Literacy in Science: Word Clouds
Lesson Objective: Try this unique idea for literacy, and pique student curiosity
Grades 6-12 / Science / Reading

Thought starters

  1. Why is it important for students to consider what they will read before begin reading?
  2. How does this strategy get students curious and excited about what they are about to read?
  3. Consider having students make their own "word cloud" in groups after reading an article.?
Wordle is the program that the teacher is referencing. That's a free online program. There's another layer to this-- another free online program called (it's free, but has a .com domain). It will highlight ACADEMIC language (from the Academic Word List), as well as content specifc words and is linked to Visual Thesaurus (free sample, but paid subscription). It's a great way to engage and begin discuss language in the classroom.
Recommended (2)
Thanks for all the additional info! I'll post under supporting materials so others will be able to find these easily.
Recommended (1)
I have also used this for class rules, create a word cloud by using key words from your class rules and then have the students tell you what they think they mean. It beats the heck out of that "stand up" and talk thing the first week of school...gets the kids thinking and talking. Somethimes I put them in small groups to see which group can come up with the complete list of "rules" for behavior in my class.
Recommended (3)
Wordle is one of my favorite tools! Thanks for sharing with us. It's always great to see high school content-area teachers advocating literacy use in their classrooms.
Recommended (0)
What a wonderful idea for a set to a lesson! I think it would be great in social studies/history as well. Wordle is great and I think has many uses...I just haven't figured them out yet :)
Recommended (0)


  • 00:04: PETER HILL: As a science teacher, I think it’s important to teach literacy skills, too, so you can read a

    00:04: PETER HILL: As a science teacher, I think it’s important to teach literacy skills, too, so you can read a newspaper article and figure out the science behind it. One thing I love to do is use word clouds.
    00:14 PETER HILL [in class]: Okay, so here’s what we’re gonna do. Brandon, you cool if we use you first?
    00:18: PETER HILL: Basically, you take an article, and then put it into this computer program, and it generates a world cloud, where the size of words emphasizes their frequency, how often they show up in the article. So what I’ll do is make a word cloud of an article ahead of time and give it to the kids, before we do a reading and have kids anticipate what’s this reading going to be about, what are the main ideas, and then what’s a weird word you see that you don’t know. And I think all of those little quick activities you do that five minutes before reading, it gets the kids engaged in the reading, it gets them curious about what they’re going to read.

School Details

King Middle School
92 Deering Ave
Portland ME 04102
Population: 502

Data Provided By:



Peter Hill



All Grades / All Subjects / Tch Tools

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, All Subjects, Class Culture

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, ELA, Class Culture

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Students / Class Culture