Secrets of Spelling Bee Champs

Every year thousands of American school children compete in school spelling bees. Kids in grades three to eight compete to spell increasingly challenging words in a tradition that is nearly as old as the U.S. education system itself. School spelling bee winners typically go on to regional spelling bee, which, in turn, funnel winners to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, held each spring in Washington, DC. Top spellers can earn tens of thousands of dollars in prizes and scholarship money.

Being a spelling bee champ takes more than luck. And, while children who are avid readers and who show skills in writing and reading comprehension usually do well, the most successful competitive spellers have identified some “tricks of the trade” that have helped them achieve the top prize in spelling.


Look at Other Languages

Top spellers study with a purpose. English is a unique language because many English words originated in other languages. The most successful spellers focus their study efforts on learning important foreign language root words and spelling conventions. Here are some of the languages that have most influenced English as well as spelling tips and examples from each language:



Latin has been the most influential language on English. Words related to science and medicine are often based on Latin words. To help spell Latin words, remember a few simple rules. First, the u sound, as in ooze or school, is almost always spelled with a u, and not two o’s, as in the word bugle.  Second, the letter

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What is co-teaching?


Co-teaching is an inclusion education model in which students with special education needs are provided the opportunity to learn in a mainstream classroom with the additional support of a special education teacher who co-teaches with the general education teacher. This model has proven successful in many school districts for several reasons.





Benefits for students with special education requirements


First of all, the co-teaching model ensures that students with special needs have access to the general education curriculum. By law students with disabilities must be provided access to learning opportunities that do not restrict their ability to progress in a subject or grade-level. In a co-taught class, special education students have the opportunity to move from modified assignments to typical assignments as they develop skills and confidence. As a result, co-taught special education students are generally more likely to meet grade-level standards.


While they have access to the mainstream curriculum, co-taught students also continue to receive specialized instruction. Special education teachers within the mainstream classroom can coach students individually, or in small groups, providing them the additional coaching and guidance necessary for them to complete activities and assignments.


Differentiated instruction


In addition to in-class support for mainstream assignments, co-taught students also have the opportunity to grow within the curriculum through differentiated instruction. Since there are two teachers in the class, the same material can be taught in two or more different ways. The special education teacher can anticipate student needs and, in planning lessons with the mainstream teacher, prepare
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Life Beyond High School:  The Innovative Frontier


Crafting a Plan Beyond High School

As high school students prepare for life beyond their public or private schools, it is critical that they have a plan in place for their future.  While many students are encouraged to pursue more of an academic route following their graduation, there are other more suitable options available to help them select a more suitable path.  Around the country, more programs are offered to provide students choices about their career paths which include but are not limited to apprenticeships, internships, vocational trade schools, community colleges, and four-year colleges.

Having a plan for life after high school is crucial for students prior to reaching their senior year.  Helping students hone in on their unique interests and skillsets are all components they need when recognizing and defining future goals. Most importantly, they need to be able to articulate their goals.  Many school systems look at several factors as they attempt to direct students towards being ready to pursue either the workforce or further their education. 

  • What are the student’s grades like?
  • Do they have strong community or family support? 
  • What are their academic strengths or weaknesses? 
  • Are they able to communicate their decisions and thoughts to others effectively?
  • What are their genuine interests?

Vocational Schools

Vocational schools specialize in offering very specific skillset options for students while also ensuring completion towards certification and a high school diploma.  There is no need for students to spend part of their day in their zoned school and the

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Parents Refuse Common Core Testing 

In communities all over the country, parents are choosing to opt their children out of Common Core testing. In schools from coast to coast, April has become “testing season,” the time of the year when students in grades K-12 sit for standardized tests in math and English language arts. Because of initiatives like No Child Let Behind and Race to the Top, which are intended to measure and improve student performance, some students sit for up to nine to twelve hours of testing over the course of a few weeks.  


Race to the Top

The Race to the Top program, which began in 2009, offers grants totaling billions of dollars to states that follow guidelines for education innovation. In order to qualify for the competitive grants, states must build “data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction.” To gather the data necessary to meet this requirement, states have implemented standardized testing for all public school children.


Why Opt-Out?

In 2014, some parents decided they’d had enough of high-stakes, long-duration testing. Around the country handfuls of students showed up on testing days clutching formally-worded notes from their parents explaining that they were “opting out” or refusing to take the standardized tests.

There are several reasons why parents are rejecting Common Core Testing:

  • Parents believe students suffer unnecessary stress due to hours of testing.
  • Teachers are forced to “teach to the test” which limits what
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There has been a substantial decline in the number of children who read for pleasure in the last few years. In fact, according to the annual Kids and Family Report published by Scholastic, in just the last four years, the number of kids that read for fun has dropped by nearly 10%. Today, barely more than half of children in the United States report liking to read for enjoyment. A full 37% of children like to read “a little,” while 12% report not liking reading at all.

When it comes to reading, kids can come up with a million excuses as to why they don’t like it.  It’s boring. There isn’t enough time. It isn’t fun. There’s already too much reading in school. 

Thankfully, there is an art to promoting reading. Some methods, like nagging, definitely do not work. Yet other methods, such as modeling reading behaviors to your child, will pay dividends in the short and long term.


What NOT To Do

It can be frustrating trying to get your child to read, and in those moments, it is easy to rely on unsuccessful methods for encouraging reading. Sometimes the first inclination is to nag your child into submission, or perhaps bribe them to read by offering them a reward for doing so. Unfortunately, these methods often do more harm than good. Nagging can easily wear on your child’s nerves and lead him or her to resent the fact that they are being forced to read. And while rewarding your

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Recent Articles
Secrets of Spelling Bee Champs
Secrets of Spelling Bee Champs
An overview of the top tips and strategies used by winners of regional and national spelling bees.
Co-teaching Offers New Opportunities for Students with Special Needs
Although there are some drawbacks, co-teaching is an effective way to help special education students succeed in mainstream classrooms.
Life Beyond High School: The Innovative Frontier
Exploring post graduation options for high school students.