Has anyone been playing Wordle? We have, and we just love it! The simple grid, no advertisements, a one time a day just for fun game that has built up its own little community. We share our scores, statistics, and even our strategies for playing the game. Who would’ve thought a little game would spark word solving strategies on such a large scale!
Teacher Agency in Action
We started thinking, how might we connect our enthusiasm for this game to word study in the classroom? At times, word study can be a bit dull or boring to students if we are not really thoughtful about the planning. So we looked at our word study curriculum, the phonics principle was homophones. How could we do it? This simple desire to bring a bit of fun to have a positive impact on our teaching, is a show of agency. The question, how could we do it still remained. Well, after years of putting together data, we knew how to format a Google Sheet to resemble the Wordle grid. Take a peek (not to be confused with peak):
Planning for Student Agency
Well we were excited because we identified an area of instruction that we wanted to improve upon, and our solution, Word Study Wordle, looked like a promising solution! The next question we had was, how might we extend agency to our students in this process? Learning with a sense of agency means that students have to play an active role in the planning and execution of the lesson. This was our thinking:
- Introduce the game and play it together.
- Provide suggestion boxes (shoeboxes in our case) for students to share words that conform to the rules of the game (5 letter words) and that fit phonics principles we are teaching or have taught. It feels like a fun challenge, and it’s also a formative assessment in disguise.
- Use students’ words for future Wordles!
The Benefits of Agency
For us teachers, this was a chance to make a positive impact on our curriculum. To make word study a bit more timely, light, and fun; but also, set the stage for higher level critical thinking. Kids have to synthesize, analyze, and make evaluations to play this game, and make contributions to the game. The first time we played the game this was the talk that game generated:
- “Look at the word wall!” – demonstration of strategy use
- “What letter would go with that letter?” – analytical questioning
- “I thought it was going to be ‘they’ because I saw the th!” – prediction based on word knowledge
So what are the benefits of agency? It sparks creativity for our own teaching. It creates a new way for our learning community to come together around a shared experience, to build something together. It inspires and necessitates higher level thinking. It’s a complete win, and we invite you to try it with your students. So in that spirit, we are gifting you a week of Wordles to play with your kids! The phonics principle is homophones, with a fun riddle on day 5: Wordle. Please let us know if you try it with your students, and how it went.