Texas Teaching Fanatic

A look inside a 4th grade classroom

Word Clouds: They Aren’t Just For Fun!

Word Cloud of my blog by Tagxedo

Word Cloud of my blog by Tagxedo

I hate to admit it, but I’ve only used word clouds with some of my students.  I wasn’t really sure how to use word clouds when I first heard about them, so I only selected a few individuals that I thought would benefit from using it.  Mostly to help them in their writing.  You see, when the idea of word clouds was presented, I was only showed a website and was allowed about 3-5 minutes to “explore” it.  The more I read, the more I found out how helpful they can be.

So what types of things can you do with word clouds?  I know I won’t even begin to touch on everything, but here are a few ideas on how they can be used with your students.

1. When students have finished a piece of writing and they need to check for redundant words, put them on Wordle.net.  The best part about Wordle is that it counts the number of times the words are used and makes the highest count the biggest in the cloud.  That way, students see how many times they have used words like then, I, me, and so on.  This is how I used them in my classroom, and it really makes the students aware of the overused words.

2. At the beginning of the year, allow students time to write an “About Me” paragraph and then type it into a word cloud creator such as Tagxedo.  This is another word cloud site that easily downloads the image you create and has an assortment of shapes for your words.

3. After students read a passage or discuss content in class, allow students to write down the words they feel are most important to the lesson and put it into a word cloud.six flags

4. Use a word cloud for vocabulary words.  This can be used in any subject!

5. Use math vocabulary words in a word cloud and ask students to come up with a mathematical story using the words.  Great way to combine some writing and math!

6. In Social Studies, create a word cloud using character traits of various leaders or important historical figures.

7. For a Mother’s or Father’s Day project (or anytime, really), allow students to make a word cloud as a gift.  This could be with characteristics of the

person, a thank you letter, a poem…you name it!

8. Students could actually draw their own word clouds as an activity to “fill time” when they get finished early.  They will probably end up doing this on their own, anyway.  It’s sort of addicting.

9. Use Wordle to create a word cloud with units of measurement.  I say use Wordle because you can decide how big or small you make the words.  This way students would get an accurate picture of which units of measurement are bigger than others.

Word Cloud by ABCya

Word Cloud by ABCya

10. Use word clouds at the end of the lesson or day to see what the students remember.  The teacher can either assign a certain amount of words, or the students can write as many important words as they can at the end of your time together.  This could be a neat twist to exit tickets!

Now that I’ve written about all of this, I will have to do some of these before school starts.  I’m excited to begin another new year!  I will post some of my results!

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Homeworkopoly Revisited

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Homeworkopoly has been drawing the attention of several people and conjuring questions of all kinds, so I decided to revisit this popular topic and do my best to answer the questions that have been asked.

What is it?  Homeworkopoly is a game that was created by some brilliant person (I’m guessing a teacher, but not sure of the original owner) to encourage homework participation.  The best part about it is that you can customize it to fit your needs.

How does it work?  It works differently in every classroom, I’m sure.  Some teachers are lucky enough to have only one set of students, while others are departmentalized and have numerous classes rotating through each day.  I teach 4th grade, and my team is departmentalized, so I see about 44 students every day.  Last year, the year of implementation, I actually had 3 classes of 22 students in a rotation, so it was a little difficult to manage, but still possible.  Because of the high volume of participants, my rules for the game were probably very different from a self-contained classroom.

The rules: During the fall semester, I was fortunate enough to have an AMAZING student teacher helping me out, so I had extra hands to aide in the execution of everything.  I kept a simple spreadsheet that had each student’s name and the dates of assigned homework.  Each time a student turned in homework, he/she got a check.  At the end of the week, students would get to roll the dice and move around the board as many times as they turned in homework for the week.  I also asked volunteers to help out while the students were actually being called back and playing the game.

During the spring semester, without help and with THE test looming over us, we just had less time for Homeworkopoly.  I told the students that instead of rolling once for each time they turned in homework, now they would have to be consistent all week in order to receive one roll.  Not only did this cut down on the time required to play, it helped reinforce the idea of responsibility and turning in homework consistently.

Computer and Chance Cards: When students land on a Computer Card or Chance Card space, the student would choose the card in the front/on top and receive the prize that was written on the card.  I’m not a big fan of sending students to the prize box all the time, so I chose to provide prizes that didn’t necessarily involve money.  I found a great website that offered 125 FREE rewards to students, so I picked the ones I liked most–and felt I could live with–printed them on labels, and then put them on the back of the cards.  I’ve posted the website under my classroom management page, but here it is again: http://www.managemyclassroom.com/?p=128

The other spaces: I hate to say it, but we just didn’t have time to mess with any spaces other than the Chance and Computer Card spaces.  If you have been fortunate enough to employ other ideas with these spaces, I would love to hear what you do!!

Pawns: Since I hung my Homeworkopoly game board on the wall, I had to use something that would not fall off the board (aka: no pawns).  I decided to designate a color to each class, and they had an Expo marker to write their assigned class number on the space where they landed.  Rather than writing it each time they landed, they only wrote their number where they landed LAST.  This is where those student helpers came in very handy!!  Since the game board was laminated, we just kept some Expo board spray and paper towels on the ledge next to it for when we needed to erase.

Time devoted to playing: As I mentioned earlier, this took up more time in the fall than it did during the spring, for various reasons.  Holding the students accountable for turning in homework every day in order to roll once cut down on the number of participants, especially towards the end of the year when all they want to do is go home and be DONE with school!  I would say it probably took around 20 minutes or so in the fall (with lots of help) and dwindled down to 5-10 in the spring.  This is per class.  Remember, I had classes of about 22 students.  We played only on Fridays.

Hopefully I’ve answered most of the questions you might have on the implementation of Homeworkopoly.  If you have played this game with your students, I would LOVE to hear your spin on it!!

 

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HOMEWORKOPOLY

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This is the game board as it looks in my classroom. It has been loved by my students and has some holes here and there and numbers written all over it, but this is the REAL DEAL!

Homework.  That eight letter word that students HATE!  That word that forces teachers to give countless speeches on responsibility.  That word that causes frustration on many levels when it isn’t completed.

Even though homework isn’t always fun, it is a necessary evil.  Students need to practice what they are learning in school in order to help them retain the information for the long term.

As I was browsing Pinterest, I came across “The Ladybug’s Teacher Files” and fell in love with an idea she had about a game called Homeworkopoly.  I quickly printed the pieces, laminated them, and put them together on my board.  The looks on the students’ faces were priceless as they slowly began to notice this new game that had mysteriously appeared in the back of the classroom.

The Rules:  Turn in homework all week and you get a chance to roll once to move around the board.  Students will write their assigned classroom number with a dry erase marker on the space where they land.  If a student lands on a Question Card or Computer Card, he/she will draw a card from the center of the board and receive the prize which is on the back of the card.

The results: I saw a significant increase in the amount of homework that was turned in each day, and the students who would only complete homework once or twice a week began to turn it in daily.  And, of course, they all had fun rolling the dice and crossing their fingers, hoping to land on a space and get a surprise reward.

I didn’t think that such a simple implementation would bring such desirable results.  The students have truly enjoyed their homework a little more due to this simple little game.

Click here to access the game board file –> Homeworkopoly Game Board

Click here to access the cards –> Homeworkopoly Cards

**You can also find 120 FREE rewards to give to students in the archives.**

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