any language.

 

Turn your Wordle into a Coffee Mug or T-Shirt:  Why??? I am not really sure but it can actually look pretty cool and might be a great personalised gift.  Here are a couple of companies that will do it all for you online.  You just supply the image and the cash.

http://www.zazzle.com/

www.cafepress.com

www.spreadshirt.com

 

 Some Lesson Ideas:  The web is literally crawling with hundreds of brilliant ideas on how to use Wordle so consider the lesson ideas listed below as suggestions.  Take these ideas and alter them to suit your own needs.

  • Go to an online discussion forum – paste the URL into Wordle to gain an understanding of the key points.

  • Prior to a lesson go to a news website and create a Wordle from a topical news story or collection of headlines.  Put the contents of the story up for your class to see and get them to see if they can determine what the news event may be.

 

  • Break down the lyrics to a song or dissect a poem to see what are the key components.  Below is a Beatles Wordle, Can you guess the title?

  • Spice up a History lesson by finding a webpage outlining a historical event and create a word map from it.  What are the key factors of that event?  Below is a D-Day wordle.

 

  • Weekly spelling words – From a test type in the word that was most frequently spelled incorrectly as a group. Your hardest words will be the largest.

  • Convert a project into a Wordle and turn it into a Presentation.  All of your key points will right in front of you.

  • Study an Authors vocabulary in depth by entering a single page or segment from a book you are reading.

 

  • Class Rules and Expectations.  Remember to enter in the words you want to emphasise.
  • Classroom Polls and Surveys:  Simple classroom Polls can take a new look.  Once again remember to re-enter multiple votes.
  • Dissect a Famous Speech – Copy and Paste the entire Contents of a Speech into Wordle.  What points were trying to be emphasised.  Here is Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" Speech

  • Character Analysis Mind map

 

  • Create an all about me Poster sharing all the aspects that make up you.  The good, The bad and the Ugly.
  • Convert a simple Recipe using the quantities in correct ratios as words.  Keep it real simple such as a sandwich.

 

As stated earlier Wordle's capacity in the classroom is only limited by your imagination.  I hope this guide has helped you get your head around some fresh or different ideas for using Wordle and I would love to hear some of the great ideas you may done with it also.