5 Ways To Use Word Cloud Generators In The Classroom

Word cloud generators have gone the route of Kleenex and Saran Wrap, wherein people often use the name of the product to refer to the thing. Most folks I talk to refer to all word clouds as ‘wordles’, even though Wordle is just one of many, many tools that one can use to create word clouds.

Word clouds are fun. They speak to humans’ affinity for the visual. They can help you sort through important ideas and concepts quickly. They’re nice to look at. Why not use them in your classroom? While nice to look at is good, you’ll need to figure out what you can get out of a word cloud in your classroom. No, they don’t make great assessment tools, but there are plenty of other uses. We’ve collected a few of our favorites below. The list is absolutely not meant to be exhaustive! Do you have any favorite uses of word clouds in your classroom? Join in the discussion by leaving a comment below, mentioning @Edudemic on Twitter or leaving your thoughts on our Facebook page.



5 Ways To Use Word Clouds In The Classroom

Have Your Students Get To Know Each Other

This is a great activity for the beginning of the year of to have your students get to know another class (either in your own school or across the globe). Each student can write about themselves: what they like, what they did over the summer, things they’re good at, things they’re interested in, etc. They can use the word clouds to give the ‘big picture’ of themselves to others, and easily see what everyone else is all about, too! Since it is the end of the school year, you could also use this as a close-out activity where students could write about things they’ve improved on, things they learned, and things they liked from the school year, or talk about what they’re planning on doing over the summer.

Help Students Understand Assessments

You can start with a rubric for this one, or have your students each make a list of what they understand the assessment criteria for a particular project to be. Put it all together and you’ve got a great visual of what you’ll be looking for when you’re grading their work. Have them use the word cloud while they are working, or have them look at their work (or a peer’s work) alongside the word cloud before handing it in.

Use As A Self-Assessment For Writing


Sometimes, students write a whole lot of words that say absolutely nothing. If your students never do this, then I think I know of a lot of teachers who are jealous. First, have them make a short list of what main ideas they’re trying to get across in their essay. Then, have them plug their essays into a word cloud generator and see what ideas come across as important (oft-mentioned). They can cross check the lists to see if the things they thought they were writing about actually made it into their writing.

Set Classroom and Interpersonal Expectations

Another great activity for the beginning of the school year, have your students each make a list of classroom rules and interpersonal expectations. Plug it all into a word cloud generator and you have a visual reminder of what is expected in your classroom each day. Feel free to pad the list yourself!

Take A Poll (and Analyze It!)

 Poll your whole class on something (this could be as simple or as complex as you want it to be). Use the word cloud to show what the most popular and least popular answers are. If you want to analyze the results, a word cloud would be a good way to have students work with estimations – they can look at the size of the words and estimate percentage or number of responses based on the number of students in the class.


  1. michele Drivas

    July 1, 2014 at 7:41 am

    I love all of these ideas as I have always wanted to experiment with word clouds. I was thinking that a possible use may be as an activating strategy in the content areas to brainstorm as many words they can think of that have to due with the subject they will be studying. This tool can be revisited and even revamped at the end of the unit.

  2. Joe Sisco

    July 23, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Hello, love the ideas. One more to add – many word cloud generators allow users to ‘remove’ words. This is particularly useful to have students/teachers create word clouds about any subject (famous person, country/province/state, element on the periodic table), remove the key identifying words and have students identify, sort, organize the resulting word clouds.
    For example, go to website (e.g.wikipedia) to collect hundreds of words about the 10 US States. Select all of the words on the site (ctrl+A), then copy and paste all of the words into a word cloud. Remove key words (state name, capitol city, etc.). In wordle, a right click allows users to remove a word.

    And you have a great activity for kids to to do some critical thinking.

  3. Julia

    July 23, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    My students created a class book of synonyms using word clouds. They used word clouds for antonyms as well, traded, and their friends had to match up the opposites. Also, they used words to describe characters in books they were reading.