TMNE10: Proper Scrabble

Context: Teachmeet Northeast took place on Thursday 9th December. Each day I’m blogging about one thing I learned at the event.

Darren Mead and Fergus Hegarty presented the final session of the evening and managed to cover two topics, both distinct and of vital importance. On the one hand we looked at Metacognitive Wrappers and on the other we discovered an awful lot about Pirate Lore.

This post is about the latter (more about the former in a later post).

The game of ‘proper Scrabble’ (best pronounced in a strong West Country accent) is apparently (allegedly) a Victorian parlour game involving nothing more than a bag of Scrabble tiles and the players’ wits and imagination.

The game is pretty simple. Get 4 players and site them in a circle. Each player takes turns taking a single tile and places it, face up, in the centre. As soon as a player (any player) spots a 3 letter word (or longer) they shout it out, grab the tiles and form the word in front of them. They then own this word. They can only do so, however, if they can link this word back to the subject in hand (e.g. ‘pirates would often use a keg for storing gunpowder’).

Play continues with each player drawing tiles out one at a time and forming new words.

It is also possible, of course, to steal words from other players. If another player had the word word (as in ‘a pirate was only as good as his word‘) and I saw the letter s I could nab both and say ‘a pirate would often use a sword as a weapon’. You can’t simply pluralise a word, though. you have to change the meaning in order to steal.

This, to me, is a great way to get the fun back into learning vocabulary – whether it be in MFL, Science or ICT. Students are forced to justify the use of their words and they will be ruthless in sticking to the rules should another player try something a little too tenuous.

The cheapest I’ve found the tiles is £8.50 per pack under the name Bananagrams from Amazon, but I shall be trawling the charity shops of Teesside in the hope that I’ll spot a pre-loved edition of Scrabble so that I can hoard enough tiles to build up a class set.

Image attribution: Let the Wookiee win ! Originally uploaded by Stéfan

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