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Every Student, Every Day


QTL News & Stories


Wordle Your Hurdles to Keep Interest High
July 2009

Rutherford County teachers and administrators find fun ways to engage students - and themselves - in new learning.

Wordle is the new 'it' word in Rutherford County these days. Instructional leaders in this western North Carolina school district spent some of their summertime exploring new ways to keep students interested in learning. At least one new idea came in the form of a lesson adapted from a familiar internet application called Wordle.

wordleWordle creates a 'word cloud', or graphic representation, of the most frequently used words in a body of text (see example at right). Educators can use this same thought process in the classroom or in planning sessions to collaboratively construct meaning, clarify, and expand thinking about a text or document. Here's how: A teacher would ask the class to read a passage or unit in a book. Students would take a few minutes to reflect on what they've read and identify what they deem a significant word or phrase in the document. The group would then generate a sentence that is representative of the entire passage, and finally share the words that have emerged from the process. This visual and conversational approach allows students to break down material for a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the information and more readily identify story concepts.

"Excellent instruction," commented one administrator, "My kids will love it!" said another. And that's the point that Rutherford County wants to get across to its instructional leaders: that learning should be engaging all of the time.

Another discovery made during the three day session, was the role of the Professional Learning Community, or PLC, in fostering teacher performance. "Creating and maintaining a PLC takes a focused effort of supportive and shared leadership," noted seminar participant Charlie Freeman. "Teachers need to know that this model or process exists and how it can impact their instruction."

"Quality Teaching and Learning has created some great ideas and conversation," added participant Bill Bass. "Teacher efficacy, brain-based learning and cooperative learning styles are now necessary skills for successful classroom teachers."

"I was extremely impressed with the tech-savvy and forward-thinking group," said QTL Senior Instructional Specialist Rachel Porter. "They were enthusiastic about the technology and recognized right away how QTL could bring all of the pieces together in a way that will help their schools."

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