Finally … time for some creativity and fun! There are lots of wonderful, fun tools out there for creating products both for instruction and for fun. This is probably one of the parts of technology that my students will enjoy and relate to the most. My special population gets into graphics much more than the printed/written word.
As I looked through the list of 2.0 tools, I saw several that I wanted to play with and explore. I got lost in the clouds as I played with Wordle. It's such a neat tool to play with words and language. A word cloud of new vocabulary for a unit would be a great “hook” to have up on the ActivBoard for students to explore at the beginning of class. They could read the words and make a prediction about what they might be studying in the upcoming material. It would also be an interesting visual for synonyms and antonyms, or maybe to demonstrate the mood of a poem with the most important words. Repetitive words and phrases an author uses could also be analyzed to see how frequently they appeared in a text, leading to a discussion of why those particular words were chosen to be emphasized. Thinking of repetitive words, it would be a strong tool for students to enter their own writing into. By creating word clouds from their own writing, they could begin to focus on overworked words and find ways to broaden their writing vocabulary. Below is a word cloud created on www.wordle.net:
Another tool I thought would be interesting to my students was Big Huge Labs. When I started playing around in it, I got into ShapeCollage.com which probably isn't a tool for the students. Not only is there a fee, it was kind of difficult to create the collage. With enough time, I was able to come up with a collage I liked. Big Huge Labs would probably be fun for the students to do a pictorial representation of something they have read. It could also be used to stimulate interest in an upcoming topic. Truthfully, I like Glogster better and will have to get with Angela to see if I can get set up. In any case, here is a sample of what can be done with ShapeCollage.com.