Teachers prepped for upcoming Big Spell

Making spelling fun was the topic of a special teachers' briefing ahead of the upcoming RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship.

Nearly 100 primary school teachers attended the session - a first for The Big Spell - yesterday at the Singapore Press Holdings News Centre auditorium.

The championship is organised for the second time by the daily broadsheet and RHB Banking Group, in partnership with the Ministry of Education.

MOE and The Straits Times speakers shared classroom activities and strategies to prepare contestants, while education technology firm iQ-hub demonstrated skills development games that will debut tomorrow.

Young spellers can hone their skills in the three-game suite iSpell iGNITE and can get a free electronic version of the official Scripps National Spelling Bee guide at The Big Spell's microsite.

Top scorers on the games' leader board will compete in a digital spell-off on the sidelines of The Big Spell finals on April 27 for a shot at winning Samsung tablet computers, among other prizes.

Teachers were gearing up to field competitors, with many planning to run selection trials in their schools in the coming weeks.

Mr Ee Chai Keng, 54, an English teacher at Clementi Primary, called the prep session "useful".

"Especially the bit about teaching the students to ask for the root word (of the word to be spelled). If the children know the right questions to ask, they are less likely to get the word wrong," he said, referring to a tip given by speaker Soo Kim Bee, a senior specialist of MOE's gifted education branch, curriculum planning and development division.

Said Mrs Soo: "Pupils who do well (at the competition) pay attention to words, and how words are spelled, governed by rules and patterns... It is not just rote learning or memorisation."

Teachers also received a compilation of spelling tips first published in The Straits Times' Little Red Dot last year. The weekly magazine for primary schools is running another series on spelling tips for eight weeks this year, in the lead up to the competition.

Go to www.straitstimes.com/ bigspell for updates on The Big Spell and more details on iSpell.

To subscribe to Little Red Dot or IN, for secondary schools, call David Tan on 6319-1005 or e-mail cirschool@sph.com.sg.