Wordle in the Art Room

Wordle is a site that generates “word clouds”. These word visualizations are generated from a source of text that the user enters. Words that are seen more frequently in the text have bigger prominence in the finished “word cloud”. This makes Wordle an
especially interesting tool for seeing the focus and direction of a piece of text, website or blog. The “word cloud” shown here was generated from entering The Teaching Palettes web address so it visualizes all the content from this site.

There are several ways to create a Wordle. You can use a blog, blog feed or any other web page that has an RSS feed. You can also paste a bunch of text. Once our “word cloud” is created you can save it to the gallery, take a screen shot or print it. There is also simple editing tools for changing the color palette or font of your “word cloud”. Just a “word” of caution (pun intended) that the Wordle gallery is not always appropriate for young audiences.

How can you apply Wordle to the art room? You could take a student’s existing written work, a new short essay or have students write a list of self-describing words and then copy and paste them into Wordle. The more frequent the words appear in the text, the larger the words appear in Wordle. The “word clouds” can be printed for display, saved for a digital display at open house or posted to your classroom digital gallery online. This is what Tricia Fuglestad’s art students did with Wordle. Check out their “Word Clouds” at Artsonia. Students could also use their writing from a poetry or creative writing unit and create it’s visual expression. Share your ideas and examples for incorporating Wordle into the art room.

For more great examples of what educators are doing with Wordle check out Angela Maiers
. Or read Rodd Lucier’s post on The Top Twenty uses for Wordle in the Classroom.

Update 1/21/09:  Use ~ sign to hold two words together (ex. Art~Education)

Hillary Andrlik

Hillary has been teaching art in the Chicago area since 2002 and was named Illinois Elementary Art Educator of the Year in 2012 by the Illinois Art Education Association. She received her art education degree from Illinois State University and masters from National Louis University. She is the co-founder and co-author of The Teaching Palette, a blog authored by art educators for art educators, and the digital editor for Illinois Art Education Association. Hillary's teaching strategies and lessons have been featured in numerous media, including School Arts magazine, and she has made several presentations on art education and technology in front of the Illinois Art Education Association and the National Art Education Association. Follow her on Twitter @hilland


  • January 17, 2009

    Denise Pannell

    I have used Wordle with my students. Here is a tip for keeping words “hooked” together: put a period between them. For instance, if you want the words Abstract Art to appear together in the cloud, hook them together like this: Abstract.Art

    Also, I put Wordle in my Favorites so that it takes them straight to the “create” page and it bypasses the gallery. They didn’t even notice it.

    Thank you for posting how to make some words larger- I was wondering about that!

  • May 14, 2009

    Jan VG

    I have used Wordle when teaching students to analyze art work. I give them the reproduction and a guideline sheet for each step. After they have completed the phases of the analysis, students choose the most important elements of the art work, the artist’s name, medium, etc. and use these words to type into Wordle. I also require them to color coordinate the Wordle to the work of art. They are amazing.

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