Tools to Create Word Clouds

Terry VanNoy
PD Specialist
News on September 25 2020

If you’re looking for a great visual activity for students, try out a word cloud project! Word clouds are incredibly visual displays of words and phrases. While they’re pretty adaptable to any subject matter, and many different kinds of projects, in this blog we’ll look at them through an ELA lens. We’ll use word clouds to illustrate the words, phrases, and writing samples that help us analyze a student’s word frequency and writing style.

Recommended word cloud generators

There are several great tools for creating word clouds, but the three below are most recommended. Our favorite is Word Art, because it allows you to form your word cloud into relevant and fun shapes and includes more advanced features. However, the other two websites are also great for creativity and ease of use.

Creating a word cloud

  • Gather text (copy) from student input or a writing source.
  • Go to a site, such as the ones mentioned above, where you can generate a word cloud.
  • Insert (paste) the text into the appropriate area and create!
  • If you are using Word Art, you can choose fonts, colors, and shapes to customize your word cloud.

Populating your word cloud

Idea #1

One way to do this is to share a Google Doc with your class and have students respond to questions by typing in their words or phrases in dedicated areas (table cells). Then, you can copy the text and create your word cloud from there. The disadvantage is that students will see other responses and it might not result in the best sample. Here is a Google Doc sample for you to make a copy of, edit, and and use: Word Cloud Generator – Google Doc.

Idea #2

Another simple project to do is to open up a document (Word, PDF) from your computer or the web and select a text sample from a story, article, or website.

Idea #3

The best solution is to send a Google Form to students so they can respond to multiple questions without knowing how their classmates answered. Here is a link to a Google Form that you can edit and send to students (after making a copy): Word Cloud Generator – Google Form. After students fill out the form, go to the response spreadsheet and copy/paste a column of their responses. It will look like this:

Now you can insert or paste their input in Word Art, or those other sites mentioned above to create your word cloud.

Word clouds are a great tool to use with students, and in this blog we’ve only touched on some of the basics. What tool will you use? How will you incorporate other subjects or concepts into student word clouds? How can you use word cloud creation as an informal assessment? There are a lot of options out there with this great activity added to your toolkit.

For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom check out more articles on our blog.

We also offer virtual professional development, training, and remote learning support for educators with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology, tools, and strategies that can spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening.