What Do You Really Write About

I was reading a book recently, If on a winter’s night a traveler… by Italo Calvino and in it one of the characters developed a new way to analyze literature. She fed the text into a computer program and it counted the individual uses of each individual word. Then, she would use that information to figure out what the book was about and write academic papers on it. She used the frequency of certain words in the text to determine what the author was really writing about.

This got me thinking. It would be interesting to see what words I use the most; maybe it would be insightful to see what I really write about, to see if there is some underlying theme that I don’t realize I’m writing about. But I don’t have a specific computer program for this purpose and I don’t know how to write code. Then it hit me: Wordle. There is a way to enter a URL and it will analyze all the content on that site and create a word cloud. Unfortunately, that didn’t work for me, so I just copied and pasted the text from all my blogposts into a word doc, then I copied and pasted that into Wordle. 30,000+ words. The above picture is the result.

It’s interesting to see what I talk about the most. The biggest words are “kids,” “story,” and “students,” followed “time,” “class,” and “Roberta,” the name of one of the main characters in a series of stories I wrote on the site. These words are all big and in the center of the he word cloud, which is exactly where they should be. They are the main focus of my instruction.

It’s also interesting to think about what is small or not there: not much about textbook activities or conjugation. “Grammar” is there, but it is small and out of the way, which is exactly the way that it should be in my classroom: something that should be there, but not the main focus of the class and definitely not at the center of instruction.

It’s definitely an eye-opening experience to find trends that come up unconsciously in my writing and I encourage you out there in the blog world to do the same: see what kinds of things you focus on and what things you don’t talk about.

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