Reading Comprehension Activities

January 2015 Newsletter

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January Newsletter: Meet #1 Results, Meet #2 Testing and Meet #3 PreparationIs this email not displaying correctly?
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January 2015

WordMasters News!


Meet #1 is "in the books", as they say and preparations for Meet #2 should be well underway.  If you haven't already marked your calendars,  Meet #2 Challenge Tests will be available for download next Monday, February 2nd.  The final day to submit scores online is Friday, February 27th, so please keep that deadline in mind (as well as potential weather delays and cancellations) when you schedule your Meet #2 tests.  While you're at it, mark your calendars with these three important Meet #3 dates:  Word Lists available 2/23/15, Challenge Tests available 4/6/15, and score submission deadline 5/5/15. We need to maintain such a tight schedule during the spring semester because many of our participating schools are wrapping up by mid-May!

This is a good time of year to do some early "spring cleaning" of your team account.  You may have noticed an option to "Archive Students/Team Leaders" when you are on the Manage Teams & Students page.  This function allows you to delete teachers who are no longer involved with WordMasters and to archive students who are no longer in your school or participating on your teams.  Just click on "Archive Students/Team Leaders", select "Archive Students" or "Archive Team Leaders", then click on Archive for any individuals not currently participating.  This will prevent that individual from appearing in the dropdown list for Team Leaders or when adding students.

If you haven't already reviewed the results of Meet #1, you can find a summary posted under the RESULTS tab at our website.  You can also log into your Dashboard, click on View Reports, and select "2014-15 Meet 1".  If you choose "All My Teams & Students", you receive a report that lists all the scores submitted, broken down by teams with students listed in order from highest to lowest score.  To determine your team score, just sum the top ten individual scores for a team. 

Newsela: Current Events for Every Reader

If you're looking for ways to incorporate reading current event into your classroom, try Newsela. Newsela is a website which offers each news articles at five different reading levels so the entire class can read the same article at each student's individual reading level. You can assign articles to read, test comprehension, and more. Click this link, for more information.

Tracking WordMasters Word Lists in the News
Here are two Study Tools for WordMasters students to use to track their word list in conjunction with reading the news:










 

 

Idea Gallery Sharing: WordMasters Hall of Fame

To recognize hard work and keep her students motivated, one Team Leader created a WordMasters Hall of Fame wall in her classroom. Students who score a 13 or higher on any meet have their name added to the wall. Students scoring a 19 or 20 get a special treat. A cookie from the cafeteria does the trick for her team. Modify as needed for your class!

Resources for Meet #3 Preparation

Checkout some Team Leader 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

Calendar Reminders



Meet #2 Testing: 
Feb. 2 - Feb. 20th



2014-15 WordMasters Challenge™
  
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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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

Friend on FacebookFacebook
Follow on TwitterTwitter
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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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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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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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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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Love to Learn: Wonderopolis.com

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Who doesn’t need a little more wonder in their life?  A great website for children, parents and teachers, Wonderopolis.com stimulates curiosity and encourages learning by posting a Wonder of the Day. Every Wonder of the Day asks and answers a question on a specific topic such as “What is a butte?” or “Why do bees sting?”  Each wonder is accompanied by a gorgeous photograph or video.

While posts are self-contained nuggets of wisdom, there are opportunities to dig a little deeper. Within each wonder there are tabs that lead to related activities, outside links or vocabulary words (our personal favorite).  For those who need a wonder wherever they go, there is a handy Wonderopolis.com app here.

Wonderopolis.com is supported though the NCFL (National Center for Family Literacy), an organization dedicated to helping families learn and grow.

Do you have any online educational resources that you find useful for students or teachers? Please 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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