Tag Archives: Wordle

Developing PLNs with ICTs

PLN Wordle

 

Creating a personal learning network is important for teachers-librarians, and using available information and communication technologies makes it easier than ever.  Teacher-librarians are usually in a unique position in their schools so though they can share and learn from colleagues, they often have unique challenges that only other teacher-librarians would understand.  Though I don’t have a teaching position yet, there are a few things I have in place right now that will help create learning opportunities for myself when I eventually get my own library.

1. LM-NET: In a previous course, I was required to subscribe to the Library Media Network.  LM-NET is an international network of teacher-librarians in which members can pose questions, share ideas and offer support to each other.  The site’s archives can also be searched by date or particular topic.  Though I am not participating within the network right now, I still receive emails about current posts and I often glance through the topics finding helpful information that I bookmark for future reference.

2. My courses: I have found many useful blogs and websites by educators through the courses I have taken for my Teacher-Librarian’s Diploma.  I use Evernote to help keep them organized. I have a teacher-librarian resources notebook in which I add links to online resources that I find helpful.  As well, I have most of my coursework organized in separate notebooks.  When I am finished my diploma, I will go through these notebooks and better organize the resources by topic.  I find Evernote to be a great organization tool, as it is available on whatever device or computer I may be using at the moment.

3. When I had a temporary contract in a high school library a couple of years ago, I was automatically added to our district’s teacher-librarian email list. This was very helpful if I needed help or advice and gave me the ability to keep in the loop about what other teacher-librarians were doing in the district.  I know that once I have my own library, I will have this built-in network if I need it.

Those are a few things I have started, but I know I need to do more, especially in terms of social media.  I have resisted using social media because until recently I hadn’t really seen it as a potential professional resource.  I have used Diigo in the past, (Diigo: A Bookmarking Tool), but didn’t take advantage of its social aspect.  I am on Facebook and, more recently, Twitter but do not utilize them.  One problem I think is that I do not have a mobile device I carry with me all the time and often social media works best on these devices.  So right now I am forced to use my computer at home on which I do not like, with a family and kids, to take the time to wade through all the information coming at me.  However, knowing now how social media can be invaluable in helping to establish a personal learning network, I will definitely try to utilize these resources in the future.

In this age of cutbacks, it is important for teacher-librarians to reinvent themselves to keep their school libraries relevant for 21st Century learning.  Right now, our education system is working under a 150 year old model (Richardson, 2012) so educators need to go outside the curriculum learning resources to find ways to teach the digital natives in our classrooms.  Creating a personal learning network of educators, both local and international, can offer new ideas in collaboration, sharing and teaching to help make teacher-librarians an indispensable part of their schools.

Works Consulted

Richardson, W. (2012) Why school? How education must change when learning and information are everywhere. Ebook. Kindle Version.  http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00998J5YQ

Image Citation:

Bucky, C. (2008) PLN 1. Flickr. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/cobannon/2983755525/

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Word Clouds with Wordle

A word cloud is a visual representation of a passage of text.  Word cloud software analyzes the frequency of words in the passage and creates a “cloud” based on those frequencies.  Words that appear more often are larger in the cloud (Feinberg, 2013).  I had never really thought about using word clouds in my teaching practice, but since they seem quite popular I thought I would see what they were all about.

The Teaching History with Technology website lists a number of word cloud generation websites and I chose to check out Wordle first.  Wordle is extremely simple to use.  There is no login process to go through.  All a user has to do is paste or write a passage of text in the create box, hit Go and a word cloud is created.  Common words (the, and, in etc.) and numbers are eliminated, though Wordle lets you change the settings to include them if you want.  Once the word cloud is created, the user can then change the shape and colour of the cloud as well as the text font.   Wordle also allows users to remove words from the word cloud if they are seem unnecessary.

The word cloud I created using Wordle is about galaxies.  I copied and pasted a passage of text on galaxies from the Windows to the Universe website.  I then played around with the shape, colour and font until I had something I liked.  I also removed some words that I felt didn’t add anything to the cloud; words like ‘most’, ‘could’, ‘there’ etc.

A drawback of Wordle is that word clouds created there cannot be saved on the site.  The only option listed is to print them.  However, there are ways around this.  For Mac users, an option in Print is the Save as a PDF file onto your own computer.  For others, you can copy and paste your word cloud into a word or graphics document on your computer.  (Gorman, 2012).  You can then do whatever you want with your word cloud.

One of the main ways teachers use word clouds is to creatively display students’ work (Rimes, 2011).  However, the author at Tech Savvy Educator calls this “fluff”, and claims word clouds using Wordle often never get past this stage in the classroom (Rimes, 2011).  There are a number of other ways word clouds can be utilized.

  • Word clouds can be created to complement traditional frequency charts (Rimes, 2011)
  • Students can use Wordle to weed out over-used adjectives in their work (Rimes, 2011)
  • A teacher could keep track of a student’s writing ability by saving the wordle of each draft of an essay (Rimes, 2011)
  • Students can analyze speeches in history to get a snapshot of what was important to people at that time (Rimes, 2011)
  • Students can compare and contrast passages of text from famous speeches, song lyrics, news reports, book reviews or even classmates work (Winstrom, 2011)
  • Student profiles can be created using word clouds (Winstrom, 2011)
  • Word clouds can be created to summarize a unit’s key points or vocabulary learned (Winstrom, 2011)

Word clouds in Wordle come in a limited number of shapes, so if a teacher wants to concentrate on having students create word clouds for mainly visual appeal a word cloud generator like Tagxedo may be more useful.  Tagxedo allows the user to create word clouds in a variety of shapes that are more artistic looking and can fit a specific theme (Teaching History with Technology, 2012).  However, if teachers want to use word clouds as suggested above, I think Wordle is the way to go.  It is quick and easy and will allow students to concentrate more on the content rather than the shape.

Galaxy wordle 2

Feinberg, J. (2013). Wordle. Retrieved from http://www.wordle.net

Gorman, M. (2012). 12 Valuable wordle tips you must read: Word clouds in education series: Part 1. 21st Century Educational Technology and Learning. Retrieved from http://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/12-valuable-wordle-tips-you-must-read-word-clouds-in-education-series-part-1/

Rimes, B. (2011). 3 Ways to use wordle for more than fluff.  The Tech Savvy Educator. Retrieved from http://www.techsavvyed.net/archives/1154

Teaching History with Technology (2012). Word Clouds. EdTechTeacher Inc. Chestnut Hill, MA. Retrieved from http://thwt.org/index.php/research/word-clouds

Windows to the Universe (2012). Galaxies. National Earth Science Teachers Association. Retrieved from http://www.windows2universe.org/the_universe/Galaxy.html

Winstrom, E. (ed) (2011). The top 10 ways to use wordle at school. Bright Hub Education. Retrieved from http://www.brighthubeducation.com/teaching-methods-tips/58905-create-lesson-plans-using-wordle-web-technology/

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