4ALL: Goolge Labs Ngram Viewer

Word clouds created in Wordle have been an educational and entertaining way to view information trends. Google has released Google Labs Book Ngram Viewer that creates instant graphs of how often phrases or words appear in books from 1800 to 2008. It gives an interesting view of many social issues and historical topics as well as offering a look at when products and technologies hit the US. Try “civil rights” or “economy” and ask students to consider what was happening to account for the changes in interest and published materials.

Jennifer Kuehnle is an area specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Really??? Wordle is an Instructional Tool?

“Brooke,” you say, “how can I use Wordle in my classroom. The pictures are so neat, and my kids really like them, but I really don’t know how I might use it as an instructional tool???” Boy….do I have some resources for you!!!

First off, Wordle is not the only word cloud generator out there. Sometimes sites are blocked :( in some schools and you may not have access to Wordle.net so you may want to try WordSift, VocabGrabber, ABCya!, or Tagul the next time you want your students to create word clouds. What sets them apart are the ease of use and customization options each site offers. Play around with the different word cloud online tools to see which might be the best one for you and your class.

If you need some help on how to use Wordle and other word cloud generators, or need some ideas on how you might use them during lessons, check out Peter Pappas’ blog post “Building Literacy Skills with Wordle” where he not only gives step by step instructions on using the site but also ideas for application such as defining skills, summarizing skills, and comparison skills.

The collaboration Google document which today is called “47 Interesting Ways to Use Wordle” has been created by educators for educators and was started by Tom Barrett. It’s an excellent source of implementation strategies for classroom use of word clouds. The coolest part…if you come up with a different use, you can add it to the Google Doc and share it with tons of teachers that visit that site daily and then you will be part of their PLN.

And for a little fun and learning – check out Guess the Wordle daily (M-F). Students will need to use their deciphering skills to figure out the topic for the Wordle each day. Today’s GTW is a great one for Missouri students.

Not sure what a Wordle word cloud is….take a look at the header and the PLN image in the previous post.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can visit her site here or read her blog, Higgins’ Helpful Hints.

Reflecting with Wordle?

Do you practice what you teach?  I certainly hope so.  Here are some ways that I have used Wordle lately to assist with reflections and self-assessment.

  1. Vision Plans or Mission Statements- Do you mean what you say?
    If you are a school employee or a member of just about any organization, there is probably a series of documents that reveal the “vision” or “mission” of that group or your classroom.   Here is a way to revisit these documents to see how they compare with the reality of practice.  Paste the text or upload the documents into Wordle to find out which words are most frequently seen in the document.  Do the most common words located by Wordle really represent what the plans are for that building or classroom?  Does something need to be changed?
  2. Organization WebPages- Are you saying what you mean?
    You probably maintain some web resources that are used for communication. Perhaps it is a website, blog, wiki, or moodle.  Use Wordle to “check” to make sure that your ideas are depicted in the frequency of words that you are using. Just copy some text from your site and paste into Wordle.  Do these words represent your beliefs about education or technology? Do you believe in something that you aren’t actually communicating?
  3. Delicious Check-What kinds of resources do you value?
    Maybe you use a social bookmarking site to store and share great web finds.  I use Delicious.  During the course of a school year, I will add (on the spot) sites that peak my interest that I want to find later or share with others.  There happens to be a nice connection between Wordle and Delicious.   To make a Wordle of your social bookmarking tags, just visit Wordle Create and then enter in your Delicious username in the query box at the bottom of the page.  Are the things that you value about the web the largest words in the Wordle? Or, are you bookmarking a bunch of sites with marginal educational value?
  4. Community Check-What do your students or co-workers believe about you?
    If you want to know how others perceive you, your class, or if you want to identify recognized personality traits in a group here is the fun way to do that.  First, have each member bring open a blank Wordle text box on their computer screen.  Then have them start a sentence pattern.  (Mrs. Jones is helpful, math class is challenging, Tommy is kind, etc.)  Have each member then rotate around the room, visiting each station, and adding another sentence that follows the pattern.  (Mrs. Jones has compassion, math class makes me happy, Tommy helped me, etc.) When the rotation is complete, just press “submit” to see a Wordle generated about that person, class, or teammate.  The topic will the largest word in the visual and surrounded by the “traits”. This type of Wordle can be easily displayed on a wall, on a desk, or on a classroom webpage or class moodle.  Are the words that define you or your class how you perceive yourself? Is this what you had in mind?  Do you have traits that others depend on that you didn’t know about?

Now that I have you thinking about some reflective uses for Wordle, here are some other resources you might also enjoy:

Top 20 Ideas for Using Wordle
http://thecleversheep.blogspot.com/2008/10/top-20-uses-for-wordle.html

Guess the Wordle Activity Page
http://projectsbyjen.com/GTW/

Other Places to Make Word Clouds:
http://tagcrowd.com/
http://www.tagxedo.com/
http://www.imagechef.com/ic/word_mosaic/
http://tagul.com/
http://worditout.com/
http://wordsift.com/
http://www.tocloud.com/

Doug Caldwell, EdS, is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.