Have you ever seen one of these before?
You may have wondered, "What is that?". Well, those word formations are called "word clouds". There are a few different services that can allow you to create these, but we'll focus on the "Wordle" site for this post.
Wordle is a web tool that allows you to generate "word clouds" from text that you provide. The clouds give greater emphasis (larger font size) to words that appear more frequently in the text that has been provided. The clouds can be modified with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The example above was created by pasting the text from the "About" page of this blog. You can see the themes and messages contained in the text.
Once you create the Wordle, there is an option to "save". This places the Wordle in the public gallery, which requires a username and it means it's there permanently. As an alternative, you can use tools such as "Snip It" (Windows 7), the print screen function, or the SMART Notebook "Capture" tool to save the "Wordle" as a digital artifact.
Wordles are great for classroom activities. They can be used as an assessment tool, to see what concepts students have grasped from a particular unit or discussion. Students can use them to analyze their writing. By copying and pasting a piece of text, students can examine their vocabulary, look for overused words (they'll be the largest words), etc. As a reading activity, Wordles can be used to examine the main idea of a text. There are many ways to integrate Wordles into the curriculum. The question is...