Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 26 - WordSift





WordSift is a useful tool that allows users to easily sift through text and quickly identify key words. Simply cut and paste any text (65 K limit) into the WordSift textbox. Within seconds, WordSift will create a word cloud based on the fifty most frequent words that appear in the text. The word cloud displayed is not static. WordSift allows users to sort the words in the cloud via common to rare, rare to common, A to Z, and Z to A.

Select any word in the cloud, and WordSift will display a visual thesaurus and provide a Google search for images and videos.

Here's a video tutorial to get you started.




No need to sign up or register. Just go to http://www.wordsift.com/ to get started. Your word cloud is just copy and paste clicks away.

Your assignment: Take a tour. Experiment by creating your own word cloud. How do you think this site would impact student engagement?

28 comments:

  1. Does this make my third first post????

    Although it is meant to be artistic thing that people can view, I see a real use for this in my writing classes. So many times I mark on a paper "word choice" or I'll circle words that are repeated over and over. This just might make that visual for my students.

    I would have my students take a response that they had written and run it through wordshift to see what words were most used. Obviously, articles will pop up frequently, but I will have my students look for others, like "a lot" or "you" or "I", things they rely upon to keep a paper moving.

    The word cloud would then be a guide of what language was being overused and my students could revise their paper to try to get rid of the repetitive words.

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  2. WordSift seems to be much like Wordle. I could see using this as a before reading preview activity to help students grasp the main idea of an article before we go into the details.

    In an ideal world, we could do this with Japanese articles in my upper level classes too. However, WordSift only works with English. If I were able to use it with Japanese, it could be helpful for students to see which characters are used most frequently in a selection of text. They could then make a list of characters and vocabulary used in the article that they don't know. So, in the end it could be used as a vocabulary selection tool as well!

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  3. This seems like an extension of Wordle. I can see using this tool when I have students read scientific articles. Before reading, they can use Wordsift to learn any vocabulary they might not know. The hardest part about reading scientific articles with high school students is they get tripped up by all the hard vocabulary. If one word they don't know is repeated throughout the article, they might miss the whole meaning. By pulling up a Wordsift, they can not only see what the main idea of the article is, but can also learn the main vocabulary that they might not know.

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  4. This would be a great way for students to look at the word choices in their writing. Using Wordsift would be a visual way for students to see if there are words they are using too frequently. They could then use the visual thesaurus to come up with alternatives.

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  5. This would be a good tool to use for ideas or terms that might be abstract to a lot of my students. This fall, my 5th grade students have been participating in the Stock Market Game. I was quite surprised by how many of them had never even heard of the stock market, Wall Street, or the idea that you can buy parts of companies regardless of who you are.

    I've had them read some articles online from sites such as Yahoo Finance and CNN Money. Using WordSift would be a great way to show students key words that they need to know and understand. A random article I used turned up these most common key words: market, investors, index, and inflation. All four of these being extremely important in understanding the stock market and how it functions.

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  6. This one does seem similar to wordle, which I really liked, but also has some unique qualities, like the filters and photos added. You can drag images into the words, and create more of a visual presentation. I could use this in my school for our Martin Luther King Assembly, to make a first slide of a slide show, and use photos and the speaches of Dr. King to visually give the words some more meaning. Another use might be to put in the words of a song and then let the students go through what they think are the main ideas, and then sift them to see what comes out.

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  7. This is like Wordle on steroids. I especially like all of the built in search features (images in particular) that come with the sift results.

    I think it beats Wordle in the aspect that it takes the top 50 or so words, whereas Wordle takes EVERYthing into account. I don't have to go in and search for some of those conjunctions that can take up major portions of text.

    I agree with Molly, in that this would be more useful in science to help kids pick out main ideas in scientific articles or text. Wordle is fun because you can be creative or "artsy"...the right-brain cousin to this. It will also help me plan for articles because I can pop some text in, pull out major words and define those BEFORE we begin reading, to help offset the cognitive load that comes with reading complex text.

    I like it. Great tool.

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  8. I keep thinking that this tool might be helpful in our teams when looking at the common core standards for each quarter. In preparing students for ISTEP, you could also use it to see what key words are found in example problems from previous ISTEP tests.

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  9. WordSift is a lot like Wordle, but is much more interactive. I love being able to decide how to arrange the words in your cloud, and the visual thesaurus is a great tool for visual learners. I could definitely see this helping students who are reading articles online. By copying into WordSift first, they could get a glimpse of the main ideas of the article. It is much easier to read for understanding once you have a base to build on. Also, just like with Wordle, having them paste their writing in the box could help them see what words they should cut back on. WordSift would even help them find possible exchanges for those words right from the same page. I used to be a Wordle fan, but this WordSift tool may be my new favorite.

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  10. This would be useful when I do vocabulary in my classes. I am always looking for a way to make complicated vocabulary easier to understand. The thesaurus and google search will add a great deal to the substance of any presentation and keep students engaged.

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  11. This tool has a lot to offer! I love that there are pictures and a thesaurus to help with any unanswered questions. I could see using this tool to compare important documents and get the main topic. This would also come in handy for someone who is doing a research paper or report and needed some pictures to go with their topic. They could copy in what they have and look through the pictures to post or thesaurus for more ideas.

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  12. This is a deceptively simple but powerful tool for word study to increase vocabulary knowledge and semantic knowledge. It appears to have applications for uses from early elementary through high school. This tool could be used to teach summarizing and predicting by entering text and looking at resulting word frequencies and checking the word web/ thesaurus results. It would also be a useful teaching tool with upper elementary writers by having them enter their compositions to check to see if they are overusing common, high frequency words.

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  13. It is nice to be able to move words around, but there is not a lot of flexibility with rotating the words, or word placement. I want it to look as artistic as a wordle, but be able to move words around/delete words, etc..

    Critique aside, I think this would be a great way for a student to prepare for a presentation. If you assigned a presentation on acids/bases..the student could copy and paste a wikipedia page into the box.

    In addition to reviewing the vocab words needed, they can also preview pictures that may be embedded in the presentation. At the bottom of the picture box, there is a link that says 'videos'. Students could preview any video that may compliment the presentation, as well.

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  14. I really like Wordle and see many similarities with WordSift. However, there are some added benefits to WordSift that could be really beneficial in class. I like how WordSift sets the words up in an easy to use way that does not require turning you head. I also like how the words can be reordered and that WordSift brings up things from Google that relate to the most common words.

    I could use this in my classes in more ways than I could use Wordle. I could see myself using this site to help students determine the main idea of a work based on the most common words. This could also be used to discuss the vocabulary that various writers use in different works. Most importantly, I could use this to help my students visualize how often they use certain words and phrases in their writing. I could have them place their works in WordSift and then discuss with a partner which words they use most often and come up with other options to replace those words.

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  15. I made a Word Sift from a great article about Reader's Workshop. I thought this would be good to use with our teachers to reflect on our practice. Of the 50 most common words, which do we think are common in our classrooms? On which could we focus more attention? On another note, I think the ideas for using the WordSift to improve word choice is fabulous, especially to check on the overuse of words. I tried to make a few Wordsifts using elementary articles on spiders, sharks, and Christmas Around the World, but the WordSift was kind of uneventful. I suppose it's all in the text one chooses.

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  16. Wordle and Wordsift are partners that are a match made in heaven for teachers. Engagement is all about presenting the big idea and linking to all subjects and concepts. I love the fact that this does this. I can see using this similar to Wordle but I like the fact that it narrows the field, can decide how to arrange, and highlights in various colors. I think I like the visual pcitures added the best. I always try to introduce vocabulary with a picture representation available. This not only helps my low and struggling learners but also my ESL learners. I can see posting a Wordsift and seeing if students can guess the topic, write more or new from the words posted and seeing how close they come to the original, compare/contrast. I love the fact it has a dictionary/thesauraus right there. What a huge help to introducing unfamilar vocabulary. I often have the students find their vocabulary words in the selection. I think it would be neat to take a selection and put it into Wordsift and see exactly how many times the vocabulary really shows up. This would be a great tool to use to build the vocabulary you really want to introduce. You may find you want to change what the book/manual/ or you originally thought to use. I can see using this as a main idea starter as well.

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  17. This reminds me of Wordle. I would have students put their notes in and find the common idea of the day. This is helpful when students need to make a connection between what they are writing and what they need to remember. This is useful so students do not write 'and' making run on sentences on their English papers!

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  18. I think this tool is much more powerful than Wordle. This tool can be used not only to find the main idea of an article, paper, etc., it can be used to teach new vocabulary. The feature of highlighting a word and seeing how it used throughout the text is powerful in helping students with readind comprehension and vocabulary building. Although Wordle creates a more eye-catching image, it seems Wordsift would be much more useful with instruction.

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  19. Well, I'm not as impressed with the sift, but do think the thesaurus link would be great when working with archaic language like British lit.

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  20. I think I definitely prefer Wordle, but I also see that their purposes are slightly different. I would continue to use Wordle, as I feel it is more artistic and abstract and colorful, and I like all of those things about it. Word sift I would personally use more as a way for students to think about word use and vocabulary, and I think that the Thesaurus being right there is a great way for students to re-sort words and maybe find synonyms or think about the message of their text based on word choice.

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  21. This is a good pre-reading tool. Students could WordSift an article before reading. As a post- reading activity, they can focus on the key words and discuss why those words were used more than others based on the topic of the article.

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  22. I have played with Wordle and WordSift and like WordSift better as well. I totally agree this can help students in their writing and increase their ability to move from commonly words. I think that adults can use this tool to help students see the common words in any writing to increase their focus and how that can help them in their reading comprehension and improve their writing.

    It also can be used with adults for the same things.

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  23. I would use this as a way for students to practice putting vocabulary words in alphabetical order. They can check their own work after they are done. I like the idea of seeing which words students use too often in writing. This seems like the best way to use WordSift, in my opinion. This would impact student engagement by working together to see common words and helping others use better word choices in their writing.

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  24. I do like how this tool allows the kids to see the application of words across the curriculum. So what the other 3rd grade teacher is doing in reading (we are partically departmentalized) the kids can see we are doing in my room. In fact we have shared WordSift's before and watched the kids' eyes light up in shock! It's funny they think we don't ever talk or something :). It is also funny to see them use the different words in their everyday speech as well.

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  25. My anatomy students work a lot with medical terminology. I would like to see them utilize this tool to develop a better understanding of the med. terms we use in class. I like the idea of using this tool to assist with vocabulary and understanding before we introduce a chapter. Scientific terms can sometimes be very overwhelming to students. If students are able to make a visual connection with the visual thesaurus the may have a more positive outlook before they start the new material.

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  26. Wordle seems to be a better fit for my kids. I like the idea of using WordSift for introducing vocabulary. The kids can benefit from the resources of a dictionary, thesaurus and search through Google.

    I like Cassaudra's suggestion of copying text into WordSift, then the students could get a glimpse of the main ideas of an article. It would be worth the time to try this as an opener for a new lesson.

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  27. I think that Wordle is also a better fit for my students. However, I could copy and paste a cold read passage the students are to read into word sift and check their understanding of main ideas and key supporting details. In addition, we could explore the word sift whole group to see where the text could take us and what the word sift might suggest as related topics. Additionally, we could look at relevant vocabulary and use the thesaurus to expand our own vocabulary.

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  28. I agree with the other posts it seems an extension of Wordle. I do like how you can click on the word and get the word web as well as pictures that depict the word. As mentioned in my Wordle post this could be used to look at journals or writings by students about their feelings etc. Being able to see the images as well as the word web would be helpful to the student to see what other descriptive words can be used to describe how they are feeling or what they are trying to convey.
    I think this tool might be more beneficial as far as understanding the feeling, however Wordle would be better if creating a piece of art to show how they are feeling.

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