Friday, 27 September 2013

Tournament of Words: September

Today I held my first Tournament of Words in my three grade nine English classes. I wasn't sure exactly how it would go, since it is the first of my "out there" ideas that I'm using in my class.
In reading we always come across new words. The project is to take at least one of those words, whether encountered in English class, other classes or outside school, with its context and definition, and submit it for the tournament. Students get to vote on which words they like best and each month a winner is crowned. This way when one person learns a word the whole class gets an opportunity to learn it.

I introduced this at the start of the month as a year-long activity. Since it wasn't of immediate concern a fair bunch of students promptly forgot about it. I had two words submitted by the end of last week. This Monday, I reminded them of the upcoming tournament  (AND the expectations) and have had many more submissions as the week progressed. I made a few concessions this month, since students are still learning about how this project works: scouring the dictionary was accepted and I gave some time at the start of class today.

I used to  fill the brackets and better bracket maker to conduct each tournament.

First Period
Winner: Stadstimmertuinen - found in Anne Frank's Diary.
I'm pretty sure they voted for it just because they wanted to keep hearing me struggle to pronounce it.
I was happy to see pulchritudinous get so far.
For the final vote I had everyone close their eyes and vote for the winner and then did a mystery reveal.

Fourth Period
Winner: lapping - found in Killing Mr. Griffin.
This class is pretty small, so students find two words each during the month. I added the word of the day from both Merriam Webster and to round out the tournament to 24 teams. It feels like a nicer number somehow.
One vote ended in a tie, so the contributors of Alzheimer's and xenophobia played rock-paper-scissors to determine which word advanced.

Fifth Period
Winner: wryly - found in Killing Mr. Griffin.
I thought it interested that both vehement and ardent were submitted, as the definition for each word contained the other!
There were definite favourite words in this class. All the quarter-final votes were landslides or shut outs.

Main Difficulty: None of my classes are powers of 2. For the first class I limited entries to the first 16 words submitted. In the following classes the list randomizer determined which words got byes.
I'm thinking of giving prizes to the people who contributed the winning words in hopes of getting students to submit extra entries. The more words they discover the more chances to win. After all the required entries are in, the remaining spots are first come first served until 32 words have been submitted.

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