Have you ever heard of Word Magnets?

By Valeria Palladino posted 09-01-2011 14:40

I just came across this really cool tool. It works on the principle of word magnets, like the ones you find at the store in different languages, to create poetry from a variety of topics.

The name of the website from where you download the tool suite (yes - there is more than one tool and they are ALL FREE), is I read from a variety of blogs that it is pretty reliable and trustworthy, two qualities I look forward to in any online tools I explore to use for my language classes.

In this blog entry I want to focus on these word magnets. The tool goes something like this:

  1. you download the suite and open the word magnets tool
  2. you have a field where you drop a bit of text from any source online (I still have only tried it with Latin-based characters, but I would suspect it may not make a difference) - I do suggest working with small chunks of text at first.
  3. once I ask the tool to create the magnets for me, it breaks down every word in my text and scrambles it by default on my screen. the the real fun begins.
I can move words around to try and recreate the sentence (that is why I suggest doing this in small chunks - it can get very frustrating). I can place the words in different columns on my screen according to grammatical rules I want to focus on with my students. Or I can ask my students to use the words on screen and create as many new, original sentences as they can and figure out what the text could be about...Once again, the imagination is the limit.

I attach a few screen shots of what I have tried here - I will soon illustrate a few more details in one of my podcasts - stay tuned for more. And feel free to let me know if you can think of other ideas.

This would be a cleaned version of all the words used in this blog entry (I deleted the repetitions to have more space on the board).

And this would be an example of an initial categorization of the words according to similar uses in the text. I am thinking that pre-literacy skills can truly be engaged at this stage (with very simple sentences) - and then asking students to explain and justify why they would group the words in the way they did...lots of critical thinking skills will be practiced at this level as well. And because the tool works mainly from a select and drop basis, highly sophisticated typing skills need not be in place to use the tool. I think this a great.