Zapping Apathy with Wordle

Here is a fun, easy way to use Wordle toward the end of discussing a novel, short story, poem, or play.  Today I presented my students with this question:  “What is The Joy Luck Club Really About?”  They wrote a sentence or two in response on the backs of some page-a-day calendars that I keep around for things like this.  Then they took turns typing in their responses on a blank Wordle page that was projected on the screen so everyone could see the ideas as they came in.

Then we counted down—3, 2, 1, Go—and the Wordle site made a cloud image for us based on what we typed in.  But that’s just the start.  Yes, it’s cool to see which of our words were biggest, but Wordle also allows users to tinker with the image in a variety of ways.  According to Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind, the ability to think critically and creatively about design elements is an important 21st Century skill, so we look at the words in various fonts and color schemes and talk about why each is or is not an appropriate choice for the literature we’re considering.

Students usually know instantly whether a particular design element is appropriate or not but sometimes they struggle to articulate rationales for their intuitive choices and decisions.  I’m thinking about ways to help them with that.  Does anyone have suggestions for how to word questions about design?

In the meantime, every student in the class is engaged, involved, and represented in the final product, which we proudly send out to the world through the Wordle web site, on Twitter, and our class web site.

Any other favorite uses for Wordle?  Thanks.

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2 Responses to Zapping Apathy with Wordle

  1. readingteach says:

    In thinking about design, I might ask kids what feelings or emotions certain colors invoke. If it is a book filled with sadness, the scheme might lean towards blue. I like that you have red in your scheme here because it is important to the culture of Joy Luck and it also signifies fiery conflict, which is certainly there!

    I think fonts also convery feelings/mood/tone. How does changing the font in Wordle affect the tone or mood of the wordle? Does that match the book?

    Just some thoughts! Thanks or sharing this great idea! Will be using this in my classroom!

    Like

  2. Scott Weidig says:

    Gary,

    It might be interesting to compare that against the publisher description or synopsis, or against say the first 5-10 reviews from amazon, or another class from another country to see how different social or geographical groups could
    Interpret the same material…

    Just a thought…

    Scott

    Like

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