In heated play, the 700+-student Corkscrew Middle School in Naples, FL topped the Vocabulary.com school leaderboard for the month of November. Their victory was a David and Goliath tale of the little guy against the big as, for most of the month, CMS was neck-and-neck with heavyweight Brooklyn Technical High School of New York, a school that with more than 5,000 students was able to bring a lot of high point-earning play to the table.

But CMS students mustered the time, dedication, and motivation to take home the Vocabulary.com Champions' Banner. What got these middle schoolers so excited about learning vocabulary?


Pictured (left to right): Heather Chansler, Susan Frederick, Alex Lopez (student),
Kelly Ducham, Monika Garciga (student), Lindsey Smith, and Sarah Ross
.

Competition. Or, to put it in the words of eighth grade Language Arts teacher Susan Frederick, who introduced Vocabulary.com to the school: "I think they all wanted to beat my score and then grind me into the dust!"

CMS eighth grade ELA teacher and chair Sarah Ross agrees that competition is key. "Students wanted to compete with each other and class-to-class. When they saw that another class or student was doing really well, they wanted to catch up! They were worried at first because Ms. Frederick’s classes started before them, but they were able to catch up and earn a lot of their own achievements—some even earning top-10 places on the [individual] Leaderboard!"

Of course, it's not just the competition that makes Vocabulary.com a great learning tool. It's the depth of the features it offers, and the flexibility that allows educators to adapt it to their own programs. Sixth grade science teacher Kelly Ducham attributes the schools success to three practices:

  • Using lists that are short and sweet to make it "a doable activity."
  • Creating lists that are on topic, and "pertinent to class." (These short videos show you how to search for or create Lists on a topic you're teaching.)
  • Exploring the depth of features on Vocabulary.com. "Many students like the spelling feature," Ducham shared. (Watch a brief video overview of Vocabulary.com here.)

And what do CMS star players have to say? What kept them learning at such a fast and furious pace?

"It was fun! I learned a lot of new words to improve my writing, too." —Eighth grader Monika Garciga, 2,000,000 point earner for November.

"It was difficult to earn so many points, but I liked the competition and learning new words. I even created my own list and other people learned it, which was cool!" —Eighth grader Alex Lopez, 1,000,000 point-earner in November.

"Mastering the lists was exciting!" —Sixth grader Dylan Detweiler, 1,000,000 point-earner in November.

Congratulations, Corkscrew! We hope to see you topping the leaderboards again soon.

Check out the story of previous banner winner Blackman High School in Murfreesboro, TN here. Want to play for your school? Check the drop down menu on your profile page. You'll find every school in the United States and Canada.