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Word Clouds

Word clouds are visual representations of text.  In a Word Cloud, the more a word is used, the larger it will be in size.  Here are a few ways you can use word clouds in your classroom:
  • Ask students what they already know about a topic before beginning instruction
  • Suggest top five class rules and put into a word cloud - discuss
  • Students introduce themselves through a photograph and a word cloud that describes them
  • Class discussion to generate words related to a topic, event, or piece of literature
  • How to identify key words in text - see what is prominent

HTML5 Word Clouds take text from specified web content and turn that text into word clouds.  It's a great way to analyze key words, look for recurring themes based on word usage, and generate discussion on word choice and tone.  

Answer Garden is a great feedback tool.  It is designed to be used in real time. It takes student responses to teacher-generated questions and creates word clouds from those responses.

Tagul is a free site, but you do need to create an account.  You can choose from a wide variety of shapes, color themes, and font styles.  As you manually enter words, you can choose the size of the word as well as whether or not you want it repeated.

Making it Happen in Your Classroom
Teacher Preparation
  1. Develop your activity
  2. Choose your platform
  3. Create your free account (if needed)
  4. Build cloud
Lesson Implementation

Teacher Created:
  1. Project and/or share cloud 
  2. Discuss results
Student Created:
  1. Provide instructions/demo of activity
  2. Let the creating begin!
  3. Review/discuss results

Activities and Examples

HTML5 - This example was created by selecting The New York Times News Feed (U.S.) from the list. The larger the word, the more times it was used in the article.
Answer Garden - This word cloud is a compilation of answers to the question "What are the characteristics of effective professional learning?" When using Answer Garden, the word cloud develops in real-time so students can see the words being added and which words are being used more frequently.

- This is the result of asking a group of students what they know about elephants.  It's a great introductory activity to learn what students already know about a topic.