Monday, September 8, 2008

Get Your Head in the Clouds

Did you find yourself wondering, as you watched the Democratic and Republican conventions, just how often the topic of education found its way to the podium? If so, here's a tool to help clear things up (or cloud things up, as the case may be): word clouds.

"Word clouds" — yet another child of Web 2.0 — illustrate the frequency at which words occur within a certain text, such as a speech. The more often a word occurs, the bigger it appears in the cloud.

These word clouds, recently created by, provide a quick snapshot of how many times the national convention speakers used certain words and phrases. Look for "education," "schools" and "students" in these clouds — it's more challenging than you might expect. The New York Times also developed word clouds for the convention speeches, but their clouds don't even include education-related verbiage. Check out what words were deemed cloud-worthy by the NYT here.

Speaking of the national conventions... Do you think the candidates failed to adequately address education at their party conventions? The (Vancouver) Columbian agrees.

Over the next few months, The Comp Book will be watching McCain-Palin and Obama-Biden for their responses to tough education questions. For a brief overview of each candidate's position on NCLB, the achievement gap, merit pay and more, go to Edutopia 's recent Guide to the 2008 Presidential Candidates' Education Agenda.

FYI: You can create your own word cloud for any text using Just plug in the text and, voilĂ , out comes your word cloud. Great potential as a fun classroom tool!

This is a word cloud for today's blog entry.

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