By Dr. Alexey Root, Women's International Master
Although I have written two books: Children and Chess (A Guide for Educators) and Science, Math, Checkmate, I have never had a blog before. I am excited about the prospect of quick feedback from MonRoi Web site visitors. I look forward to providing fun and helpful chess information to you. As you can tell from my book titles, I am primarily interested in how chess might be used as an educational tool.
I have taught chess in a variety of contexts. This summer I will be teaching at three camps: T. H. Rogers (Houston area), Klein (Houston area), and MOSAIC (a camp in Coppell, North Texas). Currently, I volunteer teaching chess three times a week at Strickland Middle School in Denton, TX. I will now describe how Strickland set up chess as an academic enrichment during the school day, in case you would like to propose a similar plan for your local school.
About three weeks into the academic year 2007-2008, advisory became an enrichment period for students who maintained passing grades and had previously passed all sections of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. During an assembly on September 12th, those students chose from advisory options offered by fifteen teachers. For those approximately 250 students, Mondays and Wednesdays of advisory were now study skills and character education. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays were devoted to each student’s chosen enrichment. Most students got their first choice of advisory, though some got their second or third choices instead.
The choices offered were:
6th grade girls' sports
6th grade boys' sports
7-8 grade boys' sports
7-8 grade girls' sports (The PE teachers said students in athletics would benefit from signing up for any of these sports clubs).
Future Business Leaders of America
Journalism (school newspaper)
Spanish Culture, Crafts, and Projects Club
Study Hall (which is the forced option for those not passing, but students passing who want to sit quietly and do homework can choose it too)
TV news (filming, editing, and then showing one TV spot a week on the internal TVs in the middle school)
Among the teachers offering these enrichments, I was the only volunteer. Other teachers were regular employees. Most seem excited to offer a class about something they loved to interested students. We all made two-minute speeches to the assembled students, and then they wrote down their choices. My chess advisory was limited to 24 students because of the number of seats in the room that I was assigned. And 24 signed up! (Some other advisory options ended up under capacity).
Question of the day: Out of the 24 that signed up, how many were boys?