Wordling The Iron Man: Reviewing my story visually

This morning I have been fiddling with my Iron Man Story with Wordle. I have made no alterations to it as a result, but wondered what visual pointers I might be able to pick out for improvement, by playing with the text and some of the tools on the site . Here are two versions of the story, as generated in different ways by the Wordle environment.

This image of my story was generated using the language menu, where I asked the tool to include all words from the text I had generated, in the word cloud. The variations in text size indicate the frequency with which words were used in my story, and as you can see the most common words used here are
  • the
  • to
  • his
  • and
Perhaps in sharing this image with a friend, or through projection as a class, my thoughts could be directed to reread what I have written, considering as I go the connectives and sentence openers I have used. I have a number of students who still regularly use "and" to join episodes in a story, and whose texts can appear list like as a result. Using Wordle in this way with them might be useful as a tool to highlight this, perhaps asking them to consider using "and" as an indicator of a sentence end, or to review their texts and consider other possible connectives to replace this as they revise their text.

It is easy to get bogged down in the word level and sentence level structure of the text, and as a writer I should also be concerned about how my audience hears my voice and what I intend to communicate, the meaning I want to make, the images I want to share. The variation in my word choice and use of adventurous vocabulary and sentence structure will be indicative of this, and how well I have achieved my goals. So revisiting the language menu I set the tool to remove common English words from the cloud, to have a look see.

Don't know about you but actually I'm really pleased with this, I know I wanted to use some similes in my story, because Ted Hughes, my model, used these a great deal as comparative descriptive devices. The word Like is highlighted and knowing I was writing in the 3rd person, and past tense, I am more likely to have used this word as a comparative than a description of how the character was feeling about something, indeed had I done so the verb would have ended in "ed" to indicate this I hope. In addition throughout the cloud are a variety of adjectives and verbs, all of which are around the same size so I have not been repeating myself overly. On a word level the clouds seem to suggest that I am quite good at this writing lark, so perhaps my next step will be to review my work against the wider features of the Genre I am writing in.

As a tool for reviewing my own writing, I have enjoyed using Wordle to visually evaluate the tone and feel of my work. While writing my recent MSc Dissertation I checked each chapter in Wordle, to ensure that the key messages were included and that they focussed on particular aspects, by reviewing the Vocabulary they contained. Here on a more professional level, I have begun to use and explore the tool considering teaching points arising from my own exploration of the text type I would like my students to engage with. The final outcome of the unit will involve the students in preparing onscreen versions of the story for inclusion in their animated books, and use of onscreen "dulled texts" as models and frames. In reviewing student outcomes and encouraging self evaluation and improvement the visual nature of the text representation here could be incredibly useful as a support.

On a slightly different note, I am also wondering about wordle as a tool for presenting the outcomes of talk for writing. During Visualisation tasks, where tasks such as "burst Writing" or the creation "word showers" might be a transient outcome on whiteboards, Wordle could provide extension opportunities for students to engage semiotically to present outcomes for display, perhaps considering how colour, font style and cloud shape effect the tone of the collections they have made.

Other Wordle Posts


Nancy Devine said...

Nice to find your blog.
I'm intrigued by using Wordle in the classroom and haven't done so yet. Actually, I'm just figuring out lots of things tech for myself and hoping to use them with students. I teach high school English in North Dakota, USA.
Can I infer from your post that you can use Wordle to generate a kind of concrete poem?

Doug said...

This is great stuff Simon. Now to get the children to follow in your analytical footsteps.