As a follow up to my post to new teachers, I thought I’d highlight a few tools you or they might like to use or try. Not all are practical, and some may be blocked in school, but that doesn’t stop you having a go at home.
First up is Wordle, the word cloud creator. In short, it’ll take any block of text (be that play, poem, prose, email message, web page, absolutely anything), and turn it into a word cloud (aka a tag cloud). Ultimately, it is a bit of fun, but it can be really useful for identifying the most important/talked about characters in a play. As an example to let you see what I’m talking about, here’s a Wordle for The Merchant of Venice.
This is one of those sites that gives most English and primary teachers millions of lesson ideas just by looking at it. In essence, you take a poem and make a film to accompany it and then post it to PoetryVisualized. Simple and complicated and a good example of how to create connections and community. If you’re looking for a starter, there is a very literal interpretation of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”… I’m sure you could get your classes to come up with a better version without too much trouble!
This one I really like! As anyone who has used YouTube will know, it is very hard to make the case for using it in schools when you look at the drivel and offensive comments left by the trolls of the internet… But worry a lot less about these commenters thanks to CommentSnob! Comment Snob is a plug-in for Firefox only (at the moment) which filters out undesirable comments from YouTube. It’s not yet perfect, but it is very very good! I’ve tried it with the infamous cup-stacking video (see screen grab below), and the resulting improvement means I could probably show the clip to my mum and not worry too much about the comments! Well worth trying and supporting as it can only improve!
Feel free to let me know what you make of these, and feel even freer to recommend any cool new stuff you’ve been trying!