Teaching students to analyze text is challenging regardless of the age of the student. Our natural tendency is to summarize or describe as opposed to a genuine analysis. Using Wordle to create a word cloud from a particular text provides a visual method of seeing the repetition of various words and therefore, a new perspective on the text. This new perspective is the perfect jumping-off point for conversations about why and how those words are central to the plot or development. Wordle is a free online tool that is literally easy enough for 1st graders. The steps are simply to visit www.wordle.net, choose Create your own, copy a section of text from a document you with to analyze or present visually, paste the text into the Wordle text box and click create. Done. The resulting Worlde (which can be customized by the user) has larger fonts for words that were used most frequently and smaller fonts for other words.
Here is a blog post from some experts. Give it a try in your classroom, and let us know how it goes.