In response to my title, many (the 18 of you reading this -- BTW THANKS!!!) will be saying duh.
In case you are not familiar with the tool, http://www.Wordle.net creates word clouds based on text input into the website. It will take your text and make words that are repeated larger. You can then alter the formatting and color to make it visually appealing to you.
While it is true that some students will write a "naughty" word into the website, just to see it in large print and then giggle, I have used wordle to being a qualitative analysis from interview participants in a research project. The larger words allowed me to begin to identify some themes that were emerging and common among the participants.
Not everyone has the enjoyment of qualitative analysis, like I did, so how can teachers use this?
You can use it to compare and contrast pieces of text. Take a look at the examples below, what do you see as the major themes within the speeches from Tuesday night?
Mitt Romney's concession speech: http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/5974936/Mitt_Romney%27s_Concession_Speech_2012
Barrack Obama's Victory Speech: http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/5974873/President_Obama%27s_2012_Victory_Speech
How do the above speeches compare to 2008?
John McCain's concession speech: http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/5983755/John_McCain_Concession_Speech_2008
Barack Obama's acceptance speech: http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/5983766/Barack_Obama_Acceptance_Speech_Nov_2008
Want to engage students in a classic novel? Find the full text online and make a wordle of it... http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/5983848/Chapter_1_of_The_Great_Gatsby Based on this wordle, students might begin the reading with some questions and engage them in the reading by seeking out the answers to their own questions!
Students can take their own essay texts to begin a peer review process. Does the wordle that gets created represent the main ideas of their essay?
Each of these wordles took less than 5 minutes to make and save to the gallery. When using as a class activity, make sure that you create a unique username so it can be found in the gallery. One caveat: The gallery is public and students might run across some of the naughty wordles mentioned above.
Have fun with is and have students create with it!