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Data Driven Learning - using WordSift


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Data driven learning is not likely to be included in your syllabus but it may be something to explore to expand the learning activities that you and your students use to break from the normal routine. I have created a how to sheet for instructors to try to get the gist of using WordSift.

Published in: Education
  • John, I really enjoyed playing with this new tool. I teach listening and speaking and accessing spoken corpora and concordancing are more challenging with spoken text. I usually manually type out a transcript of audio texts (authentic) that I am planning on using and create vocabulary Quizlets myself by skimming the text for words that I think might be challenging. But I am wondering if they can do some analysis post-listening. I have played with concodancers but never used them with students. Probably because I work with intermediate level students. It is so important for students to learn to analyze language and patterns and collocations themselves. But this does seem like a tool that works best with reading and writing. My students are about, however, to do presentations comparing two Canadian cities and I think I am going to get them to use the word cloud tool and somehow include it in their presentation! Anyway, this tool is lovely. Thank you for sharing!
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Data Driven Learning - using WordSift

  1. 1. John Allan 2017 (@mrpottz) 1 WordSift – Data-Driven Learning WHAT IS DDL? Data driven learning allows students to discover language through using linguistic analysis tools. Wordsift allows students to wade into the shallow end of DDL. Students can locate and consider word frequency, word collocations, words in sentence context, word related imagery and the word’s usage in videos. To use Wordsift or any other concordance tool, a corpora or source of digital text is required. Potential sources of texts for English language students are listed here in alphabetical order. • Breaking News English offers levelled current events articles with a myriad of related activities. • Newsela provides leveled articles on current news events with a writing prompt and a multiple choice quiz. • News in Levels publishes newspaper articles in three levels for language learners accompanied by an audio script listening option. • Project Gutenburg is a collection of over offers over 54,000 free eBooks. 1 LOCATING A TEXT SOURCE (CORPORA) 1. In a browser, open the site 2. An article appears. In the page section, The Reading / Listening - Gaming – Level 6 appears.
  2. 2. John Allan 2017 (@mrpottz) 2 3. If the article is too advanced for your learners, select one of the alternate levels at the bottom of the article. 4. Select all of the article’s text. (from A new hotel… to … and profanity.) 5. Press [CTRL] + [C] ( or right-click, click Copy) 6. Open a new browser tab to 7. Click in the WordSift text box. 8. Paste the text into this text box. 9. Ignore the red warning regarding a low word count. 10. Click on the Sift! Button. 11. Results appear on the screen. 12. In the Top section, a Word cloud appears.
  3. 3. John Allan 2017 (@mrpottz) 3 13. Clicking on any word changes the results in all of the other sections below. 14. Click on the term computer. 15. Note that the Visualization changes from gaming as the root word to computer. 16. At the top of the screen, choose option Text View. 17. The original text replaces the word cloud. Click on the option Mark Words. 18. Choose one of the available word lists. 19. Note that words form the word list appear highlighted in the document.
  4. 4. John Allan 2017 (@mrpottz) 4 2 WORD VISUALIZATION 1. With the word computer highlighted in the Word Cloud, view the WordNet Visualization. 2. Click on the More button. 3. This results in more collocations and connections. 4. If more screen space is required, click on the maximize/minimize button. 5. With the mouse pointer in the Visualization area, push the mouse “wheel” forward and backward (if you have this on your mouse/pictured here in blue). This is a good way to zoom in and out of the visualization. 6. Also, note that the mouse pointer has three functions. a. In white space it functions to move the text around the screen. b. Over the text it highlights the text for possible selection. c. Over the red circles, it provides word’s part of speech and a definition. In this example, computer is defined as a noun (man-made object) and a machine for performing calculations automatically.
  5. 5. John Allan 2017 (@mrpottz) 5 7. At any time, keywords can be selected to become the root word of the visualization. 3 WORDS IN CONTEXT 1. With the word computer highlighted in the Word Cloud, view the Word in context section. 2. If more screen space is required, click on the maximize/minimize button. 3. Students can read the word in its context to determine and confirm its meaning in context.
  6. 6. John Allan 2017 (@mrpottz) 6 4 WORD IMAGERY 1. With the word computer highlighted in the Word Cloud, view the Images for “computer” section. 2. At the time of the creation of this document, the WordSift team is working on a better solution for this feature. 3. Click on the Images button. 4. A Google search for the term “computer” images appears. 5. Learners can use these images to refine their understanding of the word. This might be more valuable with concepts or actions. 6. The same can be attempted through a video search. Students click on the Videos button.
  7. 7. John Allan 2017 (@mrpottz) 7 5 SORTING WORDS IN THE WORD CLOUD 1. WordSift allows users to sort their word clouds by: • Alphabetically A to Z • Alphabetically Z to A • Rare to common • Common to rare 2. This is an example of a common to rare sort. 6 STYLIZING THE WORD CLOUD (JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN) 1. To add more panache to the presentation of the word cloud, click on the Cloud Styles button. 2. Choose one of the menu options. 3. To reorder the positioning of words, click on the Redraw the Cloud button.