On the morning of August 20th, Scripps released Words of the Champions to unofficially inaugurate the 2019-2020 spelling bee season. It is a far cry from the organization of Spell It – or for that matter, Paideia. In fact, it is arguably even more challenging to spellers than the original Words of the Champions was from decades ago. Here is what I have gathered, having bought the Kindle version on Amazon:

  • There are six lists of words.
  • Three of the lists comprise the school list. Together, they number 450 words, just as in years past.
  • The other three comprise the rest of the words, to complete a grand total of 4,000 words.
  • Within each category, the words are completely randomized. No alphabetical order, no grouping in simple blocks of ten words (as in the old Words of the Champions)…just six long lists.
  • The three school list categories comprise easy, intermediate, and difficult words. So do the categories comprising the remainder of the words.
  • Together, the easy words are known as One Bee; the intermediate words are known as Two Bee; and the difficult words are known as Three Bee.

With the release of WOTC 2.0, spellers and teachers will need to take on the onus of learning more about these words. Scripps will undoubtedly contribute many learning materials to teachers, and Word Club will probably prove key for students attempting to tackle these 4,000 words. Perhaps not surprisingly, it does not appear as though any words from Spell It are included in this year’s WOTC. For spellers and teachers who are used to the structure that Spell It afforded, moving to WOTC will be quite a transition. However, the words are fair, varied, and will provide a wealth of learning opportunities for aspiring spelling bee competitors.

(Photo credit: Mark Bowen/Scripps)