PANDA SPELL – SPELLING COACHING SUSPENDED

As stated on the front page of the Panda Spell website, I have decided to suspend spelling coaching as of August 1, 2020. I have contemplated this decision for a long time. Spelling coaching has been a fascinating, exciting, and fulfilling field. I have worked with over 50 students, and have seen many of them qualify for Scripps. A few achieved high enough rankings that they were worthy of the trophy; with the tables tipped slightly, they could have easily taken top honors. Each of them learned a tremendous amount…

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THE SOCIAL MEDIA SCHOOLMARM

Sometimes finding good words to stump spellers doesn't require massive dictionary diving or consulting numerous word lists. In the era of social media, where people feel free to divulge much of their life online, they also, unfortunately, expose commonly misspelled words. They are not hard to find. I - the social media schoolmarm of the title - am drawn to these words like shiny things. And they are, ahem, rather illuminating. If you are an original poster or a commentator who misspells a word, I may pick up on it…

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AFTER THE BEE…THAT NEVER WAS

Audio blog post by Dr. Isaacs. Click to listen and read along! I’ve been thinking a lot about the event – or rather, non-event – of the last week of May this year. No Scripps National Spelling Bee. For the first time since World War II, on April 21st, Scripps cancelled the bee outright, along with the fun events that would have comprised Bee Week. Some spellers created petitions, pleading to allow the eighth graders who might have participated this year to get one last chance, either next year or…

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2020 SCRIPPS NATIONAL SPELLING BEE CANCELLED

On March 20, Scripps made an announcement that would have been unthinkable just a few months previous: the National Spelling Bee was suspended. Though Scripps did not officially cancel the bee outright, the writing was on the wall. Many journalists and bloggers - intentionally or not - used the word "cancelled" to describe the situation in their posts, prematurely lending it an air of finality. Scripps did say in a subheadline "If possible, the Bee will explore options to reschedule for later this year." So hope remained, along with an…

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PARAVANE…OR PERIVANE?

It's not often you see judges at Scripps entertain a speller's protest, and even rarer to see a speller reinstated. I've personally - live - only seen it happen twice. In 1988, a speller from Detroit named Robin Covey received the word kyphosis. Mishearing it as "typhosis" (not an actual word), he misspelled it as he had heard it. However, Robin successfully protested. The judges agreed that he had misheard it, and they had failed to correct him. Alas, he immediately missed his next word: enchytrae. (Still, that earned him…

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YOU WILL GET A WORD YOU DO NOT KNOW

Audio blog post by Dr. Isaacs. Click to listen and read along! Spelling bees involve more than just studying words. It's easy to think of spelling like this: A student gets a list of words on Monday, studies it over the course of the week, then has a written test on Friday. Lather, rinse, repeat until the school year is over. That was the scene during the bucolic days of the little red schoolhouse on the prairie. But nearly two centuries later, life isn't so simple...and neither is spelling. You…

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STAY CALM AND STAY FOCUSED!

Audio blog post by Dr. Isaacs. Click to listen and read along! Spelling bees are notorious for their stress, rattling the nerves of spellers and audience members alike. Interspersed in the grueling pressure of bees are the occasional hilarious and spontaneous events that break the tension. One of the funniest and most memorable moments in bee history occurred in 2008, when eventual Scripps champion Sameer Mishra received the word numnah in round 8. Watch the video to see what happened. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjzrNWPul9E Pretty amusing, right? I know everyone in the auditorium appreciated…

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THE #1 RESPONSIBILITY OF A SPELLER

Audio blog post by Dr. Isaacs. Click to listen and read along! As bee season ramps up, and spellers begin to be tested on their linguistic prowess, it is good to dwell on the most important responsibility of a speller. Many spellers would half-jokingly say that the most important responsibility of a speller would be to spell the word right. That's certainly a great responsibility...after all, this is what spelling bees are all about, right? Learn about words, ideally be able to use them in conversation or writing, and most…

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SPELLING RULES – A DISCLAIMER

Audio blog post by Dr. Isaacs. Click to listen and read along! Spelling in the English language is one of the most difficult academic skills to master. Part of the issue is that words in English come from all over the world. Literally. Name a language, and chances are it has contributed directly or indirectly to English. To make spelling easier, many people rely on rules. However, virtually every rule in the English language has an exception! For example, how about that one spelling rule virtually everyone knows? "I before…

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2019 SCRIPPS NATIONAL SPELLING BEE

Audio blog post by Dr. Isaacs. Click to listen and read along! The evening of May 30th, 2019, at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center was fraught with excitement and nerves…just like any other Thursday evening during Scripps Bee Week. This is the night of the ESPN Primetime Finals. Paul Loeffler, color commentator for the bee on ESPN, remarked presciently as the evening finals got underway that he was unable to choose a favorite speller to win because the field was so deep. The daytime finals had lasted five…

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