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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VOCABULARY AND THE LEARNER’S DICTIONARY

Audio blog post by Dr. Isaacs. Click to listen and read along! On April 9, 2013, Scripps announced an unprecedented change to the format of the National Spelling Bee. For the first time in history, vocabulary would be part of the written test. And lo, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. The 281 national competitors and their parents, teachers, and coaches all felt as if the rug had been pulled out from beneath them. I was among them. I mean, we all had prepared purely for a spelling…

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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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PREPARING FOR THE 2019 SCRIPPS NATIONAL SPELLING BEE – THE ROUND 2 LIST

Photo credit: Mark Bowen

The 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee is quickly approaching for nearly 600 spellers. If you are one of these spellers, my highest congratulations to you! I hope you have celebrated your success appropriately...because a very daunting task looms ahead. Each year, every qualifying bee champion receives the Round 2 List: a list of 600 words to learn. One of these words will be your first oral round word (in Round 2), and another will be used as a vocabulary word in your written test (in Round 1). Both will be…

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2015 NATIONAL SPELLING BEE, DAY 3

During an ideal spelling bee, the absolute best speller is determined, and wins; luck comes into play as minimally as possible. This year, like last year, a single best speller could not be determined, but the best two spellers undoubtedly could. Vanya Shivashankar and Gokul Venkatachalam, both seen as favorites this year, quickly rose to the top during the finals, and stayed there for the last ten rounds of the bee, answering each other with correct spellings fired like arrows that always hit the bullseye. Bouquetiere? No problem. Cypseline? Done.…

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