Monday, October 27, 2008

A Wordle Lesson Plan

Many teachers have written to me about their use of Wordle in the classroom. Miss Fran O’Leary, of the English & Media Studies department of Redruth School, UK, has kindly given me her permission to share with you her lively account of one such use. I quote:

You asked me, if I remembered, to feed back on my use of Wordle for spelling and vocabulary. I'd love to share the success, so here we go.
  • First time: hmmm, not sure that the students really knew what to make of it. They did OK, but no better than you would imagine.
  • Second time: I changed the test slightly. I told them to take the sheet home and use it in any way they wanted to 'learn the words'. I then tested their knowledge with questions such as:"only one of these words was longer than 9 letters, which one was it?", "choose any word you like, but it must be spelled 100% correctly", "which word has the most vowels?" The results were still OK, but nothing amazing.
  • Third time: they asked if it would be like the second one; I said yes but without the 100% spelling thing. They blew me away with the test results. OK, not everyone answered all ten questions, but of the questions answered there were only 4 spelling mistakes; some incorrect answers, but they had spelled the chosen words correctly anyway.
  • Fourth time: similar positive result.
  • Fifth time: again, superb on the spelling front and yet I had long stopped asking them to 'spell'. Plus, this time the last of the hardcore "I ain't doing it" students had a go and surprised us both.
  • And so on...
I'm still puzzling as to the exact reasons why this method has been so successful in engaging students with new vocabulary, but I've come to the conclusion that it's a combination of: the vocabulary sheet allowing more interaction through physical turning and handling; colours allowing associations or categories to be formed; and testing for understanding and exploration rather than technical accuracy. Then again, it could just be as simple as the explanation given by one of the girls "it's kinda pretty and it's different. You like to use things like that, don't ya?"

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just discovered Wordle, and would love to bring it into my 9th grade English classes. I'm interested in how, specifically, Miss O'Leary used Wordle with her vocabulary instruction.

Anonymous said...

Wordle can be used to create word charts that list synonyms. It can be used for character descriptions. Vocabulary lesson in which you want students to categorize words. I think the possibilites are endless!! Great site!!

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of using this in the classroom. For a unit on Poetry this could be a creative tool.

Anonymous said...

This sounds really interesting, and very creative on the teacher's part. And I wonder if the improvement in spelling when the teacher didn't talk about it per se was due to a corresponding perceived decrease in 'pressure' on the students' part. I remember I was never a very fast typist on typewriters of any kind. But once I began using computers in the 90's, I got pretty fast: I no longer had to worry about making mistakes and all the hassle it was to correct them. There's a lot to be said for reducing unnecessary anxiety!

Anonymous said...

For Language teaching you could get students to first construct their own list of vocabulary for the topic using the dictionary and then put it in a wordle. Eg: Christmas, Easter, my family, pets, "irregular verbs", cities etc.

CĂ©line said...

I am going to use wordle in m class! as a French Immersion Kindergarden teacher I find this "toy" amazing. Word recognition, puzzles... they are going to LOVE it.

lsweetapple said...

Have your students paste part (topic statement) or all of their essay in Wordle and use that as their cover page.

Victoria Westcott said...

I love it! What a great idea. I'll send the readers from my blog to this post & write a bit more about your wordle as well. Thanks for doing what you do :-)

Anonymous said...

I have just started using wordle in the classroom for literature analysis. Student groups will be creating a wordle to portray the significance of each chapter of The Great Gatsby. Each student must create their own wordle. Students will come together as groups and compare the wordles they created. For example, all the chapter 2 students will compare their wordles and draw conclusions about chapter 2 to present to the class.

I would love to use wordle to teach vocabulary as this is the greatest challenge I feel I have...too many words, too little time.

Any suggestions? Thanks.
Jo-Ann - HS Enlgish in Western NY