It’s Friday and I see my American Lit kids at 2:00 – for most of them it’s their last class of the week, and they admitted to thinking the day was already over (much to their chagrin “but it’s not that I don’t like your class Mrs. Tabor, it’s just been a really long week”). Today I promised to only talk about chapter 8 in the Scarlet Letter – and true to my word we talked only about Pearl, Hester, Dimmesdale, that moment when all the people you wish weren’t together are together and talking about you, and the way that the old men in Boston want to see the supernatural in the child (and how Hawthorne just imagines the governor’s head on a platter a la Salome and John the Baptist). So, to end class early, each student had to give me a list of words that were top of mind at this point when they think about the Scarlet Letter – and here is the word cloud that their 150+ words created:
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The creation of word clouds may seem like a mundane exercise, but to students they may serve as a reminder of the power of words and their emotional, intellectual and aesthetic potential.
You are so right, Paul. I have had so many discussions with students about the word cloud – students in my class and seniors that stop by. “What’s that? It’s so cool. How did you do that? Why did someone put Jerry Seinfeld on their list – that’s weird.” The great big RED word ‘adultery’ takes center page. It’s a visual representation of our discussion, and that intrigues them.
The word cloud is extra cool – a genuinely graphical way of seeing the themes of the book. Great teaching tool!
@ Martha – Thanks for taking the time to read and comment! Wordle has helped me in a couple of instances bringing a graphic clarity to something that seemed abstract. I will use them again!