It's worth having a word about Wordles

16th November 2012 at 00:00
Whatever your teaching style or subject, you could benefit from creating 'word clouds', writes Dan Roberts

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that's certainly true of the Wordle website, where teachers or pupils can generate their own customised "word clouds".

A word is a visual representation of text data often relating to the tagging of information on the internet, but on Wordle anyone can enter their own text, or copy and paste it, and produce their own visual representations.

Once you have written, or copied and pasted your text, you select "create" and your "word cloud" will appear. The cloud displays the words, and any words that are written more frequently will appear larger in size. You can change the font size, layout and colour scheme of the image before you save or print it.

I introduced Wordle to a school recently, in a student voice project, and within a week it had been used several times by different teachers in different subjects in primary and secondary classrooms, demonstrating just how versatile it is.

I worked with more than 100 pupils at the International School Seychelles and asked them to think of one word that best sums up their school. We then entered the 100 or so words into Wordle and it created a visual representation of what they thought about their school. You can see the visualisation above.

The next day the potential of Wordle had begun to spread. One physics teacher, for example, produced a Wordle consisting of a long list of key words for each unit of work that he taught. In his lesson that day, he introduced a new topic by projecting the Wordle on to the board and asking pupils to use it to discuss ideas on the new topic. By the following afternoon, English pupils were using it to copy and paste the text of different poems to help improve their comprehension.

Another website similar to Wordle is As well as your own text, you can input website addresses, Twitter IDs or Google searches and it will display the most commonly used words.

Dan Roberts is head of the International School Seychelles. Follow him on Twitter at @chickensaltash or read his blog at

- Try m.quigley's resource for a guide to getting started with Wordle. For a good lesson starter, ask pupils to guess the topic of different Wordle puzzles with sarahcopeland's PowerPoint.

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