I mentioned last week how we had a great day in Social Studies on Monday.  Then on Tuesday, we discussed how to make the change stick during our class meeting.    So on Wednesday, it was really cool when we had another amazing SS time.  Not cool because I didn’t expect it, but cool because I did expect it to go well and then it did! (If you’re a teacher you know what I mean–a well-laid plan doesn’t always work out the way it’s supposed to!)

I had taken some advice from my friends as I planned Wednesday’s lesson: choosing their partners/groups, working together with them first, and doing the reading part of the job in Reader’s Workshop.  We proceeded much like we had the previous two days, but with the focus being Songhai (or Songhay) rather than Mali (remember: we’re studying kingdoms of Ancient West Africa).  But I added one thing: a new piece of technology that my kids didn’t know.  We made Wordles!

If you haven’t heard of a Wordle before, you’re not alone.  I hadn’t heard of one until I read about it from someone I follow on Twitter over the summer.  (Yes, I’m on Twitter.  More about that later.)  In a few words, it’s a word cloud that you create about whatever topic or concept you want.  I’ve seen them used for spelling words or other subjects, as well as to describe yourself.  The size of the words is determined by how many times you enter that word in the box, and then the bigger size implies bigger importance.

This is a wordle I made about me:

So fast forward to our Social Studies application of Wordle.  Each group met with me again during group time in Reader’s Workshop to read, discuss and pull out important information that they could use on their Wordle.  They had a plan, and then worked with their group to create a word cloud showing the important facts related to Songhai and their specific discipline (history, civics, economics, culture, geography).  Just like on Monday, they were busy, they were quiet, they were engaged.  (I know it sounds like my class is never any of those things.  That’s totally not true!  They really are an amazing bunch of kiddos!)

I have gotten such great feedback from my kids on this day!  They loved learning something new–both about Africa and about how to create a Wordle.  They’ve already asked when we can do it again, made suggestions for other places in our day we could try it, and want to try it at home on their own time.  Love, love, love what’s happening in this unit now. 🙂

(Ok, I realize I didn’t post pictures of the actual Wordles they made, but that’s because I just realized their on my computer at school and I didn’t want til Monday to post this!  I’ll add them later, I promise!)