This year was the second year that the school has competed in the National Word Mania Competition and so we knew from last year how fun the competition was. The game is similar to Boggle in that you are given a random mix of letters and then you can try and see how many words you can make in three minutes. However, you can use a letter more than once and your word points are multiplied depending on how quickly you can enter the next word. If you’re lucky, you may even get a ‘gold’ or ‘diamond’ tile, which means if you can use that letter in a word it will greatly increase your points. But you have to be quick because they disappear!
The competition ran for four weeks, with a practise round at the beginning, two rounds of open competition and then a three day final round for schools in the top three for their region in skill.
In the practise round we focussed on teaching children word building strategies, as in adding prefixes and suffixes to words and looking out for common morphographs that we had come across in spelling lessons to extend words and multiply points.
These strategies proved successful as we managed to come 2nd in Skill for South West Sydney by the end of the open rounds of competition. We were so excited that we’d made it to the finals, but we knew if we were going to do well we needed to regroup and reflect. So we met together and shared helpful tips and ideas that had been discovered over the rounds of competition.
The final round lasted for three days and scores were calculated by the top 50 scores of the grade. It was a tough few days of competition. As a grade we only had one day in class to work towards our score because of sport and an excursion over those three days. So, many students in the grade worked hard during lunch times and at home to improve their top scores.
It was a tight race to the finish as we see-sawed for first in the state with Gymea Bay Public School. However, when the clock struck midnight on Friday 18th of August we came out on top, placing 1st in New South Wales and 7th on the National Leaderboard. It was an amazing achievement by all of Year 3. Our average score of our top fifty scores was over 3,500 and one student’s top score was over 6,800. As a teacher, my top score wasn’t even close to either of those scores!
I think the best part of this competition was seeing the children being really engaged in their learning and loving discovering new words through reading or in class and then being excited to use them in Word Mania. One or two even attempted to use ‘supercalifragilisticexpilidocious’ as a word!