Spelling Bee Time of Year

Posted by Andrea Barnes - 21 Days Ago

What an exciting day! Here I am sitting at the Houston Public Media Center, a service of the University of Houston, on this beautiful April Fool’s Day. There are 56 spellers representing forty-two counties in the Houston Public Media Spelling Bee. The students are District and County area winners. Amazing spellers--no fooling!

Here's my thinking while I watch and listen. Our READ 180 students practice in the Spelling Zone to learn and enhance their spelling skills. Each of our classrooms could host a Whole-Group Spelling Bee for a week to build excitement leading up to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington DC.

For the Champion:

  • From Scripps: $40,000 cash prize and the Scripps National Spelling Bee engraved trophy
  • From Merriam-Webster: a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and a complete reference library
  • From Encyclopedia Britannica: $400 of reference works including a 1768 Encyclopedia Britannica Replica Set Deluxe Edition and a three-year membership to Britannica Online Premium
  • PLUS: A trip to New York City for the Champion to appear on LIVE with Kelly

Many of us have multiple READ 180 classes and teachers on our campuses that could hold a spelling bee contest with READ 180 Target words and Spelling Zone words. Students could compile a personal list of spelling words and submit them to the teacher. The teacher could share all words with students and these words would become the words used in the Classroom Spelling Bee.

Each READ 180 class would compete individually to select the class spelling winner. Then, the individual class winners compete with each other in a school-wide competition. This creates camaraderie amongst classmates, develops a "family" of support, and boosts enthusiasm in an academic setting.

Your READ 180 Spelling Bee could take place after school, where the top five spellers in each classroom participate. Classmates could be encouraged to come to support their peers.

Elementary and middle school students might be inspired to try out for the national Spelling Bee, encourage a sibling to participate, or even watch it on TV. Students will see that academics can be fun and financially rewarding, all while building a genuine enthusiasm for knowledge.

It's a win-win all the way around!



A Play-by-Play of the Houston Spelling Bee

Round 1: Eight Contestants eliminated

Round 2 begins. Students can see firsthand how studying can help prepare your nerves and knowledge. The excitement continues. My friend, Teri Tidmore, coaches a speller who is prospering through this Round.

Sitting here flashes me back to when I was a middle school teacher helping Teri coach students for the school and district spelling bee. Your heart wants all of the participants to do well and especially your student. Our highest placing student was 7th in the Houston Public Media Spelling Bee. My friend’s dream has been to take a student to the Scripps National Spelling Bee! Fingers crossed for 2017!

Round 2: 28 Contestants eliminated

Round 3: Teri's student makes it through, but 16 Contestants do not.

Round 4: There are only 4 contestants left. A dinner break is given, so my friend and I decide to dine at the original Ninfa's in Houston on Navigation road.

Dinner was excellent and now back to the Bee! Round 4 begins and ends with all spellers.

Round 5: The dream is shattered when Teri's student rushes and says the wrong letter. He said he knew immediately that he had said the wrong letter. Nerves, excitement and years of practice were brought to an end with one wrong letter. The bell is rung for his final Bee! His final chance to make it to the National stage is over with the word "gamopegtalous". This word will be engraved in his memory forever!

Round 6: Three contestants. At the end of the round only two.

Round 7: Two contestants. 

Championship Round 1: Speller #5 steps to the microphone. The word is "zwitterion". After asking the allowable six clarifiers:

1. Repeat pronunciation
2. Alternate pronunciation
3. To be used in a sentence
4. The definition
5. Language of origin
6. Part of speech

He spells the word.....DING– it is incorrect.

Contestant #38 must spell "promyshlennik". He asks a few questions and starts to spell. He stops halfway through and asks if he can start over. Contestant #38 asks a few allowable questions and begins to re-spell. The spelling rules state you may restart, but no letters can be changed in the respelling. He is correct!

Round 2 Championship Word: "rafraichissoir"

In true Championship fashion, he starts spelling the word immediately, even before the word can be shown on the television screen to the watchers at home! In the studio, the announcer says it is correct! We had all been waiting to see the correct spelling because the audience was unsure of how to spell "refraichisdoir". There is no bell, so we have a Champion!

This young man won the Houston Spelling Bee last year and went on to place 11th at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Houston's runner-up last year won the Scripps Bee in 2016!

I believe my students will have a great time Monday when we have our first practice spelling bee with words from the rBook Workshops we have covered. The cheering, laughing, and excited voices will spill into the hallways outside room #1220 from our balloon filled party room of learning!

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Andrea Barnes

Stage C READ 180 Educator | HOUSTON, TX