One of my favorite web 2.0 tools I took away from my technology endorsement classes at Nevada State college was wordle.
Now wordle may not be new to you and I know there are similar websites or apps that allow you to insert your own pictures or put the words into a shape. However, I'm a fan of the classic wordle word clouds.
On the first day of school, after students enter the classroom and find their seats, there is a blank note card on their desk.
A simple, lined, nonthreatening note card.
I say good morning to the students, welcome them to the class, make sure everyone found the correct seat and then ask them to put how they are feeling on the note card. I tell them not to put their names. They can put one feeling or ten, it's up to them. Spelling doesn't count, I just want to know how they feel (pulse check if you will). Then I collect the cards, they throw away their breakfast trash and off we go to specials.
When they're gone, I go to wordle and type in their responses.
The more times a word is used, the larger it appears in the word cloud. I usually type into a word document first because you can't easily edit a wordle once it's made. f students use a phrase, type ~ between words. Yes, it looks funny but that's the way you keep the phrase together.
For example, I'm so nervous would be typed into wordle as I'm~so~nervous. No spaces.
In wordle (wordle.net), you can change all sorts of features. I tend to play with the font, layout and color to make my wordle match my classroom theme.
After I've typed in their responses, I then display the wordle, which tends to look something like this:
I display the wordle right after specials and we talk about how all of these first day feelings are okay and perfectly normal. Students are usually relieved to know that they aren't the ones feeling that particular emotion.
We carry on with our day of procedures and ice breakers.
I come back to the wordle at the end of the day and ask them to reflect on what feelings are still there and which ones have disappeared. I have them do the same activity on Friday before lunch. We come back to the original wordle and the updated wordle on Friday afternoon, right before dismissal, and discuss how usually nervousness is replaced by excitement.
It's an easy way to not only introduce technology to make a visual representation of the class feelings, but also to show students that they aren't alone.
I've also used wordles to display responses from gallery walk anchor charts. I go over our norms for gallery walks, then have students share the responses.
I ask them the following questions:
-what do I expect from myself this school year?
-what do I expect from my neighbors?
-what do I expect from my teacher(s)?
-what do I need from my family?
-what does it mean to be a good friend?
-what does it mean to be a good partner?
-what does it mean to be a good reader?
I take the responses and create wordles that are then displayed in the classroom all year. Students love that they created the norms and I get to make sure all the basics are covered.
Happy first days and first weeks of school!