Week 8: Mini Project I

October 18, 2013



Wordle: Out of My Mind

For this week’s mini project, I originally planned on creating a digital story but I realized within a couple minutes of planning that coming up with a story, even for a short 3-5 minute video, would take me hours of imagination time. Frankly, sometimes I feel like I lack imagination for projects like story telling. Maybe with years of experience improvising stories in the classroom I’ll be able to come up with a 3-5 minute digital story that is creative and fun for students.


I decided to create a word cloud using Wordle. I think that word clouds are interesting and not only because they look like neat graffiti but also because they present an idea using a collection of words and emphasizing the importance with larger fonts. Instead of presenting a summary of a story, I believe word clouds show a visually appealing synapsis of the information presented in a text, discussion, or presentation.


I did my mini project on a book that I am particular fond of, Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. It is a book about a girl, Melody, who has special needs. She has cerebral palsy and she is unable to communicate with her friends, family, and classmates until she receives an assistive technology that allows her to communicate her ideas through a computing device. This book is written on a 4th grade reading level but I believe it is a great book to present to middle school students, especially those with low reading levels so my lesson would be geared to middle school students. This book could also be used as a form of bibliotherapy, which is using literature to help build confidence, compassionate, and understanding for others.


I struggled for a while with my word cloud. I wanted to make it perfect and specific to my interests and goals. My original plan was to try to paste the text into the Wordle software so that I would be able to pull out the words that are represented most in the text. However, the book was not available in the Gutenberg Project and only parts of the book were available on Google Books. Then, I thought I might be put the portions of the book that were available on Google Books into Wordle, but the format is PDF and thus I couldn’t copy and paste. I also tried to post summaries, reviews, and blurbs about the book into Wordle but the words that were coming up just didn’t fit with my view of the book.


After brainstorming a bit with Dr. Coffman, I found an Advanced portion of Wordle which actually allows the creator to decide the words and the size of the words. So I went about writing down words that I associate with the book by searching reviews and summaries myself. From there, I emphasized the words in the book that I found to be most essential to the meaning of the story and background. I put them into the advanced Wordle with the font size beside them and BAM! I had a Wordle. Of course, I did several revisions and changes in font, size, color, and arrangement before deciding on the final product but I was able to customize the information as I saw fit using the advanced option.


So if I were to use word clouds in the classrrom, I think they could be implemented by having students come up with main ideas from a story and presenting them as word clouds. For example, students could read a literature text and pick on the theme and supporting details, then present the theme with a list of words. Once the students have their list of words, they could give each a level of importance and make those words larger on their map.  Teachers can also create these to present topics or help students find the key terms in a story but I think students would really have a good time creating their own word cloud.

Categories: INDT 501, Uncategorized.

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