Are you looking for ways to engage students in the study of Shakespeare? Word clouds offer many possibilities. I will explain, and would appreciate your thoughts as I work to further develop my ideas.
Word clouds are already used in classrooms around the country, for decoration, for discussion, and for helping students see what words repeat in their writing or in a text. For the first few years that word clouds were used in education, they appeared as amorphous, but colorful collections of words. Technology has expanded greatly, and it is now possible to
create word clouds in specific shapes.
My collection of Shakespearean word clouds are typically based on a single passage from a play (one small exception is combining words of the 3 witches from Macbeth). In each instance, I've picked an image --literal or figurative-- to represent something important about the passage. For example, one of the passages from Romeo and Juliet is presented in the shape of Cupid. To keep it interesting, I've tried to vary the font and colors from one word cloud to another. The preview file shows thumbnails of 6 of the word clouds. To make the final version of my word clouds, I used several online technologies. However, I relied most heavily on "Tagxedo." As a point of information, though all the words of a given passage appear in the word clouds, for several of them, I used a feature called "allow replication." This means that words can repeat, and I did it in order to make the shapes look as clear as possible.
Some of the ways to use these word clouds in the classroom....
--Of course, decoration on the wall, the cover of an assignment packet, or the opening of a PowerPoint presentation
--Discussion: Why was the particular image chosen to represent the passage? Is it appropriate or what would the students prefer?
--Discussion/review: Which character said a particular passage and at what point in the play? Why is it important?
--Creative writing: Take four or five key words from the word cloud to write a poem or do a writer's notebook entry. You can extend the conversation to the idea of concrete poetry.
--Technology: Have the students create word clouds based on their favorite passages. This can be used with other texts as well.
For teachers who experiment with these Shakespearean word clouds or others in their classroom, I'd love to know if you find them useful or not. In addition, I have toyed with the idea of having some Shakespearean word cloud posters printed and offering them for sale. Do you think other educators would be interested?
Best of luck with your students' Shakespearean endeavors.
B. Marshall (a.k.a. "The Eclectic Educator)