This school year has been my fourth participating with my students in the WordMasters Challenge™. I first discovered the challenge while teaching in another district and I immediately loved the concept. Helping children expand their vocabulary and knowledge while providing motivation via a national competition — this was a win-win to me.
While the program is typically offered as an extended educational option to gifted learners, I asked to broaden the opportunity to my inclusion students. It was an incredibly positive experience for children who usually struggle in the classroom due to learning disabilities.
When I transferred to Greenbrier Intermediate School, I knew I wanted to continue participating. Right away I worked to gain approval to incorporate the WordMasters Challenge™ into our district. The program is now available to all Chesapeake teachers, and we have 41 fourth-graders from Greenbrier participating this year.
My favorite part of the WordMasters Challenge™ is that it allows students of all learning levels to challenge themselves to excel in a competitive yet constructive learning environment.
This year’s experience has quickly become my favorite memory and a highlight of my time involved with WordMasters. During Challenge Meet #1, two of our 4th Grade Blue Division students were among the 31 nationally who placed with perfect scores. Shortly after sending our press release to the school’s public affairs office, the story was picked up by one of our local television news stations. As a result, the children and the WordMasters Challenge™ were highlighted in a short news feature all about their noteworthy accomplishments!
For Challenge Meet #2, our students placed in the top 10 nationally in our division! They were featured in the local newspaper, officially honored and recognized by the school board and even spotlighted on cable TV news. The level of confidence and maturity the students have shown as a result of their successful participation is heartwarming and I know it will serve them well as they grow to be responsible citizens. To cap our amazing year off, following Challenge Meet #3 our students finished 2018-19 inside the national top 10 of their division!
In the beginning of the school year, many students are disorganized and lack critical thinking skills as well as self-confidence. As a result of their ongoing immersion into the WordMasters Challenge™, I began to notice a change in their skills and how they “attack” new words both in and out of the competition as the school year progressed. They started to show a more well-rounded ability to problem solve and critically think about the words they’re using. It’s resulted in deeper, more methodical reading and comprehension skills, but the most important change I’ve noticed is watching my students’ self-esteem soar. Because of the confidence they build by learning new words and competing in each meet, they’ve begun to trust themselves more and believe in their abilities to do well across all subjects.
I’ve enthusiastically recommended the WordMasters Challenge™ to other teachers because it’s raised the bar for my students’ word analysis and critical thinking skills AND it’s also a fun, motivational way to keep kids learning!
Are your students enjoying their experiences with the WordMasters Challenge™? We’d love to hear from you! Reach out with any success stories, highlights and accomplishments by your students and their involvement with the challenge!