Word clouds in education.

You know what I’m talking about. Using the online software Wordle to . . . do something with text in the classroom to, well, do something with text.

I think you either love it or you hate it.

Call me a slow adopter, I was never really a fan.

But I’ve come around a bit since I’ve seen some creative uses involving primary sources (comparing oral histories of Pearl harbor survivors), political speeches made by the same person to different audiences (contrasting Lincoln’s speeches during the Douglas debates) and reading summaries (distilling history article contents).

But while Wordle does allow editing of look and feel, it’s missing the ability to manipulate shape. And so along comes Tagxedo, a new beta Wordle wannabee that allows you to create word clouds in shapes based on images or photographs.

The concept is basically the same – enter text or URL address, edit the look and out comes the cloud. Tagxedo’s big advantage is that I can insert my own shapes in the form of a photograph.

You can the basic difference below in my quick copy and paste of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address:



Same text, different look. I happen to like the Tagxedo version better. Providing an image hook gives me a “stickier” tool with the Lincoln background giving kids something to hang content unto.

Other uses for Wordle or Tagxedo as a graphic organizer:

  • Evaluate primary sources
  • Compare and contrast speeches
  • Use for I Am poems
  • Summarize brainstorming sessions
  • Condense survey data
  • Create clouds of competing ideas or philosophies such as democracy / theocracy
  • Overview of upcoming units
  • Provide summary of wikipedia article
  • Create “historical” resumes of famous leaders
  • Introduce new vocabulary

What strategies do you use? How could you use Tagxedo more effectively?

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