Spelling bees not effective teaching tool, education professor says

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Spelling bees have taken wing on the big screen - with the movie "Akeelah and the Bee" and the documentary "Spellbound" - and have even landed on the stage with the musical "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee."

On May 30 and 31, nearly 300 spellers will compete for the championship title in the 2007 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., with the finals broadcast live May 31 on ABC.

But despite the soaring popularity in recent years, spelling bees are not an effective way of teaching spelling, says a University of North Texas expert.

"The way most people learn spelling involves a strong visual component, and often a kinesthetic component, as well," says Dr. Mary Harris, professor of teacher education and administration at UNT's College of Education.

Harris says that because a spelling bee involves mainly auditory features, it is not recommended for weekly classroom practice for spelling.

"A good spelling learning routine involves looking at the word spelled correctly, saying and hearing its sounds, writing the word, and looking at the word," she says.

But for good spellers, the competition of a bee can build other skills, Harris says.

"I'd say it rewards an important combination of learning skills and teaches poise under pressure and sportsmanship," she says. "Spelling bees are a fun occasional competition, as are timed math drills, basketball relays, art shows and many activities that enable students with particular gifts to shine and everyone else to call up more strongly a set of learning skills."

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

Category:

Latest News

Scott Dikkers
Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Scott Dikkers, founding editor of the satirical publication The Onion, presents "Funny Story Behind the Funny Stories," part of the 2014-15 Mary Jo and V. Lane Rawlins Fine Arts Series, at the University of North Texas.

Mike Campbell
Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Teachers and instructors of survey-level college courses will learn how to use stories about world leaders to interest their students in history during the University of North Texas' annual Teaching of History Conference Sept. 20 (Saturday).

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The University of North Texas Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism has awarded $140,000 in scholarships to students for the 2014-2015 year.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Gary Webb and Nicole Dash have received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study disaster preparedness among Native American communities -- a historically underrepresented population in the field of emergency preparedness research in the United States.

Union construction
Thursday, August 28, 2014

UNT will celebrate the placement of the highest steel beam at a topping off ceremony on the UNT Library Mall.