How I Use It
Wordle is one of the older Web 2.0 tools out there and I've used it for going on five years now, if I recall correctly. I'll have students copy poetry into the box and see what key words emerge. Often we'll weigh what Wordle identifies from its objective P.O.V. with our initial take. (Did Wordle find the same words to be of significance?) We have done this with prose as well.
It is also helpful after a brainstorming session. Common threads can emerge and students can then move forward either with the next stage of a design project or conduct a conversation about those common threads. And again, it is so visual, it helps my less verbally capable students make the same connections as those who find written text easy to comprehend and manage.
Wordle is fairly solid, if somewhat overused, text visualizer. Insert the text and Wordle creates a text-based image based on the frequency of words in the text. Users can customizer color palates and some basic layout features.
The pros come from visual students having an opportunity to interact with the text in a different way. It can help students identify key words, it can help students sort out important concepts, and it can help break a complex text down into prominent concepts.
Huge con is that it doesn't work in Chrome. Period. I use Chrome almost exclusively even in a Mac environment as our district is heavy with Google Apps for Ed users.
I'm always wondering it hasn't evolved much in the past few years to greater customization. I have noticed that developers can go in and make some interesting use of the advanced features. That could be interesting work for a coding class.