There are many possibilities for using word clouds in language courses. I've listed around 35 of them here with a few hints on what to do.- preview a presentation or a text
- preview the current day’s lesson plan
- predict the content of a text e.g. topics, style, purpose, intended audience
- predict the content of a novel e.g. plot lines, characters, genre or themes as group work
- complete reading comprehension questions just from a word cloud, then comparing answers after reading the actual text
- summarise a presentation
- turn a text into a picture (essay, report, paragraph, article, etc.)
- identify the key words in a text based on their size in the word cloud
- expanding vocabulary (definitions, synonyms, antonyms, or brainstorm words associated with a new one, match parts of collocations)
- student-created flashcards of essential words (review, circle unknown, learn)
- discussion starter (student chooses one word from cloud to speak about)
- add to printed or online course materials
- use as a background for slides or online materials
- compare student responses (make one cloud, or separate ones to compare)
- explore a topic (students add own ideas to a question stimulus & build a cloud)
- take a quick class poll or track a poll over time (multiple clouds side-by-side)
- introduce new course, syllabus or module (provides an overview of content)
- introduce course objectives
- student ice-breaker e.g. all input hobbies, interests, future aspirations, family, pets, favourite films or books, country of origin, etc.
- highlight the main areas to focus on from rubrics to gain the best grades
- highlight examples of misspelled or overused words in student writing by inputting their own work
- illustrate contrasting ideas (show two clouds side-by-side), such as opposing arguments in essays or articles
- research texts from multiple sources then combine them into a cloud
- ‘find the words’ game (e.g. mix academic & non-academic in a cloud & identify)
- ‘guess the topic’ game, or combine two topics in one cloud and students separate them out
- ‘grammar game’ e.g. students classify words from a cloud into different parts of speech or different tenses
- ‘sentence structure’ game e.g. input a complex sentence or short series of sentences into a word cloud, and have students reconstruct them in the correct word order
- ‘memory game’ e.g. show a word cloud, take it off the screen, students write as many words as they can recall
- identify parts of speech (students highlight or underline in different colours)
- visual analysis of qualitative data (e.g. convert a table to a picture)
- curriculum mapping across multiple subjects
- checking the balance between course content and course objectives
Here is a multiple-lesson design thanks to http://tborash.posterous.com/designing-lessons-using-wordle
While not a flawless design, these six steps seemed paramount in increasing students' desire to learn:
- Students pre-assessing their own knowledge and understanding - "What does _insert topic here_ mean to me?"
- Students using Wordle to analyze the pre-assessment responses
- Students "doing stuff" to experience _insert topic here_ in real life - "What happens when I do this?" (this is the learning phase)
- Students responding to what they now know and understand - "What does _insert topic here_ mean to me today?"
- Students comparing the Wordle of their current thinking to that of their pre-assessment responses
- Students asking the question, "Given what I first thought, and what I now think, what do I think of next?"
Without the use of Wordle, we lose out on a central piece of this lesson design puzzle.
An excellent article by Simon Thomas on using word clouds in language activities can be found at: http://efl-resource.com/language-activities-with-wordle-and-word-clouds-2/
. This includes links to several other resources as well.Benefits:
- assists with motivation
- assists with thinking skills
- enlivens course content in all macro-skills
- appeals to visual learners
Places to Try: http://abcya.com/word_clouds.htm
(for young learners) http://www.literature-map.com/
(more for readers of English lit.) http://www.imagechef.com/ic/word_mosaic/
(has iOS & Android apps.) http://quintura.com/
(has iOS app.) http://tagcrowd.com/ http://taggalaxy.com/ http://tagul.com/
(each tag is linkable with a URL for navigation) http://www.tagxedo.com/ http://www.visualthesaurus.com/vocabgrabber/
(also has visual thesaurus!) http://worditout.com/ http://www.wordle.net/
(very easy to use, MOST favoured by teachers) http://wordsift.com/
(from Stanford University ELL)
The word cloud illustrated above was prepared by myself using Wordle.
I'm pleased to announce a new page on 'Teacher Greg's Education Home'.
The motivation for it came from my desire to engage the many colleagues with whom I work, in a conversation about ELICOS (English Language Intensive Course of Study) and EAP (English for Academic Purposes) programs and how they operate at my institution. Like many workplaces, the pressures of just keeping on top of the teaching have meant that opportunities for genuine discussion, sharing and reflection have become rare, formal meetings have become ineffectual, and inefficiencies have naturally arisen as a result.
'TESOL forums' will be a chance to recover lost ground, to re-ignite the discussion, and to move forward in more practical ways. It will take some effort to 'sell' the idea and overcome the hesitation of others, but I'm taking the first steps while hoping this will lead them to continue the conversation.
Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history. -Joan Wallach Scott
Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. -Maria Robinson
Are you looking for some useful resources for teaching elementary school EFL/ESL students?
Perhaps you want to know how to use Interactive Whiteboards or just need some resources for them?
Well, I have what you need - and FREE!
On the "Teach" link go to "Teaching Help" and you will find both.
Under EFL/ESL elementary resources I've listed the best 65 sites for:
video, stories, reading, e-books, music & song, activities, games, writing, lesson plans, vocabulary, spelling, dictionaries, quizzes & puzzles, speaking & pronunciation, phonics & ABCs, community sharing, rhymes, colouring, animation & cartoons, test writing, printables, flashcards, presentations, screen-casting, brainstorming, audio & sounds, collaboration, stickies, podcasts, posters, search tools and a complete LMS (learning management system). Many are also suited to interactive whiteboards.
Under IWB/Smartboard resources I've listed the best 48 sites for:
training & tutorials in mastering smartboards, games, lesson plans, presentations, activities, spelling, reading, comics, worksheets, phonics and writing. The training sites have videos that will step you through everything you need to know to use IWB's effectively in class.
Today I sent a comment in response to an excellent article about reducing our use of pen and paper and making greater use of digital technologies.
Though there is clearly still a place in some forms of personal communication for the pen, this is increasingly less so in the work situation. So, I'm resolving to digitise (scan or type in) as much of my paper-based resources as possible over the next 12 months. This will not only reduce the clutter in my apartment, cut back on my excess baggage costs, but also make the materials more accessible to me and, in time, to you.
Here is my post today:Greg
said... Hi Lisa, following your article I've decided to digitise my current paper-based materials to reduce my home clutter.
I was wondering, for those of us who don't own a smartphone or have a laptop permanently stitched to our hips, what other tech. options would you recommend? If I could know of the available options I could go ahead and reduce my written notebooks.
Once again, thanks for this thoughtful post, which I've shared with my Twitter friends.
Greg. September 4, 2010 12:11 AM
It was posted at http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2010/09/pen-is-no-longer-weapon-of-choice.html.
1 | Greg Quinlivan
June 5, 2010 at 1:29 am
Good on you, Rick. You are a great example of what dedicated teaching is all about.
I liked your comment on “assumptions” about teachers working with PLN’s so students aren’t short-changed in their learning, particularly in using technology.
Although I’ve just had my 56th birthday, I only came to teaching just over 6 years ago mostly in the EFL field, currently in Taiwan. I was a middle level federal government public servant before this, but grew increasingly dissatisfied with that life. I did a Music degree first, as I’ve always been into performing, then an Education degree. After completing English language studies I’m now able to teach Music or Business or EFL/ESL in Australian schools (where I’m from). However EFL/ESL is what I’ve been doing – in Australia, Brunei, China, South Korea and Taiwan.
Like you, I’ve found the provision of hardware and the support & PD for using new programs has been poor to non-existent. Due to our low status and the language/cultural barriers in non-English speaking countries, it’s very hard to change this, but I try and, as you say, the PLN’s I’m developing are a rich source of ideas to help.
So, I wish you well in your endeavours and encourage you to keep up the good fight for our kids’ futures.
Posted on http://socmeded.wordpress.com/about/
Thanks, Jeff. If nothing else, I appreciate the discussion and the opportunity to do so provided by Tom on this blog.
There may well be anecdotal evidence to support your contention, however I would like to encourage those of us over 40 to be among the exceptions rather than to slide back into a comfortable stereotype.
What I would add is that it might be more accurate to say that both groups are comfortable with technologies, but not necessarily with the same ones. This can work in both directions. For example, an older teacher might be more comfortable with a manual typewriter or cassette player than a younger teacher, and these are still around.
I think we also need to be judicious with our use of all technologies. “New” doesn’t always mean “better” or “most appropriate”. If you saw my earlier comments yesterday, you will be aware of the many problems here (in Taiwan) of trying to include IT & other technologies in our teaching.
While IWB’s, wikis, m-teaching, etc are nice and new (for now), they don’t invalidate other approaches. I can still use flashcards, games, drama, songs, chants, cuisinaire rods, puppets, realia, drawing, TPR and any number of other tools to be effective.
If you have an illness and go to a doctor, you don’t always get a heart transplant operation. Sometimes, you get some plain old paracetamol and instructions for taking a rest. In the same way we should select the best tools for learning, whether high- or low-tech.
I think this article by you is spot on.
I am interested in making technology use more ubiquitous, but I also need ideas for solutions to my situation. (By the way, I teach EFL in a government elementary school in Taiwan.) Like other educators I am happy to engage in teaching and learning through technology when it enhances the subject. By following #edchat, other twitterers, a number of weblogs and by playing with some of the ideas suggested there, I do my best to keep current with developments and how they can fit my situation.
Also, when I come across something I think is useful to my colleagues, I usually tweet or re-tweet it and occasionally I blog it. I have no doubt that the quality of education can improve through wider use of new technologies, and that our students expect this.
At the same time I would have to say that it’s also appropriate to have some “unplugged” or “low-tech” lessons (or at least parts of lessons) to balance this out.
The lack of funds here tends to be more a misapplication of funds – that is, poor choices made with no consultation. For example, you walk in one morning and find a new Smart Board has been installed. It’s nice and shiny and all the students are waiting in anticipation that you will wow them out of their socks. Unfortunately, you won’t because (a) you’ve already prepared something else for the day, (b) you didn’t get any training in how to use it, (c) the software and computer operating system are in Chinese (which you don’t read), and (d) the program won’t run PowerPoint interactively, which was what you’d prepared.
I would have to agree wholeheartedly with you, Tom, about the local leadership being a major deterrent.
Here the government people, the Education Department people, the Principals, Academic Directors, General Services Directors and Head Teachers are all locals i.e. Taiwanese, and many speak limited English. There is no-one from Canada, the USA, the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand in any position of authority – we are all at the bottom of the ladder. Inevitably this means we do not influence, nor have any input into, the decision-making process here. Even worse, our ideas are not sought, and they are not welcomed happily. I know personally of a number of teachers whose contracts have not been renewed because they have been outspoken on such matters.
Just to make our circumstances clearer, do you know how difficult it is to use technology when you have to move between 22 different classrooms per week, having unreliable Internet connections, some with IWB’s some without, some with poor speaker systems or only the computer’s speakers, computers with different software loaded or none loaded to run what you’ve prepared, some with layers of dust on their CD players or no CD players at all, some with projector remotes missing that are missing batteries, etc? At some point, you debate whether it’s even worth bothering with technology and spending extra time preparing such lessons, when there is such apathy at the school.
What can happen is that you end up looking like a clown in front of your class and any credibility you may have built up goes out the window.
Here, we don’t have to worry about PD from the IT staff. They are not necessarily qualified to tinker with the hardware and software. They may be IT teachers but not technicians. Of course, for us “foreigners” they speak little or no English anyway, so they don’t try to teach us any PD. This generally means, no one else does either. I’ve heard that at least some of the “local” teachers have had IWB training, but not us.
To complicate OUR incorporation of IT into lessons further, our students are taught computer use, etc, but in Chinese. This means they need basing typing lessons before they can even enter a web address, let alone read it in English anyway. I’m not saying I haven’t taught lessons in a computer lab – I have – but I’ve had to lead them very slowly and very carefully, and direct them to where they could go, which is rather limiting.
Taiwan isn’t exactly backward in terms of technology. In fact, most of the world’s leading IT companies do much of their research and development here. I’m also sure students are tech-savvy. Unfortunately there is a long way to go to integrate IT into our teaching and learning.
So, after all that, I’d like to say that I don’t feel all that guilty about my limited incorporation of IT into my classes. If someone can come up with a better approach that won’t risk my job security, I’m happy to hear any of their suggestions.