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Wordle and Social Studies

Page history last edited by Laura Prieur 7 years, 11 months ago

By Laura Prieur and Melissa Fife



What is Wordle?

Wordle is an innovated tool for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide or words that hold a specific meaning to an object or event. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle can be printed out or saved to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends. Wordle is a great tool to help all those in need of creatively generating a piece of art that helps people understand the underline meaning of a text, object, or event. 


Wordle Website:   http://www.wordle.net/


How to create a Wordle? 

This innovated tool is easy to use with a few easy steps:

  1. Go to www.wordle.net/create 
  2. Copy any text you would like to you and paste it in the blank box below the “Paste in a bunch of text”
    1. You can also enter the URL of any blog, blog feed, or any other web page that has an Atom or RSS feed
  3. Click on the “Go” tab if using pasted text or “Submit” tab if pasting a URL
  4. Wait for the  image to load. The text that you entered in will appear in the text box
  5. Time to Edit. There are several editing options you can choose to give your Wordle a personal touch:
    1. In the upper left hand corner, there is Font, Layout, and Color tabs. You can use these to change the Wordle to your own personal preference


               ii. You can click on the randomize button on the lower left hand corner to randomize the words again to create a new

                   image with different color schemes and word order

     6. To print the image, click on the printer icon in the lower left hand corner 

     7. If you want to save it to the public gallery, click save to public gallery and a box will appear for you to type a title of your

         Wordle and your username; however, you do not have to put a username 


For further instructional needs, here is a link to a video tutorial of how to use Wordle:





Lesson Plan to Help Students Learn How to use Wordle:


2nd Grade Lesson Plan-Using Wordle



-student will learn about Wordle.

-students will observe how a Wordle page is created through brainstorming of a specific topic.

-students will create a writing assignment including all the key words on Wordle. 



ISTE- 1b, 2a, 2b, 3b, 5a, 5b, 5c, 6a

ELA-1, 2, 4




Internet Access to http://www.wordle.net/





Using an LDC projector or Smartboard, teacher will show students the Wordle.net website and briefly explain it is a website that will jumble words into a collage format.


Teacher will pick a main topic that the students will be writing about, such as “Winter”.

The students will then create a list of words that go with that topic such as: snow, icicle, gloves, hat, scarf, boots, jacket, snow-pants, sled. Depending on time and ability, the student could type in the name of the word independently into the Wordle box. 

Once there are enough of the key words, the teacher will show the students what the Wordle website can do with the words by changing the font, color, directionality, and importance of words to the students. (Word that appears the most in the list will be the largest).


Students will then create a short story using the key words in the Wordle box.




4-Student used all of the key words included in the Wordle Box and story had a strong, and clear beginning, middle, and end.

3-Student used 75% of the key words and the story and the story had a beginning, middle, and end.

2-Student used 50% of the key words , but the story lacked key elements to make it a solid story.

1-Student used less than 50% of the words and lacked the structure to be considered a story. 


Sources for Lesson posted below in Resources


Using Wordle in a Social Studies Classroom


These are three different ways a teacher can incorporate Wordle into his/her Social Studies program:


1. Wordle can be used to help students remember and understand important events and people during a particular point in history. When discussing the particular period of time, the teacher can have to students locate the influential people and events that occurred, and create a Wordle using those which the students have chosen. Creating a Wordle like this will not only help the students recall the information, but it can also be used as a tool for teachers to assess their students and what they have learned.   


Example of Use in Classroom:

In a sixth grade class, they have begun discussing the Cold War and all of the important people and events that occurred during that time. Each time the students learn of a new person or event, the teacher wrote the particular event or person down on a sheet of paper. At the end of the day the teacher entered the word into Wordle and created a poster composing of the various words. The next class period, the teacher would show the Wordle to the class and have them recall each event or person with their particular importance to the Cold War. After a few weeks the teacher uses the Wordle and asks the students what this Wordle is about (the Cold War). Each student will pick one or several of the words on the Wordle and explain who or what the word is.

Example of Wordle:


Found at: http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/6005459/Untitled


2.  We can help students make a personal and emotional connection to a particular group of people during any point in time. In social studies, it is very important for students to understand personal perspectives during history because those perspectives or feelings caused history to act upon itself.  

Example Use in Classroom:

In a fifth grade classroom, the teacher distributes a sheet of paper to the class and explains that this is an excerpt from Fredrick Douglass’ autobiography. The teacher instructs the students to read the excerpt and highlight the words within the text which they find to be emotional drawing, brings out questions, or are just plain noticeable. After the students finished reading the text, the teacher has the students discuss the words they highlighted and why they chose to highlight them. The students then make their way to the computer lab to make a Wordle of the words they highlighted. After all the Wordles are created the teacher discusses how the slaves must have felt during their enslavement and the pain that was caused because of the slavery in the South. 

Example of Wordle:

Found at: http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/6005479/Untitled 



3. Wordle can be used to help students find out what ideas are most important in a famous speech. The students can make a "word cloud" using any speech during history. Student can read the speech, create a cloud, and discuss what the speech is about and what are the important details the person giving the speech was attempting to give.

Example Use in the Classroom:

In a sixth grade class, the teacher discusses the current elections and the differences between the two candidates running to be president. The teacher distributes a speech from both of the candidates and divides the class into two groups: one groups that reads one speech and the other reads the other speech. The students are asked to read the speech, discuss the main points of the speech and use Wordle to create a "word cloud" that would be used in a classroom discussion about the candidate's speech. 

 Example of Wordle:


    Found at: http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/6005500/obama




Useful Links For Teachers When Using Wordle:












Comments (2)

Laura Prieur said

at 11:42 pm on Nov 12, 2012

This is not yet finished

Laura Prieur said

at 1:39 pm on Nov 13, 2012

This is the completed wiki

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