In homage to Joni Mitchell, I have been looking at [word] clouds from a lot of different perspectives. And somehow I think that they can provide variety in presenting aspects of a text, especially for pre-reading (guess what the text is about) and post-reading activities (write a summary of the text using these words as prompts). My default word cloud generator is WORDLE at http://wordle.net. There are a few others tools, like http://www.visualthesaurus.com/vocabgrabber/ and http://wordsift.com/ that have neat interactive features and filters, but right now I'm thinking about the graphic value only.
A few years ago, I came across another site that produced word clouds in shapes. However, it wasn't very sophisticated at the time, and you could only use a few pre-defined shapes. A colleague, Nukte Durhan, discovered WORDLE and was asking me some questions about it, which prompted me to revisit http://www.tagxedo.com/.
Below is an example of a TAGXEDO word cloud I created from a reading in ENGL102 about Leadership and Atatürk.
- I found a silhouette of Atatürk and uploaded it to the site.
- I then put in the text, submitted it and played around with the settings (black on white for printing, and maximum 100 words).
- Notice that it is interactive...if you put your mouse on the words they are highlighted.
- I saved the image in the public gallery: see http://www.tagxedo.com/artful/a3c6c359fcbf4a55 -- you can embed it or print it as well.
Aside from teaching, a neat way to create artwork for T-shirts or posters. :)
A bit of 'fluff' perhaps, but this would be a good way to get students to pick out keywords from a text. The interaction is nice, as you can get students to come to the computer and highlight the words they want. It only takes a few minutes to create, so it would be worth the effort to get students interested in a reading from the very beginning.
Here is the 'interactive' TAGXEDO' - you may need to install Microsoft 'Silverlight' to view this in your browser.
Just in case you don't have Sliverlight installed, here is a JPEG to give you a non-interactive idea:
The original silhouette: