It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and Wordle is just the classroom tool you’ll need to convert words into graphics with the click of a mouse – or a few clicks anyway! The Wordle website allows you to type in, or copy and paste a bunch of words, from a poem or article, say, and click a button which generates a word cloud, like the one on the right. The word cloud displays frequently used keywords in a larger font. This creates a very graphic display of the words used in any piece of writing.
Language teachers will immediately see some applications for this, but all teachers can use it with profit. Display the keywords in a poem, and as a pre or post reading exercise discuss the themes using the wordle as a cue. Or get students to create wordles from their own pieces of writing to analyse over-used words. Get students to type in ideas that they have about a piece of writing or predict what words will be prominent in the Wordle for a text. Use it for vocabulary work, or for summing up a character from a novel.
To use the Wordle you will need to paste the text into the box, and click Go. The website generates a wordle. You will then need to take a screen capture by pressing the Print Screen button on your keyboard. Open up a graphics editor, such as MS-Paint, and paste the screen capture into the canvas. Crop as necessary, and save in a graphic format to insert into a PowerPoint, a worksheet or post on your Moodle.
If you haven’t used a Wordle yet, this is a great tool you will want to play with!