Chess-Guide-for-Teachers_ESpiegel.doc - Guide for Teachers...

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Guide for Teachers By Elizabeth Spiegel This is intended as an advanced guide for teachers of chess classes or afterschool clubs. It is divided into three sections: classroom/club instruction, going over games at tournaments, and resources. I’ve developed these materials/ ideas over 14 years of teaching chess at many elementary and junior high schools in New York City, but primarily at I.S. 318, a Title I middle school in Brooklyn. I.S. 318 has won 30 National Chess Championships, including the National Junior High Championship six times, the Elementary Championship twice, and the National High School Championship once. In addition to teaching very advanced chess players (up to master) and academically gifted students, I regularly teach complete beginners, children with low standardized test scores, Special Education students, students with autism and ADHD, and English Language Learners. I’ve found that students from all backgrounds can fall in love with the game, be successful at it and, through learning chess, increase their concentration, focus and enjoyment of school. Curriculum My introductory curriculum is here . I use it over 20 weeks for middle school students, longer for younger grades. It covers piece movement, check and checkmate, notation, basic tactics and the four move checkmate. After this, I do a lot of checkmates with students. Until they can reliable solve mate-in-one and simple mate-in-two, there is not much point going to more complex topics. It’s so important that kids learn to calculate well that I have a unit on solving mates in ones, twos and threes. It’s not that calculating tricky checkmates is the most useful skill in chess. It’s not – you don’t win many games in such glorious style. It’s just that the finality of checkmate and the defined number of moves make it a great medium for teaching basic calculation. In this unit, we talk about forcing moves: checks, captures, attacks on valuable pieces – moves that allow us to know pretty definitely how our opponent will respond. We talk about how you have to look at every check and every capture every move, how to brainstorm candidate moves, how to recognize patterns, how to look for your own mistakes. This unit gets a structure and momentum from building from mate in one to two to three. Kids start to feel very competent. I use the unit to introduce homework, how answers should look, and what to do if you don’t get it. Lessons are spent either going over homework as a big group, or with a “think, pair, share” method. In “think, pair, share,” students have 10-15 minutes to work on their own (unless they already did it for homework); 10-15 minutes to compare their answers with a partner; and then you all meet as a group to answer any questions that remain. This method allows kids to help each other, and is also great for classrooms with multiple learning groups, where the teacher needs to work with several groups in a single period.
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  • Spring '15
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