Working with teachers using technology to engage and increase student achievement during the last decade I have often found them to be overwhelmed by the number of software applications and web content available. And who can blame them! Every morning when I log on to my Twitter account, read my favorite blogs or check my inbox, I too find myself overwhelmed by all of this new information. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful to my PLN for their tweets, posts and emails, but once read I can often spend hours bookmarking sites to my Diigo account, making mental notes to get back to a site later, or being so intrigued by a new site that I can’t turn away and end up finding more sites on that site, and then more on that one, and it goes on and on and on until I glance at the clock and am reminded of the my “to do” list for the day.
That being said, I hope to use this blog to keep track of all the great things have been shared with me online that will be of use to teachers in the elementary school setting. I want this to be our common meeting place, a URL that is easy to remember and can be accessed at the user’s convenience, eliminating the need to send out emails highlighting valuable online resources as I have done in the past.
Wordle describes their online tool as “a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.” Enter the text from famous speeches and/or the inaugural addresses of famous presidents and see if students can identify the author based on the prominence of these words. Enter student responses to a question you have posed and discuss the results. The possibilities are endless for the easy to use tool.
WordSift combines the magic of word clouds with search engines and an online thesaurus. When the user enters text, they not only see the most frequently used words in a word cloud, in addition, the power of an online interactive dictionary/thesaurus helps them to explore the meaning of those words. Pictures are also generated by Google’s image search engine, which are labeled with text used in the word cloud.
If you don’t share the “less is more” philosophy, take a look at the Innovative Educator’s blog, where she shares her extensive list of word cloud makers or Peter Pappas’s take on ways to use Wordle in the classroom.