Saturday, 26 September 2009

Word Cloud Reflections

Wordle is a well know and site for creating word or tag clouds from text or a websites URL. I like many people use this as a reflection tool as one of it's great qualities is that the more a word is used, the bigger that word appears in the word cloud. That allows a great visual means of reflecting on your writing. My students have just started using this for their blogs but are still developing their reflections of the visuals.

As you can imagine there are many different ways this can be used in literacy. I have used it to help students reflect on their own writing. It is a great way to show them how often they use AND! It is also a nice way to introduce a text, like a short story or poetry. Mark Warner has provided provided many Ideas to Inspire the use of Wordle in the classroom, I aim to expand the ways I use Wordle thanks to this awesome resource.

What I like about Wordle is that you do not need to sign up and it has a very easy control interface that most students manage very easily. The things I don't like are the main page can have inappropriate word clouds for children, although I have very seldom seen them and I link directly to the Wordle Create page which avoids that area. The other difficulty is that it does not provide code for embedding the final word cloud, but it is a good skill to teach students to take a screenshot of the image and upload it to their blogs.

Tagul shown below is another more sophisticated word cloud program that allows you to maniplulate the clouds shape, fonts colours, and adds a interactive rotational and zoom factor to the cloud. It also provides the code for embedding the word cloud into your blog. Although I like the effect it creates, it requires that you sign up with an email and the controls are a lot more complicated.

So what do these word clouds say about my blog?
I am please with my word clouds, as I read them as saying I value my students learning with a strong focus on reflection and inquiry processes. It also shows I value assessment and digital mediums for literacy teaching and learning.