This bright idea post will focus on using Wordle. Wordle is basically a word cloud and the more times a word is used, that word appears larger in the cloud. It's super easy to use and the kids love it! There are many ways you can utilize Wordle in your classroom from KWL charts, review of topics, and even before or after staff development trainings to see what the big ideas teachers took away if you do trainings. This post will focus on using Wordle as an end of the year award and bucket filler.
Wordle as a Bucket Filler
We know how important it is for children to feel special and acknowledged for their talents. We also know how important it is for children to be compassionate and caring towards others. This activity will meet both of these goals. Yeah! You can do this anytime during the school year, but I really love to do it at the end of the year. I use the Wordles as a special award (aka bucket filler) for each of my students. I do other awards, too, but I definitely give these out!
So here is how I use Wordle as a bucket filler. First I typed up a list of my students' names. I made enough copies so each student had one. Then I asked each student to write 1-4 words to describe each of their classmates. Positive descriptions only, please! For younger children you could brainstorm a list of positive traits if needed. When students finished, I collected all the papers. This next part is time consuming, but oh so worth it! I compiled all the words onto a Word document. So each name had a list of traits associated with it. If there were duplicate words, I typed the word in however many times it was listed. This is important as it will make these words larger in the Wordle! Important note- I counted how many times the most frequently used word was used. Then I made sure to type in the child's name a lot more times than that word so their name would be huge on the Wordle. You don't have to do this last part, but I liked it with their names on their Wordles.
After I had a list of my students with positive traits, I went to Wordle and copied and pasted in the traits. Once you click "Go" the Wordle is created! You can play around with the Wordle as far as font, color, layout, etc. to make each one a little different. (You do have to have Java Script installed on your computer to use Wordle.) You can also use fun colored or patterned paper on which to print out the Wordle.
The best part? Seeing each child eagerly await his/her Wordle to see what his/her classmates thought about him/her. Not only did each child have a huge grin, but I did, too. Reading the thoughtful and positive things each of them thought about others made my heart warm. I told my students that when they have a rough day, take out their Wordle and read it. To let it be a reminder that each one is special and worthy. They each had a bucket filler they could read whenever they needed a pick-me-up. I also had a few parents tell me that they were going to frame their child's Wordle and hang it in their bedroom. Great idea! :)
Here are a few examples of Wordle in action:
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