I spent yesterday with the high school English Department at Depew Union Free School District. These folks invited me in to help them approach formative assessment as a process that leads to instructional improvement rather than a product that leads to grades. They’ve begun exploring the 6+1 Traits of Writing, considering what their middle school colleagues have been up to, and looking to new tools for support.

Wordle was a big hit yesterday.

I introduced it as a tool that could be used to support the development of better Word Choice in writing, but there are probably a hundred different ways to maximize Wordle’s potential. For instance, this is what happens when I drop the New York State English Language Arts standards into Wordle. Doing so provides us a whole new way of talking and thinking about the document. Theresa Gray suggested using it to explore important historical speeches, and some of the teachers that I was working with yesterday uploaded the first chapter of Catcher in the Rye, eager to share the work with students in class and follow the conversations that would unfold from there.

Writers could use Wordle to check for redundancy in their pieces as well. My eleven year old daughter uploaded her blog, and within a matter of minutes, was able to identify the most frequently used word within it. Really. No. Really. The teachers that I worked with yesterday had other ideas as well. They plan to ask students to create Wordle white papers for their completed writing pieces, knowing they will serve as great introductions to their work. They also thought to use it as a way to identify high frequency vocabulary words and terms in different types of text.

How about you? How could you use Wordle? How do you?



  1. Glen Westbroek Reply

    I like how a web 2.0 tool like wordle can benefit education. In this particular instance, I see students getting excited by the process or by the image and wanting to use different words. I look forward to seeing how this works in my homeroom class today as they are asked to create lists of things they are thankful for in preparation for the holiday break.

  2. Angela, when I was introduced to Wordle last month, I thought it was “cool” but didn’t really see a use for it beyond the cool factor. I realize now it’s because I didn’t understand it. This is a perfect example of “showing” vs “experiencing”. When I clicked on your link to the Wordl of the NYS ELA standards, I found it pretty amazing that “students” came out to be the most important word. Puts a new perspective on the standar.ds, eh? Thank you also for the other ideas. Web 2.0 tools are cool, but the point is to use them for learning.

  3. I have to echo Linda’s comment, I thought Wordl was a cool gadget and had no real use, except for aesthetics and a bit of fun. It is amazing how the potential for use is expanded so quickly to learning.

    The DHS teachers should be encouraged to share with their peers in the high school and the middle school.

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