Sunday, February 7, 2010

Worlde your way through vocabulary building

(Image from Wordle.)

Last week my Theory of Knowledge students and I attempted to define the word art. Now while this seems perhaps somewhat straightforward, and all we really needed to do was to consult a dictionary, in reality, we found the dictionary definition rather lacking, and so we decided to embark on our own definition, including the connotation of the word as well as its simple denotation. We sent out the question via text message, email, Facebook, Twitter, and I let my freshmen and sophomores join in the discussion by writing down their definitions on a 3x5 card and dropping it in the box. We ended up with some pretty amazing answers, and I decided to put the answers on the class blog page and to see what might happen if we decided to make a word cloud out of it. The answer is above and can be seen on the TOK blog as well. As I looked at the cloud, I realized that this has some potential when it comes to exploring word meanings, especially in regards to connotation and the ideas that each of us brings to and puts behind the words we use.

This is a tool I definitely plan to use again, not only for this class, but in my other classes whenever the opportunity permits. There was high student engagement, and our discussion was strengthened by the inclusion of the definitions of others. Very valuable indeed!

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to point out that by defining the word "art" you've managed to create a work of art out of the word cloud. I don't know about anyone else, but i find the word cloud you created very beautiful and elegant in it's visual representation of an abstract concept, and it in itself defines the word, both functionally and symbolically.

    Art - the percievable representation of an abstract concept.

    Thanks for the Wordle link too, i really like the tool.