Analogy Lesson Plans

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.

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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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Wonderful Words: And the answer is... Lilliputian

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If you are reading this blog, you clearly have some interest in words, their origins and their usages.  In that case, you should be following WordMasters on Twitter, as we tweet an Analogy of the Day (AOTD) from the WordMasters Challenge archives.  On Monday, we tweet an analogy that originally appeared on a fourth grade Challenge test.  The vocabulary gets progressively more difficult as we finish out the week by tweeting an analogy from an eighth grade Challenge test every Friday.  We also tweet the correct answer the following day.  To sign up for AOTD, follow us (@wordmasterslisa).  If you don’t Twitter, you can catch the AOTD and corresponding answers by visiting us on Facebook (click here).

 

Yesterday’s AOTD was:

gauche : tactful :: titanic : Lilliputian

I think this is a great example of why students need to understand literary references and how they make their way into our vocabulary.  In case you’re mystified by “Lilliputian”, it is a reference to Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726). Gulliver is washed ashore after a shipwreck and finds himself a prisoner of a race of tiny people, less than 6 inches tall, who are inhabitants of the island country of Lilliput. “Lilliputian” can be used as a noun to name a native of Lilliput, or more commonly, as an adjective meaning trivial or extremely small. 

Even if your students haven’t read Gulliver’s Travels, it is important that they recognize and understand the literary reference of “Lilliputian.”  When asked why they looked this word up on Merriam-Webster’s website (www.m-w.com), respondents answered “Crossword puzzle” and “GRE vocab word.”  (By the way, Gulliver’s Travels is available as a free download through www.planetebook.com and other websites!)


 

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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: 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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Wonderful Words: Sardonic

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After last week’s blog about POLTROONERY, I started thinking about how much fun it is to learn about the origin of words, and how that knowledge can really help you remember the meaning and usage of a word.  I was perusing a book I purchased last year called Grammar Girl’s 101 Words to Sound Smart by Mignon Fogarty, and came across this entry for SARDONIC (a WordMasters word in 1991 and 2009):

Greeks coined the word sardonic from the name of the island Sardinia (now part of Italy), where a plant was said to grow that, if eaten, would force face muscles into a grimacing smile—not a smile of happiness, but a smile of pain—a sardonic smile.  Scientists in Italy recently reported that they believe a Sardinian plant called water celery is the lethal herb the Greeks had in mind.

Sardonic means cutting, cynical, and disdainful and is often used to describe a kind of humor.

Now try to solve this WordMasters Challenge from our analogy archives:

COMMENT : SARDONIC :: __________________________

  1. APPLE : CRISP
  2. STEAK : TOUCH
  3. BREAD : STALE
  4. PEPPER : HOT
  5. COFFEE : BITTER





 

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Wonderful Words: Poltroon

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One of the best parts of running the WordMasters Challenge is that I am constantly learning new words myself.  Several months ago, the Analogy of the Day (follow us on Twitter now to start receiving the AOTD!) read as follows:

FANATIC : ZEALOT :: QUISLING : ___________

  1. COWARD
  2. POLTROON
  3. LOYALIST
  4. FOLLOWER
  5. TRAITOR

Hmmm….Fanatic…check.  Zealot…check.  Quisling…quisling?  Poltroon??  So I did what any true WordMaster would do and I looked up the definitions.  A quisling is a traitor who collaborates with an enemy force occupying their country.  The word was coined during the Nazi occupation of Norway in World War II when Major Vidkun Quisling, serving as Minister-President, backed Germany’s Final Solution.  After the war, Quisling was found guilty of murder and high treason, and was executed by firing squad in 1945.  The word quisling became synonymous with traitor. Okay, so now you’ll never forget what a quisling  is, right?

But I wasn’t done researching.  I also learned that a poltroon is an utter coward.  The term dates back to the 16th century, and is likely derived from Old French poultron or Old Italian poltrone meaning lazy or good-for-nothing.  Okay, not quite as memorable as the quisling story, I admit.  However, one dictionary website suggested linking poltroon with poultry, and remembering that a coward is just a big chicken.

So this summer, I have been reading Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants, which is chock full of historical references to European politics during World War I.  I came across the following passage, which contains actual excerpts from a speech delivered by David Lloyd George to the British House of Commons in 1916 upon becoming Prime Minister:

“Any man or set of men who wantonly, or without sufficient cause, prolonged a terrible conflict like this would have on his soul a crime that oceans could not cleanse.”

         That was a biblical touch, Ethel thought, a Baptist-chapel reference to sins being washed away.

But then, like a preacher, he made the contrary statement. “Any man or set of men who, out of a sense of weariness or despair, abandoned the struggle without the high purpose for which we had entered into it being nearly fulfilled, would have been guilty of the costliest act of poltroonery ever perpetrated by any statesman.”

Poltroonery!  I experienced the thrill our students enjoy when they encounter a WordMasters word in literature or the media.  Now I’m just waiting for the perfect opportunity to work quisling or poltroon into conversation….

Have you come across any WordMasters words in your summer reading?





 

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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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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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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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