# Playing Qwirkle in Class

Qwirkle is an easy to learn, 4-player, attribute game where you match tiles by shape or colour to form adjoining line(s). Think Scrabble. Drawing on Davis et al.’s (2015) spatial reasoning wheel, the game’s mathematical strategizing primarily engages constructing as players compose and fit either 1 line, intersecting lines, or grids. Although this game would be appropriate for Grades 1 to 12, we have played this game several times with students in Grades 5 and 6. This page provides our tips and ideas for playing this game in your classroom.

Considerations for getting started
• Prepare games: Label and number your games. It is easier to keep track of the games and make sure that your students are taking care of the games.
• Plan Groups: Decide how you want to group students for game play.
• Good Sportsmanship: Create a supportive environment by providing some guidelines for good sportsmanship. You may need a reminder of sportsmanship as time progresses. Here are some suggestions.
• How to win and lose graciously. If you win, don’t boast. If you lose, try to be happy for the winner. Be kind to yourself. Learning a game takes time. Often the winners have more experience.
• Don’t give up in the middle of a game if you are feeling like you are not winning. Ask your team-mates for help to make a good play.
• Be gentle when you see a team-mate make a mistake. Don’t get defensive when someone reminds you of the rules.
• Don’t bully. Playing is no fun if you have no one to play with.
• At the end of every game, thank your team-mates for playing with you.
• Cooperative play can help create a supportive environment and encourage communication. Below are a couple ideas for cooperative play
• Team with highest score in class wins
• Pair students. Eg in groups of 4 have two students support each other.
• Print out handouts: Quick ‘how to play’ guides, scoresheets, and reflection sheets. And if you would like a hardcopy of this page, click here.
Week 1 Introduction of the Game

Focus
Logical Reasoning: Investigating the attributes of shape and colour. Exploring how to position tiles of matching attributes to score points
Spatial Reasoning: Comparing attributes for composing rows and/or columns Noticings: Are students making one continuous line of unique and matching attributes (color or shape)?

Suggestions for classroom game play

First, Introduce the game by watching this video in class

Then, play a game against one student, with the rest of the class gathered around. Deliberately make a couple of mistakes to clarify rules.

Organize the students to play the game. Give each Group the same numbered game and a quick Qwirkle guide. Give each student a scoresheet and a pen or pencil.

After Game Play

Organize the students to clean up their games.

Give each student Reflection sheet 1. Reflection sheet 1 enables assessment of students’ strategies and understanding of the game. Once the sheets were complete, we liked to take them up as a class. You could also have them assess their own as you complete it on a whiteboard or screen. REMEMBER: The assessments are not to assign a mark, they are just to assess and further understandings of the games and strategies. Look for if the students placed tiles in 1 continuous line? Were the students matching attributes?

Student Journal Prompts:

• What does composing rows and columns mean?
• How does Qwirkle investigate the attributes of shape and color?
• How do position tiles to score points in Qwirkle?
• What are your strategies for composing rows and columns?
Week 2: Clarification of the rules and scoring

Focus
Logical Reasoning: Comparing
the attributes of shape and colour to evaluate which tile(s) score(s) the most points .
Spatial Reasoning: Interpreting the variations in attributes for situating and fitting tiles into a continuous line to compose an expanding and connected grid. Noticings: Are students scoring a tile twice when joining two lines?

Suggestions for classroom game play

Start to play a game against one student. Make some mistakes. For instance, place two unmatched tiles together in the same line. Don’t score the same tile when the place a tile to connect a row and column to make 2-lines. See the Misconceptions below.

Organize the students to play the game. Give each Group the same numbered game and a quick Qwirkle guide. Give each student a scoresheet and a pen or pencil.

Organize the students to clean up their games.

Give each student Reflection sheet 2. Reflection sheet 2 enables assessment of students’ strategies and understanding of the game. Do students score tiles placed twice?

Student Journal Prompts:

• What does situating tiles mean?
• How do you evaluate which tile placement score the most points?
• What do you find challenging about comparing attributes for situating tiles?
Week 3: Recognizing multiple possibilities for scoring

Focus
Logical Reasoning: Analysing the attributes tiles for testing and classifying different strategic placements of tiles for maximizing scoring.
Spatial Reasoning: Constructing an ever expanding and connected grid by comparing attributes and moving tiles to assemble either 1-line, 2-line or grid compositions.
Noticings: Are students flexibly constructing 1-line, 2-line or grid compositions? Or are they still mainly relying on 1-line strategies?

Suggestions for classroom game play

Start with a whole class discussion, to identify and classify the three different possibilities for placing tiles (1-line, 2-line, grid). (See the Strategic Plays section below). As students gain more experience, they will gain more flexibility with using the best tile placements. Which scores the most points? Is the Grid always better? Each reflection sheet provides opportunities for each strategic play.

• Organize the students to play the game. Give to:
• Each Group: the same numbered game and quick Qwirkle guide,
• Each Student: a scoresheet and a pen or pencil
• Organize the students to clean up their games.
• Give each student Reflection Sheet 3. Reflection Sheet 3 enables assessment of students’ use of each of the three possibilities for placing tiles. Are they able to use place their tiles to form a grid? Are they able to score a grid accurately?

Student Journal Prompts:

• What does classifying attributes mean?
• In your game play, are you able to make 1-line, 2-line, or grid compositions? If so, which is your most frequent? And how?
Week 4: More game experiences
Focus Logical Reasoning: Analysing the attributes of the tiles and the adapting game board by classifying and integrating the different strategic placements of tiles for maximizing scoring. Spatial Reasoning: Fitting and arranging tiles on an ever expanding and connected grid by interpreting attributes to compose a continuous line that intersects on an ever expanding and connected grid. Noticings: Are students flexibly constructing 1-line, 2-line or grid compositions? Or are they still relying on 1-line strategies?
1. Organize the students to play the game. Give to:
• Each Group: the same numbered game and quick Qwirkle guide,
• Each Student: a scoresheet and a pen or pencil
2. Organize the students to clean up their games.
3. Give each student Reflection Sheet 4. Reflection Sheet 4 enables assessment of students’ strategies and understanding of the game. Can they justify why their game move scores the highest points Do students score tiles placed twice?

Student Journal Prompts:

• What does it mean to analyze a game board?
• How are you integrating different strategies for maximizing your scoring?
Misconceptions

Misconception #1: Placing tiles in a non-continuous line. Sometimes students forget to match either colour or shape when they form a line. Sometimes students place tiles of matching attributes along a line, but with spaces in between. In the example below, the student placed the orange club in the orange row and placed the orange square in the square’s column. Each of these moves is ok, but it would be 2 turns. You can only place one continuous line at a time.

Misconception #2: Placing mismatched tiles (not matching attributes). In the example below the blue club and green diamond cannot be side by side as the do not match in colour or in shape.

Misconception #3: Not scoring tile twice when placed in both the row and column. When students place a tile that forms 2-lines, they often do not count the intersecting tile twice. In the example below, the row scores 12 and the column scores 3. The yellow diamond is counted in both the column and the row.

Strategic plays

Below are examples of the three possibilities for tile placements with the same hand.

Suggestion: Have a discussion about these strategies. As part of the discussion, you could have the students in their groups re-create each arrangement.

1-Line. The placement of tiles forms one continuous line. In the example below, the red diamond is added to form a Qwirkle for 12 points.

2-Line. In the example below the orange club is added to both the column of clubs and the row of orange. This forms 2 intersecting lines or what the Westmount students called the ‘2-line’. This one doesn’t score as much as the Qwirkle above.

Grid. In the move below, the red diamond is placed on the left side of the red row and the yellow diamond is placed above it and adds to the yellow row. This placement creates three continuous lines for scoring: a red Qwirkle (12), yellow tiles in a row (3), and a column of diamonds (2). The total score is 17 and has the highest score of the 3 moves shown here. The Westmount students called this a grid.

Acknowledgements

Gratitude and credits to the students of Westmount Charter, Heather Lai, Pam Mah, Mischa Simpson, Munesah Rahman, & Dr. Janelle McFeetors for the creation of this page.

This website draws on research supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

References

Davis, B., Okamoto, Y., & Whiteley, W. (2015). Spatializing school mathematics. In Spatial reasoning in the early years: Principles, assertions, and speculations (pp. 139-150). Routledge.