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Thursday, 25 June 2015

Wrapping up the year with Wordles

Today was the last day of classes in my district.  While I am very ready for the summer break, I will definitely miss my group of Grade 4s.  

As a year-end gift, I decided to create a Wordle for my partner teacher with all of our students' names.  Wordles are word clouds that you can make for free (click here).  You simply type text into the wordle box, and the program generates a word cloud that you can edit for font, colour, and configuration.  The program uses an algorithm that increases the size of words that are repeated more often. My Wordle looked like this:

I loved this so much that I decided to something similar, but more special, for the kids.  First, I gave every student a page with all their classmates names on it.  I asked them to write down three words to describe everyone else in the class.  (We brainstormed a list of about 50 or 60 positive adjectives before they began and I wrote them all on the chalkboard).

Then I took the sheets in and typed the results into the Wordle box.  It took awhile, but I was so happy with the results!  It was amazing that I was able to turn this:

Fiona Fiona Fiona Fiona Fiona Fiona Fiona Fiona Fiona Fiona flexible cheerful smart smart kind friendly funny flexible respectful funny smart flexible brainy likeable nice smart pretty funny smart beautiful silly helpful friendly kind smart brainy nice funny kind smart cool polite pretty mature silly friendly smart happy nice kind awesome athletic smart brainy cool awesome mature brainy smart smart brainy flexible hardworking hardworking hardworking lovely pretty lovely tough fun 

into this:

I printed the Wordles out and put them into inexpensive frames I found at the dollar store.  I explained to my kids that the bigger the words in the picture, the more times that adjective was written down to describe them.  As I gave them out, I listed the biggest 3 or 4 words and had the class guess who the person was.  

They had a lot of fun guessing, and they were so happy to see what their classmates had to say about them.  They had the frames on their desks all day, and a few of them even took them outside at lunch to show their friends from other classes.

A lot of the kids lit up when they read the words used to describe them.  I even had a mom email me after school to say that her daughter loved it so much that she wanted to put the frame on the mantle in the living room so that she could see it as soon as she came home every day.

I like that the words all came from their classmates, and the kids will be able to look at these frames every time they feel down to remind them of how awesome they really are.

So what do you think?  Do you do something similar?  What do you for year-end gifts for your kids?  Let me know in the comments.

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