Although it isn’t a new service, I have just discovered a tag cloud generator called Tagul, and I have to say that I love it! You may be familiar with Wordle, Tagxedo, or WordItOut, which are all very good sites (although I have been having some technical issues with Wordle lately), but if you haven’t yet come across Tagul in your internet meanderings, I encourage you to head over as soon as you finish reading this post.
Two of the things that set Tagul apart are the ease with which you can incorporate custom colors and shapes as well as the ability to link the tags in your cloud to different pages. I used the coffee cup image from the front of my website, added the text of the About Me section, and set it up so the PLAYDATE tag linked to the PLAYDATE L. A. website. It only took me a few minutes and I am very pleased by the results. Hover over the graphic to see how it works.
Tagul has several other noteworthy features. You can put words inside other words, customize your fonts (even for individual words within the cloud), export your image as a scalable vector graphic, and specify final image size, among others. Like most of my other favorite sites, it’s free, although it requires users to register with an email address.
There are many ways to use tag clouds in the classroom. Use them to highlight key words and concepts in passages from literature or famous speeches. Create two clouds using primary source document accounts of the same historic event written from different perspectives and compare them. Create custom images for report covers or website headers. (Check out this one here; it’s my first effort, but I’m pretty proud of it!) If you have another great idea, please share in the comments.