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July 17, 2011 / Rabbi Meir Wexler

Wordle Works Well

Wordle: http://rabbiwex.blogspot.com

Wordle was created by Jonathan Feinberg, an IBM researcher, who co-authored a paper attributing Wordle’s mass popularity to “a cultural system in which viewers are also producers and remixers, and where visualization serves as much as an authoring tool as a method of analysis.” In other words people want to roll up their sleeves, dig in and feel a sense of accomplishment. The paper issued 3 sentences on educational uses: “I am a teacher. Wordles help me introduce topics to pupils by allowing them to see what a new topic is about. In academic writing, I use Wordles to check for excessive use of any word or phrase.”
I decided to create a wordle of my blog (shown above) and was surprised to see which words were more prominent than others. I started to reflect why certain words would stand out over others and it gave me insight into how I think, process, reflect and write on topics that appeal to me and what I think is important in education. 
Being an educator, I started thinking how Wordles can be applied to the texts I use in the classroom. So I started experimenting with different texts. Below is my first Wordle based on the first chapter of the Book of Beraisheet/Genesis.
Wordle: Beraisheet Chapter1

For those of you who read Hebrew it is interesting to see which words pop out of the screen. (Note that depending on which color schemes one picks will affect which words pop and which don’t.) 

Wordle: Beraisheet 1st Chapter

Here is a version where I blended both the original Hebrew text and English translation. Such a powerful way to start a conversation with students on what they are going to delve into. Or students could summarize what they learned by creating a wordle with more significant words or topics having a more pronounced look on the page.  Think about the many applications Wordle can have in the classroom!

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