I took the morning off to go read words and be a judge at the junior high Spelling Bee. What fun! I actually knew well over half the kids who were in the bee…they were either friends of Junior High Kid’s, or they were MY friends’ kids, kids I’ve had in various writing classes, kids I knew from Footliters…I didn’t know who to root for!

Don’t worry…it was okay that I knew a lot of these kids…it was totally fair because 1) there were three of us reading/judging; and 2) we were given copies of the word list ahead of time and told to choose which words we were going to read and then put them in order (I had to choose from the P-Z words). So I couldn’t just look up at who was next and then choose my word; my list was there in front of me and I had to give the next one on my list (the list I’d made ahead of time).

There was one guy who was given the word “hymn” and without asking for a definition, he just blurted out “H-I-M,” which, of course, was incorrect. I really felt for him…if I had been running the bee, I would’ve insisted that every reader offer a definition and then use the word in a sentence. It doesn’t seem fair to leave it to the kid to have to ask for a definition…not with all the homonyms in the list. (I also have to mention there were words in my list that, according to Websters, have more than one acceptable spelling! What do you do if the kid gives an alternative spelling that’s NOT the one on your list??? (I didn’t choose any of those words in my list…))

My other complaint was we never got to the “final round words!” We were asked to choose words from/for three different lists ahead of time — the “first round” list, the “intermediate words,” and the “final words” (I brought my own dictionary because I wanted to make sure I could both pronounce AND define the words I chose from that list…that’s how challenging those words were.). We used the first round words just for the first round…then we stayed in the “intermediate words” list for the rest of the bee.

Which means the kid who won the bee, won it on the word “semiautomatic” (that was the next word in my list), while other kids were out on words like “polycyclic” or “rutabaga.” Shouldn’t we have moved on to the “final word” list when we were down to the last two spellers???

I ached for the girl I THOUGHT was going to win it…I didn’t know her, but she was so meticulous. She asked for lots of repeats and definitions to make sure she had the right word, and then she took her time spelling (they were allowed to write the word out and THEN read off what they wrote) with every single word, except the one she lost on! The word she lost on (borderline) was so much easier than a lot of the words she’d had before that she didn’t need any clarification…she knew the word (I KNOW she knew the word!), but when she spelled it, she stumbled and accidentally mixed up the “r” and the “l.” And she knew it the second she did it. But if you give a wrong letter, you can’t go back and erase it. So she was out. (She was an amazing sport, though…she just smiled and said “that’s okay,” and she congratulated the kid who won…) But kudos to the kid who won, too! He had a nice attitude throughout, too…and he did a great job! It’s not that he didn’t deserve to win…I just hate to see the second place person get out by tripping over her tongue on a word she knows rather than simply not knowing how to spell a word.

It was a really fun experience, though…I’d definitely do it again!


Spelling Bee

10 thoughts on “Spelling Bee

  • January 24, 2008 at 8:07 pm
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    Oh, that was today! Was Maud in it? Last week she told me she came in second in her class, dunno if that was in her language arts class, or what.

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    • January 24, 2008 at 9:09 pm
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      Yup…she was there! I don’t remember what word she got out on, but I’ll bet she could’ve spelled semiautomatic. (I really, really wanted the winning word to be something impressive.)

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      • January 24, 2008 at 9:14 pm
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        She says she went out in the second round “on a really long word that starts with i.”

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        • January 24, 2008 at 9:22 pm
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          I knew it wasn’t a word I’d given her…it doesn’t sound like she’s too upset if she doesn’t remember the word. That’s good.

          Junior High Kid tells me one of his friends claimed I mispronounced words…Junior High Kid didn’t remember what the word was, but it apparently ended in “ible,” so I should have pronounced it that way. Well, no…I was supposed to pronounce the word the way Merriam Webster’s says to pronounce it. I looked up A LOT of words before I said them just to make sure I was right. I felt bad that he thought that, though.

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          • January 24, 2008 at 9:25 pm
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            Oh, no, she’s not upset at all. Doing well in school is still a very new thing for her, so she was psyched just to make the finals.

            It’s great that you took the time to do this!

          • January 24, 2008 at 9:43 pm
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            You never know when I might want to write a spelling bee scene…now I know how it works! šŸ™‚

  • January 24, 2008 at 10:36 pm
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    Very fun! I’m sure I’ve bragged enough about this, but once again šŸ™‚ Our neighbor placed in the top 10 in the national bee last year and was one of the kids that got to do the pre-bee media tour. It was really fun to be a part of that excitement, even if it was just listening to the nightly recaps or watching the TV crews at her house. My kids got to go over and watch the ABC/ESPN crew tape at her house. My tree was on ABC šŸ˜‰

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    • January 25, 2008 at 7:31 pm
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      Wow! Very cool! College Student had a friend who made it to the National bee (twice, I believe), but he didn’t place that high once he was there. What an experience just to get there, though.

      We were told at the local bee yesterday that Iowa will not have a state contest this year. The Des Moines Register had been sponsoring the contest the last several years, but for some reason they decided not to sponsor it this year. And no other organization stepped up. So…no state bee. I wonder if that means no Iowa representative at the National bee? I’m guessing it does…

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      • January 25, 2008 at 7:36 pm
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        That’s a bummer. I don’t think the KC Star sponsors ours either, but someone (maybe in Topeka?) does. I wonder how that works when there’s no state bee. And, have you ever noticed how many kids from Texas qualify? It must be a huge deal there. The school bee, or preparing for it, has been fun this year. It’s the first year our neighbor has not been in the elementary school, so all the kids are really hoping to finally have a serious shot!

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        • January 25, 2008 at 7:41 pm
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          Do they study for it?

          Have you seen Spellbound (I THINK that was the name of it…it was a video that focused on 5 kids that went to the National Spelling Bee.)? I couldn’t believe the time/energy some kids/families put into this.

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