April 8, 2013

Wild about Word Clouds

I just had to blog about word clouds. I am WILD about them! 

I discovered them several years ago and have used them in my classroom, both for decoration and for instruction, ever since. If you're not familiar with what a word cloud is take a trip over to Projects by Jen. She's best known for her Guess the Wordle daily word cloud. Each day she posts a brand new word cloud for students all over the world to puzzle out.

My fivers LOVE this! It's the way we begin each Language Arts class. In addition, Jen has loads of tips and tricks for using and working with word clouds, including additional add-on programs to get REALLY creative with them.

There are many websites at which you can make word clouds. Each has its pro's and con's. I recommend trying them all to find the one perfect for you. Here is a listing of some of the more popular cloud generators on the internet:

One of my favorite ways of using word clouds is at the beginning of the school year. During the first week of school, I always assign my sixers to write a single paragraph autobiography. I teach mini-lessons about paragraph formation, the six traits of writing, editing, writing process, word processing, etc. Once they have completed their paragraph, including saving it on a flash drive, they upload it to http://www.wordle.net, the word cloud generator that I prefer. The ensuing word clouds are printed, framed, and displayed outside out classroom. Additionally, I take a digital photo of each word cloud and compile them into a video that I run for Open House, parent conferences, and any time throughout the year that we have something special going on in the building.

This year I had my fivers complete Word Cloud Book Reports. What fun they had! Plus there was some great thinking going on: decisions about what words to include, what not to include, colors and fonts that helped convey a particular meaning. The finished product made for an attractive hallway display that sparked a lot of comments from parents and visitors. If you're interested in doing this project with your class, it is available in my TpT Store. The link is listed below the graphic. In the packet are directions, websites, suggestions, and two planning sheets.

Happy Teaching,
The Teacher's Desk 6


  1. So.Very.Cool.

    I am very much stealing your idea of a autobiography at the beginning of school and making it into a word cloud.

    Got a question or two. Do you give them any kind of guide for what to include, like do you help them brainstorm before they write?

    When you say you take a digital picture of the word clouds-do you mean with a camera or a snapshot using your computer? Yes, I'm praying that I can become more tech literate in the next century!! :)


    1. I'm so glad that you like the idea, Shannon! It's such a fun project for the beginning of the year. I sent you an email detailing what I do a bit more and I attached the actual paper that I give to my sixers with the directions for the paragraph.

      You know what might be fun? If our classes worked together on a wordle project... hmmmm? What do you think? Might even be able to expand it for more sixth grade classes.... thinking, thinking, thinking.... :)

      Have a great day,

  2. Angela,

    I love word clouds too!! I need to experiment with them a little more. Thanks for reminding me.



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