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Word Clouds

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Dec. 10, 2018, 8:54 a.m.

A word cloud is an image composed of words or phrases. Individually or as a team, students create an image in which the size of each word or phrase indicates its importance to the overall meaning of the topic or text. Word clouds can be created for concepts, characters, events, and themes across content areas.


After a lecture, class discussion, reading of a chapter or section of a text, each student lists important ideas, ranking each idea from least to most important. Students must defend their thinking about the importance of each idea.  The creation process scaffolds thinking from retrieval to comprehension to analysis and evaluation.   

Students meet with a partner or team to share ideas and come to a consensus about the important ideas.  As students discuss the ideas, they deepen their understanding of the topic or text. 


Word clouds are a great formative assessment technique that allows teachers to quickly gather data about the level of understanding of the intended learning.  This five to ten minute activity will reveal a lot about the depth of conceptual understanding and each students’ reasoning process.  


See a few examples below



Kelly Harmon and Randi Anderson

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Kelly Harmon & Associates began in 2001 with a mission of instructional coaching and providing rich literacy resources for educators and parents. Our work incorporates research-based best practices for teaching and learning.

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