What is Wordle?
It’s sweeping the nation. No, not the latest strain of an unwanted virus but a simplistic word game that has somehow intrigued millions. Wordle is a daily word game and the rules are simple. Start with any five-letter word, and after each guess, the color of the tiles will change to show how close your guess was to the answer. You have six tries to guess a five-letter word.
If you start with the word “MOIST” we may find that the Letter “S” is a letter in the answer but in another position in the word (hence the yellow) and the letter “I” is both in the word and in this 3rd position (green). You then test your lexicon to find a word that has an “I” in the middle and also has the letter “S” in any position except the fourth. You continue until all the tiles are green.
When And Where?
What makes this craving insatiable is that you can only play it once a day and that everyone across the world gets the same word every day. In other words, you can celebrate or commiserate with friends about your deductive skills. Wordle is not an app and can now be found on the New York Times website
What are our Top 5 Things Teachers Should Know About Wordle? Let’s find out!
You’re in Trouble if You Have FOMO
For those who suffer from the fear of missing out, it may be imperative that you understand the basics of Wordle so that you’re not lost when your friends are talking about it. Here are a few facts to drop in during your conversation.
- Wordle is played by over 300,000 people daily.
- Players can share their final image (and smarts) with online friends.
- It’s a once-a-day challenge that creates daily anticipation.
- Everyone gets the same puzzle, so it can quickly become the topic of the day at your virtual water cooler.
- Since release, there have been over 1.7 million tweets mentioning “Wordle” or shares of completed colored grids globally.
There’s a Method to the Madness
While random guessing is always a fun strategy, if you want to be a master, you need to develop your own strategy for winning. Here are some tips to consider.
- It’s important to start with a word that has some of the most common letters. We have a section below with some of the best theories.
- Some people argue that your second word should have all new letters even if you had some greens or yellows previously (this will increase the odds of finding winning letters and ultimately winning). Others believe you should use the green and yellow letters in the next words as you may solve the puzzle quicker. So are you trying to increase your chances of winning or of solving the puzzle the quickest? You choose.
- Avoid using gray letters. Once they’re off the board try to work without them.
- Don’t forget that letters can appear more than once. you’ll need to be prepared for words like shell or tenet (which has 2 doubles).
- You can try “hard mode” for an extra challenge. This mode forces users to use yellow or green letters in all subsequent guesses. This provides less information on each line.
The Math of Winning
With Wordle popularity exploding, it’s not a surprise that data analysts and psychometricians have gone wild analyzing the best paths for guessing words in the shortest amount of time. There are articles online with recommendations, probabilities and analytical tables.
Want to impress your friends? Share some of these stats.
- The number of levels it takes to solve the answer is somewhat of a bell curve with 1% guessing it right away, 4% on level 2, and31% at level four. 3% of gamesters don’t solve the puzzle.
- The most difficult word in 2022 (calculated by the most guesses to solve) was on January 18 (4.87 guesses). The easiest was on January 19th (3.48 guesses)
- The puzzle with the most failed results was “chalk” on February 17th (9%). The word with the least amount of failed puzzles was “panic” on January 15th (0.6%)
- The luckiest day of the year was February 2nd when the word “moist” was guessed at the first level by 2.9% of the puzzle solvers.
- Interestingly, to date 15% of Wordle words start with the letter S. That’s three times more than any other letter. Conversely, the letter S can be found in 31% of all five letter words. But in Wordle it represents only 2%. In other words, there is a strong anti-plural bias to Wordle.
Where Do I Begin?
One of the most debated questions by both linguists and mathematicians is where to start. Most agree that the best option would be to start with a word that has three vowels and two common consonants.
- Many of the best words to start with are not common English words (and several are not in our spellchecker) but would yield the best success according to some researchers. Starting with these words, narrows the possible answers down to 60 or so answer words. Here’s what they suggest to start.
- If you’re feeling lucky there are certain words that give you the best chance of solving the puzzle the quickest. These include:
- Offering another theory is scientist Andrew Steele, who believes that wordle is actually a mathematical puzzle instead of a word game. According to Steele’s results, “TRACE” can help players solve any given Wordle puzzle in an average of 3.62 turns.
- Teacher Dererk Hortstmeyer had his finance class study the challenge and he found that “SLICE”, “TRIED” and “CRANE” were their best bets to start.
- Is all of this getting you dizzy and taking the fun away? Then defy the odds and just start with whatever word you want – like “Think” or “Fives.”
Wordle Can Be a Great Classroom Tool
Teachers have already discovered that Wordle can be a great classroom activity. For younger students simple site words can be guessed by the whole class during a teacher-led activity. For elementary school students, simple Wordle games can be completed by groups. High school students are certainly capable of going online to complete the Wordle puzzle.
Here are some suggestions
What’s your elementary sight word of the week? What’s the new vocabulary word you want to introduce to elementary students? Or what’s a fun activity you can do together as a reward for successful class achievements? Try Wordle on your whiteboard.
You can use any four, five or six letter word for your puzzle. Simply draw a Wordle matrix on the board and call on students to suggest the order of words used. As the teacher you can use your green and yellow markers to fill in the matrix.
What could be more fun?
Wordle can be played in groups in the class if you print out a blank Wordle grid and share it with each group. Groups get to collaborate and choose their first word. As the keeper of the answer, you walk around the classroom with your green and yellow markers and mark the first row.
You then ask students to guess a second word and repeat your journey around the room. The activity increases collaboration, and the competitiveness adds an extra dimension of fun in the classroom. And what’s more, they are learning vocabulary.
Older students are well prepared to play Wordle on a computer, tablet or mobile device. It can be a daily online activity and world competition for your students. It’s also a good opportunity for vocabulary review once it’s completed – asking for a definition and for use in a sentence.
If there are particular words in your subject area that you want students to learn as part of a lesson, there are new online apps that allow teachers to choose their own Wordle answer and students can complete the puzzle online. These apps range from free to a low cost.
Whichever type of activity you choose, using Wordle can be a good way to reinforce vocabulary and bring fun to the classroom.
Can You Solve This One?