Making Predictions about Plot Using Word Clouds
Prior to the lesson, create a word cloud based on a short story the students have read. Ideally, copy and paste the entire text into the word cloud creator so that elements of the entire plot will be visible in the word cloud. Display the word cloud, and ask students to analyze which words are displayed, and how they are sized. Be sure that students note that characters' names are bigger, and that the main parts of the plot are evident. Point out to them that not every word of the story is visible, just the main ones (especially nouns and verbs), and those words that appear frequently in the story. Tell students that they will be predicting the plot of an upcoming story by creating their own word cloud. I chose to do this with A Midsummer Night's Dream, but this activity will work for any text. This activity works particularly well with Shakespeare because of its difficult nature and the students' reluctance toward it. Students will be more engaged with the story to see whether their prediction was accurate.
2 Creating the Word Cloud
I created a Google Slides presentation for each student in Google Classroom. The first slide provided a link to the full text version of the play A Midsummer Night's Dream. The next slide instructed students how to open a Word Cloud app. You may use Wordle, Tagxedo, or anything similar. The students were told to copy and paste a significant amount of text from Act 1, scene 1, or even the whole scene itself, into the word cloud generator. Once their word cloud appeared the way they liked it, they were to paste it onto their slide presentation.
3 Analyzing the Word Cloud
Students will carefully examine the words in their word cloud as well as their appearance. Larger words will be more important, for example, and words that are included probably play a significant role in the story. They will attempt to make connections between the words, and write down what they predict is a summary of the plot based on their word cloud.
4 Presenting Predictions
On a voluntary basis, or based on teacher selection, students' word clouds will be presented on the Smartboard, and students will be given the opportunity to explain their predictions to the class. As several students present, similarities in ideas will be discussed, with an emphasis on which words led to those assumptions.
5 Follow Up-Comparing and Contrasting: Predictions vs. Plot
Once Act 1 scene 1 has been read and discussed in the days following this lesson, students will revisit their initial predictions, and write a compare contrast paragraph explaining which parts of the plot they predicted accurately, and which were different. This will also serve to summarize the main point of the scene.
Key Standards Supported
Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.
Speaking & Listening
Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).
Build on others’ talk in conversations by responding to the comments of others through multiple exchanges.
Ask questions to clear up any confusion about the topics and texts under discussion.
Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to gather additional information or clarify something that is not understood.
Describe people, places, things, and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly.
Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation.
Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).
Build on others’ talk in conversations by linking their comments to the remarks of others.
Ask for clarification and further explanation as needed about the topics and texts under discussion.
Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.
Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.
Create audio recordings of stories or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.
Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.
Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions and carry out assigned roles.
Pose and respond to specific questions by making comments that contribute to the discussion and elaborate on the remarks of others.
Review the key ideas expressed and draw conclusions in light of information and knowledge gained from the discussions.
Summarize a written text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
Summarize the points a speaker makes and explain how each claim is supported by reasons and evidence.
Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, sound) and visual displays in presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.
Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, using formal English when appropriate to task and situation.
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.