There are now a number of online tools which are free to use to create wordclouds (images made from words) from your own text. These wordcloud images create a visual representation of the chosen text, with the frequency of the words in the text determining the relative sizes of each word in the image.
Below you will find links to some of these online tools and examples of how they can be used in the classroom.
Wordle www.wordle.net can be used to produce wordcloud pictures from text – either by typing it directly into the text box or by copying and pasting from a document. As well as producing an image to accompany a text-based document (providing a visual summary of the contents of that document) Wordle has many classroom applications.
Ways to Use Word Clouds in the Classroom
48 Interesting ways and tips to use Wordle in the classroom:
Twenty Top Uses for Wordle:
http://www.brighthub.com/education/k-12/articles/58905.aspx Jonathn Wylie’s Top 10 Ways to Use Wordle’s Word Clouds for Classroom Lessons
http://jenuinetech.com/GTW/ Guess the Wordle (by Jennifer Wagner) provides many ideas for classroom use including a host of pre-created wordcloud images which can be used as lesson starters for pupils to guess the topic of the wordcloud image.
There is a group for users of Wordle and here is a link to a posting of 10 classroom ideas for using Wordle by Andy Fisher http://groups.google.com/group/wordleusers/browse_thread/thread/c87eb88e04996dbc?pli=1
108 Ways to Use Word Clouds in the Classroom is a collection of ideas collated and described by Michael Gorman , grouped in categories for different curricular areas (as well as some which will work across all areas).
Click here to see how Images using lyrics of songs have been made into films.
http://www.shambles.net/pages/learning/ict/wordle/ Shambles site page of resources for using Wordle in the classroom.
From the blog by Tony Borash http://tborash.posterous.com/designing-lessons-using-wordle comes the description of how he used Wordle as a pre-topic evaluation of the understanding of a topic by a class, compared to that post-lessons.
Tools and Tips for Creating Word Clouds
Here is a trick shared by @joycevalenza for where you wish to keep words together as phrases or sentences in the Wordle imag: all you need to do is use the symbol ~ (called tilde) between the words you require to keep together.
Creating Silhouettes and design elements using Wordle and Powerpoint is a step-by-step guide by David Anderson to combining the graphic design tools within Powerpoint with the Worlde’s wordcloud creator in order to make an image in the shape of any object, including the silhouette of a person – which could be words used by a pupil writing about themselves, or a historical figure or character from a novel – all superimposed inside the outline of that person.
12 Valuable Wordle Tips – a post of helpful tips by Michael Gorman to getting more out of Wordle – including how to get Wordle to use capitals, to present a wordcount of frequnecy of each word, to keep words together, and much more.
http://www.imagechef.com/ic/word_mosaic/ Word Mosaic from ImageChef is an alternative online tool to let you create shapes made from your words. These can be created from pre-set shapes from which you can choose, or from 1 or two letter shapes at a time (which can be combined at a later stage to form words).
http://www.tagxedo.com/ Another alternative to Wordle is Tagxedo wordcloud creator – For a helpful video introduction by Mark Brumley on how to use Tagxedo click this link: http://h30411.www3.hp.com/posts/1054572-VIDEO_Fantastic_word_cloud_creator_Tagxedo.
For 101 Ways to use Tagxedo Wordcloud creator click on this link http://blog.tagxedo.com/101-ways-to-use-tagxedo-completed
Tagxedo lets users quickly create wordcloud images from their own uploaded text, or by entering a website or blog address, or by entering a search term, or by entering the username of online tools such as Twitter or Delicious. The user then can choose the style, colour, font, and much more, including the shape. Users can choose from a set of provided shapes or can upload their own image to use (though this is listed as a premium feature). Once a user has created their wordcloud they are given several choices for saving their image.
Jason Davies Wordcloud Creator – just enter text or a web address and the wordcloud creator will generate a wordcloud. You can specify the range of angles of the words, the fonts to be used, and whether one word per line or not. Output can be in SVG or image PNG format
http://www.neoformix.com/Projects/BigSmall/index.html BIGsmall from NeoFormix is a tool where you can choose a word to form an image (and enter that in the BIG box), then enter other words which perhaps describe that word (and put them in the small words box). Then BIGsmall automatically generates an images where the words you entered in the samll words box form the letters you entered in the big word box.
Tagul - lets you create wordclouds in specific outline shapes. Signup is required to use this free service.
http://www.festisite.com/text-layout/#2,0 FestiSite Text-Layout tool lets you create quite unusual images from your own text. Just copy and paste your text from another source (there is a maximum limit), then choose the layout you wish. You can choose from Valentine (your text wraps around a heart); Waves (where your text forms the shape of layers of wavy lines); Spiral (where your text forms the shape of a spiral); Banner (where each letter of your text fills one page of your chosen paper size so that when printed it will join together to make a huge banner for classroom displays); and two more styles called Rebus and Maze. Rebus creates a fun word puzzle graphic where the reader has to de-code the text – key letters are replaced with images and very simple mathematical statements (telling the reader to add or subtract a specified letter or sound). Maze creates a maze graphic as a puzzle for readers to follow. Each of the text layout choices generates a pdf of the size of paper you choose. If you wish to create an image then simply use a facility like PrintScreen to copy the image on screen, paste into a paint package and crop, then save (or use the Snipping tool on your PC). Each of the images below use the same text “ICT for Learning and Teaching” so that you can see the effect using each of the tools.
http://abcya.com/word_clouds.htm is a wordcloud creator aimed specifically at use by pimary school pupils. The menus are visual (so, for example, the direction of text, whether vertical or horizontal or a mixture, can be chosen from a shape icon) . Users can enter the text either by typing or by copying and pasting from another source. Any word which is not required can be removed simply by right-clicking on the word and selecting to remove it. There is a save icon for easy saving (though this may require the addition of .jpg to the filename). The wordclouds can include circles and rectangles if desired simply by including several dash characters or bullet points in the text.
TagCrowd - create wordclouds where you can specify various features, exclude words, and choose whether or not to include the wordcount for each word on the resulting image
If you are using a mobile device then there are mobile apps like WordFoto which can use your own photographs and create text-based pictures from the image.