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October 2014 Newsletter: Resources to Prepare for the WordMasters Challenge!

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October Newsletter: Packed full of resources to get the 2014-15 WordMasters Challenge started!Is this email not displaying correctly?
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October 2014

WordMasters News!


By now, all Team Leaders should have downloaded the Meet #1 Word Lists through their personal Dashboard. Please see the Team Leader Guide below if you need help getting started.  

We have heard from a number of Team Leaders who are able to log in successfully, but cannot access the "Manage Teams & Students" page.  Often this occurs because someone other than the Team Leader completed the online enrollment this year, and his/her email address is not synched with the existing school account.  In other words, our computer system doesn't recognize the email and creates a brand new account for the order.  No worries -- it's an easy fix to synch the order with the original school account.  Just send us an email saying that you have enrolled in this year's WordMasters Challenge (an order number or PO number is very helpful!) and we will make the necessary adjustments so you can access your teams via your Dashboard.

Team Leader Guide

Find instructions for:
  • Accessing your dashboard
  • Setting up you teams
  • Setting up student records, and
  • Downloading materials
Click here for a print-friendly PDF document of the Team Leader Guide to help you get the 2014-15 WordMasters Challenge started.

Welcome Kit for New Team Leaders (or those wanting a refresher)

Is this your first year with WordMasters? Or are you looking for a refresher? Make sure you review the Welcome Kit which includes:
  • Welcome letter
  • Ten-Step Checklist
  • Parent letter to send home
  • Student sign-up sheet
If you would like to customize the parent letter and student sign-up sheet, Word document versions are found on the Teacher Tools pages.

If you need to present this information to a group, there is also a PowerPoint presentation you can use.

Resources for Meet Prep

In response to our customer survey, Team Leaders graciously shared some of their favorite resources for the following:

Word definitionsNote: The authority on which we rely in matters of dispute is Webster’s New World College Dictionary.

Creating flashcards
Practice analogies
A comprehensive list can be found in Teacher Tools, towards the bottom of the page. E-mail us with your favorite and we'll include it on the website!

New Study Tools

Looking for ways to help your students learn their word lists for each meet? Try one of these new WordMasters™ Study Tools: Study Tools created last year are:All Study Tools are found on Teacher Tools. Do you have a tool to share? E-mail us!

Updated Idea Gallery

Teachers shared their successful WordMasters™ tips, games and activities. Make sure you visit the Idea Gallery to see what's new!

E-mail us with your favorite learning technique and we'll add it to the Idea Gallery!

Calendar Reminders


Meet #1 Word Lists Available:  October 1st



2014-15 WordMasters Challenge™

Meet #1
Word Lists Available Oct. 1st
Test Administered   Nov. 17th - Dec. 5th 
Score Reporting Deadline   Dec. 12th
Results Available  Dec. 26th
  
Meet #2
Word Lists Available Dec. 8th
Test Administered   Feb. 2nd - Feb. 20th 
Score Reporting Deadline   Feb. 27th
Results Available  March 13th
  
Meet #3
Word Lists Available Feb. 23rd
Test Administered   April 6th-April 24th 
Score Reporting Deadline   May 1st
Results Available  May 15th
  
Cumulative Champions Announced   May 15th 

To find the entire 2014-15 WordMasters Challenge Calendar click here or the Challenge Schedule can be found under the Resources tab on the WordMasters Challenge website.

In This Issue

What Works in Your Classroom?

Share your successful teaching tips, photos, or videos. E-mail us at lisa.kennedy@wordmasterschallenge.com and we'll add it to the Idea Gallery.

Keep Up With Us

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Follow on TwitterTwitter
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September 2014 Newsletter

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September 2014

WordMasters News!


Welcome back to school!  By now, all our participating schools are back in session, eagerly awaiting the start of the 28th annual WordMasters Challenge.  If you haven't re-enrolled yet, don't waste another minute!  Click here to go directly to our online enrollment page.  Consider expanding your WordMasters program to include additional grade levels, or create a Blue Division and a Gold Division team within the same grade to appropriately challenge all of your students. Don't forget -- significant discounts are offered to schools who enroll multiple teams.

A special welcome to all the teams that are participating in their very first WordMasters Challenge.  Watch your inbox for a message that includes detailed instructions and tips for implementing our program in your school. Been around WordMasters for many years, but looking for some inspiration?  Click on Teacher Tools or Idea Gallery under the RESOURCES tab at our website, or check out the Welcome Kit materials posted.

We haven't implemented any major changes this year in the way you enroll your teams, download materials, create student records or submit Challenge scores.  As a result, it should be easier than ever to hit the ground running once Meet #1 Word Lists are posted on October 1st.  We will send out an email reminder towards the end of September, but you can log into your account and set up your student records at any time.

Here's to another great year of WordMasters!

WordMasters™ Student in National Spelling Bee

Congratulations to Tejas, a 5th grade Gold WordMasters team member from Rivers Edge Elementary School in Glen Allen, VA! He was Speller No. 263 in the Scripps National Spelling Bee this year. Tejas successfully spelled his way to the top 46, making it to the semifinals.

At the end of the semifinal round, 31 spellers remained on stage. Based on a combined score of computer-based vocabulary testing and the spelling success on stage, 12 finalists moved one to the championship round. Tejas was among the the final twelve. Amazing!

In a competition that saw its first co-champions in 52 years, Tejas finished tied for 8th place. With three years of eligibility left, we look forward to seeing him, and hopefully other WordMasters students, in the National Spelling Bee for years to come.

 

"If I Knew Then: A Letter to Me..."

Edutopia and SoulPancake worked together to create a video for teacher appreciation. They asked teachers to write letters to themselves of their first day of teaching. Watch and see what teachers wrote.

What would you say to yourself?

Thank You for Taking Our Survey!

Over 725 Team Leaders have filled out our customer survey. You provided us with great insight as we continue to look for ways to improve WordMasters™.

Watch for results to be shared in upcoming newsletters. Thank you for all you do! We appreciate it.

Registration is Open for 2014-15 WordMasters Challenge™

It’s simple! Visit our website, www.WordMastersChallenge.com, and click on the yellow Enroll Now button on the right-side of the screen.
  • Enrollment fee is still only $95 per team, with volume discounts for schools enrolling 5 or more teams or school districts registering 5 or more schools. See our website for details.
  • You can pay using a credit card online, or we can invoice you.
  • If you need to request a purchase order click this link, or download the order form found at the bottom of our home page (you can also find it under the ENROLL tab) and submit it to your purchasing department. We ask that you still complete the online enrollment form and select the “Bill Me Later” option to ensure we have accurate and complete contact information. We will invoice you once we receive your purchase order. It’s that easy!

Enrollment for the 2014-15 WordMasters Challenge™ closes on September 30th!

2014-15 WordMasters Challenge™ Calendar




Enrollment Deadline: September 30, 2014

Meet #1
Word Lists Available Oct. 1st
Test Administered   Nov. 17th - Dec. 5th 
Score Reporting Deadline   Dec. 12th
Results Available  Dec. 26th
  
Meet #2
Word Lists Available Dec. 8th
Test Administered   Feb. 2nd - Feb. 20th 
Score Reporting Deadline   Feb. 27th
Results Available  March 13th
  
Meet #3
Word Lists Available Feb. 23rd
Test Administered   April 6th-April 24th 
Score Reporting Deadline   May 1st
Results Available  May 15th
  
Cumulative Champions Announced   May 15th 

In This Issue

What Works in Your Classroom?

Share your successful teaching tips, photos, or videos. E-mail us at lisa.kennedy@wordmasterschallenge.com and we'll add it to the Idea Gallery.

Keep Up With Us

Friend on FacebookFacebook
Follow on TwitterTwitter





 

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New WordMasters™ Certificate Template for Printing

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Are you busy wrapping up the end of school and would love an easier way to make your WordMasters™ team certificates? You are not alone. A certificate template was recently created in response to a request from a Team Leader asking for one to help print year-end team certificates. 

The Word template can be found by clicking this link or by clicking Teacher Tools under the RESOURCES tab.



 

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May 2014 Newsletter

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May 2014 Newsletter

 

WordMasters News!


Thank you to all the teams that honored our May 2nd deadline for entering Meet #3 scores. We appreciate that for many of you, it is difficult to schedule the last WordMasters Challenge™ meet because of standardized testing and spring break. We did move the timing of the entire Meet #3 preparation/testing/reporting period up a week in response to pleas from our many schools that complete their academic year in early May. I have already received several desperate calls from Team Leaders who need results in advance of honors and award ceremonies this week!  Meet #3 finalists will be posted by the end of this week, and year-end results will be available on or before May 16th.

Please watch for an important survey we will be sending out this week via Survey Monkey.  We sincerely appreciate your input and feedback as we continue our efforts to improve the WordMasters Challenge™ program.  We are especially interested in your thoughts regarding online testing options as we plan to pilot a program next year and fully implement online testing by Fall 2015.

New WordMasters Challenge™ Individual Competition for 2014-15

While you are on the WordMasters™ website, you may have noticed a new product listed, the Individual WordMasters Challenge™.

The WordMasters Challenge™ - Individual Division was created to serve those students who are homeschooled or attend a school that does not participate in the WordMasters Challenge™ team competition. The content is comparable to our Gold Division vocabulary lists and analogies. However, the word lists at each grade level will not be the same as the word lists being used in the current Gold Division team competition.

To read more about the Individual Challenge™, click here for details.

Hard Work Pays Off

Here are the faces behind the top third grade blue team of Challenge Meet #2 from Woodland Elementary. Their story was shared in their district news. Click here to see the article.

Has your team been showcased in your local news? E-mail us and we'll share it, too.

The Buzz About "Grit" in Education

Angela Lee Duckworth, a psychology professor at the University of Pennyslvania (and former teacher) conducted research to pinpoint what makes someone successful. She evaluated people in a variety of settings; whether it be a West Point cadet, a rookie teacher, a member of a sales team, a National Spelling Bee participant or a student in a Chicago public high school.  Based on her findings, having passion and persistence for long-term goals, or grit, was the greatest predictor of success.

When the concept of grit is applied to education, can it be taught? And how is it measured? Can schools create environments where mistakes are just as valued as right answers? Can you get kids, and better yet their parents, comfortable with the idea that struggle leads to stronger learning? Several schools, such as New City School in St. Louis, MO are trying to put grit into practice by incorporating a "growth mindset". To read more about it, here is an NPR article, "Does Teaching Kids to Get 'Gritty' Help Them Get Ahead?" by Tovia Smith.

To learn more about Angela Lee Duckworth's work, here is information about The Duckworth Lab at the University of Pennsylvania or you can watch her TED Talks Education video "The Key to Success? Grit".

 

Registration is Open for 2014-15 WordMasters Challenge™

It’s simple! Visit our website, www.WordMastersChallenge.com, and click on the yellow Enroll Now button on the right-side of the screen.
  • Enrollment fee is still only $95 per team, with volume discounts for schools enrolling 5 or more teams or school districts registering 5 or more schools. See our website for details.
  • You can pay using a credit card online, or we can invoice you.
  • If you need to request a purchase order click this link, or download the order form found at the bottom of our home page (you can also find it under the ENROLL tab) and submit it to your purchasing department. We ask that you still complete the online enrollment form and select the “Bill Me Later” option to ensure we have accurate and complete contact information. We will invoice you once we receive your purchase order. It’s that easy!
Enrollment for the 2014-15 WordMasters Challenge™ closes on September 30th, so sign up soon!

2014-15 WordMasters Challenge™ Calendar




Enrollment Deadline: September 30, 2014

Meet #1
Word Lists Available Oct. 1st
Test Administered   Nov. 17th - Dec. 5th 
Score Reporting Deadline   Dec. 12th
Results Available  Dec. 26th
  
Meet #2
Word Lists Available Dec. 8th
Test Administered   Feb. 2nd - Feb. 20th 
Score Reporting Deadline   Feb. 27th
Results Available  March 13th
  
Meet #3
Word Lists Available Feb. 23rd
Test Administered   April 6th-April 24th 
Score Reporting Deadline   May 1st
Results Available  May 15th
  
Cumulative Champions Announced   May 15th 

Calendar Reminders

Meet #3 Results and Cumulative Champions Announced:
May 16th



WordMasters Challenge Meet #3
Word Lists Available Feb. 24th
Test Administered   April 7th-April 25th 
Score Reporting Deadline   May 2nd
Results Available  May 16th
  
Cumulative Champions Announced   May 16th 

To find the entire 2013-14 WordMasters Challenge™ Calendar click here or the Challenge Schedule can be found under the Resources tab on the WordMasters Challenge™ website.



 

In This Issue

What Works in Your Classroom?

Share your successful teaching tips, photos, or videos. E-mail us at lisa.kennedy@wordmasterschallenge.com and we'll add it to the Idea Gallery.

Keep Up With Us

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April 2014 Newsletter

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WordMasters News!


By now, all our teams should be headed into the homestretch of the 2013-14 WordMasters Challenge. In fact, a few schools have already administered Meet #3 and entered their scores! Keep in mind that although the Challenge Schedule indicates that Meet #3 should take place between April 7 and April 25th, it's okay to postpone the test until the following week as long as scores are submitted by midnight on May 2nd. PLEASE NOTE:  WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO ACCEPT OR ENTER ANY SCORES AFTER MAY 2nd! We have a very tight turnaround to process Meet #3 scores as well as cumulative results by May 16th. Although your school may be in session until July to make up an abundance of snow days (!), we have schools in many parts of the country that complete their academic year mid to late May. We appreciate your cooperation in getting your scores in before the deadline.

REVISIONS TO 7B TEST AND 3G ANSWER KEY
Thanks to some eagle-eyed Team Leaders, we have caught and corrected typos on the 7B Challenge Test and the 3G Answer Key. Any files downloaded since April 9th are correct. If you downloaded either of these files prior to April 9th, please note the following:
  • On the 7B test, #13 should read: SUBSERVIENT : IMPERIOUS :: ABJECT : _______________. The original file incorrectly used IMPERVIOUS in the first word pair.
  • On the GOLD ANSWER KEY, the answer to #16 should read (e) a trace. The original file incorrectly stated the answer as (a) a trace.
We apologize for any inconvenience these errors may have caused.

MEDALS & CERTIFICATES
The end-of-year mailing with your medals and certificates is heading to the Post Office today (see below for details). As a reminder, you receive one Champion Medal and ten Achievement Certificates for each team you have enrolled. It's up to you to determine how to award or distribute these items. If you need extra medals (sold separately for $6) or certificates (sold in groups of 5 for $5), please place your order online for immediate shipping. Remember that merchandise orders must be prepaid with credit card or linked to a school purchase order.

WordMasters™ Spring Mailing

Watch your mail for a packet from WordMasters™ that will contain:

  • One Champion Medal for each team you have enrolled (with blue or gold neck ribbon)
  • Ten Achievement Certificates you can fill out and distribute as desired
  • Re-enrollment instructions for the 2014-15 WordMasters Challenge™ (includes order form if you need to request a Purchase Order)

The mailing is scheduled for Friday, April 11th. If you have not received your packet by May 1st, please contact us.

Celebrating Meet #2 Success: WordMasters™ Press Release Template

After each meet, WordMasters™ prepares and sends press releases to the primary school contact for each team placing in the Top Ten within its division, as well as to schools with one or more students earning a perfect score of 20.

To share your team's success with your school or local media, we have created a WordMasters™ Press Release Template, in the Teacher Tools section, which can be downloaded from the website and customized in Microsoft Word for your school. 

Student Spotlight:
Richmond, VA WordMaster Prepared for National Spelling Bee

Tejas Muthusamy, a fifth-grader at Rivers Edge Elementary School, has achieved a perfect score of 20 on each of the first two WordMasters Challenge meets this year. He also is preparing for the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May. Good luck, Tejas! We're all cheering you on.

Click here to read the article about Tejas which ran in the Richmond Times-Dispatch in March.

WordMasters™ Team Leader, Deb Gribben, told us about her outstanding student, Tejas. E-mail us with information about your outstanding students as well. We'd love to put them in the spotlight.

"The Key to Innovation: Making Smart Analogies" by Annie Murphy Paul

Recently, Annie Murphy Paul shared a copy of the speech she gave at the 2014 Sandbox Summit in her "Brilliant Blog". In her speech she highlighted how useful analogies can provide new theories to test and also help make sense of unexpected results. All of which leads to new discoveries.

Click here to read her speech and to follow her blog--she's one of our favorites.


2014-15 WordMasters Challenge™ Calendar




Enrollment Deadline: September 30, 2014

Meet #1
Word Lists Available Oct. 13th
Test Administered   Nov. 17th - Dec 5th 
Score Reporting Deadline   Dec. 12th
Results Available  Dec. 26th
  
Meet #2
Word Lists Available Dec. 8th
Test Administered   Feb. 2nd - Feb. 20th 
Score Reporting Deadline   Feb. 27th
Results Available  March 13th
  
Meet #3
Word Lists Available Feb. 23rd
Test Administered   April 6th-April 24th 
Score Reporting Deadline   May 1st
Results Available  May 15th
  
Cumulative Champions Announced   May 15th 

Calendar Reminders

Meet #3 Test Administered:
April 7th - April 24th



WordMasters Challenge Meet #3
Word Lists Available Feb. 24th
Test Administered   April 7th-April 25th 
Score Reporting Deadline   May 2nd
Results Available  May 16th
  
Cumulative Champions Announced   May 16th 

To find the entire 2013-14 WordMasters Challenge™ Calendar click here or the Challenge Schedule can be found under the Resources tab on the WordMasters Challenge™ website.


 

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Meet #1 Team Leader Instructions

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First Challenge Meet

Team Leader Guide

 
 

Dear Team Leaders:

Welcome to the start of the 2013-14 WordMasters Challenge! Thank you for your patience and understanding as we worked through some of the technical glitches with our upgraded website. By now, you should have logged into the website to set up your team(s) and downloaded your Meet #1 Word Lists(s). 

If you experience any difficulty accessing your WordMasters account, please try the following before contacting us for assistance:

  • Ensure you are logged out of the system. If you see LOGOUT at the top right of the webpage (next to the SEARCH box), click it and wait until you receive a message confirming that you have successfully been logged out of the site.
  • Refresh the WordMasters Challenge page.
  • Click on LOGIN. Under "Account Sign In", enter your username (your email address) and your password. Note: Unless you created a personal password, your temporary password is your four-digit WordMasters school number (this number appears on all invoices/sales receipts).
  • If you have forgotten your password and/or cannot locate your school number, try resetting it by clicking on “Forgot your password?”. If that does not work, send us an email and we will reset your password manually.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR MEET #1

  1. Make as many copies of the Word List as you will need for your students. Distribute Word Lists to your students at least two weeks before each scheduled meet.

  2. Help students learn the meaning of their words and consider possible analogies based on these words. (You should NOT expose them to the Challenge Test analogies ahead of time.)

 
 
 
  1. The Challenge Tests and Answer Keys will be available for download from your Dashboard on November 18th.

  2. Schedule your Challenge Meet for any 20-minute period between November 18th – December 6th.

  3. Enter your students’ scores online by December 13th. You can create a unique student record for each participant at any time by clicking on “Manage Teams & Students” from your Dashboard (no limit to number of students per team). More information regarding score submission will be sent to you before Challenge Meet tests are available for download. Important note: Due to the changes we have made to automate the score reporting process, we will no longer be able to accept scores beyond the posted deadline of December 13th. Please schedule your meet accordingly to ensure you are able to submit your scores on time.

  4. A summary of results will be posted on our website and available for download on December 27th.

  5. No need to wait until January to start preparing for the second Challenge Meet! Word Lists for Meet #2 will be available for download on December 9th.

 

NOTES TO TEAM LEADERS

Before the Meet

  1. Your students will get much more out of theWordMasters ChallengeTM if you actively help them master their vocabulary lists. Dictionary definitions are a good place to start, but they may not make clear to a child a word’s part of speech, the contexts in which the word does or does not make sense, the word’s positive or negative connotations, or the word’s nuances of meaning – in short, the word’s usage. For example, from a dictionary a student may learn that “abridge” means “shorten, condense or reduce,” but unless you demonstrate the word’s usage in sentences, the student may assume that dieters eat less to “abridge” their weight or that stylists use scissors to “abridge” people’s hair.
  2. If your students have not worked with analogies before, spend some time introducing them to this logicalform. We think our “Analogies 101 Plus” sets are a good place to start (available for order through our website). You can also make up simple analogies of your own to illustrate the kinds of logical relationships used in analogies.
  3. Once your students have become thoroughly familiar with their words, encourage them to make up their own analogies based on their word lists and to try their analogies out on one another. Practical discussions about what makes one analogy more satisfactory than another will help students improve their analytical reasoning – 
  4. You may also make up analogies of your own for your students using vocabulary from their Word List, but you should NOT familiarize yourself with the analogies in your students’ Challenge Test ahead of time nor make up practice analogies that resemble the Challenge analogies.
  5. Inform students that each successive meet in this year’s WordMasters Challenge will be somewhat more difficult that the one before it. At each grade level, the second meet’s analogies will feature vocabulary from both of the first two Word Lists (50 words); the third meet’s analogies will be based on all three Word Lists (75 words). Students should therefore save their first and second meet Word Lists and study materials.

During the Meet

  1. Challenge meets should last about 20 minutes (we do not impose a strict time limit) and should be conducted silently (i.e., the Team Leader should not read the analogies aloud). Students should work unassisted; they should not consult their Word Lists, definitions, or each other.

  2. There is one circumstance in which limited help is permitted: If your students
    encounter a word in the Challenge test which has not appeared on the Word Lists yet
    is unfamiliar to them, you may define that word briefly. Please be sure that any
    definition you give is not only brief and simple, but is also without reference to the
    analogy in which the unfamiliar word appears. It is
    NOT permissible to define a word
    that appeared on an earlier Word List (applies to Meets #2 and #3), nor one that is a derivative of any Word List vocabulary.

After the Meet

  1. Please take the time to report your scores to us online, whether you think your team has done outstandingly or not. Score feedback is very important to us in developing Challenge tests that are appropriate to each grade level and division.
  2. When national results and scores summaries are posted on our website, you will be able to show your students how they are doing (both as a team and as individuals) in comparison with other students in the same grade and division throughout the country. Experience has shown that, for many students, the goal of increasing your team or individual ranking can serve as a powerful motivation, especially during the later meets.
  3. PLEASE do not simply hand back corrected tests to students without discussion. Once students have been given the correct answers, engage them in a discussion of what makes each analogy work (e.g., “In what way is an aquarium being compared to a garden here?”). Encourage your students to articulate the general principle at work in each analogy (e.g., “The first word here names an action; the second word names the object receiving the action.”).
  4. Allow your students to “challenge” answers to analogies if doing so encourages them to think analytically. We will do our best to respond to students who present us with a letter or email thoughtfully questioning the logic of an analogy. (The authority on which we rely in matters of dispute is Webster’s New World College Dictionary.)

Don't forget to check out all the resources available to you through our website (Idea Gallery, Teacher Tools, FAQs, blog posts, WordMasters Basics, etc).

Good luck! 


 

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Team Leader Instructions for Website Upgrades

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WordMasters, LLC
Website Upgrades
& Instructions

 

Welcome back to school and to the 2013-14 WordMasters Challenge™!  Now in our 27th year, we are pleased to announce several system upgrades that will make your participation in the competition easier and more convenient:

  • Access and download the WordMasters Challenge™ materials you have ordered directly through our website at any time.  

  • Assign a separate Team Leader to each team you enroll.

  • Create individual student records (no limit) to record scores and automatically calculate cumulative scores after third meet.

  • View and print reports containing data you have entered for your school.

This weekend, we migrated all of our customer data to the new system.  If you have already created an account linked to your email address, you will be able to use your existing password to log in and access your DASHBOARD.  Simply go to our website (http://www.wordmasterschallenge.com) and click on “LOGIN” in the top right corner of our homepage. If you cannot remember your password, try clicking on “Forgot your password?”  If you registered without creating an account, you should be able to log in using your four-digit school number as a password.  (Your school number appears on the invoice/sales receipt you received via email.)

Once you log in to our website, you will be directed automatically to your personal DASHBOARD page.  From here, you can choose from several options:

  • Manage Teams & Students:  Assign a Team Leader for each team you have enrolled and confirm contact information.  Create individual student records (you can do this now or wait until it’s time to submit Challenge scores).

  • Download Materials: For each team you have enrolled, the corresponding Meet #1 Word List will be available for download beginning October 1st.  (See the Challenge Schedule posted under the RESOURCES tab at our website for a complete calendar of important dates related to the 2013-14 WordMasters Challenge™.)

  • Submit Scores:  Use this link when it is time to submit student scores.  Now you can enter as many scores as you would like; our system will automatically calculate your team score so no need to worry about ties for tenth place!  Since each student’s score is tied to a unique student record, the system will also be able to automatically calculate cumulative individual and team scores at the end of the year.

  • View Reports:  This area is still under construction but will be completed before Meet #1 results are available.  You will be able to view and print reports of your students’ scores as well as overall team results and perfect score listings.

We ask you to be patient as we transition to the new system.  It may take a few days for us to confirm that all orders for the 2013-14 WordMasters Challenge™ have been successfully transferred. Remember, the Meet #1 word lists are not available for download until Tuesday, October 1st.

While you are at our website, be sure to check out the newly updated Teacher Tools page as well as our Idea Gallery for ways to prepare your students for the upcoming meets.  Please send us your ideas so we can share them on the website.

Looking forward to another great year of WordMasters!


 

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Reminder: Enrollment Deadline is September 30th

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The start of the 2013-14 WordMasters™ Challenge is quickly approaching! The deadline to enroll your team is September 30th.

Beginning October 1st, you’ll be able to access your WordMasters™ Meet #1 Word Lists, so enroll your teams today. Please contact us with any questions. We’re happy to help you get started.

 

Here are year-end comments from Team Leaders who coached during the 2012-13 WordMasters™ Challenge:

“This continues to be a fantastic method for students to work together learning new vocabulary words and then, advancing to a higher level of thinking with the challenging analogies. This has become one of our most popular ‘team sports’.”

--Team Leader, Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston

 

“Thanks for the terrific year! My students discovered the power of words and enjoyed adding so many to their vocabulary! We had a great time!”

--Team Leader, Ames Middle School


 

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WordMasters FAQs: Team Size and Combining Grade Levels

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As many schools are enrolling for the 2013-14 WordMasters Challenge, here are answers to two commonly asked questions to help you plan your team(s).

How many students can be on each team?

There is no limit to the number of students that can compete on a team. However, only the top ten scores per meet are used to calculate your Team Score.

 

Can I mix grade levels to make a team?

WordMasters has many multi-grade teams and it works well. We simply require that the team be enrolled at the grade level of the oldest students in the group.

Combining grades works best for:

  • Smaller schools who may not have enough students to report the top ten scorers in a single grade,
  • Homeschool groups, or
  • Schools who offer WordMasters as a multi-grade enrichment program.

 

The bottom line is there are multiple ways to implement the program. If you have questions about the best way to offer WordMasters at your school, please contact us.


 

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Bas Bleu: "So many books..."

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Today I decided to share one of my favorite “literary” sources with you – Bas Bleu (www.basbleu.com). The website is great, but I love paging through an actual Bas Bleu catalog.  It features a full-color picture, detailed description and mini-review of each item – sort of like a J. Peterman catalog for books (if you don’t get that reference, you need to brush up on your Seinfeld re-runs).

Chances are if you are reading this blog, you also enjoy reading about words and language.  I never fail to find some intriguing titles in each Bas Bleu catalog that snag my interest; some are about word origins, others center on word usage, and many feature entertaining tidbits about grammar and vocabulary.  Of course, the catalog also offers countless works of fiction that constantly evoke my lament, “So many books, so little time.”

Here are a few of the books I’ve purchased recently:

  • The Art of the Epigraph: How Great Books Begin
  • How to Read Literature Like a Professor: For Kids
  • 399 Games, Puzzles, and Trivia Challenges Specially Designed to Keep Your Brain Young
  • Similes Dictionary: 16,000 Figures of Speech on More than One Thousand Topics
  • Flying by the Seat of your Pants: Surprising Origins of Everyday Expressions
  • Name that Movie: 100 Illustrated Movie Puzzles (not really a “word” book, but great for critical thinking exercise)
  • The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics

Yes, I gravitate toward books with unusually long titles!

And just in case you’re the sort that likes to get a good jump on your holiday shopping, check out Bas Bleu for gifts to present to your literary friends and colleagues.  I volunteer in the library at my children’s school, and always find something perfect for our beloved librarian.  Of course, WordMasters merchandise is also a great gift idea!




 

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From the Students: "Our teacher just learned another definition for the word scanty…"

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Here is another well-written persuasive letter from two students hoping to start a WordMasters Team in their new middle school. I wonder if you'll learn a new definition for an old word from their letter, too. Did you know a farmer uses a scuffle? Have a wonderful week!

 

Dear Mr. S.,

            We are two students from Chestwood School. We would like to inform you about our abundant requests for the WordMasters Challenge in middle school. We think that WordMasters can teach students a lot, not just in school but also out of school. We definitely think that it does! Here are some reasons why they should have the WordMasters Challenge. They extend and alter students’ vocabulary, they help students understand analogies and comparing things in real life, and they help students learn definitions of words that they may use in everyday life.

            They extend students’ vocabulary by having them study for the competition, thus making them keep the words they learn in their minds. Words like contraband and alter are used everywhere. They’re used in television, on signs, in speeches, etc. Words like scanty and lumber help you learn new definitions of the same words. Our teacher has taught WordMasters for a long time and she just learned another definition for the word scanty, and as funny as it may seem, scanty also means brief underpants. She also just learned another definition for the word scuffle. As well as being a short and confused fight, it’s also a type of hoe for construction. As you can see, WordMasters extends vocabulary.

            WordMasters helps students’ understanding of analogies and comparing things in real life. We compare things in real life in lots of ways. By people and their jobs, what people use in their jobs, etc. Example: Farmers use scythes and scuffles, just like cooks use spatulas. We have observed that our students use an abundant amount of analogies to describe anything they can think of. We also use analogies, not just in language arts, but also in science, math, social studies, and many more subjects. It’s basically classifying things in a new way. As you can see, WordMasters help students’ understand analogies and comparing things in real life.

            WordMasters help students learn definitions of words they can use in real life. It helps you learn more advanced words. All of our WordMasters are supposed to be challenging, and they are. I think we can all agree that these words are challenging and are at a seventh grade level. Also, my partner and I didn’t know lots of the definitions or meanings of the WordMasters words. We have found out many new words that we have never heard and now we have used them in our sentences many times. WordMasters help student learn definitions and meanings of words they can use in real life.

            We wouldn’t like to sound like a broken record, but WordMasters means a lot to Chestwood students. We would really appreciate it if you put our request into consideration. We know that WordMasters help students extend their vocabulary, helps students understand analogies and comparing things in real life, and they help students learn definitions of words you can use in life. We have one more supporting thought. We have used many, many WordMasters words in this letter.

 

                                    We would like you to consider our request,

                                                G. and N.


 

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A Thank You Note from a Parent

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We often hear feedback from teachers, and we have started to share in our blog some of the great persuasive essays written by students hoping to start WordMasters teams in their new schools, but it's just as rewarding to hear from parents. Thank you, Terry, for sharing your thoughts with us!

 

"My daughters participated in WordMasters for 3 years each in elementary school.  It was a large part of our elementary’s gifted enrichment program.  I am SO happy they had this opportunity.  For my oldest, an avid reader and for whom vocabulary is a cinch, this was a great self-confidence booster, and she enjoyed the friendly competition with her friends.  For my youngest, who’s not a book lover and has a weaker vocabulary, this program guaranteed 75 new, quality words per year.  AND when she excelled because we worked so hard to prepare, it made her feel really good about herself.  Also, she will test with the SCAT soon, and I am thankful for all of the analogy practice she has had.  THANK YOU!"

Terry V., Parent



 

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WordMasters Basics: If my school does not have a WordMasters Challenge™ program, can my child still participate?

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Your child can easily participate, even if there is not a WordMasters team at their school, or in their grade. Simply enroll your child online and list your home contact information.  Under "School Type", choose "Individual".  Your child's scores will be recorded and included in recognition of individual performance (when appropriate) rather than the team competition, since team scores are based on a compilation of 10 individual scores.  We are investigating alternative competition formats for students participating as individuals rather than teams, and welcome your input.





 

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The nuance of vocabulary and how WordMasters aligns with Common Core

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Today I want to focus on the word nuance, which is derived from a French word meaning “shades” (as in small differences in color).  Borrowing once again from Mignon Fogarty’s Grammar Girl’s 101 Words to Sound Smart:

In English, a nuance is a subtle difference.  You can think of it as shades of meaning, taste, color or feeling with only slight differences, just as there is a slight difference in color between fern and forest green crayons.

Fogarty goes on to include this wonderful excerpt from journalist Henry Hazlitt’s Thinking as a Science:

A man with a scant vocabulary will almost certainly be a weak thinker.  The richer and more copious one’s vocabulary and the greater one’s awareness of fine distinctions and subtle nuances of meaning, the more fertile and precise is likely to be one’s thinking.  Knowledge of things and knowledge of the words for them grow together.  If you do not know the words, you can hardly know the thing.

The WordMasters Challenge is designed to encourage students to explore the nuances of language – to know not only what a word means, but also how to use it in conversation or composition.  If your school is implementing the Common Core State Standards, note how the skills developed through WordMasters are specifically targeted through the following standards:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.3.5:  Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships and nuances in word meanings.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.6.5b:  Use the relationship between particular words (e.g. cause/effect, part/whole, item/category) to better understand each of the words.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.8.5c: Distinguish among the connotations (associations) of words with similar denotations (definitions), e.g. bullheaded, willful, firm, persistent, resolute.

More on how WordMasters aligns with the Common Core State Standards to come!



 

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WordMasters Basics: I homeschool my child(ren). How can we participate in the WordMasters Challenge™?

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You can enroll your homeschooled children the same way public and private schools sign up.  Choose the grade and difficulty level most appropriate for your student(s).  For each “team” that you enroll, you may submit test results for up to 10 students.  If your “team” is simply an individual child or just a few children, your scores will be recorded and included in recognition of individual performance (when appropriate) rather than the team competition, since team scores are based on a compilation of 10 individual scores.

We have several homeshool teams that compete each year and enjoy the experience. If you're thinking about enrolling your homeschool team and still have questions, contact us and we'll help you figure out the best way to join in.

 

 





 

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Wonderful Words: Laconic

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Here’s another interesting word origin story that traces back to the Mediterranean.  I’ve borrowed this from another fun “word” book I picked up – Random House Webster’s Pocket Power Vocabulary, which is a tiny book about the size of a pack of index cards and includes more than a hundred tests to improve your word mastery.

In Sparta, the capital of the ancient Greek region of Laconia, the children were trained in endurance, cunning, modesty, and self-restraint.  From the terse style of speech and writing of the Laconians we derive the English word “laconic.”  Today the word retains this meaning, expressing much in few words.

Why yes, of course I have a few analogies from our WordMasters archives!  No one ever accused me of being laconic.  See if you can solve these:

SPEAKER : LACONIC :: DONOR : _______________________

  1. PARSIMONIOUS
  2. GARRULOUS
  3. PIVOTAL
  4. PUGNACIOUS
  5. ORATORICAL

GARRULOUS : LACONIC :: DIAPHONOUS : ___________________________

  1. GREGARIOUS
  2. APPREHENSIVE
  3. SHEER
  4. OPAQUE
  5. COMPLIANT





 

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From the Students: Before you know it, kids will be saying, “A skinflint took my money!”

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A group of students teamed up and wrote letters to their future junior high schools which did not have a WordMasters team. Their intent was to get a team started at their new school so they could continue participating in the WordMasters Challenge this coming school year. We thought they said it best in their own words. Enjoy!

 

December 11, 2012

Dear Mr. H,

            Did you know that kids that know more words are generally smarter children? Well, it’s true! And if you want that for your students, then you should do this thing called WORDMASTERS. It’s a fun way to learn lots of new words. Now if you don’t mind… we’d like to tell you a thing or two about this educational system.

            WordMasters words are a great way to enrich a student’s vocabulary! If all the grades did WordMasters then 1st graders could read Harry Potter books! Kids will be able to do harder assignments at younger grades. Before you know it, kids will be saying, “What an exquisite day today!” and “A skinflint took my money!!!” It sounds strange now but if your students do WordMasters, this is what your average conversation might sound like!

            With WordMasters words, you will develop smarter children! Your students will have better grades and don’t forget, better grades mean better jobs, which will help our economy. You could do all this and more if only you would allow us to compete in the WordMasters Challenge! It’s a tremendous way to learn analogies too. If only you had WordMasters at your school, your students could be mini geniuses!

            OHH! And how could I forget to tell you!!! Not only is WordMasters educational, it’s also a really fun way to learn! I mean we obviously enjoy it or we wouldn’t be writing this 5-paragraph essay about doing it next year. If we like the work, we won’t complain about doing it. It cultivates learning for us! (By the way, cultivate was a Word Masters word!) Our teacher rewards us for finding our words in books or using them in our writing, which will help us through school and through our lives! It makes it fun competing to find the words for the candy. That’s why we enjoy them so much!

            Now as you can see, WordMasters is obviously a spectacular idea but it’s your choice. If you don’t want your students to have a fabulous vocabulary then so be it. Oh, you can’t possibly forget about cultivating learning for your students! Now you can hopefully see that WordMasters is the smartest way to take your student’s education and that I strongly recommend it! Thank you for your time, sir.                      

                                    Sincerely,

                                    Two of Mrs. R’s LA students





 

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Wonderful Words: Poignant

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Yes, I am a self-proclaimed word nerd and I love to read about words.  Here’s another interesting tidbit from Mignon Fogarty, author of Grammar Girl’s 101 Words Every High School Graduate Needs to Know.

Something poignant is painfully moving, keenly felt, or sharply experienced.  Poignant comes from a Latin word that meant “to prick” and a later Old French word that meant “to prick or sting” and may be related to the word pungent, which has a similar meaning but is more likely to be applied to a taste or a smell.

Okay, so now try your hand at solving these WordMasters Challenge analogies from the archives using poignant and pungent.

 

POIGNANT : MAUDLIN :: DRAMA : ­­­­­­­­­­______________________________

  1. TRAGEDY
  2. COMEDY
  3. SOAP OPERA
  4. SCRIPT
  5. NOVEL

 

SOUP : PUNGENT :: STORY : _____________________________

  1. BOUNTIFUL
  2. POIGNANT
  3. MAWKISH
  4. PUERILE
  5. MORDANT





 

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WordMasters Basics: How does the WordMasters Challenge™ work?

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At each grade level, the competition consists of three 20-minute analogy-solving meets, which are held at your school three times during the academic year (December, February and April).

Prior to each meet, students are given a list of 25 challenging vocabulary words, which are customized for each competition level that will appear in the meet analogies. Excellence in the competition will require both a mastery of the word meanings and thoughtful reasoning about the relationships between the word list vocabulary and more familiar language used in the competition’s analogies.

Try one for yourself from our sixth grade blue division:

GARB : REPAST :: ___________ : ___________

(a) WEAR : STIR

(b) CLOTHES : COOK

(c) EAT : WEAR

(d) THIN : FAT

(e) SEW : COOK

 

We hope you learned a new word, or maybe a new usage for a word you already knew, as you thought your way through the choices. If you're curious, option e was the correct answer.





 

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WordMasters Basics: What is the WordMasters Challenge™?

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Are you looking for a new way to help your students grow their vocabulary and verbal reasoning? Join over 150,000 students from some of the best public and private schools throughout the United States who participate in the WordMasters™ Challenge!

What is the WordMasters Challenge™ and what are the benefits?

WordMasters Challenge™ (n.) 1. A yearly, national competition for students in grades 3-8 that encourages growth in vocabulary and verbal reasoning through the use of analogies.

Unlike other language arts competitions for this age group—which focus on grammar, punctuation, spelling and other language mechanics—the WordMasters Challenge™ helps students learn to think both analytically and metaphorically. The contest addresses higher-level word comprehension and verbal reasoning in two ways:

  • It challenges students to complete analogies based on relationships among words they have learned.
  • It bases the analogies on special vocabulary lists, developed for each grade and difficulty level by experienced teachers, which participants study before each meet.

Traditional vocabulary learning : WordMasters Challenge™ :: Rote memorization : ___________

A. Verbal reasoning

B. Higher-level word comprehension

C. Improved reading comprehension

D. Improved verbal expression

E. Improved standardized test scores

F. All of the above!

The benefit? Research shows that developing higher order thinking skills impacts reading comprehension, verbal expression and performance on standardized tests!

To enroll your team for the 2013-14 school year, visit www.wordmasterschallenge.com.
 

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Meet #3 and Year-End Results Posted

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Whew! It is a whirlwind here at WordMasters at the end of the school year. It seems that the diversity of school calendars continues to grow, and we were surprised by the number of teams who ended school LAST week. We apologize if we were not able to communicate Meet #3 and Year-End results to you before your awards ceremony or last day of school. Look for a revised 2013-14 calendar that moves Meets #2 and #3 earlier so that we can provide cumulative results by mid-May. This should also give teams more flexibility in scheduling around state testing.

In reviewing the comments submitted by Team Leaders from all twelve WordMasters Challenge™ divisions, it is clear that some schools want MORE robust score reporting. For example, some teachers want a full list of school rankings (beyond the top 10-12 that we typically post); others asked that we provide a percentile ranking for each team score. We will consider these suggestions, but also need to take into account that many teams participate in the WordMasters Challenge™ solely as an enrichment program or internal competition and therefore are not consistent about reporting scores. In fact, this year we had hundreds of teams report scores for only one or two meets. We hope that our move to online score reporting makes it easier for you to submit test results, and again encourage all teams to report after each meet so we have a true representation of each test’s relative difficulty.

As we continue to develop our technological systems, it’s always possible that we overlooked a student that qualified for Highest Honors. Please let us know if we forgot one of your students and we will correct the website posting.

Press releases for schools with “Outstanding Teams” and students earning perfect scores in Meet #3 and/or Highest Honors will be issued next week. As always, we issue these releases in draft form as Word documents so that you may make any necessary changes on your own. Please send us copies of or links to your newsletters or local press celebrating your WordMasters Challenge™ champions!

Thank you for participating in the 2012-13 WordMasters Challenge™! Don’t forget to sign up for the 2013-14 Challenge by September 30th.

 

 



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2011-12 Year-End Results Posted

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The scores have been tabulated and the results of the 2011-12 WordMasters Challenge are in!  Click here to access information about the outstanding schools and students in each division.  The Past Results page also includes a chart depicting the qualifying scores for each grade to receive Highest Honors, Honors, and 
Honorable Mention in both the Blue Division and the Gold Division.  (Note:  These results were mailed to each Team Leader last week, so you should have received a paper copy by now.)

The outstanding teams and students at each level receive an official WordMasters press release that can be used to publicize their students' accomplishments.  However, we encourage all schools to celebrate their high achievers and most improved team members.  Please send up copies of any media (videos, photographs, newsletter articles, press clippings) that feature your WordMasters Challenge participants.  We are creating a new "WordMasters Challenge in the News" section for our website, newsletter and Facebook page.

If you haven't enrolled your teams for next year yet, click the Enroll tab at the top of the page to complete our easy online enrollment.  If you need to submit a Purchase Order, you can request an Order Form (go to "Contact Us").  However, we encourage you to also complete the online enrollment form (choosing the "Bill Me Later" option on the checkout page) to ensure that we have complete and accurate contact information.  Word lists and test materials will be distributed via email from now on, so it is essential that we have the Team Leader's email in our database.

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Expand Your Vocabulary and Sharpen Your Analogy Skills with Twitter

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Follow us on Twitter and play along as we tweet daily analogies.  Analogies will be posted Monday through Friday, increasing in difficulty as the week progresses (like the NY Times Crossword Puzzle!).  The number that appears before the analogy indicates the Challenge level where the analogy was previously used; for example, (4B) means the analogy appeared in a 4th Grade - Blue Division Challenge.

If you are unfamiliar with analogy notation, remember that a single colon (:) means "is to" and a double colon (::) means "as".  So "black : white :: good : evil" reads "black is to white as good is to evil".  Usually, we leave just the last term out, so to solve the analogy you choose the word that makes the most sense.  Sometimes we leave the second part of the analogy out altogether, so you must choose a pair of words that have the same relationship as the first pair.

The correct answer to each day's analogy will be tweeted the following day.  

Teachers, this is a great way to keep your students thinking analytically over the summer and between Challenge meets!  

Good luck and have fun!


 

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Contribute to the WordMasters Resource Center

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By now you have had a chance to check out our new website.  We hope you like the changes we have made.  Now we would like to ask for your help in “filling out” our Idea Gallery

Are there any websites or tools that you find helpful in preparing your students for the WordMasters Challenge?  We want to list them on our Teacher Tools page.  Just go to the Contact Us page at our website and send us a message including the link(s) to resources you find helpful and a brief explanation of how you use this tool with your students.

Thank for your sharing your ideas and talents with other WordMasters Challenge schools!



 



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Exciting Upgrades to WordMasters Challenge and Website

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Welcome to WordMasters' new and improved website!  We are very excited about the changes we are introducing for the 2012-13 school year.  My name is Lisa Kennedy, and I am the new Executive Director for WordMasters’ elementary and middle school programs.  In this blog, I would like to point out some of the changes we have made to serve you better.

First and foremost, we are making it easier to enroll teams, receive Challenge materials, and submit your team’s Challenge results.  All of these tasks can be accomplished online beginning with enrollment for 2012-13 and continuing with word list distribution for Meet #1 in October.   (Please note:  Scores for Meet #3 of the current WordMasters Challenge 2011-12 cannot be submitted using our online form.  Please continue to send your scores by mail or fax.  See the Submit Challenge Scores page on our website for more details.)

Second, our online format eliminates the need to make copies of cumbersome legal-size documents.  All of the Word List and Challenge documents will be downloadable letter-size PDF documents.  You will receive an email several weeks before each Meet with directions for how to download the WordMasters materials you have purchased.  Simply download the appropriate files and make the number of copies you need for your team.  When you have completed scoring, return to our website and enter your top ten scores into the Results form.  It’s that easy!

Third, we have taken many of the ideas you have shared with us in the past and posted them in our Idea Gallery under the Resources tab of the website.  We hope to continue expanding this exchange of ideas (including photos and videos) over the coming months.  Please send us your stories and suggestions regarding the WordMasters Challenge, analogies, vocabulary, verbal reasoning, lesson plans, and any any other idea you might have!

We hope you like the new look and feel of the WordMasters Challenge, and we look forward to hearing your comments. 


 

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Official WordMasters Logo Merchandise Now Available

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Have you checked out the new official WordMasters Challenge merchandise available through our website?  Now, for the first time, you can purchase items imprinted with our new WM logo to use as rewards and/or incentives for your students. 

We are offering bright blue WordMasters pencils in bundles of 10 for only $5 (note:  All prices include shipping and handling, so there are no additional charges!)
 

We also have matching drawstring backpacks featuring
our new logo for only$6 each. 

If your students really want to show their team spirit, why not purchase official WordMasters Challenge T-shirts? They are offered in a full range of youth and adult sizes.

And what better way to thank your Team Leaders than presenting them with a high-quality WordMasters tote bag with its brightly embroidered logo?  At only $18, it is an affordable gesture of appreciation for a job well done!

Tote bags are available for immediate shipment.  T-shirts, backpacks, and pencil bundles can be ordered now, and will be shipped for delivery at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year.  Please note that all merchandise orders must be prepaid and all sales are final.

What other items would you like to see in the WordMasters webstore?  Let us know!

 



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Suddenly there’s a love affair with words in my classroom!

– 6th grade teacher from Florida

The high school program is now called
The WordWright Challenge.

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