This sketchtivity is near and dear to my heart for a few reasons: it is fun, it is easy, it is colorful and it generates enthusiasm. But, the most important reason is because I first experienced it as a learner. We get ideas for coaching and leading from all sorts of places: reading books, browsing social media, finding them online, etc. But the most powerful activities are the ones that first moved us as learners and we were so compelled by the experience, we just had to share it with our teachers. This embodies my entire philosophy of coaching: we must live as learners to lead the learning of others.

I was attending a state conference on teacher education and the presenter started our session by asking us to capture our thinking on the topic on As we each entered our three words to guide the session, those words were immediately transformed into a collaborative word cloud right before our eyes. I was mesmerized. Not only could I gain multiple perspectives on the topic without any conversation at all, but the changing shapes and colors reminded me how our thinking must change as we encounter those new ideas. I was hooked and have been using collaborative word clouds in my coaching ever since.

As of right now, Mentimeter is my favorite tool for this work because it is quick, easy and free (although you can upgrade to a paid subscription for more bells and whistles). Head to Mentimeter to learn more, to create your account and create your first word cloud presentation. You can accomplish all of that in a few easy steps:

  1. Log into Mentimeter.
  2. Click new presentation.
  3. Click the word cloud design.
  4. Add your chosen prompt or question.

That's it! And next, it is so quick and easy to invite teachers to participate. Simply direct them to and provide the code provided at the top of your presentation so teachers can access the page to enter their responses. Then, open your presentation and project it on the screen for all to see. Remind teachers to enter their information and then quickly look to the screen (or change tabs if working virtually) so they can see their contributions appear. Then, watch the magic happen! Use the results to talk about the topic at hand and inform your work together and guide future planning.

Here’s how I like to use word clouds in my coaching:

  • As opening moves during professional learning sessions to elicit conversation on the topic.
  • As quick ways to capture the thinking of the group during a session or break.
  • As a tool to create shared visions for our work ahead. Print out the word cloud and keep it visible as a tangle reminder.
  • As exit tickets to share important learning after a session together.

Want to see a few? Take a look at these word clouds I've created with teachers:

There are many more possibilities for word clouds in coaching and I hope to explore them all. Share how you have used word clouds in the comments below!

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  1. We used this for new teacher classroom management training. Teachers typed a word or phrase based on the prompt (used it a couple of times) - it went great! Thank you for the resource.


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