Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Word Clouds for Teaching Vocabulary
Teaching vocabulary can be fun. New words are like a box of chocolates to be opened, cherished and savored. I recommend teaching them through play. Today I recommend a site that calls itself "a toy for generating 'word clouds' from text that you provide." Words that appear more frequently in the source text appear much larger in the cloud.
At right you see a word cloud made by the site wordle.net. It displays the words that appear most often in the blog of literacy (literacynetwork.blogspot.com). You can enter the web address of a site, cut-and-paste to create your own, personalized cloud. Or simply type in some text from wherever you like. I tried it out by pasting in the text of the Gettysburg Address. Then I tried one of my own emails. Tutors could try generating clouds using a learner's Language Experience Approach (LEA) story or a passage from a book that they are trying to read on their own. The visual arrangement gives you some insight into what kind of words they need to be able to read. It gives them a picture of what words they are learning to use.
With a few clicks you and your learner can rearrange the words, choose pleasing colors and change the font. Contrary to what my mother (and father, and grandparents) like to say, sometimes you just have to get your head in the clouds.