Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wordle-now more than just a cool looking thing to my students

I used Wordle in my classroom earlier in the year for collaboration and seeing trends in ideas for classroom behaviors and what ideal group work looks like.  Students were "wowed" with the tool and some went home to make their own Wordles on fun topics of their own interest.  Up until recently, they'd just seen Wordle as a "fun" thing to do.

Two weeks ago, the students composed descriptive essays.  The major goal of this assignment was to work on "spicy writing" that encompassed the senses.  After prewriting, drafting, peer revisions, and composing their second draft, I modeled to students how Wordle could be used to help with their word choice.  I took a sample essay and pasted it into Wordle.  We had a class discussion on the larger words in the Wordle.  Students knew from previous use of Wordle that these words appeared more often in the essay.  I then showed them the online dictionary/thesauraus Visuwords.  Ooos and Ahs resonated around the room as webs appeared on the screen with suggestions for different words to use. 

To make a long story short, some students really grasped the use of these tools and analyzed their own essays in Wordle.  They then used Visuwords to find better words to use.  Part of the essay rubric was that students showed evidence of changes in word choice.  Many students made a couple changes on their Wordle to show that evidence.   Here is a top notch example of the way one of my students did this:

This student circled common words and found a variety of more descriptive words to replace them with using Visuwords. 

It may seem simple, but I really saw Wordle come to life in an applicable way for many of my students.  They do still think it's a "fun" and "cool" tool, but they also see how it can be used to improved their writing.