Review by Victoria Gannon, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2013


Easy-to-use tool for making colorful, fun word clouds

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts

  • Creativity
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (52 Reviews)

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5 images

Pros: Easy-to-use tool can help younger kids learn about spatial relationships, while older kids can use it to analyze texts.

Cons: Site doesn’t offer additional information for understanding how diagrams are made, and several steps are required to make illustrations into shareable image files.

Bottom Line: Eye-catching illustrations made from your words offer lessons on spatial relationships and vocabulary while helping kids identify a text’s major themes.

To help younger kids connect word size in a Wordle with frequency or importance, teachers could ask kids their favorite colors and enter responses into Wordle. The most popular word will appear the largest, helping kids link physical size with significance. Teachers can also use Wordle to help kids learn the different parts of speech. The visually engaging diagrams could be projected onto a screen, while the teacher asks about specific words.

Older kids can use the site to see a visual representation of how often a word appears in an assigned text. This can help them identify a text’s key vocabulary and themes. Teachers could ask kids to choose a word from the diagram and explain what it means, how it appears in the text, and what themes it relates to. Kids writing their own poems or essays could put their own words into Wordle. The "scrambled" version that appears in the diagram might inspire them to put words together in new ways or to reconsider or refine their word choices.

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Wordle is a fun tool that creates a word cloud from text users input. A word's size in the cloud is scaled to how often it appears in the text. Users can paste text from a document or type it directly into Wordle. The tool automatically generates a word cloud that visually represents how often various words appear. Frequently used words are larger than others. The first rendering is generated randomly, and users can then customize its appearance by removing less significant words and adjusting orientation, color palette, and font. Though a simple tool, Wordle offers an engaging alternative to the traditional way of analyzing a text or set of words.

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Kids who learn better with visual or spatial representations may have better success identifying key themes or identifying parts of speech if looking at a word cloud instead of the text in traditional format. The customization options allow both teachers and students to use the tool in a variety of ways and for multiple purposes. Students could even create word clouds to analyze their own writing, making it an empowering tool for self-assessment and reflection.

Wordle’s word clouds can be printed, making it easy to use them as handouts and worksheets. It would be nice if the diagrams could be downloaded as image files, but users can take a screenshot as a workaround. Word clouds presented on the site gallery are user-generated and aren't moderated, so teachers should be cautious if sending students to the site to explore on their own.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Visually pleasing word diagrams are satisfying to make, while kids will enjoy linking a word's size to its importance. Older kids will be curious to see which words appear most often in a piece of writing.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Kids can analyze diagrams to learn how size relates to significance. Older kids can identify important themes and vocabulary. Formatting controls allow users to adjust color, layout, and font and to remove unnecessary words.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The FAQs are comprehensive and helpful, outlining the site’s capabilities. Kids with special learning needs could benefit from seeing and thinking about words out of context.

Teacher Reviews

(See all 52 reviews) (52 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Kathleen G. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
California State University Fresno
Fresno, CA
Interesting tool that harnesses the power of digital humanities in a very simple way
Some of my students don't understand the concept of a word cloud, so this tool allows me to help them develop literacy skills they can use online. When used thoughtfully, the word cloud can help students see relationships amongst words within a passage and start to tease out meaning. Although I haven't required students to create their own Wordles, some have done so independently which leads me to believe that they see it as a valuable tool. As I've started to study developments in digital humanities, I've also realized that Wordle provides a very simple way to introduce how technology and literature can work together to create meaning. Read full review