To fully maximize this community-building activity, you will need Internet access to Youtube and Wordle on a computer connected to a projector. Each student will write an individual six-word memoir after watching a couple of videos providing models. Then Wordle will form a cloud-based image synthesizing the 6-word memoirs of everyone in the class. Here is the step-by-step breakdown:
First show these two Youtube videos. It’s always a good idea to preview videos before showing them in class. The one on the top has some words and images that might not be appropriate for every clientele. The one on the bottom will be fine for most classes.
After watching these videos, students will be ready to write their own 6-words memoirs. Be sure to tell them that others will see what they write, and then provide a few minutes to write the memoirs.
Now, here’s the fun part. Fire up the computer and projector and go to Wordle and demonstrate how it works. Throw in a bunch of text from the daily newspaper, school web site, Shakespeare speech, anything. Then hit Go. Play around with the formatting tools to give students the idea that the words can be formatted in a variety of designs.
Then invite students to type in their six-word memoirs with no caps. As students type, others will see what their classmates write. The teacher will probably need to do some minor editing after everyone is finished typing to fix up misspellings or inconsistent forms of words. (Wordle works best when words are repeated in exactly the same form.) Then hit Go. A preliminary version of the Wordle will appear. Then you can play around with the formatting tools to graphically capture the essence of what the words convey. The class will know when the appropriate font, color scheme, etc. matches the essence of the words.
Although this can be an excellent warm-up activity for many writing purposes, I’ve used it successfully with students preparing to write college admission essays.
Feel free to post your comments, questions, and successes. Thanks.