It seems like everywhere I look on the Internet, I see word clouds. They can be interesting and attractive, but up to this point I’ve found that students haven’t been able to create and save word clouds on the iPad. That is, until now! The app Word Cloud, by ABCya, has (thankfully!) solved this problem.
So What’s a Word Cloud?
A word cloud graphically represents the frequency of words used in a text. The more often the word appears in written text, the larger it appears in the word cloud. There are a few Web 2.0 tools that make word clouds, the most popular being Wordle and Tagxedo. One of the problems with these tools is that you can’t download the image you create and you can’t use them on the iPad unless you buy an app. Word Cloud by ABCya is free (for now), and it was developed for younger students, so it’s very easy to use. As an added bonus, students can save their word clouds to the camera roll, which allows them to share the images elsewhere—either on another website, in another app for appsmashing, or via email. For a great blog post on appsmashing, see this post by Meghan Zigmond.
How Does Word Cloud Work?
Using Word Cloud is a cinch. All you do is type text directly on the screen, or you can copy and paste text if you are analyzing another person’s content for word frequency.
After students go to the next screen, they choose the layout, font, and colors they prefer.
Then, save to camera roll! Voilà!
Common Core Connection
Students often struggle to edit and revise their own writing. It is a challenge to get students to evaluate their word choice or to recognize that, perhaps, they have been a bit repetitive in their writing. Word Clouds are a good way to help students visualize their repeated language. Teachers can then encourage them to analyze where and when these words are used and help them determine whether the language used is precise. In addition to being able to revise and edit writing, students also need to be able to identify the main idea of a text when reading. Word Clouds can potentially help students to determine the main idea or theme of a text based on the vocabulary that is repeated in the text.
The anchor standards below are those that can be addressed using the app Word Cloud.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W5: Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R4: Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices share meaning or tone.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7: Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively as well as in words.
What Do You Think?
I’ve seen many blog posts on using word clouds in the classroom. Some teachers use them as an introduction to a concept, and others have students create them for a variety of purposes.
How do you use word clouds in your classroom?