January 27 Day 690: I Changed My Mind

I do want to talk about Wordle. As opposed to January 24 Day 687: We Don’t Talk About Wordle.

Let me set the stage. I am trying to teach in person. In reality, I am teaching a synchronous remote course from the classroom. Only one human being joined me on campus this morning (13 others were online and 2 were missing.)

As students were logging in, I made small talk and asked what their favorite opening word was in Wordle.

No response.

Apparently the Wordle phenomenon has not infiltrated the student population (at least not in my class) possibly because it’s being passed around on Facebook and Twitter; Students seem to use different platforms for social media. Or maybe they are just too busy with life to take time to play.

After explaining the rules, we played today’s round TOGETHER in about 5 minutes. It was wonderful. People voluntarily made suggestions for the next word. We debated improvements on the current suggestion by reviewing the known information and considering consequences. We saw how putting something down, even if it was blatantly wrong, sparked creativity. We learned from mistakes. We persevered.

When all five of those boxes turned green indicating that we had solved the puzzle, we bonded over shared success. A garbled cheer came through the computer’s speakers. Yahoo! What a positive way to start the day.

Plus Wordle clearly illustrated how different paths can lead to the same outcome. The lessons learned from this brief moment of play may be the most valuable and long-lasting ones from the day.

So go ahead and enjoy Wordle conversations. We have things to learn and share from each other in pursuit of those little green boxes. But best to do it in real-time in community. (Just the same way I want to be teaching my classes.)

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

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