If you’re looking for a quick way to decorate your classroom door, with a personalized, welcoming touch, I recommend heading over to Wordle’s website. This site is an oldie but a goodie.
If you’re not familiar with Wordle, it’s a site that creates “word clouds”. It’s basically a fun way to display a group of words, simply by adjusting the format and font, after you type or paste in a list of words.
As a Math teacher, I’m sure there are other applications for this word cloud site, but I use it every year to create a quick Welcome sign, featuring all the names of my students. Again, you can either type in their names or paste a list. As I’ve written before, I highly recommend the book, The First Days of School. In it, the authors emphasize the importance of making your students feel welcomed. They state that you should always tell your students and clearly display for your students a warm welcome. This is a fast, free, eye-catching way to accomplish this. Students love finding their names in the word cloud.
I find that the Wordle site works better with Internet Explorer than Chrome, but your results may vary. You need the latest version of Java installed. It takes about 2 minutes, and you can grab it here, in case your version is out of date. Because your results will vary, I recommend copying and pasting your list of names, because if the site won’t load in your browser, you can just open a different browser and paste in the list, in a matter of seconds.
After you type or paste in your student names, there are a few things to consider. First, any names that are repeated will appear larger than the rest, because the site displays the most common words larger than the rest. You can get around this by simply using any confirmed nicknames, or by using variations such as JoeyL and JoeyZ. Just click the Go button when you’re ready.
It’s very easy to experiment with the font style and the font/background colors. Just use the menu at the top to choose from the different options. There are lots of fun fonts to try out. You can also change the direction of the text until you find the one that you like best. You don’t need to re-enter any of the text to make these adjustments. It’s very easy to view the different layout options. There’s even a “randomize” button that you can use if you’re feeling adventurous.
Here is another variation of the word cloud that I showed you at the top of this page:
The names are the same, but I changed the font and the font/background colors.
Here is a third variation with a twist. I pasted in the student names, but I also added the word “Welcome” three times. The reason I included it three times is because of Wordle’s way of making the most popular words appear the largest. Since it’s a welcome sign, I wanted “Welcome” to stand out.
It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s a fun way to welcome your students to your classroom. I had a few parents at Open House stop and mention how cool they thought the sign was, and several parents made a point to stop and find their child’s name. Give it a try!