Thursday, September 5, 2013

Wordle Me This

Facebook Wordle Cover
When I sat down to create an ELA activity an hour ago, too many general ideas bounced around my brain. Since I couldn’t lasso one, I decided to straighten out my work space instead. My hope was that while I was reading through endless sticky notes decorated with words but no explanations as to why I wrote them down, an idea would gel.
As I sorted them into Blog Ideas, Lesson Ideas, To Do Lists-personal and marketing for my book, Decorating Links- we’re building a home- and Huh?, my thoughts kept returning to a purple sticky note with the words, “Wordle, WORD ART-Lesson Plans?”.  Last spring I created cover art for my Facebook curriculum page,, so I was familiar with this fun program, but what did I mean about “WORD ART-Lesson Plans?”?

from "Jabberwocky" (Lewis Carroll)
Intrigued and hoping to jog my memory cells into Clarity Mode, I Googled “Wordle” and chose their URL, Ah, yes, that was the program that I used. Still, no clarity wooshed away my mental fog, so I scrolled down five entries to, “Wordle - educational uses - LiveBinderand clicked on

“O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” (Jabberwocky  Lewis Carroll), I cried when I landed on the page that brought joy to my teacher heart. Topic links such as, Ways in Class, Wordle in Class, Wordle Ideas, Hamlet Example and much more, kick-started my brain into Idea Mode.
As I read through the slides in the linkO frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”:, the processor in my brain began to spit out ideas.  Were they the reasons behind my cryptic sticky note in the first place?  I have no idea. All I knew was that I wanted to share my Wordle Ideas with my ELA colleagues, even though those of you still teaching probably know all about the benefits of Wordle activities already.
Here are four Wordle Me This ideas for Reading Comprehension to add to your Lesson Idea Files.
Reading Comprehension:
1.  Non-fiction: Have students read a non-fiction article. Teacher Kelly Gallagher’s site, is a great resource for articles. Every week, he assigns his students to read one article (check his Article of the Week Archive) and respond in writing.  He offers topics at the end of each article for students who can’t think of one of their own. If you do not have computers in the classroom, you will need to download and copy off one each of 25-30 articles of your choice to keep in a folder. Initially, this is a bit of work, but each student will now have 25 choices.  Add a few a week, and, “Voila!” before you can say, Kelly Gallagher three times…fast, you will have a year’s worth of articles.
A. Direct each student to create a word list of 25-30 words and phrases from the article that he/she read, revealing  the Thesis and three Main Ideas.
B. In Class- on a piece of copy paper, instruct the students to create a hand-written Wordle using colored pencils or markers (thin-line markers work best). They can emphasize some words by size, all capitals, color and placement. The final products must be neat and look professional.
C. Homework- instruct students to follow the directions under 1B but to create their Wordle from the Wordle, Taxedo or any word cloud generators. Here is a list:
D. Each word cloud must include the article citation at the bottom of the paper (in MLS format- not a word cloud).
E.  The next class day, collect the finished word clouds. Give each student one (not his/her own. Explain that on the back of the word cloud paper, they are to write: the Thesis statement for the article and the three Main Ideas, using the word cloud to focus their thoughts.  When they are finished, they are to read the actual article- this is where the article citation is necessary- and to write the author’s Thesis Statement and three Main Ideas.  Lastly, they are to write a paragraph comparing their choices for these non-fiction components with the author’s.
2. Non-fiction: Follow the same directions for Reading Comprehension #1, but choose an article from the anthology for your grade level, or let students choose one from the local or school newspaper.
3. Poetry: Copy and download short poems (Haiku, Cinquain, Limerick, Clerihew, Epigram, etc.). Like with the articles, you can copy and download these throughout the year to add to the Word Cloud Poem folder. Give one to each student and have each one follow the directions for 1.B and C. For 1.D, the students must include the poem’s title and the poet as well as the poem format. Also, they must turn in a second sheet with the title, poet and complete poem. For 1.E, students must create a poem, following the same format as the original poem, using all of the terms/phrases included in the word cloud. Lastly, they will write a paragraph comparing the effectiveness of their poem with the original.
4. Fiction: As a review of a short story or novel,  assign each student one of the elements of literature (character(s), setting, plot/conflict( Type- character vs. the supernatural, character vs. Self, etc.), symbols, theme, point of view and tone), or one of the points from the Plot Chart (Exposition, Inciting Moment , Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution).
A. Direct the students to choose 25-30 words and phrases that highlight the important aspects of their topic. These can be facts or interpretations; if the latter, the student creating the word cloud must be able to support his/her choices with examples from the text.
B. Follow the same directions as in 1. B
C. Follow the same directions as in 1. C
D. Each word cloud must include the piece’s title and author as well as the assigned topic, i.e. Snowball (Animal Farm George Orwell) or Theme: Corruption of Ideals (Animal Farm George Orwell). Below: Animal Farm character word cloud (

E. Individual Work: Follow the directions for 1.E, but direct students to cite an example for a required number of words (10, 15, all) depending on the skills and abilities of the class.  These answers should be in phrase form.
F. Group Work (One-Day Review): Divide the students into pairs. Give each duo one of the element of literature or Plot Chart topics and have them cite examples. (Two-Day Review): Cover the Elements of Literature one day and the Plot Chart points the next day. Divide students into groups of 3-4 and direct them to cite an example for each of the words/phrases in the word cloud.

You can include a Speaking and Listening component by having individuals, pairs or groups present their examples and answers to the word clouds.

 Note 1: Be sure to collect all articles and poems that you copied and downloaded for continued use throughout the year.

 Note 2: I used Tagxedo ( as Java was acting ornery when I tried to use Wordle.

 Note 3: Remind students that although some words may be used more than once on a word cloud, they are to choose words they will explain only once.

 Be sure to come back on Tuesday, September 9th, for A Wordle Me This Redux list of “Ideas for Grammar, Vocabulary and Writing.”

Happy Teaching,