“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” —Bill Gates

Friday, April 19, 2013

Word Clouds Made Simple

Can you visualize a long list of words or a long piece of text?  Can you grasp the main idea of a paragraph, with one quick look? Can you tell how many times does the same word appear, with a simple glance? Not that easy, huh? Well, all these tasks become very easy with the help of word clouds.

A word cloud is a cluster of words, with a variety of design elements that will make it more attractive. A special characteristic is that the words that are repeated the most will appear larger than the rest.

Word clouds can be generated from different sources: a list of words, text or paragraphs, a URL, poems, the contents of a blog, your Twitter feed, and more!

Imagine, as a teacher, you'd like to know what three words come to your students' mind when they think of something, let's say "Electricity". You could create a list on the whiteboard, have them hand in papers, or...create a Google form, have the students enter the 3 words, and when all are entered, copy-paste all the answers and plug them into a word cloud generator. In a snap you will see what are the most common words that were chosen and get a pretty good idea of their understanding.

The possibilities are endless. Try it out for brainstorming sessions, checking for understanding, polls, word walls, etc.

Next, are brief reviews of a few word cloud generators that are really easy to use. Each has a unique characteristic that makes it different from the others. Take a look... 


Enter text, a URL, or a blog feed. The random cloud generator will show different sized fonts according to the frequency in the words. When done, download the image as a jpg file.

Words taken from this blog's posts.

Enter text, a URL, blog feed, or tweets. Create a cloud from any source of text. A nice thing is you can choose the shape that will display the words. When done, download the image as a jpg file, create a link, share or print.

This is me!

Create a self-portrait using any words you want (at least 400). Upload an image and convert it to words. Grab words from Facebook, Twitter, or copy-paste any text. Really impressive! When done, share or download the image.

Me again!

The easiest word cloud generator for kids. Just type or copy text. Some cool features included are: a filter for common words like "is" & "the", and a slider to include more or less words. When done, download or print the image.

Famous quotes for "Educational Technology".

This cloud generator is of a special kind. It's actually a cloud that displays search results. Each word is tag you can click to learn more about a topic.

Tag cloud for "Word Clouds for Kids".
This is just a small sample of the large variety of clouds that exist. Try them out yourself, they turn out to be quite fun to create! If you find other great resources, I'd love to know about them.


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