I found out about Literature Map thanks to a blog feed that I subscribe to: iLearnTechnology. Literature Map helps you choose your next novel based on the authors that you already like. Simply type in the name of your favorite author, and this website will generate a word cloud of similar authors. The originally searched author's name will appear in the middle of the word cloud and, the closer another author's name is to the center, the more likely you are to enjoy that author as well. Click on any of the new authors that pop up and a new word cloud will be generated based on the writing of that author. A great tool for students who just don't know what to read next. Click below to watch a screencast of Literature Map at work. (By the way, I completely agree with the website's recommendation to read Libba Bray if you like Stephenie Meyer. I find her Great and Terrible Beauty series to be a wonderful next read for students who have already read the Twilight series.)
Wordle allows the user to create "word clouds" by entering text. The more often a word appears in that text, the larger the word will appear in the word cloud. The sample to the left was created by copying the first page of "The Most Dangerous Game" from an online version of the text and then pasting into the Wordle text box. Wordle allows the user to customize the color, font, and layout of the word cloud. I had another teacher create a Wordle for me using words and phrases that describe me, and it's one of my most cherished possessions. It's hanging on the wall in my classroom. I've had students create these to visually represents the many causes leading to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, which was a great opening activity that I followed up with a cause-effect paper.
Click here to access a Romeo & Juliet lesson using Wordle.
Tagxedo takes the concept of the "word cloud" one step further by allowing you to customize the shape of the product. The sample on the left is Hamlet's "to be or not to be" speech in the shape of Shakespeare.