Everyone seems to have caught the Wordle bug and although this simple word finding puzzle, that has captured the imagination of late, wasn’t specifically designed as an educational resource it offers some great learning possibilities for us teachers.
Wordle is a grid word game developed by Josh Wardle, a software engineer. Wardle originally invented it to play with his partner, who loves word games. However, after seeing its popularity with family and friends, he released it publicly in October 2021. By mid-January 2022, there were more than 10 million daily users and this number is growing steadily. Recently, the New York Times acquired the game and continues to offer it free of charge.
The browser-based game, which is not yet available as an app but can be played on a smartphone, gives players six tries to guess a five-letter word. After each guess, letters turn green, yellow, or grey. Green means that letter is used in the word of the day and is in the correct position, yellow means the letter appears somewhere in the word but not in this spot, and grey means the letter isn’t found in the word at all. Everyone gets the same word and a new word is released at midnight.
Once you’ve completed the puzzle, it’s easy to share a grid of your progress that lets others see how many guesses you needed to solve it without giving the answer away. This feature has helped fuel the popularity of the game on Twitter and other social media sites.
There are obviously some great learning extensions to this simple game, such as vocabulary development, critical thinking, and the consolidation and enhancement of key phonics and spelling skills. Teachers are now starting to look at how it can be used in the classroom and share their ideas with fellow educators.
Some are simply playing it on the class Whiteboard. All you need is chart paper, a marker, a ruler, and a laminator. Teachers say that this method promotes lots of discussion around letter combinations, vowel combinations, and why some things work and some things don’t. You can have some fabulous discussions with the students about how words are made while playing the game.
While there is no official Wordle App yet, MyWordle.Me is a free site that is identical to Wordle but lets you choose the word and then allows you to share your customized game with others via a link. This method allows you to focus on words that are suited to the children’s developmental level or pick from some subject specific vocabulary that you are working on at that particular time.
Teachers can create an activity using MyWordle.Me as a sort of a downtime activity for early finishers, or you could task students with figuring out the right word in groups or as a whole class activity. Students then get an opportunity to build their problem-solving skills while playing.
Teachers like how playing Wordle often forces you to guess in order to gather more information about the correct answer. I personally find it’s a great way to use the brain and the children sem to love it too.