Reviewed by Maria Lisak, Gwangju-Jeonnam Chapter
Word clouds are passe, you say? No! These are great graphics to make your class blog post more visual as well as prompting learner recall. Copy and paste an article or text (URL or the actual text), and key words are automatically pulled into a graphic organizer to act as a warm-up or a tickler for the main meat of your lesson. Or use them to check in with your learners about whether or not they've understood your assessment rubric. This is a helpful way to re-frame the rubric instead of in a boring old grid shape.
With WordClouds, I especially liked that it's FREE as well as easy to use. A bonus was I could upload my own shapes. If you have a school or club logo, or just a really cool shape that one of your students made, this can be an easy way to make things interesting and personalized. It was also super-fast to get the resulting image as well as download it for you to upload to anywhere. The website has links to a cartoon maker, ToonyTool.com, as well as onlinecharttool.com, which are just as easy to use as WordClouds.com.
Word clouds might be something that you feel your students just gloss over. If you haven't used a word cloud in a while because it was too cumbersome or time-consuming, give this site a try. Things have come a long way since the convoluted steps of early Wordle.
Word clouds are good for vocabulary-building. Automatically emphasizing word frequency by size, they let the students get main ideas quickly, or help them identify and look up a key word that can get them properly situated for the rest of the lesson. Students can also make word clouds themselves; this is a great way for them to assess their writing to see if they are overusing a word. Using word clouds as graphic organizers can elicit a missing word, as well. The shape can be an implicit prompt--for example, a shape of a fox. Then you can populate the image with words--for example, verbs or adjectives that describe what foxes do or look like. Quick visual prompts like these can really be a benefit to students who might struggle with listening or standard text scripts in general.
About the Author
Maria Lisak teaches in the Public Administration & Social Welfare Department at Chosun University in Gwangju, South Korea. She is currently working on her Ed.D. in Literacy, Culture and Language Education through Indiana University (USA).