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Scrabble Team Spells Fun for Carroll Students (June, 2008)

scrabble players at CarrollTeam SCRABBLE© is a talking sport at Reba Cobb Carroll Elementary and the talk is mostly about enriched vocabulary and mathematical strategies.  There’s always a rush to a special classroom every Monday after school for twenty-four 5th Grade students to see who they are paired with for the first of two games. They play in teams of two versus two for 25 minutes, prepare their board and table for the next round, and then move to another seat for a new game. Their total score is added to the scoreboard and their individual rank is then adjusted.

“As you would expect,” says Doug Thomson, 5th Grade Reading/History teacher and Team SCRABBLE© sponsor, “each team relies on their combined spelling accuracy, decoding skills and dynamic vocabulary. But the beauty of the paired approach is in the contribution that each player can make regardless of their reading or math skills.” Research supports the long-term benefits of building creative and critical thinkers prior to their Middle School years and SCRABBLE© has a valuable scaffolding effect in those areas. Additionally, enhanced spatial awareness and decision-making skills compliment improved teamwork and mental math proficiency.

Melissa Ellis, Carroll Principal and aficionado of the game, was fascinated by the educational connections to the after-school activity. “When all of the seats were reserved before the first meeting, we knew that we had a winner!”  She reports that her Fourth Graders are already lining up for the privilege of next year’s team and plans are underway to extend the program into Middle School. One of the goals is to build High School teams that can compete in the National SCRABBLE© Tournament in May each year as well as interscholastically. “Think of it as literacy’s answer to chess,” she says.

Carroll Elementary was placed on the National School Club Roster in September 2007. All kinds of word games have since become an integral component of Language Arts and among the most sought-after activities in “Mr. T.’s” classrooms. His students also earn extra points towards their ranking for solving daily word scrambles and extra credit scores in spelling. “The noise during SCRABBLE is the vibrant sound of active learning at the end of a full day of school,” says Thomson with a grin. And to think it all started with a $50.00 kit from the National SCRABBLE© Association, a love for the game and a class of well-rounded 5th Graders. For further information about the School SCRABBLE© Programs and their $50 classroom kit, visit: