"Scrabble is a fantastic educational tool," says sixth grade language arts teacher Lori Wilkey. "The game teaches students how to spell, new vocabulary words, math skills, teamwork, and sportsmanship skills."
An enthusiast who hopes to play in competition, Wilkey started as a child with Junior Scrabble. Having used Scrabble as a teaching tool in previous schools, today she organizes a Scrabble Club for her students at Western Sky Middle School in Litchfield Park, Arizona.
According to Wilkey, Scrabble does more than build vocabulary and spelling skills; students exercise their math skills as they calculate and check their scores and work cooperatively as they play in teams.
"Students will pair up and then find a team to play," reports Wilkey. "At this point, we do not need a rigid structure because we only have about 15 -20 students regularly attending. I monitor, help settle disputes or challenges, and assist struggling students."
The club has been well received, even by one student who rarely participates in activities without his brother. When the club attended a competition and his brother couldn't make it, the young man overcame his apprehension and went alone because of his love of the game.
"I think what surprises me most is how focused some students can be with this game," Wilkey explains. "Some students have such extreme difficulty staying focused and on task. Then, when it comes to Scrabble, I can't get them to stop."
Wilkey offered extra credit at the start of the Scrabble Club because many students did not realize how much fun it could be. Now they come because they truly enjoy it. She recommends letting students use dictionaries at the beginning. That often builds up the players' confidence.
"Scrabble is a great game," adds Wilkey. "I would love to see more schools have Scrabble clubs. Someday, I would like to see Scrabble clubs actually have school-funded competitions very much like sports or even music programs."
Article by Cara Bafile
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