It was late September and my yearbook staff still couldn’t come up with a good idea for a theme. The staff members had already decided that they wanted to do something around the idea of the 21st century and the year two thousand 12 as a visual transposition since the students first entered school at the start of the 21st century, 12 years ago hence graduating in 2012. Ideas such as switch, flip, transpose, transposition, invert were tossed around. Then someone suggested a theme around “words with vert.” We tried to think of as many words as we could and came up with approximately 10. Discussions centered around the idea of having a book cover that said, “vert” or the Greek origin “vertere,” in which it was feared that no one would be able to pronounce it or understand that it meant, “to turn”? After discussing these ideas for one full class period, the next day I suggested we just use the word, invert and the majority acquiesced probably relieved to just finally have it decided so that they could move on to actually designing layout pages.But back in my mind I couldn’t stop thinking about “vert.” I kept thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was something out there that could actually come up with a list of all the words in the English language that had “vert” in it?
This week I introduced Wolfram/Alpha to the fourth grade class because their classroom teacher was soon going to assign a research project on Japan’s industries, and I wanted the students to find the most current information and data out there. I had heard about this from another participant at our EARCOS workshop, a week ago and decided to try playing with it myself to see if I could find out how this website worked. Later that same night, I was home and still playing on Wolfram/Alpha to think about a possible lesson plan, when I decided to type in the words, “words with vert” and to my surprise 139 words showed up on my screen! Immediately I thought of another website Wordle.net and I wanted to copy and paste this list into Wordle and see what kind of an interesting pattern I could create as a possible yearbook cover. The following design is what I created using the word list from Wolfram/Alpha..
I sometimes find myself off on another tangent because of the “messing around,” but I also learn a lot of new ideas of how to use them in an educational setting. I often like to give kids a chance to mess around too on the computer after I have introduced the lesson because that is a learning style that many use when learning a new skill.
I hope to show my yearbook staff what I created in Wordle and share my discovery of the powers of Wolfram/Alpha. Who knows, maybe “words with vert” could still be on the table for discussion.