A Wordle Example

I have a new superintendent in the mix this year.  While he’s not my direct supervisor, he and I go back a long way and he’s charged with the responsibility for the Information Technologies Department.  One of his goals this year is to do a “Tech Ten” presentation to the principals monthly and he’s enlisted my help.

I think it’s a great idea.  It’s also a challenge trying to get something meaningful and worthwhile that can be done with a quick demonstration in 10 minutes. 

Things do come back to haunt you.  In a former life, he worked as a computer coach in our schools under my supervision.  One of the things that I was big about with that group was the creation of “One Sheet Wonders”.  They were simply a one page instruction/summary to illustrate a single concept and each person in the group would create and share with others as they went about their business.  It was a great way to build a content library to support the initial use of a new piece of software.  So, the concept has returned.

This month, he’s going to do a quick demonstration of Wordle.  It’s a powerful tool and certainly something that can be used as a quick demonstration of the power of technology.  But, what to use as an example to drive home the notion?

With the Taylor Swift / Kanye West event on Sunday night, I had my inspiration.  How about comparing the musical style and message from two currently popular entertainers from two different genres?  The content literally flew out the end of my fingers as I put together this wiki page.

The premise is pretty simple actually.  The songs were just picked at random.  Using the text from http://www.azlyrics.com, I created a Wordle for Taylor’s Swift’s “Tim McGraw” and Kanye West’s “We Don’t Care“. 

“Tim McGraw” as a Wordle

So, what is the real message?  I took some lesser known text of documents that we use here and plopped it into the program as well.  There was some interesting content and visualization that popped out.

How would it be used in the classroom?  If you’ve created a Wordle before, you know that the sky is the limit.  I offered the following as starting points.

  • Could we analyze a memo from a superintendent?
  • Could we analyze any of the world’s great speeches?
  • Could a student in a writing activity determine if they are using a word too often?  “Like, ummmm”
  • Could we create a “School Wordle” with every student’s first name appearing?
  • Could we create school T-Shirts based upon key concepts that we believe in?
  • Could we …

I’ll be interested to see what other ideas this concept starter generates.  If you’ve got an innovative way that you’ve used Wordles in the past, please feel free to let me know.

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