Reading & Literacy Video

Phonics & Wordle: How Two Teachers Are Using the Viral Word Game

By Sarah Schwartz & Emma Patti Harris — February 08, 2022 1 min read
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Wordle, the viral online guess-the-word game, has become a social media phenomenon and a source of fierce competition among its devotees. But in some classrooms, it’s also a teaching tool.

The game, purchased recently by The New York Times, requires players to guess a five-letter word in six tries.

Wordle gives clues as players try new words: It highlights letters green if they’re in the right position, yellow if they’re in the word but in the wrong position, and gray if they’re not in the word at all.

Lots of players post on social media their green and yellow boxes—visual scorecards which demonstrate how players got to the correct answer and how many tries it took. As these images flood feeds, some reading teachers and reading researchers have entered the discussion, explaining how educators can use the game to grow students’ phonics skills.

“The more that I’ve played with my students, the better I’ve gotten, the better they’ve gotten,” said Maureen Elliott, a 4th grade teacher in the West Irondequoit school district in New York.

“You can pick up on patterns of words or phonemes and graphemes that match together to make certain words, and you use more skills than you think you do when you first start,” Elliott said.

Education Week spoke with two teachers about how they’re using Wordle in the classroom and what their students are taking away from the game.

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