The Wordle Hurdle
Motivation. Creativity. Excitement. Fun. Reading. Writing. Social-Studies. Math. Science. Vocabulary. Studying. Expressive. Unique. Visual-Learners. Wordle.
Ask yourself – which is more interesting and which would you pick to look at for learning purposes? The series of words at the beginning of this article, or the image above, which contains the same words? For me, it is the picture. For many people, this sort of picture is a brand new idea, one that they have never seen before. Others have seen this type word-based imagery, but they do not know what it is exactly. In case you have not figured it out by now, this is what is called a Wordle.
Creating a Wordle is easy, and the most difficult part of the process is trying to figure out what words to include in the Wordle – which usually has a theme of some sort. I notice that the words are all the same size, except for the word ‘Wordle’. If you want certain words to be larger when a Wordle is created, simply type the words more than once. The more frequently a word appears in the text before a Wordle is created, the larger the word will appear when the Wordle is created.
Use in the Classroom
So, Wordle’s look fun, but how can I use them in my classroom? A Wordle can be used in the classroom in many ways. The easiest application can be found in language arts. Take for instance word study. A common practice in your classroom is a weekly spelling test. Giving your students a traditional spelling list, along with a Wordle with those same words, can give students multiple study options. In reading, students can identify a single character, scene or aspect from a book they are reading, and then create a list of words describing the character, scene or aspect, and then a Wordle can be created from that. This is a fun way for students to share what they know – and they can easily be used to hang in the hall to show off student work.
What about the other content areas? A Wordle can be used in all content areas. Take for instance, science. Your students are learning about matter and the specific properties of matter. You can have students create a list of words that describe matter, and then use that list to create a Wordle. This can be done individually, in groups or in whole-class form. Then, a Wordle can be created and hung up in the classroom to refer to.
In social studies, students can create lists that describe whatever they are learning, such as comparing rural, suburban and urban communities. What is specific to each of those? You could divide the class into groups and assign each group to become experts on their area (there could be multiple expert groups on the same area). Part of the assignment could be to create a Wordle of their area to share with their classmates. In math, a Wordle can be created to help learn various math terms, or real-life applications for specific areas of math. An example is where would you use money? A Wordle can be used to show all the areas where money can be used. Where do you use multiplication in real life? Create a Wordle that shows all the places you use multiplication. This will help students to see the ways that their learning can be used in everyday life. This makes learning more powerful.
The creation of a Wordle is a great tool for evaluation. It helps you to see exactly what students know about a specific topic. For example, what do the students know about a character in a book that is being read? A Wordle is great at getting down to the nuts and bolts of what students know. It sort of summarizes their knowledge. Alternatively, a Wordle is a great teaching tool at any point in a lesson. Students can create a Wordle to show what they know about a topic before they learn (pre-assessment) and create another one afterward to show what they now know (summative assessment). A Wordle can help students to identify important terms that need to be learned, and can be used to help study for spelling tests, among many other tests in all content areas.
I believe that the value of a Wordle can be very strong. A classroom with a lot of technology is best suited for regular creation of Wordle’s. The downside of a Wordle is that unless you have the technology in the classroom, and have the ability to let students create a Wordle on their own, you will be stuck creating them. If you are using them for whole-class or in small groups, it may be easier to create them yourself. Another drawback is that if they are done in black and white, they lose a lot of the attractiveness. Color is the best option when you create a Wordle.
Upside: They are a fun way to summarize a single idea. They can be used for studying purposes over a variety of content areas, and they are free and easy to make.
Downside: To make one is quick, but to make many can take time. So, creating a Wordle over a topic for the class, or small groups, is easy and fast to do. Creating individualized Wordle’s for each student in your class will take time.
Wordle is a tool that can be used to help teach almost any standard. As I mentioned above, they can be used to teach vocabulary/spelling, summaries of knowledge learned (any subject), describing whatever is being taught, and the list goes on. Of course, imagination is important when using Wordle, so some standards will more easily be able to use this tool than others.
You can use the words/wordle’s your students make to assess how much of a specific objective a student understands. For example, if you ask students to create a Wordle with a them of what an urban community looks like, you can learn by what words the students choose how well they understand the concept.
Wordle is a great tool that can be brought into the classroom. It helps to visually display the key components/points in any topic that is being taught. They help to teach in a visual way, and they can be used in pre and post assessments. Wordle can be used to teach, to study from and to use as a reference throughout the learning process. Depending on the grade level you have and the technology you have available, Wordle may be something that has limited use in your classroom as you may be responsible for creating each Wordle yourself. It is also best for a Wordle to be in color as it helps the attractiveness of it. The Wordle is a powerful tool – now the question is, are you going to utilize it in your classroom?
Wordle – Create. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2014, from http://www.wordle.net/create