Word Clouds

For Teachers by Teachers:

The following activity is a contribution by Hana Gustely, 3rd grade teacher at Cape Horn Elementary School in Washougal, Washington.  The word clouds were created through WordArt.com

 

Word clouds can provide a great visual comparison of before/after perceptions of wolves.  The word cloud can be used to complement the Wolf Portrait activity. 

1. As a part of Wolf Portrait Activity A, students brainstorm a class list of stories, movies, TV shows, and computer games that portray wolves. Students then discuss the character traits of wolves in media.

 

2. Each student is given an index card. Based on the above discussion, each student is to silently write 5 or more adjectives that describe how those wolves are portrayed. These words are typed into a column in a Google Sheet or Excel file (Here is an example ).  Be sure to repeat words as many times as the students used them.

 

3. Copy this list into WordArt.com using the "import" option. WordArt makes words bigger depending on how often that word was written. You can also customize your art by changing the colors, shapes, and organization.

 

4. Following the student's lesson on wolves, discuss the character traits of real wolves. Repeat step 2, except now the students are to write down words to describe the real wolves they learned about. There may be a few students who struggle with this shift in thinking and want to repeat their first list - and that can be the best learning moment! Create a word cloud from these words as in step 3. 

 

5. Compare the pre- post word clouds and the perceptions they represent. How are they similar/different? Why? How might the perceptions in each word cloud affect how wolves are treated? How might they affect how you feel about wolves?

Word clouds created by Cape Horn Elementary School 3rd grade class - Teacher Hana Lapham. Washougal, Wa. 
Word clouds reflecting perceptions
from fictional media
Word clouds reflecting students'perceptions following the study of wolves - their social behaviors, ecological importance, response to human presence.
Activity Extension: Human Diversity Lesson - contributed by Hana Lapham
This activity was inspired by the video Ted Talk  The Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Adichie. This video may be shared with students. The "Wolves in Media" lesson can become a launching point for a diversity unit. Students are reminded of how our perceptions about animals or people is influenced by the stories we hear about them. It's important to listen to stories that help us understand the truth about a group. It's also important to listen to lots of different stories, as individuals in a group don't all have the same story. Students can then be introduced to a collection of stories about race and diversity that can be read together and explored.