Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Using Wordle

I recently facilitated a district course on Web 2.0 tools, and Wordle was a huge hit! Wordle is an amazing creation that allows the user to create word clouds from text. The premise is that words that are used more frequently appear larger than the words used less frequently. Below you will find some tips, potential classroom uses, and a visual of the various fonts in Wordle.

What is Wordle?

Take text, type or paste it into wordle.net, and it generates a word cloud. In a word cloud, words that appear more frequently appear larger.
You can use the ADVANCED tab to enter words and assign them values instead of typing or pasting.
To keep phrases together, use a ~. For example, if you type New York, wordle treats them as two separate words. If you type New~York the two words are treated as a phrase and stay together

Potential Classroom Uses:

These come from a variety of sources....

  • create synonym or antonym posters (make the root word larger than its synonyms or antonyms)
  • paste student work into wordle to check for over used words (make sure there isn't a check mark under remove commonly used words)
  • character analysis, biography, autobiography (make the person's name larger than the adjectives/phrases used to describe)
  • paste in famous speeches, provides a nice visual of "important" words
  • compare and contrast inaugural presidential speeches, leave out the names and see if students can accurately identify the president
  • create class t-shirts with names, activities....
  • great "All About Me" project/ice breaker
  • holiday/theme "word walls" (i.e. type SUMMER and make it large, type summer related words that students might use in writing and make them smaller
  • summary of a book, keywords
  • Just about ANYTHING!


  • I highly suggest creating your wordle text in a word processor first... then save it. It is just about impossible to go back and edit a wordle since they are not saved.... and I do not suggest saving to the gallery. What is placed there can't be taken down. This way you still have your text and a simple copy and paste can save you time over having to recall and type everything all over again.
  • TO SAVE and PRINT: You need to save the wordle as an image. In some cases you can right click (control click on a Mac) and save the image that way. If it doesn't work, take a screen shot! On a PC that's a print screen. On a Mac, use SHIFT-COMMAND-4 and your cursor turns into a camera. Drag over the wordle then let go. The screenshot is saved to your computer, most likely your desktop.
  • Something to consider... if you are printing a large amount of wordles, consider the background color. Black consumes a great deal of ink.

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