Classroom Activities: Wordle – Beautiful Word Clouds

In order to teach students to write, we must raise their metalinguistic awareness.  When students are having trouble staying on topic, it’s sometimes useful to make them closely examine the subjects and verbs in every sentence to see what kinds of patterns they find.  For example, they could highlight the verbs in blue and the subjects in yellow.  Tasks like these can be helpful, but some students find them to be very dry.

Here’s an alternative activity with a similar outcome.  Have students create word clouds using the Wordle website:

Wordle – Beautiful Word Clouds.

The visual nature of this activity will help students to see how much repetition their paper is showing. If the largest (most used) words in their clouds aren’t specific to their thesis statement, their paper isn’t going to be very cohesive.  



About LingEducator

Dr. Jaclyn Ocumpaugh received a PhD for her dissertation on regional variation in the acoustics of Mexican American English (Michigan State University, East Lansing). Before that, she received an MA in English/Linguistics from North Carolina State University for her work on the acoustics of /r/--a sound which is highly variable in the English language. Her passion, however, has always been to understand the social implications of language variation. In addition to her work in acoustic sociophonetics, she has worked with rape trial analysis, developed cognitive methods for understanding discourse level variation between men and women, and created sophisticated tools for teaching future educators about the kinds of dialect variation they will find in the classroom. She has taught classes in English, Linguistics, and Education at Old Dominion University, William & Mary, the University of Mary Washington, and Virginia Wesleyan College. She is currently a Post Doctoral Fellow of Learning Sciences and Technologies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where she is helping to develop models of student engagement in the classroom. She also consults in the private sector.
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One Response to Classroom Activities: Wordle – Beautiful Word Clouds

  1. Pingback: Challenge12.Org - Wordle – Create your own word clouds

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