Friday, April 23, 2010

Sky Watching: Seeing the Cloud Pictures

Watching clouds were a favorite pastime when I was young. I remember road trips when my sisters and I tried to spot pictures in the sky. Over the years I have had a lot of "windshield time" driving across Montana, watching the road and the kaleidoscope of our ever changing "Big Sky Country".

As a new comer to social networking and blogs in general I was aware of word clouds. After a few questions to more knowledgeable friends, I learned it was a collection of word tags. Recently I read the blog Changing Phase. Clare talked about several word cloud generators.

I had already played with Wordle, the word art generator created by Jonathan Feinberg. Several of the word generator's Clare referred to were inspired by Wordle.

Tagul is a program that creates word clouds with active links. I was thrilled with the possibilities. I used the Tagul program to make a star shaped word cloud based on my blog article "Reading Like Writers: Using Mentor Texts in the Classroom". I have a lot to learn in order to use this program to it's highest potential.

I also read the Wordle Blog. In his blog, Jonathan praised Tagxedo a word cloud generator developed by Hardy Leung. I took a delightful journey through his gallery of word art. I was disappointed when I realized my computer doesn't support silverlight, so I was unable to create my own word art.

I was feeling so excited about being on the "cutting edge" of new information. I headed over to the EFL Classroom Ning and searched word clouds and tagul and discovered several people, David, Ellen and Marisa - who had already shared information on the word cloud tech tools.

Ah well, I think I already said I have a lot to learn. Here is to watching clouds and looking for sky pictures both in the physical world and in the virtual world.

1 comment:

  1. Too many word clouds can spoil the broth in my opinion. They are used all over the place in the EFL world to the point of saturation. They have started to look gimmicky when used at conferences to illustrate every other slide.

    They are undeniably pretty though and do have more practical and less decorative applications for learners.