Saturday, September 1, 2012

teaches with Wordle.

If you’re familiar with the website, Wordle, then it should be no surprise to you that this powerful teaching tool has managed to hold a permanent spot on my list of Top 10 Favorite Sites to Use With Students. I first learned of the site a few years ago while attending a workshop on Web 2.0 in the classroom. I’ve gone to this site for personal use, for educational purposes, and have even used it to advertise for Tanya Rae Designs!
Here is a Wordle I made for my son, when he was born. It sits on his bedroom dresser.
(Personal information is blackened out.)

Wordle is amazingly simple to use and can work magic in your classroom. It’s basically a word cloud, where the more you type a word, the bigger that word gets. You can edit the font, style, order, layout, and color, and can print out the final product.

It’s a great way to preview, review, or display vocabulary and spelling words. I’ve always used it with my fifth graders to have them summarize a text - with the biggest, most important ideas being the biggest words in the Wordle. It’s great for any poetry unit, or for reflecting. For example, after a field trip, I had my students create a Wordle to represent what they learned and what they thought of the experience. There are so many more ways to use it. But my two favorite ways take place at the beginning and end of the year.

Before school starts, I always make a Wordle about myself. I include things that I want the students to know about me, and then I hang it on my door, or even frame it and put it on my desk. During the first few days, I have each student make his or her own. They can hang theirs on lockers, desks, glue to their notebook cover, folder, or display on a wall. They LOVE this!

At the end of the year, I do something a little bit different. I take the students to the computer lab and have them each log in and open up Wordle. I instruct them to type in their own name fifteen to twenty times (cut and paste works wonders for this). When they’re finished, they and stand up and rotate one computer/chair over, sit down, and type one (positive) word that describes the person whose name is repeated on the screen. We continue rotating and typing until each student has typed one word on every other student’s Wordle. I make sure to type something on each student’s computer, as well. When they get back to their own computer, they hit ‘Create’ and can play around with the colors and fonts, etc. They can then print out their Wordle.

Their name will appear the largest and if several students in the class type the same word, this word appears larger than the others. For example, if there is a student that everyone knows as being helpful, that word will probably be the biggest. It’s great for the students to see what character or personality trait they possess, stands out the most. You do need to talk about being appropriate and positive. I even go over a list of possible character traits or adjectives with the class before doing this. Otherwise, you’ll have those students that just go around typing the word, ‘nice’, on everyone’s computer.

If your district doesn’t allow the students to print in color, have the students choose a bubble-letter font and print in black & white. They can take them home to color, if they would like.

Another tip is to have the students type in Word and copy and paste into Wordle. I recommend this because once you start typing in Wordle, you can’t save and come back to it later. You can save the text in Word, however.

How to Use Wordle:
  1. Write some text in a word processing program.
  2. Select all of the text and then copy it to the clipboard.
  3. Go to     
  4. Click on ‘Create your own’.
  5. Paste the text.
  6. Click ‘Go’.
  7. Edit the layout, font, color, etc. with the appropriate tabs.
  8. Use a screen capture tool to save the wordle, or click ‘open in window’ and print.
Oh, and by the way: here's the Wordle of this post. I set out to write about using Wordle with students. Looks like I've succeeded!

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