Puzzle it out

May 16, 2012

I’ve been experimenting this week with Jigsaw planet – a whizzy free web application that creates an online jigsaw in a matter of seconds out of any image you have uploaded.  You can make the puzzle as easy or hard as you like by choosing anything between 4 and 300 pieces, by varying the shape from a simple square to a normal “jigsaw” like piece or even something more complex, and by choosing to rotate the pieces or not.  There are a number of features of this tool which are particularly useful when it comes to your students completing them:

  • You can click to see a pop up smaller version of the completed image
  • A “ghost” image of the completed puzzle can be shown behind the pieces
  • There is an audible “click” each time a piece is joined to another one correctly
  • Once pieces have been joined together they can be moved “as one piece
  • It’s perfect for using with an interactive whiteboard, so great for motivating pupils and promoting pupil engagement
  • The time taken to complete a puzzle is recorded so it makes for fun team games

I first tried it with my lunch time Chinese club – a 24 piece puzzle with 4 characters on it, each with a different coloured background.  I’ve got some keen little year 7 boys who often turn up ahead of the main group so it’s useful to have something they can be getting on with whilst we wait for the others to arrive.  Once they had completed the puzzle they had to say which character was the odd one out and why (focus on radicals).  I did a similar activity with year 13s;  their puzzle was of 4 items of clothing, the odd one out being the item which takes a different measure word.

I’ve been thinking of other uses for this application and so far I have thought of:

  • Puzzle made of objectives for lesson – pupils predict and work out what these are
  • Puzzle made up of a Wordle, which in turn represents a text – pupils predict what the text is about.  Here’s an example I’ve made from the Auβenseiter song
  • Puzzle is of a series of images – pupils use the language of speculation (I think, it could be, maybe it’s….) whilst completing the puzzle and the completed image is the stimulus for a Group talk activity.
  • The puzzle is an image, which  is a stimulus to developing intercultural understanding or for discussing something culturally specific to the target language country with pupils
  • The puzzle image is a text which makes completing it a reading task

WWW or the wonderful world of Wordle

April 30, 2010


The image above is a Wordle of the importance statement of the MFL  programme of study.  It is a word cloud created by a free online application at www.wordle.net/  which randomizes text and displays the words according to the frequency of the words used (the more frequent the word, the bigger the word).  It has tremendous potential for use in the classroom in terms of developing language learning and thinking skills:

  1. As a starter – to introduce new vocabulary or topic.    At a simple level pupils can be given a wordle of vocabulary or text  from a new topic area and they can work individually/ in pairs/groups to identify which words they know, which ones they can guess (cognates) and which ones they need to use dictionary skills to work out.  At advanced level learners can be give a wordle of a text which they use as a starting point for a discussion trying  to predict the context.
  2. To apply their knowledge about  language to categorise the words in the wordle.  e.g. nouns/verbs/adjectives or to classify nouns by gender.
  3. As a plenary/tool for AfL – e.g. a wordle created of TL and English words which pupils have to match up or a wordle in the TL in which they demonstrate their knowledge about language  or phonics or their ability to use language creatively.
  4. To demonstrate understanding of phonics by classifying words by their phonemes/letter strings.
  5. As a revision aid – a summary of a particular topic or context or as an aide-memoire.
  6. To help pupils develop presentation and spontaneous speaking skills.
  7. To show the results of a class survey or poll or as a display.
  8. To promote creativity – pupils are challenged to create sentences/stories etc from words on a wordle.
  9. As a tool in a listening exercise – pupils cross out the words they can identify in a spoken text.
  10. To encourage self reflection (PLTS – reflective learners) and to  improve written work – the frequency count in a wordle will highlight words that can get over used e.g. “intéressant” or “lustig”.  A  wordle can also make it easier for pupils to spot their own mistakes (e.g. in the incorrect use of accents) as it breaks up the normal order of words, thus making it less likely that they will simply gloss over their mistakes.

These are just some of the few ways in which a wordle can be used and they are dead simple to create as you can see here:

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