In the coming months, we’ll share stories of how teachers, school administrators and local sponsors are finding creative ways to successfully complete their spelling bees during the pandemic. If you have a spelling bee success story you'd like to share, please email Bee Communications Manager Valerie Miller at email@example.com.
At Lake Forest Elementary School in Sandy Springs, Georgia, there was great uncertainty at the start of the school year, but not about the spelling bee. Literacy Coach Jennifer Okiyama said they were certain they wanted to offer the program. They just had to figure out how.
Teachers offered students in fourth and fifth grades the chance to participate whether they were in the classroom or learning at home. Teachers used spelling and vocabulary materials provided by the Bee for the grade-level competitions. Students in the classroom participated in the classroom bee while remote learners connected through Microsoft Teams to participate virtually. Each classroom declared a winner and runner-up. When it came time for the school spelling bee, the school asked all participants to be in-person for the event.
In the media center, they socially distanced the ten spellers (five from each grade level) and required everyone to wear a mask. The three judges also spaced apart.
Ms. Okiyama said the best part of the new format was the ability to invite others to watch the spelling bee from afar. They set up a Teams live video link for parents and a separate private link for classmates in fourth and fifth grades to watch the spelling bee.
“It was different, but it made it a bit easier to share with Teams,” added Okiyama. “We wanted to do the spelling bee. We wanted to give the students this experience and it worked out really well once we figured out how to share.”
Students watched from their classrooms, and parents and grandparents could watch from the comfort of their home or work, even on their phones. Fourth grader Shennell Gallimore won the school bee and fifth grader Nahla Paco was runner-up. They’ll both advance to compete in the Fulton County Spelling Bee in January.