“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.” – Maya Angelo
In November, I spent the month training teachers around Venezuela to integrate technology in the classroom. One of the most practical and favorite training sessions was introducing teachers and professors to teaching with word clouds. Many teachers around the world have yet to be introduced to the power of word clouds for vocabulary, reading, and writing instruction. Word clouds make integrating technology to learn cost-efficient and easy. There are over 100 ways to learn and create with word clouds and highlight the vocabulary in texts, speeches, songs, articles, stories, and other writings. I first wrote about word clouds in 2010, but six years later I’m updating the topic with updated apps, tools, and ideas. Below discover activities and web tools and apps to create word clouds. Get your students to create their own word clouds to express themselves. Don’t forget to check out my recent American TESOL webinar on Teaching with Word Clouds.
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Use word clouds to get students to:
- Make inferences about a topic before reading or exploring the unit or chapter.
- Guess the news story or current event from a word cloud of an article.
- Guess the lyrics- Sporcle has an online quiz where students guess a popular song from a word cloud of lyrics. Also try these Tagxedo word clouds of lyrics.
- Create About Me word clouds with character traits, likes, and favorites.
- Describe their hobbies.
- Research an animal and add facts they’ve discovered.
- Create word clouds describing a famous person to preface a presentation or paper. It is a nice way to summarize their research with key points.
- Analyze word clouds of presidential debates and speeches
- Create poetry in word clouds. Shape poems would be an ideal activity.
- Share goals & resolutions.
- Create a story with any of the words from a word cloud.
- Determine collocations, phrasal verbs, or learn new vocabulary. Check out this post with many more word cloud activities for language learners.
- Make up raps in pairs using at least 5 vocabulary words in the word cloud.
- You can use the ~ to group words and create phrases. Make key vocabulary, concepts, names, titles and themes larger by repeating them.
- Most of the tools allow the user to choose font type, font colors, and the shape of the word cloud.
- Students can upload an image to Tagxedo and Tagul and some of the apps listed below to create specific shapes for their word clouds.
- Check out my post on linkable word clouds and adding clip art and images behind word clouds here.
Word Cloud Creators
- Tagxedo– Create word clouds and choose the shape and background color of the word cloud.
- Tagul– Create word clouds that fit a shape or choose different fonts and colors. An added benefit is each word is a clickable link that connects to a website you can specify.
- By default, Tagul will have the clickable links lead to sales search site you want to specify the website to link words. In order to customize the links to go to a specific blog or website, go to the Core Options tab and replace the site search link with the chosen website url and at the end add /$tag. For my blog the link I used was https://teacherrebootcamp.com/?s=$tag.
- You can also customize the link of each word to whatever website you choose by clicking the API mode box in the Core Options category and playing with the code.
- Check out my post on using Tagul to create an interactive vocabulary search on education sites for research.
- Wordle– An easy and quick way to create word clouds online. Choose the font colors and click random to see different shapes and colors.
- Word Mosaic– Chose a shape or symbol to add words to in a word cloud form.
- The heart shaped word cloud tool works similar to Word Mosaic where students can add any symbol or word to a heart shaped word cloud.
- ABCya– Web tool and free iPad app. Word cloud creator for children. Choose different fonts and font colors. Edit the text, because this tool catches all common words and symbols. Use Vocab Grabber to capture the most common words in a text and paste them in ABCya.
- Vocab Grabber– Paste in text from any article and a word cloud vocabulary list is generated. Click on the word to see the visual thesaurus of similar words.
- WorditOut– Another simple tool for creating colorful word clouds online.
- Word Salad– Free iOS and Android app to create word clouds.
- Word Cam– Free Android app to transform your photos into word clouds.
- Image Chef has a free iOS and Android app to create a word mosaic.
- Photo WordArt– Free iOS and iPad app to create word clouds on photos.
- Wordables– Free iOS app to guess 200 word clouds.
- Guess the Wordle has word clouds for classic books, speeches, states, and more!
- 170 Ways To Use Word Clouds In Every Classroom
- 101 Interesting Ways to Use Tagxedo
- Marisa Constantinides’s word cloud lesson plan
- A comparison chart of many word cloud creators
If you enjoyed these ideas, you may want to get your copy of The 30 Goals for Teachers or my $5.99 ebook, Learning to Go, which has digital/mobile activities for any device and printable handouts and rubrics.
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