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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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– 6th grade teacher from Florida

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