Technology Education Know-How

Helping Teachers Teach with Technology

Wordle in Education

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

Over this past summer there was a lot of educational blogging about the use of Wordle. So, I’ve debated about bringing it up again. But, being that the purpose of my blog is to bring tools and ideas to teachers, I determined that this was the right time to bring it up. Basically, this is when teachers are searching for ideas.

Wordle is a tool that creates a graphical display to show the frequency of word usage in a text, web page or document. This is called a Word Cloud. The bigger the word is, indicates its dominance of usage. As I’m sure you know; Visual Feedback can give a more lucid understanding of what you read. To give you an example here is the “First Inaugural Address by George Washington in 1789”.

You or your students can use this tool in many ways.

Here are some ideas that I’ve had:

1. Students can use it to monitor the frequency of word usage in their own writings.

a. How often do they use the same adjectives or nouns?

b. Are they overusing words?

2. Students can use it to analyzing news articles.

a. What is this article about?

b. What’s the gist that the author is trying to get across?

c. Check out this assignment http://www.boxoftricks.net/?p=103

3. Teachers can use it for field trip reviews.

a. Have each student generate a list of what they saw are learned on the field trip. Combine the list, copy and paste into Wordle. Whoop! you have an instant “What’s Important List” from the field trip. (side note: A wiki would be good for creating that list. 😉 )

4. Teachers can create a Current Events Analysis.

a. Copy the RSS feed from popular news sights like Google News and use Wordle to give you the hot topics.

b. Copy the text from a news page and use the same way.

5. What are your students listening to? Copy and paste the lyrics of popular songs into Wordle and find out.

6. What is important on your school campus? Copy and paste your schools mission and vision statements into Wordle and find out. My schools Wordle.

7. Self Reflection; If you where to write a story about yourself, what would your Wordle say?

8. Current Study posters. What is curricularly important in your class this week? Create a Wordle that visualizes that.

There are as many ways to use Wordle as there are clouds in the sky. If you where to Wordle this blog post what would be the biggest word? So, today’s theme would be? You guessed it, Wordle!

Leave a post and let me know how you used or plan to use Wordle in your educational setting.

Expanding Your Student’s Vocabulary

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

Expanding our student’s vocabulary is a sure win for improving their writing skills. It’s often hard for our students to not use repetitive words when writing stories. If repetition is a problem they can turn to the Thesaurus.( http://thesaurus.reference.com/ ) But, if they want to use bigger terms or ad a little freshness or cutting edge vocabulary to their writing then WordSpy ( http://www.wordspy.com/words/splitters.asp ) is the place to go. When writing for TAKS they (people grading) are looking for “Voice” (I call it personality.) in the students writing. WordSpy can help you become familiar with the terms that students are using today as well as help them learn a new way of saying the same thing. For example: Hand Salsa Do any of you know what “Hand Salsa” is? Well, it’s a new term, so don’t feel bad if you don’t. hand salsa noun. The grimy substance that accumulates on a mouse or other input device after extended use.

Here it is used in a sentence and the reference from which it came from. And Yes, it’s a magazine that many of your students read.

“The Alps Interactive Gamepad for the PlayStation(TM) game console features the familiar 14-button layout, and an ultra-smooth direction pad. It is the first PS gamepad with rubber grips, which reduces the ‘hand salsa,’ and gives players the control required to compete in today’s competitive gaming environments.”

—”Alps Interactive Gamepad Voted Best Overall Controller by Video Game Advisor Magazine,” Business Wire

Yes, I know it’s gross! Here is one that isn’t so gross, and you may have some of these in your room. “Splitters” A family that splits their time between two or more houses.

Ex. Enabled by cheap airfares, flexible work schedules and technology like cellphones, BlackBerrys and the Internet, a growing number of people are shuttling between two or more homes, blurring the age-old distinction between the primary and the vacation home.

Unlike previous generations, these “splitters” do not think of themselves as living and working in one place and relaxing in another. On the contrary, they come and go as they please, making friends and doing business in places hundreds, even thousands, of miles apart. —Motoko Rich, “Double Nesters,” The New York Times, January 19, 2006

I hope this gives you some ideas about how to improve writing skills, and how to better communicate with your students. Oh yea, and to make you sound smarter to.