I’ve been watching the “Wordle” craze for a few weeks, and observing its slow creep into the classrooms. For those of you who have been lucky enough to escape this addiction in the form of a game invented by Josh Wardle (I confess that I am a Wordle fanatic, so there is a small amount of sarcasm in my choice of words), here is an explanation of the colored squares you may have observed showing up on social media streams. And no, we are not talking about word clouds, which were all the rage a decade ago!
As I was collecting resources and preparing for today’s post, I was also attempting to make my own lame version of a customizable Wordle game using conditional formatting in a spreadsheet so I could share it with teachers. Fortunately, I only wasted about 10,000 hours on that (but man, I now know a lot about conditional formatting) before I ran across this brilliant suggestion in a Twitter thread, My Wordle Me. This may be one of the best ways to go if you are using it with kids. As some of us know, there was a Wordle answer last week that was not inappropriate if you use it in the right context (think something painful you might do to your thumb with a needle), but highly amusing to middle schoolers who are always good at jumping to the exactly wrong context. There was a very fun Twitter thread of teachers who had that entertaining experience…
So, I had that link to share, and then came across a math one that I know my gifted students would have loved, called Oodle. Great! Now I had two fabulous links to give readers!
And then I got an email from a community I belong to for TCEA, and was blown away by the amount of Wordle variations out there! I want to thank Lori Gracey (@lgracey) for sharing those, but I couldn’t find a way to link to it, so I decided to make a Wakelet. In addition Lori Gracey shared a Twitter post from Tony Vincent (@TonyVincent) from Learning in Hand, who also shared some that were new to me. His post even includes a link to one where you can play against someone at the same time.
So, why play Wordle in the classroom? Well, as you know I think it’s great to borrow game ideas to shake things up in the classroom. And, of course, with the customizable version you can directly target vocabulary from your curriculum. Another big benefit is the logic and problem solving skills students need to use, and trying to improve on their own performance from the previous attempts. But one indirect advantage is that it helps you to challenge your assumptions. Sometimes I won’t guess a word because I think it’s too slangy or could be misconstrued (like the aforementioned answer that set middle schoolers giggling around the world). So I’m trying to get over that. The other assumption you might make which can also be a stumbling block is that once you get a letter correct, you tend to forget that it can still be in other places in the word — so you mentally eliminate it from the other spaces. It reminds me of a post I did almost 6 years ago about a TedEd video where people who need to solve a math pattern have a terrible time because they nearly all make the same assumption and can’t get past it.
Another interesting logic activity to do with Wordle is to start from the answer and work backward to see if you can figure out the other words someone guessed!
Also, if you want to get deep with students philosophically, there is the interesting social contract that seems to be observed by a huge portion of Wordle players that “what happens in today’s Wordle stays in today’s Wordle.” Most, though not all, are careful about not revealing the answer and ruining the fun for people who have yet to play that day’s game.
All of this is to say that I made a Wakelet of Wordles (versions of Wordle games), which will be a stand-alone collection, but I will also be adding a link to it in my Brainteasers and Puzzles Wakelet. Don’t forget that you can follow all of my Wakelets here.
Also, just a reminder to sign up to receive notification about when my new courses for credit come online. The first one, “An Introduction to Genius Hour,” will be free for a limited time!