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Whenever I visit a new blog there always appears to be a tag cloud hovering down in the sidebar telling me of the frequently used tag words within the posts. I often ignore the main words that are standing out by a mile, and focus on the smaller words that have crept in since they are mentioned only a few times. My tag cloud often doesn’t reflect my content at all, with ‘waffling’ and ‘waffle’ being the main words used. You might be saying that it does actually reflect my content! although I have considered tagging everything “Wilson Waffling is Great” in order smile at the tag cloud when it is displayed.

WordPack app for iPad

WordPack app for iPad

Wordle is one of the webpages that does a similar job as a tag cloud, forming a representation of the most common occurring words within the sample. Recently an iPad app came to my attention called WordPack which does a similar display of the words you enter or even a website if you input a url. But what is the use of these in teaching? Well here are my suggestions.

  • Avoid the said – Frequently there are words which we want the children to avoid in their writing. Not that these words are bad or anything, but there are words which we might consider better. I remember while teaching literacy in my year 5 class that the word ‘said’ was banned. If we can been creating our stories within Word, I would have cut and pasted them into Wordle in order to see if the said word appeared at all – the bigger it was the worse…especially if we were focusing on speech.
  • Before and After – In a similar way, using the wordle to create a before and after word cloud could demonstrate the difference in words being used. This might even reflect a reduction in ‘well’ used adjectives such as ‘nice’. Children could then reflect on how effective their redrafting had been and about their choices of words. Of course, doing this electronically is essential here, unless you have a friendly TA to type in all the words being used.
  • Words for objects – On the iPad app there is the option to create the word clouds in different shapes. Using these shapes as a starting point, the children could produce lists of adjectives and adverbs to describe the object. These could be collected and entered (or even entered at the front of the class during the lesson) and then the word cloud be printed out in the shape of the object – perfect for display or even showing off on the school’s VLE.

  • Unfortunately, Wordle and the app I have mentioned in this waffle weren’t around when I was teaching so I haven’t actually tried any of these suggestions, so if you want to have a go then let me know how effective the ideas were! Or, if you have used this in other ways which have been successful then let me know by sending your comments and ideas, please add them in the comments below or send me them to be via twitter(@iwilsonysj), Facebook, google+ or email.

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    I waffled with Wilson Badge!

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    Have fun, engage and I’ll catch you later!

    Categories: General


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