March 27, 2017

Word Clouds Page Helps Students Ramp up Vocabulary Skills

By Rob Klindt, Contributing Writer | Literacy Resources

Clouds outside may darken the mood on a quiet afternoon. But inside a classroom, clouds can lighten the mood and promote learning — as long as they’re chock full of words.

Word Clouds can help teachers improve students' vocabulary skills.Word clouds pull words from written sources and arrange them in a visually appealing way based on their frequency of use, pattern and importance. They help teachers quickly summarize ideas and concepts in written text.

In classrooms, teachers can use word clouds to highlight vocabulary words or have students identify key words and explain how they relate to a topic. A word cloud can be created from many sources, including poems, a speech or even a vocabulary word list.

And it’s easy to do.

A free webpage called Word Clouds lets anyone with a desktop computer create custom word clouds. Sponsored by ABCYa!, an educational gaming company, the webpage includes an easy-to-use suite of tools teachers can use to create word clouds for their classrooms.

Studying word clouds can help students build reading and literacy skills in many important ways, including:

  • Boosting word comprehension
  • Building vocabulary
  • Finding concepts
  • Identifying word connections
  • Improving spelling

But word clouds aren’t just for use in reading or English language arts classes. Teachers can also use them in science, history, social studies and even art classes.

How it works

Launch the Word Cloud creator by clicking on the arrow icon in the center of the homepage, then click the “Start” arrow to open an empty text box. Type words into the box, or paste in a collection of words from a poem, speech or even a vocabulary word list.

The creator will work with as few as three words, but using more words is better because it allows for more versatility when customizing the look and feel of the finished word cloud. A word cloud with 50 or more words is a good size to start with.

After words are in the text box, click the “Create” button, and the cloud automatically builds and displays on the screen.

Above the cloud is a toolbar that lets users select the layout, color and font to display words in the cloud. A “Word Limit” tool also lets users choose the number of words displayed from 10 to 1,000. Finally, clicking the “Menu” button launches tools for editing, saving or printing the word cloud. There’s also a tool for filtering words.

Dynamic features

The Word Clouds page includes numerous dynamic features that guide users through the creation process and make the finished product look just right. The most helpful are:

  • A colorful interface
  • Animation
  • Confirmation sounds
  • Customization tools
  • Intuitive navigation

Word clouds can be saved in various artistic shapes, including squares, circles, diamonds, hearts and cloud forms.

Displaying a word cloud on a digital whiteboard app in class is an excellent way for teachers to engage students and prompt classroom discussions of vocabulary and how to use certain words in different types of essays.

What’s included

The Word Clouds webpage has everything needed to create custom word clouds using text from any source. All tools are web-based and work with most newer desktop computer browsers. There is no cost, and registration on the parent ABCYa! website is optional. There is limited advertising on the Word Clouds webpage.

Finally, for those who want to create word clouds on the go, ABCYa! offers a free “Word Clouds” app for iPad tablets. It’s available on the iTunes store and is compatible with iPads running iOS version 4.3 or later.

Visit the Word Clouds webpage

Rob Klindt’s “App Reviews” combine his passion for writing with an ever-growing interest in educational technology. His simple, straightforward approach to reviewing educational apps help educators and parents leverage new tools for students in and out of the classroom.

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