Lesson Plan

Making Predictions about Plot Using Word Clouds

Students will analyze the words of a word cloud created from the text of an upcoming play or story, and write a summary of their prediction.
Christine F.
Classroom teacher
Van Wyck Junior High School
Wappingers Falls, NY
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My Grades 7, 8
My Subjects English Language Arts
EdTech Mentor

Students will be able to...

  • analyze the size of the words in a word cloud to determine their importance
  • predict the main ideas of a story based on the words the word cloud contains
  • make predictions about the plot of an unfamiliar story by interpreting connections between those words
  • write a summary of their predictions
English Language Arts
text analysis
Grades 7 - 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

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

Activity: Other — Analyzing and Predicting

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

Activity: Presenting

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

Activity: Assessing

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.