“Wordle” Activity for Kaffir Boy
Class: 10th grade World Literature
Autobiography: Kaffir Boy*
*Kaffir Boy is an autobiography about a black South African youth growing up under
the apartheid system.
Activity: Students will be divided into small groups. Within those groups, students
will discuss the idea of mental slavery and what it means to be mentally enslaved.
Mental enslavement is a concept that author Mark Mathabane touches upon quite often
in his writing—especially in regard to race, and one’s condition in society. After
discussing what it means to be mentally enslaved, and any other ideas in regard to
mental slavery, groups will place their ideas on the whiteboard in the front of the room.
While discussing the ideas recorded on the whiteboard as a class, one student volunteer
will type and save the groups’ ideas in a Word document.
Using www.wordle.net, the document will be uploaded and as a class, we will develop a
“word cloud.” (My classroom contains a Polyvision board, so students can easily see
anything I bring up on my personal computer). The word cloud will emphasize the
most common words used in the discussions and, consequently, the uploaded document,
by making them the largest and boldest words in the cloud. After discussing what those
particular words are in our class word cloud (I imagine such words to be “power” and
“knowledge” for example), I will print and photocopy the class word cloud and
distribute one to each student.
The word cloud can then be used as a beneficial studying tool for students, particularly
to remind them of important aspects of our class discussion. Likewise, the word cloud
can also be used as a base or “brainstorm” for a formal or informal independent write on
mental slavery and the connection it has to either the autobiography, or students’
personal lives, or both! The use for the word cloud may vary depending on the specific
section of students I am working with (there might be a difference between a basic class
or an Honors class).