Back in the day (a few years ago, to be exact) I started using a word cloud generator (Wordle.net) to create engaging word clouds for my students in the classroom. I thought this was the greatest thing since sliced bread, and rightfully so – a program that could take a URL or a bunch of text and present the words in a new and engaging way for readers to make connections about the main ideas and details. After a while, I drifted away from using Wordle, but recently I have rediscovered it in a new form – Tagxedo.
Very similar in theory to Wordle’s initial undertaking, Tagxedo can be used to show the frequency of words used in passages, articles, or websites by how large the word is in the cloud that is created. But, unlike Wordle, Tagxedo allows the users to form the clouds into custom shapes from images. Instead of just choosing between squared and rounded edges, the arrangement of the words can send a message in the image that is created by their presence and absence in the frame.
I look forward to using Tagxedo soon in my own classroom to hep teach main idea and theme, copying and pasting text from novels or articles and applying them to images that represent the essential information that the text is trying to portray. This could be especially useful for assisting students who have a hard time recognizing this information without prompting; they could infer these details from the form that the words take.
Any of you who have been using Tagxedo in your classroom, I’d love to hear your ideas on how it can engage your students.