Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Simple Use of Something New to Teach a Classic Skill

This week, my English class students embarked on a study of rhetoric as it has been used in some of America's greatest speeches. We began by analyzing the connections between President Obama's 2013 Inaugural Address given yesterday and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. One of the tools we used was Wordle.net, which enable us to throw the text of both speeches into the Create field to produce a word cloud. The students enjoyed playing around with the word count limits and fonts to produce the arrangement which most clearly conveyed the overriding themes. I thought I would share this simple activity as it allowed us to watch themes emerge from prominent diction. From here we will look for connections to other American speeches and to our literary studies (mainly our current reading of Fahrenheit 451 and recently completed Inherit the Wind). Here are the word clouds generated today; they were excellent conversation starters!

President Obama's 2013 Inaugural Address 

Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" Speech

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