Padlet

Classroom projects and assignments can sometimes be tedious for students and not often interactive or collaborative with the entire class. There are so many tools in technology that can assist a teacher in creating assignments that are just the opposite. While looking through Richard Byrne’s blog Free Technology for Teachers, I read the post How to Create a Padlet Wall for your Classroom, which contained a video in which Richard Byrne discussed and demonstrated how to use the cool tool Padlet. Padlet is a perfect example of a technology tool that can make doing classroom assignment engaging as well as collaborative among the entire classroom. Viewing Richard Byrne’s blog post would be very helpful to be able to know how to use Padlet. While Byrne’s post contains a very informative YouTube video, it is a bit lengthy. If you would like to view a less time-consuming video about the potential uses of Padlet as well as how to use it, watch the video embedded below:

Blank Padlet Wall

This is what a wall looks like before you add anything to it.

When creating a “wall” on Padlet, you essentially start with a large blank wall that you can add text boxes, pictures, or files to. All you have to do to add something anywhere on your wall is double click! A wallpaper would most likely be one of the first things that you would add to your wall, which you can either choose from the many templates Padlet has to offer, or you can upload

Background Options

Some of the background templates that come with Padlet.

your own wallpaper from your computer. You can also add a title and description to your wall depending on what you are using it for. The layout of the posts on your wall can either be free form or stream. If the layout was in free form, then the posts could essentially be placed anywhere on the wall. A stream would have posts one after the other. Depending on the way that you utilize Padlet, the option is really up to the creator of the wall.

There are many different ways that a wall can be used in Padlet. A teacher could create a wall and ask his/her students to each post one thing that they learned about the lesson for the day. This would be a fun way to assess the students. Another way that Padlet can be utilized is through group or individual projects. Tom Barrett actually created a Google Presentation that is called “32 Interesting Ways to Use Padlet in the Classroom.” The presentation is embedded below, and you can see how many great uses there are for this tool!

There are so many ways that this tool can be used that some people probably haven’t even thought of yet. Similar to being able to share and collaborate on a Google Doc or Google Presentation, you can also share and collaborate on a wall in Padlet. A password can be given to the wall that will allow only people with the link and password to be able to access and add to

Methods of sharing a Padlet wall

These are the ways that you can share a wall in Padlet.

the wall. When sharing a Padlet wall, you can share it through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, or Linkedin. You additionally can export the wall to a PDF file, Excel file, or CSV. Depending on the format of your wall, this could potentially be beneficial. Padlet even creates a QR code for your Padlet wall! Padlet can also be used on iOS and Android devices.

I personally really like the idea of assessing students through the use of Padlet. I decided to make my own wall on Padlet to demonstrate how I would use the tool to do so. I pretended to be a 4th grade teacher working on social studies with my class. In order to create a Padlet that was relevant to an actual 4th grade classroom, I took a look at the North Carolina Essential Standards and examined the 4th grade social studies essential standards. The objective that I dealt with is as follows: “4.H.2.2 – Explain the historical significance of North Carolina’s state symbols.” I would have created a wall that my students had the link to and I would have assigned each of them a symbol. They would then add their symbol and a picture of the symbol to the wall. Since I would want them to know how important it is to use pictures online appropriately, I would have them collaborate on a Google Doc with all of the sources. Since you can link to web pages, I posted the Google Doc on the Padlet wall so that it can be opened and viewed by anyone! Below is an example of how I would want the Padlet to look:

My Padlet Example

A wall I created to mimic a project between me (a 4th grade teacher) and my “students.” Click the picture to see it in full size!

In order for you to see exactly how Padlet works, rather than commenting the traditional way below, I have created a Padlet wall that you can “comment” on. There are some directions in the description box on the wall that gives you an idea about what to write. Go add comments to the wall!

Check out some of these other great resources for information about using Padlet below:

Posted in Assessing student work, Collaborating, Communicating, Cool tool, Creating, Understanding

Tellagami

Teachers are always looking for new ways to keep their students engaged and entertained. This is especially true as more and more states begin to adapt the Common Core State Standards. One goal of Common Core is to encourage students to be involved in discussions about what they’re learning. So how are we as future teachers going to make this happen? In ways other than just plainly talking about it? One fun way to get students involved in sharing what they know is through an app called Tellagami.

I originally found out about Tellagami on the scholastic Top Teaching blog, in the post Bring Common Core Alive With Tellagami, by Kriscia Cabral. In the post, she gives great ideas on how to take Tellagami, a non-educational app, and apply it to use with students in the classroom. So what exactly is Tellagami? Tellagami is a free app available on iTunes or through the Android App Store,  that allows you to create and share a quick 30 second video with your “Gami,” or character that you create.

Personalizing Gami

You can change the features to personalize your Gami

The first step in creating your video is to customize your character. Click on the character button to view all of the different features you can alter. You can choose from gender, skin tone, eyes, and head under the body section. As well as hair, top, bottom, and shoes under the clothes section. Use these features to make your Gami resemble you in appearance, or make someone totally different, it’s up to you!

Next you can can either upload your own background, or choose from a gallery of pre-selected ones. You can even doodle pictures or words on it to further personalize your surroundings. Once you’re done with all of this, you can now add dialogue in one of two ways: by recording your own voice, or typing out text to be read.

Text to Speech

You can have your text read in different voices

If you choose to type out your text, it will be read for you in an automated voice. There are a total of 8 male and 8 female voices, all with different accents you can choose from.  The different voices can be heard by clicking the names that appear at the top of the screen.

The final step is to share your Gami with the world! Gamis can be shared in a variety of ways.

Share Gami

You can share you Gami in a variety of ways.

You can email, post to Facebook,  Tweet or text your Gami to your friends! All of these option generate a link to share. You can also view your movie online and get the embed code to share in blogs or wikis. Another neat thing you can do is save your video to your iPad or iPhone photos and upload them to your computer that way. This is also helpful because it allows you to upload them to Youtube straight from your device.

Tellagami is a great tool to use in the classroom to get students involved in using technology as a way to showcase their learning. One way you can use Tellagami early on in the year, is to have everyone create a Gami for themselves, and then record their voices introducing themselves to the rest of the class. You can have them answer question such as their name, age, favorite color/food/animal etc. You can then combine all of their separate videos in iMovie to make one big getting to know each other video. Introducing Sydney Gami, is a video I created  introducing myself to you all.  I used text to speech through the voice “queen.”

Below is the same video uploaded on Youtube, and this time I recorded my own voice.

Another way students can use Tellagami throughout the year is for explaining different projects or assignments. The students can take a picture of their work and set it as the background for their Gami while they are talking about it. Math about Me Gamiis a real-life example of how Kricsia Cabral used Tellagami in her classroom, by having students explain some aspects in their “math about me” posters.

EDTECH, a technology- focused magazine for both IT professionals and K-12 teachers alike, recently completed “The Tellagami Project,” in which they had edtech teachers from around the world talk about the importance of technology in the classroom, through the use of Tellagami. They then combined all of the messages into one 10 minute video that can be seen below:

Pretty cool huh? I would love to know what your guy’s thoughts are on Tellagami! Do you think you could use it in your classrooms in the future? If so, in what ways? I strongly encourage you to download the app now and just fool around with it, it’s a lot of fun!

To learn about other ways Tellagami is being used in classrooms check out the following :

Posted in Cool tool, Creating | 16 Comments

Animoto Video Creation

Getting students excited about a homework assignment can be difficult. A great way to inspire kids is to use a fun and interactive program where they can create their own video creation. Animoto is exactly what is needed! Animoto is a program that allows users to combine pictures, video, music, and text and bring topic to life. Animoto is easy to use, and while the full version costs money, there is a free version that has fewer options but it still very useful. Students can use this program to create fun and interesting projects that demonstrate their knowledge of a certain topic, and teachers can use it to present new material to students.

Animoto has published multiple blog posts on their  website by outside contributors. Barbara DeSantis, a technology integration educator for grades K-12 in New Jersey, was asked to do a guest post about making a fun educational project in Animoto. Her post, A Twist on the School Book Report, covers the simple steps that students and teachers should both take to create an Animoto book report. DeSantis discusses a multi-step process which includes presenting students with  a pre made book report, having students find good pictures and texts to match, and finally putting the presentation together.

Create Page

Create Page

Creating an Animoto presentation is super easy! It is required that you make a login, but it is still free. You will be presented with the option “Get Started” on the homepage. Once clicked, it will take you to the Create page, where you select your style of Animoto, which comes with a song, you would like to use. From there, it will lead you to a page where you add photos, videos, and text, as well as change the style/song if you don’t like the one you originally picked.  While the free version only allows for 30 second video, paying for an upgrade gives you access to longer videos and more layout options.

Check out this YouTube video for a brief tutorial on how to make an Animoto video!

Categories in Animoto Photo Library

Categories in Animoto Photo Library

Animoto allows for you to use your own material or things you have found on the web, which is great because it really reflects what you want in the video. They also have their own library of generic videos and pictures that can spruce up a video! Students and teachers can browse the library by category. You can use only pictures you find, only pictures provided by Animoto, or a combination of the two.

Animoto allows previewing the video at any point in the creation process, allowing the creators to make changes or additions as needed. When the student or teacher is happy with what they have created, select preview video, and it then gives you the chance to give your video a title, and then click “produce” to finish and publish the video. Animoto will then email you with a link to your completed project.

Drop Down Account Menu

Drop Down Account Menu

To view all created videos, you can highlight your name you used when you logged in, which is in the upper right hand corner, and that will have a drop down menu where you can select to view your videos. You can view completed projects or choose to continue editing unfinished projects. The free version has a cap on how many projects you can make before the free trial is finished, but with a paying account you have more videos you can make.

Animoto does a lot of the work for the creator, making animations including the pictures, videos, and texts selected. This is a positive thing, because it allows students who are presenting a book report or another project to focus more on content, not worrying about format, because the program does it for them. However, this could be a drawback if students or teachers wanted more control over how the presentation is made. Different styles have different animations, so there is still choice involved, but not direct control.

Unfortunately, a tool as great and useful as Animoto is not free! While there is a free mini version with more limited capabilities, having a personal “Plus” account costs $30 dollars a year, and the “Pro” version with more extensive features, longer videos, and HD quality videos, cost $249 a year. All pricing information can be found on the Personal Pricing Plans page. There are also Animoto apps for both the iOS and Android market. Information about the Apple version can be found in their online app store, and while the app itself is free and certain features come with it, you pay for a subscription by month or year. The Android version is similar and there is more information about it at the Google Play app store.

Animoto Free for Educators

Animoto Educators Page

Luckily for us, Animoto has a page on their website where teachers can apply for access to a free Animoto Plus account! The page includes information about Animoto for educators, the link to the application, and sample Animoto presentations sent in by educators using the free access. This is an awesome tool that can get a little pricy, and it is so great that there is a free option that makes it more accessible to teachers!

Many other blog posts have been published by Animoto, promoting their own program by suggestion potential educational projects it can be used for. 6 Videos to Use in Your Classroom, an Animoto blog post, gives multiple ideas for projects to make with Animoto, as well as many example videos to give inspiration. One idea is to create a video to start a unit, giving tidbits of fun information to get students excited about the new material. Another is a video scavenger hunt, where vocabulary words or facts are given, and students must identify and relate them to other things in the unit.

For more Animoto example videos and information about it, check out these blog posts and websites:

So what are your thoughts? Does Animoto seem like a useful tool for classrooms? Would you rather use it yourself, or have students create their own projects? Be sure to leave a comment below!

Posted in Cool tool, Creating | 13 Comments

Metta: A New Kind of Presentation

As a pre-service teacher, have you ever thought about what you would do if you had to be absent and had to depend on a substitute, who is not familiar with the material and the style of your class?  Have you ever thought about how you will accommodate for all of your students, attending to all of their individual needs?  The program Metta, formerly known as Soo Meta, can allay the concerns involved with those issues.

Richard Byrne, author of the blog “Free Technology for Teachers“–a blog that talks about the newest and most useful technology applications for the classroom–describes how Metta is an effective tool for allowing students to not only be consumers of information presented on the Internet but also creators of it.  In his post “Metta – Create Multimedia Presentations and Quizzes Online,” Byrne goes into detail about how Metta allows you to pool videos from YouTube, or ones that you choose to upload from your hard drive (with your own face and voice), images from the Internet or from your desktop, as well as content from Twitter or Pinterest, in order to create the most engaging and interactive presentations possible.

Title Page

Create a title for your presentation.

In order to create a presentation, you log on to Metta, where you will be presented with a screen that asks you to add a title.  After you do so, press the green “Create” button, press the “skip this step” button on the following screen, and you will be shown the storyboard for your presentation.  To the left of the window, you are able to see the list of clips that are included in your presentation, a plus sign where you can add a new clip, and the toolbar, above all of that.

Main Screen

The main storyboard screen, with the clips and toolbar featured on the right, the current clip in the middle, and the search bar up top.

By entering a keyword or phrase into the search bar up top, you can search for a video from YouTube (or choose to upload one from your hard drive) that will be featured on the striped rectangle where the green video camera appears. You can also search for an image (or upload one from your desktop) that will appear as the clip background, as well as search for media on Twitter, which will appear on the “Type your text here” bar, if you choose not to type in your own description.

Adding a quiz or poll

By choosing “Poll, Add New Poll” from the toolbar, a poll or quiz can be added on a new clip to assess viewer comprehension.

Finally, as mentioned before, Metta allows the creator to embed quizzes into the presentation to assess viewer comprehension.  To do so, simply go to the “Poll” menu on the toolbar and select “Add New Poll.”  Then, you can type in your own question and the responses from which the viewer can choose from.  When you are done with your presentation, you can press the orange “Watch All” button, which will save your work and allow you to preview it.  If you are satisfied with your presentation, you can then choose to publish your work and provide access to it through a permalink or by embedding it.  For more information on how to use Metta, see the YouTube tutorial below.

As his blog is geared towards educators, Richard Byrne always includes a section on how the tools can be used effectively in the classroom.  In this particular post, Byrne suggests that students be assigned to create a trailer for a book they have read, using the various types of media from the web as well as recordings of themselves giving explanations.  Byrne also suggests that students create a “digital collage” of media surrounding a current event that has been widely talked about through different technologies.

While these are excellent suggestions, I chose to make my first project on Metta from the perspective of the teacher.  As I mentioned earlier, Metta can be used if a teacher is aware of an upcoming absence, so that an entire day of instruction is not lost.  In the Metta presentation on the Gettysburg Address I made, I am playing the part of an absent teacher who is using Metta to teach her class about the Gettysburg Address, assesses their knowledge about how closely they were listening, and then assigns them group work to complete in relation to the media they have just viewed.  When viewing my project, which is linked to the image below, please be patient, as it takes a few moments for the presentation to load.

Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 3.40.17 PM

Gettysburg Address Metta Presentation Link

Also, “Flipped Learning,” a new method of educating students, is becoming more popular by the day, and Metta is a tool that can be used to make the process of such learning feasible.  Flipped learning involves recording the lectures for the students to view at home, on their own time, at their own speed, and the classroom time being used for work, and applying the skills that were learned through the lessons that the students had viewed at home.  Flipped learning allows the teacher to spend more time aiding his or her students who may have had trouble understanding the content of the lesson, as he or she does not have the pressure of continuing with the lecture so that those who do have a full understanding do not waste any of their time.

The quiz feature on Metta allows for the instructor to test certain ideas that the students should have accrued from the flipped lesson, and then view what percentage of the class was able to answer each question correctly.  Therefore, if the teacher sees that the greater majority of the class answered a particular question incorrectly, he or she can spend time reviewing that specific content, ensuring an understanding of it, and not spending time reviewing content that the students are already comfortable with.

There are different versions of Metta, each having a different price and therefore having different features: a free version, which I used to make my project, a plus version, which costs $3.99/month, and a pro version, which costs $12.49/month.  I was able to create my project with ease and was able to create, in my opinion, a satisfactory product.  Although Richard Byrne mentions that Metta is an advertiser for his blog, which could insinuate that this post is only present because of their monetary support, I believe that he wrote about the program for reasons other than monetary support from its creators, as it an excellent tool for teachers and students.

For more information on Metta, beyond my post and that of Richard Byrne, feel free to check out:

Do you think you could possibly use this to teach your class when you are absent?  Do you think that this will be a useful tool for your students to use to reflect their understanding of the content you teach them?  Please feel free to comment on this post to share your thoughts!  Also, to learn about another cool tool that is able to create similar presentations, take a look at Katie H.’s post entitled “Alchemy Smartbinder: Creating Lessons online.” Thank you so much for taking the time to learn more about Metta.

Posted in Assessing student work, Collaborating, Communicating, Cool tool, Creating | 22 Comments

ArtisanCam Picture Book Maker

It’s no secret that children love stories, particularly with visually pleasing pictures. Storybooks are always a crowd pleaser: not only do kids love them, but they can also be valuable learning tools. Books help children learn vocabulary, sound out words, and use their imagination. Imagine the possibilities if children could create their own stories! Students can then practice not only their reading but their writing too, stretching their brains even further.

I originally found ArtisanCam Picture Book Maker through Tammy’s Technology Tips for Teachers, a website with many great resources for current and future educators. Reinforcing Prepositions with the ArtisanCam Picture Book Maker (as seen on Monarch’s Librarian Blog) gives an in-depth example of how it could be used for a classroom purpose. With Picture Book Maker, you can use a variety of backgrounds, stickers, and layouts to create your own storybook.

This Youtube video below by Adam Bellow is a great overview of how to use ArtisanCam Picture Book Maker. It explains how to use the different features as well as how to apply it to a classroom setting. Check it out!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9a7mqiTY2A?rel=0

To create your book, you can choose if you want to start with the cover, pages, or back. A variety of backgrounds are available to choose from which, when picked, will fill up the spread of the pages.

You can adjust the size and actions of the animals by clicking the easy-to-use arrow sliders on the left and right.

You can adjust the size and actions of the animals by clicking the easy-to-use arrow sliders on the left and right.

There are also four animals to choose from to make a scene with. Once an animal is selected, you can adjust the size of it, as well as what action it is doing. There are several variations of positions and expressions for each animal. Other decorations to the scene are provided too, including clouds, trees, fences, balls, and more. If you want to delete an item, simply drag it over to the bottom right where it says “bin” and it will disappear.

Add a text box by clicking the pencil.

Add a text box by clicking the pencil.

Students are able to add text to the pages wherever they would like. Click the pencil and then the page and a text box will appear. You may type however much you choose and adjust the size of the text just as you would with any of the stickers.

You can email your storybook to yourself or to a friend to keep a copy of it.

You can email your storybook to yourself or to a friend to keep a copy of it.

When you are done with your book and wish to save it, press “finish book.” You will be given the options to send, print, or further edit your storybook. It is important to note that these books cannot be saved to your computer, so if you wish to keep a copy of your book, you should email it to yourself or a friend. The form provided allows you to send it over and over again to different people if you like and adds the book to the gallery. When choosing to print your book, a popup appears giving instructions on how to fold the story to make it look like a real book.

ArtisanCam Picture Book Maker is a great tool for teachers and students. Teachers can use it to explain information that is immediately relevant to their lessons. Students can be creative and innovative while practicing their writing and technology skills. A great use for this cool tool would be for students to be asked to create a story using the vocabulary/spelling words they were assigned that week. Students can also play with the size of different animals and objects, allowing them to practice words relating to location such as, “close,” “far,” “near,” “above,” etc.

Both a feature and drawback of this tool are the limitations relating to choices of stickers and designs. It can be unhelpful if a teacher wishes to have the students discuss something other than animals, however, if the main point is to discuss adverbs or adjectives, the few options can be beneficial. Too often students get caught up in the aesthetics of  assignments and the actual material gets lost on them; Picture Book Maker produces visually appealing stories without too many distractions that students will obsess over for hours.

A blog post named Picture Maker found on the Higher Order Learning Blog explains the limitations of the site and offers ways to work around them. A problem with Picture Book Maker is that the stories can only be 3 pages long, so the author suggests challenging students to make a book series to further develop their ideas. He also offers the idea of putting screenshots into iMovie so students can narrate the stories and add special effects. Definitely check out the post and comment below your thoughts about these creative solutions.

So tell me what you think! Would you use Picture Book Maker in your classroom? Have you used any tool similar to this before? Give it a try and make your own story! And while you’re at it, check out my own story made with Picture Book Maker and look at the related links below.

Click on the cover of my book to see my storybook I made with Picture Book Maker!

Click on the cover of my book to see my storybook I made with Picture Book Maker!

  • Culture Street: ArtisanCam is no longer being updated, so many activities once used on ArtisanCam are now being more frequently updated on this website. It only takes a quick and free sign-up to be able to use all it has to offer, including the Picture Book Maker!
  • Picture Book Maker blog post : a post reviewing Picture Book Maker on iLearn Technology, a blog entirely dedicated to review websites related to integrating technology into the classroom
  • Comic Book Maker: also by ArtisanCam (and available on Culture Street too,) a similar layout but with more complex and mature graphics that will appear to an older classroom
Posted in Cool tool, Creating, Understanding | 17 Comments

Alchemy SmartBinder: Creating lessons online

All teachers have to make lesson plans for their classes every day, often written on paper which can be messy and hard to organize.  By writing lesson plans on paper, it is often hard for teachers to incorporate various media sources, such as videos or websites, into the activities in class.   There will always be absent students who miss out on the lesson plan of the day and it is a struggle to give them the work that they missed because they miss what you talk about off of your lesson that day.  Overall, handwritten lessons are a hassle to handle on a day-to-day basis.  Thanks to the vast online resources that are out there for teachers, there is a way for teachers to create interactive lesson plans online.

Alchemy SmartBinder is a tool for teachers to create an online “binder” that contains different course subjects where lessons can be created.  These online lessons can include text examples, videos, files, images and links to websites.  A mastery question can be created for each of these aspects of the lesson and the answer data can be looked at in pie charts or bar graphs.  This tool allows teachers to incorporate course standards into each component of their lesson, even letting teachers create their own standards.  Each lesson includes whether it is designated as in-class work or at-home work.

The YouTube video below, Lesson Delivery and Student Data in SmartBinder, briefly shows the components of a lesson, how students view it and how teachers can view the data.  This video fails to demonstrate how the lessons are created and how they can be shared with students.

The Alchemy SmartBinder created an additional video advertisement in Vimeo that describes some of the features of their tool, which is seen in the video below.

Sample lesson

Sample Lesson from the creators perspective

I created a sample lesson plan using Alchemy SmartBinder about Westward expansion to show how the tool works.  I incorporated the multiple types of features that can be used in a lesson, such as videos and pictures. The image to the left shows what a sample lesson plan would look like from the teacher’s point.

Add materials tool

Add materials tool when creating a lesson

After the Lesson title is created using the Add Material key, + on the bar along the lesson title, the lesson material can be added. For each type of material, there is the ability to provide student instructions, any information you want the students, notes that you want to include for only you to view and inserting a mastery multiple choice question.  There is not a limit on how many text, image, file, video and web materials are included in each lesson.

In-class lesson

Student view of in-class lesson

The student view of the lessons are different than what the teacher sees.  Once the lesson is created the teacher can send students the link to the in-class material and the at-home material.  My sample lesson includes both in-class material and at-home material, which the students can complete on any device that connects to the internet.  The student view of the in-class material in my sample lesson is shown to the left.

In Richard Byrne’s blog, Free Technology for Teachers, his post titled Create, Organize, and Share Lessons In Alchemy SmartBinder he discusses how the tool efficiently organizes and creates lesson plans online.  He discusses how this is a great tool for sharing lesson plans with students, parents and other teachers.  Paper lesson plans often get lost and are very hard to give out to parents.  With this tool, a teacher can create lesson plans for each unit and send the link to all of the parents in the classroom ensuring they know what their children are learning.  Alchemy SmartBinder also allows any student who was absent to complete the lesson, either at-home or in-class material, outside of the classroom and still remain connected to the learning that is occurring in the class.

To find out more on the uses of Alchemy SmartBinder, visit some of these sites:

A similar cool tool that students and teachers can use to create presentations and lessons is Metta, which is discussed in Sara’s post Metta: A New Kind of Presentation.

I hope you think Alchemy SmartBinder is as great of a tool as I think it is.  Have fun creating your own online lessons!  Do you think this is a tool you would use in your future classroom?  Did you find it easy to create lessons with this tool?  How effective is using online lesson plans, rather than paper lesson plans? Thanks for reading!

Posted in Assessing student work, Cool tool, Creating, Organizing, Understanding | 15 Comments

Word Clouds: using Wordle, Text is Beautiful, and Tagxego

Word clouds can be used in many different ways and in all subjects. It can help students understand important aspects of a topic, show students how to take good notes based on the most important words or phrases in the text, and students will realize which words go with a part of speech. Word clouds can be created by using Wordle, Text is Beautiful, or Tagxedo. A word cloud is the collection of words generated based on submitted text and programs like Wordle, Text is Beautiful, and Tagxedo are used to create word clouds.

Word cloud’s can also be used in all subjects, for example in social studies a word cloud could be created about the major ideas of an event.  Word clouds can improve students’ writing, by creating visual data, and comparing oratorical messages. Major aspects of an event can be easily found with word clouds, which enables students to understand each concept.

Example of Wordle

Word cloud made with Wordle

When looking at Wordle’s website you can see there are multiple ways to create and make a Wordle more appealing. Wordle’s website will take you step by step on how to create a Wordle. It is the most generic of the three websites that I decided to talk about but for younger students it’s a great way to introduce the concept of word clouds to them. If these steps are confusing then you can also go to Wordle: Building Word Clouds to clarify any other questions. By clicking on the picture to the right it will take you to a blog post called “3 Ways to Use Wordle for More Than Fluff”, which will show you tips on how to use Wordle. In the slideshow below there are other great ideas and tips on how to use it.   

Concept Web

Word Cloud created with Text is Beautiful: Concept Web

Concept Cloud

Word Cloud Created with Text is Beautiful: Concept Cloud

Correlation Wheel

Word Cloud made with Text is Beautiful: Correlation Wheel

In another website, Text is Beautiful, there are 3 different types of word clouds that can be made: Concept Cloud, Concept Web, and a Correlation Wheel. This is different from Wordle because it only gives you one option. Each of Text if Beautiful’s options include a different display or layout which you can choose from. The website will explain how to create your word cloud through a few easy steps and once you’re finish you have three options which is already generated by Text is Beautiful. A post, Beyond Word Clouds – Part 2 shows examples of various ways each type of word cloud can be created from Text is Beautiful.

Tagxedo

Word Cloud Created with Tagxedo

My personal favorite website out of the three has to be Tagxedo. There are many fun ways to display ideas and thoughts but on the downside younger students may get distracted more easily. Just like the other two sites this is a very easy step-by-step website that will allow students to have even more freedom to choose how they would like to display their information. You have more freedom  to choose how you want to display your word cloud as well as more themes whereas the other two websites are more generic and automatically create them for you. A blog post, Tagxedo – Creating Word Clouds with Style, gives an overview of some of the major aspects that can go into creating a word cloud through Tagxedo. When I was exploring Teagxedo I got caught up in all of the excitement and took more time than I should have creating a word cloud, but the one that I created is now my wallpaper on my laptop.

All three websites are very easy to use and fun to work with but I would introduce the youngest students into Wordle, then go into Text is Beautiful, and the oldest students would use Tagxedo. If you have any others ideas that word clouds could be used please comment! Also feel free to ask questions or post comments on my blog!

Posted in Cool tool, Creating, Understanding | 12 Comments