Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Word Up! Using Word Frequency Visualization Tools

Do you like word games, crosswords, and playing scrabble? Do you consider yourself a visual learner? These tools connect visual and verbal learners like never before!

Word Frequency Visualization tools allow students to analyze visually the frequency of words within a passage by pasting the passage text directly into an online form. Web 2.0 Tools such as Wordle and TagCrowd are free to use and do exactly this.

Wordle, by definition on their website, "is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends".
At first, it may seem like just a fun little tool, but the educational opportunities are endless that educators are finding for these tools.

Imagine having students paste the text from the Declaration of Independence into a form and then getting back a word cloud that shows the frequency of the words visually; with the more frequent words appearing larger on the screen and the less frequent words appearing smaller. How about a discussion that compares and contrasts the inaugural speeches of John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama based on the word frequency in the visual representation of these speeches? These same tools are also effective for students to analyze their own writing to explore the redundancy of word use. In the most simplest terms, it is a great way for students to express themselves with in a visually, verbally, Web 2.0 way!

Below are links to these Web 2.0 Tools as well as some links to ways educators as using these tools in the classroom.

Web 2.0 Tools

TagCrowd Example
Forty-six Interesting Ways to Use Wordle

So now that you have explored and shared the tool and the ideas, let's focus on how to continue to encourage teachers to utilize them by giving them some commendations and recommendations.

Wiki: Commendations
1. Reward efforts by highlighting Wordle creations to the rest of the staff.
2. Set up for success and take the lead on creating a Wordle to illustrate something (i.e. your next meeting agenda) to your staff or something fun to get started!!

Wiki: Recommendations

1. Start simple by presenting a task that needs to be completed by using one of these tools. Curriculum maps or content standards can be copied into a word frequency visualization tool to highlight key concepts to begin the discussion and activity at a curriculum planning meeting.
2. Keep it simple and use these tools for Student of the Week, describing character traits of the individual student.

So explore the Word Frequency Visualization Tools and see how they might be used in your classrooms to turn up the H.E.A.T.!