Word Cloud Tools

January 2016

Welcome back to school! I hope you all had a restful and happy break. Since I haven't worked with many of you in a few months, I wanted to give you a few ideas for a new tool for students.

Having students build word clouds is a great way to summarize what was learned using content specific vocabulary. They don't take long to make (less than a period) and you can end up with student products that tell you what the students understand about what they have learned.

Some of my favorites like Wordle and Tagxedo don't work on chromebooks because they don't run Java, Flash, or Silverlight. However, I did find these options for you.

Option 1 - Tagul

Students can go to www.tagul.com. They will be prompted to login (they should select Login with Google). From there, students type in the words to represent the assigned content. This site is a little more complicated because it offers more options for creation. Students can then select a shape for the word cloud (heart, circle, square, lots of other options). They can set the font, color, and size. Then, to turn it in, they can get a sharable link and submit the link to you via Google Classroom. The Tagul below represents 2016!
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Option 2 - WordItOut

This site is found at www.worditout.com and is simpler to use. Students do not need an account. There are not as many customization options like shapes, but students can change the font and color. All word clouds here are a rectangle. Students simply type in the content words, set the color and font, and then save.

To turn these in to you - students will have to do a step that involves their gmail - but it still doesn't take long! Then, they get a sharable link to turn in via Classroom. There is also an option to download the image.

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How Do I Use This in Class?

6th Grade - Generate a list of words to depict the culture of the country you are studying. At least 2 words from each: culture, government, religion, etc.

7th grade - After students learn about the struggles the Colonists experienced as they tried to establish their settlements ("You Wouldn't Want to be an American Colonist!") they could generate a list of words that describe the issues they faced (swampland, climate, hunger, disease, rebellions, etc). Or, they can create a list of words that describe the reasons Colonists had for leaving Great Britain and settling in America.

8th Grade - After students learn about the Louisiana Purchase, they can generate a list of 10 words that describe the event and it's impact.


To make it a higher level activity in line with your problem of practice, you could create a word cloud and display it for students. The student task could be:

- generate questions about what the word cloud is communicating

- use the word cloud as a writing prompt to infer, summarize, analyze, hypothesize, etc. Be sure to have students explain and justify (claim and evidence).

- use it as a discussion prompt for student talk (50/50), with another activity to follow