Posts Tagged ‘Teaching Activity’

Word Clouds in the Classroom

My daughter’s word cloud, created by her using wordart.com


Fun came to my daughter’s 7th grade language arts class in the form of a cloud.

A word cloud.

It was a simple and fun project, but one that my daughter took seriously.

The assignment: Using the site wordart.com, she was asked to create a word cloud that represented her. Her word cloud would consist of a shape, words, and colors, all of which she inputted into the site to create a unique image.

This project was educational in three ways: as a tech project, as vocabulary development, and as a “who-am-I?” exercise. The results were beautiful. [Side note: She loved her word cloud so much that she decided to make 12 more, one for each family member for the holidays. They were a big hit.]

The whole experience was a fantastic one, and I started wondering how other teachers use word clouds in the classroom. Well, I was in for a surprise! I found more than 100 ideas for educational uses of words clouds. This article gives ideas for ten word cloud activities and this article discusses more than 100 ways to use word clouds in the classroom!

I even found teachers discussing word-cloud ideas in various blog and article comments sections. For example, in the comments section of a 2010 edition of the New York Times feature Teacher Q, a teacher named Paula shares her experience using word clouds with her students. I thought it was worth including here, so I excerpted her comment:

“I have been using the website www.wordle.net. It has been so helpful as a pre-reading tool. Before I assign them a challenging paragraph on the board, I copy and paste the text onto the text box, and click submit, and voila, a beautiful word cloud. Then, referring to the word cloud, students choose the words that are likely to be the most significant: such as hydra, corruption, legislation. They explain the meanings of the words, then predict what the passage will be about. They correctly predicted it would involve corruption in the law, and that a hydra (snake) was somehow involved. It has worked well. Even before they read the passage, they had a very good idea of what it will be about! Before, tackling passages from Plato’s Republic was very intimidating; but word clouds make it much more accessible.”

Want to go straight to a word-cloud site and create your own? A lot of teachers seem to recommend wordle.net and wordart.com. But check out this article for nine more recommendations.

Tip: Help students understand a Pro/Con Leading Issue in SIRS Discoverer by using a word cloud of vocabulary terms regarding the topic. For example, here’s one created for the Homework leading issue:

Word cloud representing the Homework Pro/Con Leading Issue on SIRS Discoverer, created by the ProQuest staff using wordart.com


Happy creating!

Teaching Activity: Designing Olympic Medals

PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Medals

PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Medals [via Korea.net / Korean Culture and Information Service / accessed through Wikimedia Commons]

Did you know that the design of the Olympic medals changes with each Olympics? The designs are meant to showcase the culture and traditions of the host country. For example, the design for the front of this year’s PyeongChang medals has the Olympic rings set on a background that is meant to look like the texture of tree trunks, symbolizing history and determination. The side and back of the medals incorporate the Korean alphabet, and the ribbons are made of a traditional Korean fabric known as gapsa.[1]

Help your students get excited about the PyeongChang Olympics with the following teaching activity from CultureGrams. This activity will help students think critically about what goes into choosing the design of Olympic medals. Though the activity is geared for grades 6-8, it can easily be adjusted to suit any grade level. You can also find additional teaching activities about the Olympics on CultureGrams.

Designing Olympic Medals

Grade level



Students will design an Olympic medal based on what they learn about the culture of a country.

 Common Core State Standards Initiative

Anchor Standards for Reading: ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

  • Literacy in History/Social Studies (Grades 6–8): ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

Anchor Standards for Reading: ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

  • Literacy in History/Social Studies (Grades 6–8): ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

Anchor Standards for Reading: ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

  • Literacy in History/Social Studies (Grades 6–8): ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.7 Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

Anchor Standards for Reading: ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

  • Literacy in History/Social Studies (Grades 6–8): ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.8 Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.

Anchor Standards for Reading: ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Time requirement

Preparation: 15 minutes

In-class: 60 minutes


CultureGrams World Edition

Art materials—construction paper, scissors, glue, pens, etc.


  1. Ask each student to choose a country and read its CultureGrams report. Students should make note of things that set the country apart and that citizens of the country would be especially proud of.
  2. Explain to the students that the design of the Olympic medals combines the history of the Olympic Games with the culture of the host country. Each host country designs the medal that hundreds of athletes will compete for that year. Have students look at the design and background information for medals from some past Winter or Summer Olympic Games. Hold a class discussion about which elements of culture the designs incorporate and why.
  3. Ask students to design an Olympic medal for the country they researched. They must incorporate aspects of the country’s culture as well as images from ancient Greek culture and the history of the Olympic Games. You may wish to determine the format (paper, poster, digital design, etc.) or leave it open to the students.
  4. In small groups or in front of the class, have students explain why they chose to include each element of their medal.

Extension activity

Each country that hosts the Olympics designs a logo for the games. The logo may feature a symbol of the country or it may simply try to capture the excitement of the games. While each country adds their own elements to the logo, almost all logos incorporate the Olympic rings, one of the most recognizable symbols of the games. Have the students research past Olympic logos on the Internet and choose the one they think reflects the best blend of Olympic history and the host country’s culture, according to that country’s CultureGrams report. Students should be prepared to defend their choices with specific details.

Visit CultureGrams to find more teaching activities!

  1. “PyeongChang 2018 Medals.” International Olympic Committee, www.olympic.org/pyeongchang-2018-medals.

CultureGrams Activity: Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro. (Photo courtesy of the CultureGrams photo collection)

The Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympics are scheduled to begin next week on August 5. Get your students excited about the Olympics by having them participate in some of our Olympic-themed activities, which can be found on our Teaching Activities PDF.  One of these activities is included below, but our Teaching Activities PDF has more ideas to help students learn about different aspects of the Olympics.

Grade level

Students explore and familiarize themselves with the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro in preparation for the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Time requirement
In-class: 50 minutes

CultureGrams Kids Edition—Brazil

1. Introduce the activity by discussing the concept of the Olympic Games. Explain that the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Spend some time discussing with the class what qualities and conditions a city or country must meet in order to be chosen to host the Olympic Games.
2. Break students up into groups and have each group read through the Kids Edition Brazil report, paying particular attention to the sections that describe the factors that make it a good home for the Summer Games (e.g., the Land and Climate section) as well as the country’s unique cultural and historical aspects that might play a role during the Olympic Games.
3. Have each group summarize and present their findings. As a class, discuss what they have learned about Brazil and why Rio de Janeiro was chosen to host the 2016 Games.

Extension Activity
Have students discuss whether or not they think their state has a suitable city to host the Olympics. What would make it a good place? What would be some of its drawbacks? Have students write a letter to the International Olympic Committee, explaining why their state should or should not host the Olympic Games.

CultureGrams—Teaching Activities: Comparing Interviews

Did you know that CultureGrams offers almost 80 free teaching activities to its subscribers? If you don’t have access to CultureGrams, enjoy this free teaching activity today and sign up for a free trial of the product to access more.

Comparing Interviews

Lamarana, age 11, Manjai Kunda, Gambia
Faces of the World Interviews, ProQuest CultureGrams


Comparing Interviews

Objective Students will learn about the process of interviewing and compare texts for similarities and differences.

Grade level 4–5

Common Core State Standards Initiative

  • Anchor Standards for Reading: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text. (specifically Reading: Informational Text, Grade 5: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.1)
  • Anchor Standards for Reading: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take. (Specifically Reading Informational Text, Grade 4: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.9 and Reading: Informational Text, Grade 5: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.9)

Time requirement

Preparation: 15 minutes

In-class: 2 hours


  • Handout with interview questions
  • Copy of the Gambian student interview below (Access the CultureGrams Interviews feature here.)


1. Distribute a handout to the class that contains the following 4 questions, with space to write below each of them:

  • What is your favorite holiday?
  • What is your favorite food?
  • What is your most valued possession?
  • What are you good at?

2. Discuss what it means to interview someone. Explain the importance of listening carefully, taking notes, and asking follow-up questions.
3. Split students into pairs and have them interview each other, writing down the responses on the distributed handout.
4. Hand out a copy of the interview below. (For the complete interview and dozens of others from around the world, access the CultureGrams Interviews feature.) Have the students read it and compare the answers to that of their classmate’s
5. Bring the class together for a discussion about similarities and differences they noticed between the two interviews.


Name: Lamarana
Age: 11
Gender: Female
Location: Manjai Kunda, Gambia

1) What is your favorite holiday? 
My favorite holiday is Tabaski, or Eid al-Adha. On this day, many families ritually slaughter a ram in ritual sacrifice. Coming from a poor family, we cannot afford to buy a ram, but my step-grandfather buys many kilos of meat for the family to cook. Also, neighbors who slaughter a ram give us portions of meat. The day is a countrywide barbecue day, and there are celebrations throughout the day. We all wake up early in the morning to do a general cleaning of the compound, bathe, wear our finest clothes (if possible, brand new), and go to the praying ground. After returning from the praying ground, the sacrifices are done, followed by a massive barbecue. In the afternoon, I go to visit my mom where she is staying with my stepfather and three little sisters.

2) What is your favorite food? 
My favorite food is haaku bantereh (plasas is the common Gambian name). It is a leaf stew cooked with chopped cassava leaves, beef, flaked smoked fish, hot chili peppers, peanut powder, and palm oil, and it is served with steamed rice. It is very rich in ingredients and healthy.

3) What is your most valued possession? 
My most valued possession is the sandals my mom bought me for school. My mom saved for a long time to get me those sandals, and I love them. They are strong and will last long. My friends also like them.

4) What are you good at?

I am good at caring for babies. I am only 11 years old, but I look after my siblings and my neighbor’s babies. I carry one of my neighbor’s babies on my back. I feed her and play with her until her mother returns from the market. I love babies.