Tagxedo is an excellent way for students to express themselves AND learn about their writing style.
I really enjoy using this product with students. It's not as user friendly as I would like, and it does have a small learning curve. It would certainly be best for the teacher to explore the site and create their own word cloud before having students use the site. Other than that, it is an engaging learning tool that is free, easy, and can be used for many writing activities. I also like that there is a gallery of Tagxedos created by other users, and it is easy to share Tagxedos with others.
How I Use It
Students can use this site to create word clouds, which they love. But this site takes the concept further by allowing them to choose the shape they want the words to form. I challenge them to choose shapes that add extra meaning to their poems or writing. But my favorite way to use Tagxedo is as an editing tool. Students copy and paste their rough drafts into the Tagxedo program to create a word cloud. They can instantly see which words they've used most often (They are larger and more bold) and get a snapshot of their theme. I also use it to illustrate the main idea of famous speeches such as King's "I Have a Dream" speech. It is a great tool for visual learners!