Annette, one of my teacher besties, just had a launch to the year that she described as…well, let me use her words: “So, this was awesome. It was beyond awesome. Be-awesome!”

She started her high school English classes last week with a first day stations activity (click here for a free copy), but then took the activity a step further and incorporated her students’ answers into a word cloud classroom mission statement. The result is now posted in her room:

“As I set behavior expectations, I refer to their words,” she said. “Likewise, when I introduce lessons, I relate them back to the goals they set for themselves. Loved this and so did the kids.”

The word cloud was easy to build. She used this free online tool and “was not scientific at all. I eyeballed the Post-Its to identify the most-oft-repeated words, as well as the ones I knew would be important to highlight. Said no to perfectionist tendencies that could lead to time-suck and spent no more than 15 minutes listing the terms. Easy peasy.”

Just out of curiosity, I entered my class outline (you can grab a copy here) into the word cloud builder to see what my words had to say about my priorities and this was the result:

Disturbing, eh? My focus seems to be on work, homework, and me giving them things. Not exactly the student-centered message I want to send. Without question, I prefer the version created by Annette’s kids, who declared for themselves that time, quiet, hard work, and focus were among their most important needs. I hear you, kids.

Teach on, everyone!

Join the conversation! 10 Comments

  1. Love this idea. I just prepared the first day stations for my students, who will be arriving next week. I’m excited to use it. It’s fun to be excited. I will steal this word cloud idea if that’s alright?

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  2. I can’t tell you, Blue Butterfly Cards, how happy your excitement makes me! We should ALL feel this way about the first day of school. And, YES, take Annette’s idea and run with it. She’ll be thrilled! 🙂

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  3. I did your stations to start my year this year and loved it. Next year I will definitely build on with this. Thx so much for sending this out!

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  4. I’m so thrilled! The stations were everything. I did that before reviewing my syllabus, so when I did review it, I had the word cloud ready and was able to tie all the standards, units, and classroom norms right back to their own self-established needs and goals. When I introduced MUG Shots, I quickly stifled the groans by reminding them that they themselves identified improving grammar as a goal for the year. Honestly, it feels a little bit tricky, but in a very fruitful way. Word cloud!

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  5. That’s awesome, Valerie! So glad the idea worked for you and your kids. 🙂

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  6. Love this, Annette! I mean, after all, they have only themselves to blame, right? Ha! 🙂

    Thanks again for sharing your good idea with our teacher world!

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  7. I love this! Totally stealing, thanks! Did you do a word cloud for each station or just a few?
    Thanks,
    Lori

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  8. Of course, Lori! I’m pretty sure Annette combined the sticky note words from all of the stations together to form her cloud. Hope you have a great launch to the year!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You know me so well, Laura : )

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  10. Thank you so much!! 🙂

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