WordSift is a Swiss Army Knife of a literacy tool a colleague shared with Rich Cairn, Emerging America director, at the TESOL conference in Seattle in March. Social Studies and Humanities teachers can use this tool to enhance interaction and understanding of longer informational texts.
First copy your text selection and paste it into WordSift. (We used the Chinese Exclusion Act as an example.)
- Start by creating a word cloud (“1a” below). Another simple option is to sort by how common the words are in English. (“1b” below.)
- Get a visual thesaurus showing words in relation to one another. (“2” below). Linking word “families” helps ELs (and others!) build vocabulary. Mouse over for definitions. Select a word in the web to rearrange the thesaurus around it.
- See any word in context in every sentence throughout the document. (“3” below).
BEST YET! Highlight the academic words (“4” below), or Marzano Social Studies terms, or several other choices! This is useful to focus vocabulary instruction.
- Word Cloud of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
- One of several word cloud formats:
- Sorted for how common the words are. (“Custom” is highlighted for the next tool.)
- Visual Thesaurus:
- Choose a term from the Word Cloud. Mouse over a term to get a definition.
- See a word in context for every issue in the document.
- Highlight Academic Words: Other tools include highlighting Social Studies terms, Science terms, and more.