YOU WILL GET A WORD YOU DO NOT KNOW

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 have to prepare psychologically to be the best. Simply learning words (and…

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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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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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MAKING WORD LISTS FROM READING

Audio blog post by Dr. Isaacs. Click to listen and read along! There is a huge argument to be made from the benefits of reading when trying to become an expert speller. Simply put, reading will expose you to a wide variety of words. And unlike poring over simple word lists, reading will improve your vocabulary. Why? Because you see a word in its proper context. Even if you can't learn the exact dictionary definition of a word, you often get a clue as to what it means. If you…

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“CAN I HAVE ALL THE INFORMATION?”

Audio blog post by Dr. Isaacs. Click to listen and read along! A few years ago, I began noticing spellers - especially top ones - asking the question "Can I have all the information?" This happened especially toward the end of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. And I bristled every time I heard this question. It smacked of laziness. It especially annoyed me that top spellers were using this question. The curmudgeon in me thought, "Kids these days! What are they thinking?" I generally do not allow my students to…

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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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THE SIMPLE ART OF MEMORIZATION

In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was as a mystery, cryptic, undecipherable. This was before a time of language patterns, of etymology, of roots, prefixes, and suffixes. And the only way to learn the Word was to just plain memorize it. Really, when you think about it, this was how we all learned language as children. We heard sounds, and learned to put them to letters when we started reading. Many times, we could relate sensory experiences to the words and sounds we were trying to learn.…

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MAKING WORDS MATTER…OR “WHAT IS A SPRINGBOK?”

School is just on the verge of beginning again for the 2017-2018 year. For spellers across the nation, this means learning Spell It and the school word lists provided by Scripps. Preparing for spelling bee season is about to begin! And spellers will be more prepared now than ever. Why is this? Spelling and studying in the past One of my students once commented that winning words in years past seem a lot easier than they do nowadays. And this is absolutely true. Consider the likes of therapy, knack, and…

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