For this assignment, I used Wordle and the Hockneyizer feature from Big Huge Labs. I did try to use something new, as both were familiar to me; however, the creative juices just weren't flowing and I retreated to something known. More importantly, I think they are both tools that have credible application in the classroom and could go beyond a "cute idea."
For the Wordle, I took a chunk of text from A Tale of Two Cities and by mixing it with the Wordle tools, I was able to see which words gained emphasis. Stone, for example, is repeated throughout the text, and the software picked up on and emphasized its prominence, something kids might miss in their casual reading. I also like how you can change the font and color to capture the tone of the scene. Something more lighthearted would have called for a different font and style; however, given the dark nature of this passage, the blockish black and white text seemed most appropriate.
I had to think a bit about the Big Huge Lab features: although they instantly fed my creativity, I wasn't sure how I would actually use it in the classroom beyond the dreaded "cute" factor. I finally decided that the kids should do something that accurately depicts the author, something that moves him/her out of the one-dimensional textbook depiction and into something more indicative of his/her writing style. Because Dickens is humorous (even though my students often miss the humor), I chose the caricature as my starting place, and then used the Hockneyizer to add different colors and attitudes to represent his wide range of styles and personalities.
What do you think: Is this stretching the boundaries too far?