Using Word Clouds in the Classroom
Word clouds are a fun way to display student learning. A few weeks ago, I created a word cloud using Wordle that summed up my students learning in Ancient Egypt.
There are two popular words cloud generators - Wordle and Tagxedo. Wordle creates word clouds in no defined shape. Tagxedo allows you to shape the word clouds into one of the shapes they have available, including an apple, airplane, or heart.
Here are some samples and ideas of how you can use them in your classroom.
All about Me Word Cloud
This is a fun activity at the beginning of the year or anytime!
1) First have students type their name at least 15 times (so it will be the largest)
2) Then have them type in things that describe them. Favourite colour, favourite foods, hobbies, interests etc. Again those things most important to them should be typed more than once and then they will be bigger.
3) Print them off and display them. They look cool in black and white too!
4) If you blog with your class have them embed it in their blog!
One 'book-keeping' note. It may be easier for them to type into a Word docucument first. Then, have them cut and paste their work into Wordle or Tagxedo. That way they can spell-check and ensure they have included everything they thought of.
Other Classroom uses for Word Cloud Generators:
Here is a Tagxedo of my last blog post about the website If It Were My Home. This Tagxedo is embedded as a weblink,; therefore it is interactive. The only downside of Tagxedo is that if you do not have Microsoft Silverlight, you will not be able to view the interactive embedded version. However, you can save images and then use them. See my next example below.
Below is a Tagxedo of my next newsletter contribution. This image is saved and can be used in a variety of ways.
Finally, here is an embedded wordle. You can click on it and it will take your to the wordle website. Wordles become publically accessible if you do not choose to make them private. Therefore, if students make them about themselves, ensure that they are private! This Wordle is of the hand-out from my blogging workshop.
Happy Word Cloud Generating!
N. Keyworth, Grade 7 Teacher, Treasurer for PITA
I love teaching Social Studies and Language Arts, and I love finding new and creative ways to engage students in learning about history and the world.
Recently, I read about a site called If It Were My Home, and I went directly there. I was so excited by the content on this site. It is a Social Studies teacher’s dream comparison site.
If It Were My Home is a unique site that allows students to read about and consider what their life would have been like if they had been born in another country. There are over 100 countries to choose from. This country comparison site allows students to then compare living conditions in their country to other countries around the world. Once you click on a country, the site instantly provides a lot of great mini facts that statistically compare the two countries, including birth and death rates, electricity and oil consumption, health care, class divide, employment opportunities.
If you compare Canada to China the screen would then read –
If China were your home instead of Canada you would . . .
“Consume 91.o2 % less oil”
“die 6.78 years sooner”
When students click on the mini-fact provided, they get a more detailed description of the comparison fact as well as the original source. Not only can you compare Canada to other countries in the world, you can also choose to compare two other countries, for example compare Rwanda to Afghanistan. How are their lives different after comparing Canada to each?
In addition to providing great comparative information, the site also offers, for most countries, an additional reading list with suggested books about the country. I spent an hour exploring the site the first time I went to it. The educational uses were swirling. Here are a few ways I thought it could be implemented into my classroom.
Students can use this site to help find information on a country study. They can use it to compare and explore different government structures around the world. Health care availability can be directly compared.
Create a chart of life around the world and pick 6 different countries and have students compare different facts. They can then use this information to write a report or to do statistical comparisons.
Language Arts (with Social Studies integrated in)
Add a creative writing element and have students write a short story “If I lived in …” or
Have them pretend they are moving to another country and compare and contrast their current life with their new life.
- Use the statistics provided and graph them, analyze them and so on . . .
Energy consumption comparisons
Usage of renewable and non-renewable resources around the world
The Disaster section – see details below
Finally, I teach Grade 7, but every once and awhile I get the dreaded 6/7 split. Any split is difficult to teach, so finding a resource that makes it easier is oh so nice!
Last year, I created and began presenting my workshop “From Dynasties to Communism.” One of the sole purposes of this workshop was to address the Grade 6/7 split in 3 core subject areas – Social Studies, Language Arts, and Science. One of the Socials activities I included was a simple comparison of life in Canada to life in modern China. This site will now be added as a recommended destination, and the assignment will be more comprehensive!
This website is an amazing source of easy to use information. In addition to the county comparison tool, check out the Disaster section. Here students can see how man-made and natural disasters have affective the lives of millions of people around the world. Information is provided to help students understand the scope of a disaster in relation to their own country. This can help students better visualize how disaster affect the lives of others in other parts of the world.
N. Keyworth, Grade 7 Teacher, Treasurer for PITA
It was almost a year ago when I was first asked to join the PITA executive, and I am thankful that I said yes. I have enjoyed my first year, and look forward to helping them continue to develop amazing professional development opportunities for intermediate and middle school teachers.
At our last executive meeting, we talked about creating a blog where we share with our members a wide variety of teaching ideas for the intermediate and middle school classroom.
Today, I get 'the blog rolling' with my first post, and the first post for MYPITA!
Oral Novel Presentations
I thought for my first post, I'd share a recent assignment in my classroom that has turned into an amazing success! Before Christmas, I did a 30-minute book talk on over 45 different novels that I thought my Grade Sevens should read and would most likely enjoy. I included current ‘trendy’ books as well as some award winners and classical favourites. The assignment was simple: in each of the Grade Seven classes each student would choose a different novel and prepare an oral presentation on the book. In addition, they would create a bookmark to summarize key parts of the book. My goal was to expose the students to a wide variety of books and have them promote books to their classmates. They were given 2 months to read their book. We set up a schedule the very next day, with one to two students presenting a day from mid-January to mid-February.
So far the presentations have been AMAZING and on this past Tuesday, the students handed in their fabulous bookmarks. The presentations have achieved exactly what I had hoped. Students are now reading the books their classmates read. In addition, many students ended up reading a book they loved and are now reading other books from that author or from a similar genre.
Finally, here are some pictures of a few of the amazing bookmarks the Grade 7’s produced!
The beauty of this assignment is that it can be done at any grade level. I have done oral novel presentations with Grade 4's, 5's, 6's, and 7's. The marking load is minimal, and it addresses so many learning outcomes. The students love having a choice, although be prepared for several students to want the same book. As I did my big book talk, I had them write down all the books that interested them. After talking about every book, I then went back to the beginning and asked who wanted each book. If there was a 'hot' book, I left them until the end. Then we did draws etc. This took sometime, but in the end, I would say everyone left happy! I did have to go and find about 5 books other than the ones in my original talk. I took these students to the library and we spent time narrowing down the right book for them!
N. Keyworth - Grade Seven Teacher, Treasurer for PITA
Looking for community outings for your class or yourself? We will post information of interest to intermediate and middle years teachers.