Word Clouds and 8 Ways to Use Them!

If you aren’t already familiar with word clouds, they are a visual depictions of text, usually created on java platforms. A few great word cloud sites include Wordle, Tagxedo, and for younger audiences, ABCYa’s version of word clouds. While there are some minor differences between platforms, essentially they all do the same thing: give you a place to input text or a URL, and then pops out a visualized word cloud like the one below:

The great thing about word clouds is that not only do students enjoy using them, but they are easy to use in a variety of content areas and grade levels. Here are 8 ideas for how to use them, and links to examples I created:

  1. Turn an essay into a visual image
  2. Turn a poem into a cloud for diction analysis
  3. Convert lengthy notes into a visual highlight of key points
  4. Turn a wikipedia article into a visual summary
  5. Use as a visual icebreaker or introduction
  6. Use as a quiz – have students guess the book/character based on the word cloud
  7. Use as a classroom poll (have students enter their votes into the text box, and use the word cloud to decide the winner)
  8. Compare one text to another (speeches, poems, plays, etc.)

10 thoughts on “Word Clouds and 8 Ways to Use Them!

  1. These are great ideas! As a new instructional designer, I’m always trying to find new and engaging ways to get students involved with the ELA courses I’m currently designing for grades 4 and 5. I think my favorite choice is to have students guess the character based on the word cloud. I might also encourage students to use this with vocabulary development at the end of a unit or module. In order to assess how students are feeling about their course work, I might also poll the students on their most difficult vocabulary word or something they struggled with the most during a lesson to see where I need to reteach. Countless ideas! Thanks so much for getting the ideas flowing.

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