Larry Ferlazzo recently published a post on his blog about a site called Word Sift. I decided to try it out with a text that I am reading to my 5th grade students, hoping to give it more meaning.
We just finished reading The Giver together, and Lois Lowry’s Newbery Acceptance speech for the honor received by this book is included in my edition only. It is an amazing speech, and the students always become excited as the revelations are made that connect all of the pieces in the book to Lowry’s life. However, I am regularly seeking ways to add some more interactivity to this oral reading and discussion. This year, the students created mind maps with the book’s recurring themes (which we analyzed using LitCharts) as different nodes. They are adding the relevant examples from Lowry’s speech to the nodes as I read. Word Sift might add another layer to this analysis with its visual representations.
I copied and pasted the text of Lowry’s speech into Word Sift to see the results. Word Sift will not only give you word clouds, which can be modified in several ways, but you can also select words from the cloud to see them in context and images from the web that represent them. There is also a connection to a visual thesaurus.
With the word cloud, you can highlight certain vocabulary, such as Marzano & Pickering words from the 4 core subjects. You can also sort the words alphabetically or by how rare each word is in our language.
This tool would certainly be an asset for ELL’s, but it is a great resource for anyone who would like to examine a text more deeply, and to learn more about the words used to compose it.