Word Clouds as a 21st Century Learning Tool (and a Beginning of the Year Project Idea)

At the beginning of the year, I used to do a “recipe for a good school year” project, but I decided to change it up this year and do a word cloud version.  While perusing various word cloud sites, I came across Tagxedo and was mesmerized by all the different options it has for customizing your word cloud.  When I saw a key, I thought it would be cute for students to make a “key to a good school year” word cloud.  I'm hoping to get them up before Curriculum Night so I can have a tech project on display in my room.  Here is the example I made.
Generated using http://www.tagxedo.com/
Another beginning of the year idea I had was having students write adjectives to describe themselves and then customizing their word cloud with one of the many shapes available in Tagxedo.  This might be a fun icebreaker activity and could then be used as the cover for their portfolio binders.  Here is just a sampling of the many shapes Tagxedo has to offer. 
 While word clouds can make adorable projects for special occasions and holidays, they also serve as a valuable learning tool in a 21st Century classroom.  I’ve used word clouds during reading centers as a word work center.  Here is my word family example.
Generated using http://worditout.com/
Some other ideas I have for using word clouds in my classroom this year are:
-Adjectives to describe a famous person or a character in a book
-Practicing spelling and vocabulary words
-Demonstrating what students learned about a specific topic
-Analyzing famous speeches and historical documents (by copying and pasting the text to see which words were used most frequently)
-Self-evaluating student writing pieces
-Creating posters of synonyms for overused words, like the one below
Generated using http://www.abcya.com/word_clouds.htm
Here are my four favorite FREE word cloud generator sites that don’t require a login:

How have YOU used word clouds with your students?  I always love to hear your ideas. :) 

Update 7/22:
I linked this post with Jen's tech linkup. 
Teaching and Tech


  1. Around President's Day last year, I had the kids write a formula poem about Abe Lincoln (can't remember what kind) then type their poem into Tagxedo and shape it like ol' Abe's head. They turned out super cute!

    Inside this Book

    1. That's a cute idea. I saw Abe's head on there. :)

  2. I LOVE word clouds! There is so much you can do with them! My second graders study community helpers so they read books online about a specific helper and then created word clouds with adjectives about their helper. Another fun one I did around Christmas time was give groups of students different holiday songs. They had to pick out the keywords and put them into a cloud. The other students then had to guess the song by the keywords! They loved it! Thanks for the great post!

    1. I love the Christmas song idea! I'm sure you could do a guessing game with lots of other topics too. Thanks for the great ideas!

  3. I love your idea to use Tagxedo with the key to learning concept! How fun!

    EduKate and Inspire

  4. I love the idea of your key word cloud! This would be a great activity to do the first week of school and have, like you said, before Back to School night.

    Thanks for sharing! Do you mind if I pin this one for future reference?


  5. Kristin, I love your "key to a good school year" word cloud!! I'm going to pin that!

    Also, I love using technology in the classroom and am so glad to have you as a resource for technology ideas!!


  6. Hi Kristin!

    I just found your blog... love it! I would use tagxedo or wordle to help my students learn the difference between main idea/details, and to self-assess if their writing focused on what they want it to. The most frequent words being bigger definitely helps visual learners process that :)

    Thanks for sharing your ideas!