Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

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The Best Resources For Learning About “Word Clouds”

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'#solo10 Word Cloud' photo (c) 2010, Simon Cockell - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

“Word Clouds” are collections of words from a document or documents that show the frequency of word use by their size, and are often designed in a unique manner. They’re great tools for reflection and other  uses (for example, I’ve created Wordles of my two books here and here).

Wordle is the most popular application for creating these kinds of word clouds. It was recently off-line for awhile, though it is back now. It’s temporary disappearance sparked a lot of discussion of word clouds and alternative applications.

Because of that discussion, this list is a little different from my other “The Best…” lists. There are several posts from other great bloggers that provide information on all the word cloud apps, along with providing examples. So, instead of offering individual links to sites and examples, I’m just going to highlight several posts and resources that have been developed by teachers already. You can’t go wrong by visiting them.

Here are my choices for The Best Resources For Learning About “Word Clouds”:

You have to start with Tom Barrett’s Forty-Four Interesting Ways* to use Wordle in the Classroom.

Check out Shelly Terrell’s 12 Word Cloud Resources, Tips, & Tools.

Marisa Constantinides has another great post with word cloud examples.

Phil Bradley also has a nice post comparing word cloud apps.

Michael Gorman has a great post with a lengthy title: I Can Back Off My Blogging, Turn Down My Tweeting, And Even Wrap Up My Wiki, But I Can’t Wane My Wordling. At the bottom of that post you can also find links to several other Wordle-related posts he has written.

“Learning With Computers,” the excellent online global community of ESL/EFL teachers exploring how to effectively use technology with students, has this month’s activity focused on using word clouds with students. Check-out the wiki filled with examples, and contribute your own.

Tagxedo is a new and neat word cloud generator. The creator of Wordle calls it not so much an “alternative” to Wordle as much as “Wordle – the next generation”.

Russell Stannard from Teacher Training Videos has just made a “how to” video on creating and using different Word Cloud generators. He also has written a good post titled “What Is A Word Cloud?”

War Words is an interesting interactive from The Wall Street Journal. It shows “word clouds” to illustrate how U.S. Presidents have spoken about the Iraq War since 2003. I’m including it in this post as an example of how they can be used.

The Answer Garden is an intriguing combination of a survey tool and a word cloud generator. Without requiring any registration, it lets you pose a question to which people can write their own short answers. The answers appear as a word cloud below the question, with the words changing in size based on how often they are used in responses. Responders have the option of writing in their own answer or clicking on one of the words already in the word cloud. The entire “garden” can be embedded in a blog or website, and you can also link to it. The fact that anybody can answer anything to the question without identifying themselves makes it problematic — to say the least — in many school settings. But in certain mature situations, it could be very useful.

Free Tools Challenge #10: Word clouds with Wordle comes from Edublogs.

Type in a user name into Tweet Topic Explorer and you’ll get a multi-colored word cloud in “bubbles.”

Using Wordles To Teach Foreign Language Writing is a useful study.

Summer PD: New Teacher Boot Camp Week 1 – Using Wordle comes from Edutopia.

Word clouds considered harmful is an interesting post from the Nieman Journalism Lab.

HTML5 Word Cloud: Text Analyzer is from Devalyne Britt via Laura Gibbs.

Jason Davies has developed a new interactive world cloud generator that lets you use Twitter, Wikipedia or a url address.

Richard Byrne has just published two good posts reviewing several word cloud generators.

35 Ways of Using Word Clouds in Language Learning is from Teacher Greg’s Education Home.

9 Word Cloud Generators That Aren’t Wordle is from Edudemic.

Make A Word Cloud is an easy word cloud generator.

Feedback is always welcome.

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You might also want to explore the 400 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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