The tables were turned on some 100 teachers, who became the students in a hands-on workshop, discussing fun ways to teach spelling and jotting down their ideas in groups.
The 10-minute activity of a special teachers' briefing on Tuesday to further spread spelling fever in schools is part of the third edition of the RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship (NSC). Among the ideas tossed up by the educators: Setting up a "spelling box" where pupils submit words to be randomly drawn out for a spelling quiz, giving groups of pupils letters of the alphabet to form words, and showing pupils how words can change by adding on affixes.
Over the next three months, more than 1,000 pupils islandwide are expected to vie for the title of Singapore's top speller. He will win $5,000 and the challenge trophy for his or school. Schools have until Feb 24 to register up to 10 participants and two reserves each to take part in the written preliminary round on March 1. A series of spelling tips will also run in Little Red Dot - The Straits Times' publication for primary schools.
The competition is co-organised by RHB Banking Group and The Straits Times, in partnership with the Ministry of Education (MOE). For subscription enquiries, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay updated by going to www.straitstimes.com/big-spell-2014
At the briefing for teachers on Tuesday, the session's speakers - The Straits Times correspondent Laremy Lee and MOE master teacher and senior specialist Soo Kim Bee - shared ideas on how to make spelling fun. Demonstrating how easily such activities could be created, Mrs Soo blacked out words from an article in the same day's Little Red Dot within a minute to form a "non-intimidating cloze passage". She also spoke of how the spelling competition could build character and impart values such as sportsmanship and resilience.
Mr Lee's tips included using comic strips with its words blanked out and a spelling bingo game to engage English learners. He said: "There are countless ways to teach spelling... Use activities that cater to all the different kinds of learners: auditory learners, visual learners, kinesthetic learners. Cater to the different kinds of experiences that they may have."