Using "Words With Friends" In The Classroom
Learning Through Games
I have been a big fan of using games in my classrooms for as long as I have been teaching. In my opinion, games put the FUN back into learning for students of all ages. The adult learners I work with love to finish off the day with a game and I have used this to my advantage. They often play Scrabble or a card game called Quiddler and I have used these games to improve their spelling and numeracy skills. To participate in Scrabble I bend the rules a little and they can use dictionaries, either hardcopy or online, and spellcheckers to help them build words. Their numeracy skills also get a look-in because they have to score. Here calculators are banned, it's all "mental arithmetic" and their basic number skills have improved in addition and multiplication.
On this occasion I'm only looking at using the digital game - "Words With Friends". I have been playing this game on my iPhone & iPad for a number of months and love the challenges it has to offer. If you don't know this game, it is an abbreviated version of Scrabble. When I was introduced to "Words With Friends" my interest and enjoyment was instantaneous and I saw possibilities for how my students could use this FREE App both in class or in their own time.
Getting Started With Use Words With Friends
Not only is Words With Friends FREE, you can download both an Apple or Android version, (Androids are Smartphones other than iPhone.), or use Facebook to access the game. The most annoying aspect of the free version is the advertising. It costs $2.99US to upgrade and get rid of the pesky ads. There are only two players per game in this version which means turns are fairly frequent.
- Register - If you or your class haven't registered with iTunes, Facebook or an Android shop, then this is the first point of call.
- Download the FREE version to your mobile/cell phone or iPad. If using Facebook just log on and search for the game.
- Play time! - After all class members have registered, record their player names and distribute to class. Learners select their playing partner and send an online request, via the game. It also helps if you create a playing roster.
- Playing the game - Just like Scrabble each player has seven letters to begin the game. One letter of the first word must be on the star in the middle of the screen/board. Touch the letters and drag them to the square you want and touch the PLAY button and the game does the rest. Scores are automatically calculated and each player is notified when it is their turn.
Words With Friends Cheat Search
In The Classroom
This is not a definative list of ways to use Words With Friends in the classroom. It is more like a kickstart list for you to engage your students in an interactive learning activity.
- To assist those in your class or group who require a moderate to high level of assistance with their spelling, use the Words With Friends Cheat web site. Players enter the rack of letters and click the search button. When using this option it would be a good idea to have your students record and find the meaning of words they use. Cheating may pay off in this case.
- Numeracy activities -
> record scores from top 5 or 10 words and graph;
> rank scores from highest to lowest;
> find the mean, mode and median of the scores from a set number of games;
> graph results for individuals e.g. number of games won, words with a score greater than 10, longest words;
> finding the difference between the highest & lowest scores;
> frequency of letters and/or words that are used in games (do this by leaners prediciting when a given letter etc will appear and taking a screen shot); and,
> recording the number of times a given letter or nominated letters occur in a hand.
- Literacy activities -
> Read instructions and develop a flowchart to show a graphical set of instructions.
> Students (individually or in small groups) develop a survey about aspects of the game e.g. times played, level of enjoyment.
> Survey is undertaken by class members and results are presented to class.
> Students write an email or letter to the developers expressing their opinion of the game. It is good to include any suggestions they may have to improve the game.
> Learners can write an online or handwritten review and include a rating system.
> Strategies are recorded and discussed by class or groups.
> Use words to create sentences.
> Record the rack of letters a couple of times throughout the game. Students make as many words as they can using these letters.
> Record words used by both players during a game. Again a simple screen shot will help with this activity. Both players list all the words and highlight those words they know. Words they are unsure of or don't know they use a dictionary to find the meaning. I have always liked to use The Free Dictionary online to assist with pronunciation or WordWeb if it has been downloaded onto class computers.
> Develop word families from the list of words by using prefixes and suffixes.
> Learners Tweet the word and meaning.
I now prefer to play this game over the Scrabble boardgame because of the ease of access and opponents I encounter. If playing outside the classroom, a player can begin a game and have an anonymous opponent take up the challenge. Words With Friends is a FUN way to learn and I would love to hear if you have already or are thinking of using this learning tool in your classroom.
Words With Friends is a useful learning tool.
MazioCreate develops literacy and numeracy activities. Find out more at www.maziocreate.com.au