Create a word cloud to show your understanding of a text or literary work. Word clouds are visual representations of a stimulus text or idea, where the size of the words in the cloud represent the significance of the words in the stimulus text. The bigger the words, the more important they are. You can create a word cloud in response to novel, entering the key themes that you found. Or you can create a word cloud in response to an essay, highlighting the language of comparison, analysis and evaluation. Try using www.wordart.com, www.wordle.net or any other online word cloud generator to create your word cloud. Present your word cloud to your class in a short presentation.
Model portfolio entry
WHAT: Here is the word cloud that I created:
WHY: I wanted to explore the documentary The Mask You Live In by the Representation Project. In class when we looked at images that fascinated us I was drawn to the Marlboro Man (see previous entry), and I wanted to find out why this ‘tough guy’ image had so much traction with young men. As a young man, you would think I’m susceptible to social pressures to be a ‘tough guy’ as well. But I don’t experience this where I live. So the purpose of this activity is to understand how this social construct is constructed.
HOW: After seeing my Marlboro Man activity, my teacher suggested that I watch the documentary The Mask You Live In on my own time and write an entry in my portfolio on it. I wasn’t sure what to write, so I took a checked out my teacher's list of ideas for portfolio activities box. One of the ideas suggested that I watch a documentary and make a word cloud using wordart.com, based on the ideas from the documentary. I wasn’t sure which words to capture for my word cloud, until I was about 10 minutes into the documentary. Then I started to keep track of the adjectives that were used in combination with the pressures that men felt to be masculine. I manipulated the size of each word in word art.com by giving each adjective a number. The bigger the number, the bigger the word I wanted the word 'masculine' to be the biggest. I'm not sure if it was mentioned most, but it was certainly the main theme of the documentary. 'Strong', 'tough' and 'buff' were recurring themes, along with 'athletic', 'competition' and 'fast'. There seemed to be certain clusters of ideas, like 'bread winner', 'work' and 'provider', and I wanted to make sure that each word from each cluster had small, medium and large presence in the cloud too.
SO WHAT: It doesn’t look like I produced much, but the process was useful. I found myself listening and watching the documentary more acutely, as I took notes directly into wordart.com. I became more aware of the role that adjectives play in day-to-day talk about men. Everyday speech, it turns out, is really a ‘text’ that deserves careful analysis. Words that we take for granted are the words that construct social constructs. I’m going to include this entry in a section of my portfolio called 'tough guys' and find a few more texts to go in it. I don’t feel I’m entirely finished with the documentary, so it may play a role in my next entry. I'm thinking about doing my HL Essay on the documentary.
This activity is both a creative response to and a visual understanding of a text or topic. A word cloud is a good way to review relevant vocabulary and key terms before a test or exam.