http://www.wordle.net is a great site to create FREE "word clouds". At Wordle you enter text into a screen and a java application picks words by how often they are used in the text. The more often a word is used... the bigger the word is in the word cloud. It also screens out words like "it", "and", "I", "to", etc... wordle keeps a list of these words they call "not" words...

What is left is a really interesting looking frequency graph of what words are being used in a given selection of text.

Check it out. It is really fun... mildly addictive... and strangely informative. For example, I cut and pasted into wordle anything that was said in our A4A blog section so far. (see picture)



Clearly, the participants of Algebra for All are "student centered"!

If you are interested in using this in your classroom, be sure to read the FAQ at wordle.net.

I debated whether or not to post this blog... what does it really have to do with teaching algebra? I took my online textbook for algebra one and copied and pasted all of the text from the chapter that I am currently teaching into a wordle and looked at the top three hundred used words... very interesting frequency study of words emphasized in my text...

I guess we could ask if the wordle site is a function... that is for every input (word in text screen), is there exactly one output (word size)? Answer: Yep. Of course this is kind of trivial... oh, well... I tried.

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Comment by Geraldine Devine on December 8, 2009 at 11:20am
Arthur...you are right Wordle is addicting. I really like how it can take words and visually represent the frequency SOOOOO FAST.

If we were to take a small excerpt of text paste it into wordle and print out the diagram, we could give both the diagram and the text to students and ask them to justify what they see. (Assuming they don't necessarily know what the applet does) I would be interested to see what statistical tools they use.

Thank you for sharing :)
Comment by David Young on December 3, 2009 at 11:27am
I think this is cool and helpful. As a simple tool to help all of us think about the content of our posts it is useful, regardless of any algebraic applications. Showing it to your students with words from the text or elsewhere is sharing a useful tool with them as well.

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