If you want to organize a spelling bee at your school, there are certain things that you need to keep in mind. To organize such an event, you need to deploy tactics that will cater to your purpose in an efficient manner.
Having said all that, such spelling bee competitions are not that easy to organize. As you proceed with the preparations, you are bound to face certain difficulties.
In this article, we will guide you on how you can organize a spelling bee, and provide suggestions as to how you can actually make it big.
Step 1 : Fixing a date
The date of the spelling bee should be set based on a few conditions. These are as follows:
i. There is no exam up to at least two weeks after the competition.
ii. Participants have time to prepare for the event.
iii. Organizers must have at least a month to prepare everything.
iv. The regional or national spelling bee is at least a week after the event. This will allow participants to work on their mistakes or weaknesses with sufficient amount of time in their hands before the main thing kicks off.
v. You must also consider your school’s academic calendar before you decide the date of the competition.
Step 2 : Choosing a venue
There are a few things you need to keep in mind before you choose the venue of your spelling bee.
Firstly, you need to see if the spelling bee will be class wise or for the entire school. Based on that, you can either organize the bee inside the classrooms, or in the school auditorium.
Secondly, the number of participants is also a factor you need to look into. If your class has a large number of students, you cannot manage the event inside the classrooms. Hence, even if it is held class wise, you need to opt for a bigger venue.
Finally, if you are going to allow an audience (which is recommended) to attend the staging sessions, you must go for a larger venue.
Hence, decide on all these factors first and then go for a suitable venue.
Step 3 : Forming a dedicated team to organize a spelling bee
Form a dedicated organizing team with a few faculty members, administrative staff members, and a few senior students. If there are veteran or former spelling bee participants, who have done well in their time, in your school, you can assign them as mentors for the ones participating in the school bee.
Divide the responsibilities accordingly. A minimum of three to four people should be stationed for stage duty and resource management. One additional person should be present at all times to assist the announcer.
Another team should be stationed for crowd control. The number of people in this team will depend on the estimated size of your audience.
There should also be a separate team to manage the publicity of the event.
Each team must have a faculty member to lead or guide them. Make sure they are well rehearsed and are aware of their responsibilities. Remember, if you want to successfully organize a spelling bee, teamwork is of utmost importance.
Step 4 :Letting people know
No matter how big or small the event is, you should make sure that everyone at school is aware of it. In fact, you should also take advantage of your school’s website and social media accounts, and publicize the event even more. If you have sufficient funding or resources, and expect an audience to be present at the event, you should distribute a few posters around the school too.
This little promotion campaign will not only help in the publicity of your school, but it might also help you attract sponsors. Sponsors are always appreciated, especially if you are thinking of having a prize pool for the winners.
It might also encourage other schools to organize a spelling bee at their institutions, helping in the overall development of this educational activity.
Step 5 : Knowing the participants
Take note of your participants and their corresponding grades. If they have signed up for any upcoming spelling bee, note that down too.
First divide the participants according to their grades.
Then, write down the spelling bee they plan on participating in.
While you do so, see if any speller has participated in the spelling bee before, and if they did, note down their position at that spelling competition.
All this information will be useful when you prepare the word lists for the spelling bee.
Step 6 : Selecting a panel and announcer
The panel will be responsible for assessment of the participants during the competition. The announcer or pronouncer should be someone who is fluent in English (or the preferred language of the spelling bee) and has a flawless pronunciation.
Step 7 : Deciding on the competition rounds
The standard on-campus spelling bee or school bee should consist of at least two rounds – the first round or the preliminaries, and the final round. The length of the competition or the number of rounds can be adjusted with accordance to the number of participants.
Step 8 : Announcing a prize pool
It is not mandatory to have a prize pool for a mock spelling bee. But if you have sufficient funding, you can go ahead and award the winners or top position holders.
What you are handing out as prizes is not that important. Crests or certificates and a winner’s trophy/medal is more than sufficient. If you are looking to hand out something more than this, you can always go for books, spelling bee handbooks, or even vouchers for online spelling bee platforms.
The options are endless. You just have to decide on the right ones.
Step 9 : Choosing the words
Choose the spelling bee words according to the grades. Find a selection of the spelling words listed specifically for spelling bee competitions here.
You should also ensure that the difficulty level of the spellings is increased as the competition proceeds into the next rounds. For your ease, here are some difficult spelling bee words.
Also, you can find some of the most difficult spelling bee words here.
Step 10 : Print large flashcards
The flashcards can be shown to the participants when the announcer is reading out the word to be spelled. Someone is to be stationed with those cards and should show the meaning side of the flashcards to the participants while the pronouncer is reading out the word.
The size of the flashcards as well as the font being used should be big enough for the participants to see. Use a standard font (Times New Roman or Arial) for the flashcards.
You can print flashcards for the word lists mentioned above (Point 9) from Spelling Bee Ninja. To know how to do so, click here.
Step 11 : How the competition proceeds
The word stacks should contain the words to be read out, and these stacks are to be arranged according to the on-going round. For instance, the first round will contain the easier words, or anything from grade 1 to 5.
The competition has to be elimination based. If you fail to spell a word, you are eliminated. Each speller will be given a minute to spell the word.
If no one is eliminated once the stack is over, the stack containing the difficult words is to be immediately introduced.
To make sure you don’t run out of words, your word list should contain enough words such that there are three words for each student. In case the number of words is high, ditch the large flashcards option and go for a digital screen if you can. A teleprompter for the participant doing the word of the flashcards.
Step 12 : How the answers are to be provided
Participants are to spell out the word standing in front of the microphone, facing the panel and the audience. They are allowed 1 minute for each word. Within the first 45 seconds of that one minute, they need to ask for the sentence (maximum 2) and the repetition of the word. After the first 45 seconds are over, they may NOT ask for these anymore.
Step 13 : How the winner is to be declared
The winner will be the last one remaining. The other positions can be awarded depending on how long the participants took to spell all their words. The ones who took less time will be given the 1st and 2nd runners-up position, as per their times.
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