Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Word Clouds as an Assessment Tool

There are several great tools online that can create word clouds.  Word clouds are a great teaching tool to use as a pre-assessment and post-assessment of what students have learned and how their vocabulary has changed and developed over the course of a unit.  The website that I use is

I got this idea from one of my colleagues for a music class that I am teaching: Musical Mosaic.  It is basically a 7th grade music history class.  The first day I asked all of the students to write down all of the words that they associated with Music History.  I then typed in their lists, including repeated words.  The more times a word is repeated, the bigger it is on the word cloud.  This is what we came up with on the first day of this class:

Clearly many different ideas about music history that range from the Beatles and wigs to Beethoven and Jazz.  This particular unit, that lasted about three weeks, studied music history from Medieval Ages to a brief stop in the 20th Century Art Music genre.  I LOVE music history and I wish that I could have spent more time on it, but we have so many other genres to get to this trimester-Jazz is next, just in time for Jazz Appreciation Month!

That being said, today was our last day with classical music history.  Tomorrow we take a test and move on.  But to wrap things up, we created another word cloud.  I asked the students to only use their notes if they were really stuck, and I think they did a great job!  Here is what we came up with this time:


I think these are really great tools for teachers and students to use in a variety of ways.  Both of these have been printed are next to each other on the wall in the front of my classroom.  The students had a bit of a chuckle when they reviewed their first cloud.  They also realized that they knew a bit more about music history than they thought they did as many of the words stayed the same.  I am going to use this for all of our units for this class.  This can be used for a variety of classes, including performance ensembles.  This would be great to use at the beginning and end of each year with your performance groups and see how they progress through the years.  It would be fun to show them their first word cloud from 6th grade at the end of their 8th grade year.  Sometimes we really need to show students their growth so that they see that they really are gaining knowledge!

You can also have fun with the font and colors....lots of creativity options here!!  Also, I don't know what the deal is with the formatting of this particular blog post.  It's a bit wonky, but I would never claim to be a tech-savvy person.



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