Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Word Sift - Play with Words!

I enjoy using word clouds for a variety of projects with students.  Recently while at a conference, I attended a session by Ramsey Musallam (www.cyclesoflearning.com) who shared a lot of great stuff!  One of the many tools he shared with us was WordSift .  I thought I had heard of all the word cloud generators.  But this one is different and a great tool for any classroom.   
As you can see below, I cut and pasted a blog post from our iPad blog into WordSift .  It then sifted my post and created a tagcloud of the 50 most common words (notice no "and"s "the"s, etc...).  Based on the text size, you can easily visualize what word I used the most in that post!
But beyond creating a cloud of words, the tools included take this word cloud generator to a new level of usefulness.  No, it doesn't make it into heart shapes or fun colors, but it makes "playing" with the words more interactive.  
Below I clicked on the word "writing" in my tag cloud.  From that, under my cloud, it found images for the word "writing" as well as mapping it using the Visual Thesaurus widget.   Pretty nifty!

But then there is the power of the Workspace!
Under the tagcloud box there is an option to "Create Workspace" (circled in the image below).  By creating a workspace for the words I can click and drag the words and move them about.   

And not just words, but I can pull images into my workspace as well!  As you can see below, I clicked on the word "student" on my workspace, images for student were generated in the box below, and then by clicking "Make Images Draggable" I then was able to drag photos to my work space. 
And finally (for now) when I click on any of the words in my workspace or tagcloud, I also am given examples of where that word appears in the passage that I used for the WordSift .  This is a great way to identify different ways a certain word was used.  
This would be great for all subject areas by allowing students to visualize and see the words they are discussing, whether high school students analyzing a piece of work written by someone else or first graders brainstorming what they think is happening in a picture.  WordSift was created for teachers and their site includes ideas for more ways of using their tool in the classroom.