Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Whachu Talking 'Bout? Find Out with Facebook Status Clouds

Editor's Note: Please forgive the cheesy title. My father worked as a Director of Photography on the sitcom "Different Strokes" for a large part of my adolescence. I couldn't resist.

Facebook has a new app called Status Cloud that got my innovative educational juices flowing. It's a tool that makes a word cloud (think wordle) of your past year's status updates. It basically allows you to take a look at what's been on your mind for the past year and in essence places your Facebook brain in a word cloud. I instantly thought of so many terrific ideas to promote fun and engaging learning. Here they are.


Team building ideas to help students learn and connect.

-Have students print out their status clouds and try to decide which status cloud belongs to which student.
-Have students tag their cloud in Flickr using a teacher created account and in the comment box either place their status cloud narrartive or use the comment box to guess who the cloud belongs to.
-Have student compare and contrast their status clouds, perhaps with a Venn diagram. They could also write a narrative explaining what they have in common and might never have in common with another class member.
-Have students place their cloud as a note on FB and tag 20 of their friends asking them to share common words.

Personal Narrative
-Have students write a personal narative expanding on the words found in their cloud.
-Have students create a personal narrative video based on words in their cloud.
-Have students create a personal narrative audio cast or voki based on their cloud.

Arts and Crafts

-Print the word clouds onto iron on paper and make tee shirts with students word clouds on the back. This could even be used as a fundraiser.

The Facebook status cloud is a great tool for students to get to know each other and provides a vehicle for students to reflect upon what messages they are sharing with their friends over the past year. How might they want their message to change in the new year? It also provides a fantastic way for students to get ideas for further sharing and publishing about the topic they are most expert in...themselves.

If you want to share your cloud with me, friend me on Facebook at (include a message if you haven't already) and share here.

Update! I just discovered there is a my friends link which allows you to instantly see the clouds of all your Facebook friends. These pictures could all be saved, tagged, and used for a number of cool purposes. Awesome!

How cool, this was picked up by Facebook in Education and spread to hundreds more people.
Facebook in Education

Facebook in Education This educational blogger was inspired to come up with creative ideas for using the Status Cloud application in the classroom.
Facebook has a new app called Status Cloud that got my innovative educational juices flowing. It's a tool that makes a word cloud (think wordle) of your past year's status updates. It basically allows ...
November 29 at 11:28am · · · Share
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Update #2
You can now do this via twitter too! Here's my twitter status cloud.
And, check out the Twitterlytics at

And, visit - if you are researching & need the whole conversation.

Update #3
Two more great year in review apps from Facebook.

Status collage:

A year in pictures:


  1. facebook is a cool web 2.0 tool, but we cant use it in our schools. it is filtered. that is probably why i use wordle as you mention. wordle is a fun tool that i find useful when introducing a poem:

    i agree it is so cool how these tools get our educational juices flowing and then we walk into our schools only to have those juices dry up when we find these tools blocked by the filters.

    it is cool when we take our student work and put it in wordle and let them see the key words and to see a visual of their work. wordle isn't blocked.

    i'd love to be able to use facebook or myspace, but they are blocked. my students find webpage building more fun then myspace and better.

    have you used this tool in a school?

  2. Ted, I’ve come to accept the fact that for now, many schools are hopelessly stuck in a time capsule of days gone by, but despite this, I still encourage educators to use the learning devices (all personally owned electronics) and websites banned in schools. Also, note, that not all districts ban technology and websites. That said a majority do, but If we don’t we aren’t preparing our students for the world in which they live. When visiting Chris Lehmann’s school I asked a literacy teacher why he has students publish on YouTube if it’s banned in school. He said, because that’s where students watch videos. This caused a shift in my thinking. Just because these tools are banned in schools doesn’t mean we can’t capitalize on their power and incorporate them into homework.

    Also, in NYC, schools can get sites unblocked if your administrator supports the decision. I have written how at There’s a discussion about this on my learning network too at

    Given that, creating a status cloud only takes seconds and can be done away from school. Once the cloud is created all the fun begins. The huge advantage this technology has over Wordle is that it instantly compiles a year’s worth of thoughts and really taps into what students / adults have been talking about. It gives them an insight into what they’re online presence currently stands for and opens the conversation about how they might change or improve what they are talking about. If you do this with your students, let me know how it goes.

  3. funny you should mention Chris, a good friend. While he was in a NYC school, beacon, for so long he fought the good fight and eventually it was in his best interest to leave NYC for a better place. He was a super star in nyc, and yet he was ignored and hamstrung. he is in a better place. others have been stars and left, greg betthiel, barry hauptman, mark gura to name a few.

    i am aware of the unblock method, but it is just another roadblock we must use to make something work that should work unconditionally. it isnt about education anywhere anytime.

    now i must ask another question about this renewed tech passion, lisa. in the 90's we had some pretty cool technology conferences sponsored by the NYC schools. the first one was sponsored by the superintendency of manhattan when granger ward was the superintendent that worked with NYU school of ed and we did three ACT conferences that featured manhattan schools and then the alternative high schools. Another great set of conferences were done by mark gura for art and the use of technology. i believe he had 2 or 3 of these. of course as time passed by all of these rock heroes moved on because they saw nyc schools as a deadend when it comes to technology. we lack leadership, real educational leadership at the nyc doe. i have tried to educate klein but he just aint capable of learning. lisa, we havent had a good set of technology conferences in nyc in years that feature nyc schools because we are focused on the wrong thing, the tests and not on education and the use of technology in education. we need to rethink schools in nyc and we arent. we are still doing SOSO.

    sure there are neat little pockets of teachers in nyc doing good things, but they are in the minority like 90-10. and we shouldnt have to break school policy to do our job. heck i started hacking in the 80's to get my technology to work and what upsets me so is that in 2009 i still have to hack. now that is stupid, lisa, i shouldn't have to be working this hard to make a simple thing like technology work in my classroom.

    When are things really going to change in nyc schools lisa. we have been at it since the early 80's and we havent made much progress, in fact i'd say we have lost lots of ground. we should be leading the world in the use of technology and we arent, that's a cryin shame.