Students around the country can take part in a new, nationwide challenge: the Vocabulary Bowl, a competition in which schools vie to see who can master the most words and come out on top of the yearlong Vocabulary.com leaderboard for the 2014-15 school year.It's easy for students to play for their schools. They simply need to sign up for Vocabulary.com and select which school they attend on their profile page. Students rack up achievements and points by playing our website or app. Every word that they master from September 1, 2014 to April 30, 2015 is added to the school's overall total. The school that masters the most words wins!
After the results are tallied for the school year, a winner will be announced in May 2015. The top school will be awarded a Championship Trophy, and the top 100 students from the school will receive medals at a special ceremony held at the school.
The Vocabulary Bowl is already drawing some media attention. In his Sunday column, Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn notes that Vocabulary.com "gauges each student's ability and provides appropriately difficult words, thus evening out the playing field across achievement levels and giving middle schools and even elementary schools a shot at the trophy." Zorn believes that the Vocabulary Bowl will be a boon to students: "even in an era when standardized tests are de-emphasizing knowledge of rare words, vocabulary skills are essential to learning."
The monthly competitions last school year attracted some great press coverage, too. USA Today reported: "Educators long have relied on competitive interscholastic sports to get students excited about being in school, but schools have rarely relied on academic competition to reach more than just top students. That could change soon, as technology enables efforts like this one."
Teachers around the country have found that the Vocabulary.com competition gets students excited about learning words. Brooklyn Tech Assistant Principal Marc Williams told USA Today, "As days went by, more and more kids were getting into it. They really ate it up."
Schools large and small have excelled in the challenge. In the past school year, for example,Corkscrew Middle School in Naples, Florida, managed to edge out much larger high schools like Brooklyn Tech to master the most words overall. "Vocabulary.com is very motivating for anyone trying to learn new vocabulary," said sixth-grade teacher Kelly Ducham, who energized her students to compete. "I like to see students choose to play Vocabulary.com on their own initiative. Sometimes I have had to tell students to stop practicing Vocabulary.com and to complete another assignment in class. I have reminded some students that they have to eat and sleep when they go home at night!"
Middle schoolers at Enrico Fermi School for the Performing Arts in Yonkers, NY also found that learning vocabulary could be a competitive sport and a source of pride. As The Yonkers Daily Voice reported, Fermi is "primarily attended by children who come from a high poverty, low income community," and "motivation is not scarce." "Our children are constantly striving to achieve," Fermi's principal, Miriam Digneo, said, and the Vocabulary.com achievement "gives the children an extra incentive to believe success is reachable and doable."
"The most rewarding part of this experience was seeing how happy the kids were, seeing how they take pride in their school and their academics," said Fermi teacher Stefanie Felidi. (Felidi and her students discussed the school's impressive showing on Vocabulary.com in a video prepared by Yonkers Public Schools: watch it here.)
Which school will come out on top at the end of the school year? It's anybody's game! For more information (and to see a constantly updating map of the latest words mastered and the schools where students have mastered them), check out: http://www.vocabulary.com/bowl.
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