I’m sure we all remember filling in crossword puzzles in elementary school. Somewhere in middle school they became known as “busy work” and might have been done when you finished work early or when you had a substitute. By the time I landed in high school, crossword puzzles were too babyish to do.
I continued this decrease in crossword puzzle tradition when I started to teach. Recently my view has changed. I realized that if I switched the student from the person who fills out the crossword puzzle to the creator, a crossword puzzle might have more to offer secondary students. For one thing, more creative critical thinking can take place. As teachers we need to help our students get used to creating if we want future entrepreneurs in our society.
Creating crossword puzzles allows students to review facts and vocabulary. It also uses multiple intelligence learning styles. The following are used:
- Linguistic Multiple Intelligence Learning Style: using language to write clues
- Spatial Multiple Intelligence Learning Style: designing and creating the layout
- Intrapersonal or Interpersonal Multiple Intelligence Learning Styles: students may work as an individual or with a partner.
A crossword puzzle can be used to differentiate instruction in the classroom. Here are two ways to differentiate instruction while incorporating crossword puzzles:
- Multiple Intelligence Learning Styles: Give students three other options of activities using other multiple intelligence learning styles and the same content. http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Kasha-Mastrodomenico offers over 50 activity templates with rubrics to help teachers create activity options for their students.
- Leveling/Tiering/Scaffolding: Provide two different levels of the assignment. Allow students on a lower ability level to use notes and the book to put the definitions in their own words as clues. For the higher ability levels, allow them to also use resources but instead of writing the definitions in their own words for their clues, they can make their clues more clever by using riddles.
Teachers need to make sure that when they differentiate instruction using levels, tiering or scaffolding that they are not just assigning extra work to the higher ability levels. Teachers need to make sure the activities challenge everyone.