How to set up a spelling bee

Duration: 19:04

Speaking competitions officer from The Arts Unit, Andrew Lasaitis demonstrates best practice for school based teachers when setting up a spelling bee. This information is crucial to ensure that events run smoothly for the NSW Premier's Spelling Bee. It is also transferable to class based spelling bees and whole school based spelling bees.

Transcript – How to set up a spelling bee

INTERVIEWER: Zebra. My friend brought me back a painting of a zebra from Africa. Zebra.

AMELIA: Zebra. Zed-e-b-r-a. Zebra.

INTERVIEWER: That is correct.

When hosting a spelling bee, it's important to remember a few important things when setting up the room. Firstly, and most importantly, is to make sure that the microphone is facing directly to where the scorer and the announcer are sitting. Leave a small gap between the microphone and where the students are sitting, so when the student is spelling, they are not distracted by the students behind them.

The other important thing, as we move closer to where the scorers and the student helpers are sitting, is to make sure that there is a gap between where the officials are sitting and the audience.

Often there will be access to physical banners to bring along to the event so they can be displayed in the hall behind the students, or somewhere where it's prominent. Also, digital files will be available for each year and so they can be displayed through the event, as well.

We also encourage, if there are classes that would wish to come and watch, they can be part of the audience, as well, under teacher supervision, to enjoy the spelling bee, as well.

Within the convenor information folder, all of this information is included. However, at the official desk, we will have the announcer, the score, the convenor, as well as the student helpers. Now, it's important to make sure that the junior words and the senior words are separated for the morning and the afternoon sessions, respectively.

Also on the desk will be the certificates for the winners, as well as the participants, and the winner's prize-- winning prizes, the dictionaries, and the thesaurus.

It is important for the scorer and the announcer sitting together here to have a clear and unobstructed view of where the speller is spelling from at the microphone at the front of the stage, because it is important to be aware of when they have finished the word, or when they are unsure of a word, and whether a word needs to be repeated.

Also, the scorer needs to be sitting near the student helpers so the student helpers are aware of where we're up to, what round is being announced, and if there are any issues that need to be spoken about with the convenor.

INTERVIEWER: Ok, if I was going to be entirely honest with you, I didn't put my hand out. My hand was put out for me. But I thought I'd take the challenge and use my growth mindset, which we talk about a lot here, and give it a go.

Look, The Arts Unit were very methodical and very careful in sending everything that I needed to do. I felt like I was very spoon-fed. Everything I needed, I had access to. I could ask questions through email. Any question that I did have was answered and everything was provided. So there's a little bit of organisation beforehand, but you're given plenty of time and plenty of resources to look at, to read. If you read what's given to you, it's actually really easy.

So I was completely nervous and didn't-- you know, I was fretting about getting everything sorted that needed to be done. But in actual fact, if I just went through the little ticker box, everything, there was no need for it. And the event went very smoothly, and really, it was all just because the organisation that comes from The Arts Unit is excellent.

INTERVIEWER: Matriarch. Grandma is the matriarch of my family. Matriarch.

HANNAH: Matriarch. M-A-T-R-I-A-R-C-H. Matriarch.

INTERVIEWER: That is correct.

The convenor's role is very important because they're in charge of making sure that all the materials are unpacked and ready to go for the announcer and the scorer. And also important for them to practise with the student helpers to make sure that the student helpers are aware of their responsibilities, practicing the pronunciations of certain names, and making sure that they are aware of how the actual event is going to run.

I would probably recommend having a practise run through, maybe the day before, in the afternoon, just so the students are aware themselves of what has to take place on the day.

If a student doesn't, isn't included on the list and they turn up, we want to give every student the opportunity to spell, and so we will add them to the list of students. If there's an issue with not enough certificates, then contact The Arts Unit and we will make sure that we will send that student a certificate to be awarded at a later time.

If a student attends late to the event, hopefully the student's teacher or parent has contacted the school to let them know that they are running late, and as long as they attend prior to the end of the first round, they can be included. But again, make sure that you notify The Arts Unit that this has occurred.

Well, at the beginning of the year when the convenors are decided upon, they are allocated a certain amount of money from The Arts Unit two spend on catering. Now, the way in which that money is spent is up to the school and whether the school has students baking as well to add to the morning tea or the afternoon tea. However, it is important to make sure that they adhere to the amount that is allocated to them, and also that they provide a lunch for both the scorer and the announcer, because for them, it is quite a long and difficult day.

It's important also to note that it is the convenor's responsibility to manage any issues on the day, including any crowd control. I think it's important for the convenor to have the confidence to speak on the microphone and to make the audience aware of their obligation. So if there are sometimes gasps if someone starts spelling incorrectly, it's something that the convenor can just remind the audience that they need to be aware that this is a competition.

Naturally, if there are any disputes or challenges being made, it's the convenor's responsibility to manage these and refer them directly to The Arts Unit. It's not the responsibility of the scorer to stop the Spelling Bee's proceedings in any way.

The easiest thing to do as soon as the final is over is to pack up absolutely all the resources and materials-- of course, not the certificates or the dictionaries and prizes-- but all of the materials, including the scoring sheets. And all the sheets, including the elimination rounds and the word lists, need to be sent back to The Arts Unit at Lewisham.

OE: Good morning. My name is Zoe, and I'm from Kegworth Public School. I welcome you to the demonstration Premier's Spelling Bee. This session is for years five and six. Procedures for the competition are as follows. The announcer will say the word, a sentence including the word, then say the word again. Contestants must say the word, then spell it, then say the word again to indicate that they have finished spelling. Contestants will not be judged incorrect for failing to state capital letters at the beginning of words.

Each student has 45 seconds to spell their word. Timing begins once the announcer has finished speaking. Within this time limit, students may ask for the word to be repeated and may also self-correct, if they clearly indicate that they are starting again. There is a warning bell at 30 seconds, and two bells at 45 seconds, to indicate the contestant's time has expired. If a contestant has not finished spelling the word by the second bell, the answer will be judged incorrect.

In the rounds following, if students misspell a word, they are asked to wait until the end of the round and then join the audience. If all contestants in a particular round misspell their words, no one is eliminated and the final continues.

The announcer for this final is Andrew Lasaitis, Speaking Competitions officer. The scorer for this final is Desiree Lane, Spelling Bee support officer, and the time keeper for this final will be Vincent.

ALLAN: My name is Allen, and I am a proud Wonnarua man. I would like to welcome you all today to the Spelling Bee 2017. I would also like to acknowledge the Cadigal people who were, are, and always will be the traditional custodians of this land. I would also like to pay my respects to the elders, both past and present, and extend that respect to other Aboriginal peoples present here today.

INTERVIEWER: Announcers and scorers will receive the word lists prior to the day, and so it is very important, particularly for the announcer, to practise the words, to be very familiar with the words that are on the lists and to practise out loud, in fact, to ensure the smooth running on the day.

INTERVIEWER: Please welcome Hannah.

INTERVIEWER: Donation. The RSPCA sent me a letter thanking me for my donation. Donation.

HANNAH: Donation. D-O-N-A-T-I-O-N. Donation.

INTERVIEWER: That is correct.

INTERVIEWER: Please welcome Ethan.

INTERVIEWER: Statue. We often picnic near the statue of Banjo Paterson in the park. Statue.

ETHAN: Statue. S-T-A-T-U-E. Statue. That is correct.

INTERVIEWER: Please welcome Genevra.

INTERVIEWER: Goggles. You need to make sure the strap of your goggles fits tightly enough so water doesn't get in. Goggles.

GENEVRA: Goggles. G-O-G-G-L-E-S. Goggles.

INTERVIEWER: That is correct.

INTERVIEWER: Please welcome Amelia.

INTERVIEWER: Zebra. My friend brought me back a painting of a zebra from Africa. Zebra.

AMELIA: Zebra. Z-E-B-R-A. Zebra.

INTERVIEWER: That is correct.

INTERVIEWER: Please welcome Jacob.

INTERVIEWER: Lethal. The venom of the funnel web spider can be lethal. Lethal.

JACOB: Lethal. L-E-T-H-A-L. Lethal.

INTERVIEWER: That is correct.

INTERVIEWER: The first round is a demonstration round when a student is eliminated.

INTERVIEWER: No, students cannot ask for definitions of the word. What the student can ask for-- and I encourage them to do so, if they are not sure-- is to ask for the word again, or ask for the contextual sentence again. And then the announcer will say the word, say the contextual sentence, and then repeat the word again.

INTERVIEWER: Mortgage. My parents celebrated when their mortgage was finally paid off. Mortgage.

JACOB: Could you please repeat the word and the sentence?

INTERVIEWER: Sure. Mortgage. My parents celebrated when the mortgage was finally paid off. Mortgage.

JACOB: Mortgage. M-O-R-T-G-A-G-E. Mortgage.

INTERVIEWER: That is correct.

It's important for both the announcer and the scorer to confer, and that's why it's imperative that they do sit next to each other and, at any stage during the competition, the announcer can ask the student to spell the word again.

Cannula. The nurse had to insert a canulla into a blood vessel to attach the drip. Cannula.

HANNAH: Cannula. C-A-N-N-U-L-A. Canulla.

INTERVIEWER: Sorry, could you actually repeat that word, please, again? Start with saying the word, and then spelling it again, but a bit slower, please.

HANNAH: Cannula. C-A-N-N-U-L-A. Cannula.

INTERVIEWER: Yes, that's correct.

INTERVIEWER: Please welcome Tyler.

INTERVIEWER: Omniscient. Most religions believe that their god is omniscient. Omniscient.

TYLER: Omniscient. O-M-N-I-C-I-E-N-T. Omniscient.

INTERVIEWER: That is incorrect. The correct spelling is O-M-N-I-S-C-I-E-N-T. Omniscient.

INTERVIEWER: Please welcome Hannah.

INTERVIEWER: Infinitesimal. The rise in temperature was so infinitesimal-- excuse me, I'll start that again. Infinitesimal. The rise in temperature was so infinitesimal that it did not register on the thermometer. Infinitesimal.

HANNAH: Infinitesimal. I-N-F- um. M-N-T-E-S-M-A-L. Infinitesimal.

INTERVIEWER: That is incorrect, I'm sorry. The correct spelling is I-N-F-I-N-I-T-E-S-I-M-A-L. Infinitesimal.

INTERVIEWER: Please welcome Genevra.

INTERVIEWER: Archipelago. Indonesia is an archipelago of more than 13,000 islands. Archipelago.

GENEVRA: Archipelago. A-C-- can I start again?

INTERVIEWER: Yeah, you can, sure.

GENEVRA: A-R-C-H-I-P-E-L-A-G-O. Archipelago.

INTERVIEWER: That is correct. Congratulations to our winner, but now we will continue to the next round of unseen words to get our runner up. Good luck to both of you.

INTERVIEWER: Please welcome Tyler.

INTERVIEWER: Accelerando. The music starts getting faster and more exciting when it comes to the part marked accelerando. Accelerando.

TYLER: Accelerando. A-C-S-E-R-E-R-A-N-D-O. Accelerando.

INTERVIEWER: That is incorrect. The correct spelling is A-C-C-E-L-E-R-A-N-D-O. Accelerando.

INTERVIEWER: Please welcome Hannah.

INTERVIEWER: Guacamole. She served the guacamole mixed with sour cream and a plate of chips. Guacamole.

HANNAH: Guacamole. G-U-A-C-A-M-O-L-E. Guacamole.

INTERVIEWER: That is correct, and congratulations, you're the runner up.

INTERVIEWER: Congratulations to Genevra from Kegworth Public School. The winner of the session will go on to compete in the state final in Sydney in November. Thank you. That concludes the senior session of this year's demonstration Spelling Bee.

INTERVIEWER: Well, thank you to everyone, and thank you to Kegworth Public School for hosting this very exciting and suspenseful spelling bee today. So firstly, I'd like to present our runner up with a dictionary and thesaurus from Macquarie Dictionary. Hannah.


And now to our winner. I think a huge round of applause, and we'll see her later in November at the state final. Genevra.


And now I'll present certificates to all of our participants here today, and I think all of them deserve a huge round of applause, as well.


Firstly, can I have Tyler? Well done, Tyler. Here you go. Hannah. Ethan. Jacob. Amelia.

And, again, another round of applause for our winner, Genevra.


End of transcript