Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

May 18, 2010

Use Wordle to Spice-Up Your Theology Lesson Plans

Wordle is a fun web tools that has enormous potential. It allows you to create “word clouds” from texts that you create or cut and paste into the system. Words that appear more frequently are given greater prominence than others. Once you or your students create the images, they are yours to use in whatever way you please.

Here is an example using this blog’s feed:



Try it out, it’s simple:

1) Go to www.wordle.net
2) Click “Create your own”
3) Type or paste text and click “Go” (or enter an RSS feed, or del.icio.us user name and click “Submit”)
4) Edit the language, font, layout, or color
5) Print or screen capture to share!

Some suggestions for using Wordle in your lesson plans:

Teaching Vocabulary
• Enter (or have students enter) the chapter’s vocabulary words into Wordle.
• Type the definition of a word into Wordle and have students guess which word it defines.
• Create a study guide by typing the more important words more than once into the text section of the Wordle tool.

Lectio Divina
• Have students select a text for Lectio Divina. First, have them copy and past the text from www.usccb.org/nab/bible into Wordle to generate a word cloud. Then, have them read the text as it is written in the Bible slowly. After a pause for reflection, have them read it once again, this time suggesting that they focus on certain words or phrases. THEN, have them reflect on the word cloud they created. What words jump out at them now? What does this experience mean for them today? 
• Or have them practice Lectio Divina and choose certain words or phrases that they used in meditation to create a smaller word cloud in Wordle.

Here is a word cloud based on the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-32)



Decorations
• Have students create creating a word cloud of topics related to the course in Wordle to create notebook covers, locker decorations, etc.

Introducing a New Topic
• Provide students with a topic, one even as broad as “God.” Have them generate a list of words and phrases that come to mind then have them enter them into Wordle. Discus their word clouds as a class or have students compare what other students had.
• Create word cloud using the lecture notes or texts for the day’s lesson. Have students guess or play a game of 20 questions about what they think the day’s topic will be.

Community-building/Icebreakers 
• Have students describe themselves in Wordle. Have them make a list of word or phrases that they think best describe who they are. Have them type their name frequently so that it appears prominently. If it is for the beginning of the year, have them tape these to their desks or on name tents. Have them get into groups and share their word clouds.
• Have students create affirmations for each other using Wordle. Assign groups or partners. Have them type words or phrases that are positive qualities about someone else in their group. Have them give these to the other students and explain why they wrote what they did. (This is a great activity for retreats.)

For some additional ideas see:

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