Word Clouds are excellent tools for teachers and students to visualise and create graphical representations of words. They are particularly helpful for visual learners where the visual depiction of the words of emphasis in a text (stop words are removed) is prominent.

Wordle generates word clouds from the text you type or paste into the insertion box. The more repeated a word occurs in the original text the larger or prominement those words will appear in the word cloud. The shape, colours and fonts of the word cloud can be edited.

Wordle: Web 2.0 wiki word cloud

Wordle word cloud based on all the text from this wiki. http://www.wordle.net/.

Tagxedo is a new tool that turns words from any text into amazing shape word clouds. Examples from the gallery include highlighly distinguishable shapes including Michael Jackson, animals, hearts and stars. Like Wordle, the words are sized according to the numer of times the word appears within the text supplied.

Below is a Sherlock Holmes Tagxedo word cloud by Phil Bradley from his Flickr photostream.

Sherlock Holmes word cloud

Ways of using Wordle and Tagxedo in your classroom

Word Clouds can be used quickly and creatively by both teachers and students. The many uses of Word Clouds include:
  • as discussion starters for new areas of study or topics
  • to assist students to understand themes of texts
  • as a summary of units of work or for exam revision
  • as class displays of student-produced work
  • front covers for assignments
  • teachers can enter keywords for an essay and have students write an essay from the word cloud
  • copy and paste text from famous speeches or historical documents
  • as an editing tool for student writing

46 ways of using Wordle in the classroom

Tom Barrett has put together this collection of ways to use Wordle in the classroom with contributions from teachers from around the world http://docs.google.com/present/view?id=dhn2vcv5_157dpbsg9c5