This spring, we had the chance to catch up with Robin Ramson, the Founder of DC Chess Girls: a Washington, D.C. based chess non-profit dedicated to encouraging more girls to play chess. When we spoke, she had just returned from a national tournament where her daughter got to compete with children from all over the country.
I know you have lots of stories about chess making a difference. Can you share one story with our readers?
The first one that comes to mind is that of a girl in our program who also participates in a school-based program. There weren’t many girls in the school-based program and the boys were much better than her when she started. Her mom said her daughter almost gave up many times, but ultimately had the courage to keep going due to her continued involvement with with DC Chess Girls. The other girls in the club were really supportive and we do a lot as a club to encourage tournament play. I think providing this kind of encouragement is essential. It takes so long time to get good at chess that recognition for effort and achievement of certain milestones can make a huge difference. I think girls respond well to people noticing their effort (not that boys don’t), so we make sure that we do just that. The other girls in our program are competitive, but they don’t participate in school programs. Even though the other kids on the school team had much higher ratings, it was this girl who ended up getting awards. In addition to the support, we’ve been lucky to have great coaching. I say ‘lucky’ because we are an all-volunteer organization and I hire only experts or above. Our coaches analyze games and provide lectures to prompt thinking about how the girls can take their games to next level. In addition to the chess improvement, the mom said her daughter has become more focused, less intimidated about taking tests, and shows more persistence when tackling difficult subjects.Continue reading “Chess Coach Interview ~ Robin Ramson, DC Chess Girls”
In this post, Dr. Alexey Root, WIM provides a little chess history and introduces two chess books that she recommends as resources for:
Beginning to intermediate level chess players ages 11-18+.
Boy Scouts interested in earning the Chess merit badge.
Chess coaches who work with either of these groups of students. In particular, the Fischer columns have “chess puzzles” which would be good for homework or for group problem solving. Prepare With Chess Strategy provides exercises that teach chess strategies. Resources for teaching chess strategies are less common than tactics resources, such as “find the tactic” books and Internet trainers.
Domination: Our top post in 2016 shares a skill building game that teaches students to see the board at a glance. This post includes video instruction by GM Maurice Ashley and ideas for making the game more challenging (hint: play the “mean way” and use a clock). If you like Domination, you might also like Quibs, a skill building game using queens and bishops.
Skill builders and games are used throughout the MATCH Chess Curriculum to practice important chess and cognitive skills in an engaging way. By using a game format, students are more willing to engage in the repeated practice needed to improve important techniques that have a direct crossover into chess tactics. In previous posts we have covered how to use two such games: Pawn Mower and Domination. In this post, we discuss another game that we call Quibs (Queen Intercepts Bishops) which was designed to help students improve their ability to see/defend against threats, especially forks.
What is a fork? In chess, a fork is when an opponent attacks two pieces at once. When this happens, one of the pieces is likely to be captured because it is often impossible to save both pieces.
You can use any of these games to reinforce important lesson concepts, make productive use of small blocks of time, prime your students’ brains at the beginning of class, drill key skills, or provide an alternative activity for some students while you work with others. The two keys to success are to make sure you really understand how each activity works and to present them as fun activities in their own right. Don’t hesitate to make it exciting with game show commentary, time limits and general enthusiasm. Continue reading “Chess Classroom Activity: Skill Building Mini-Game with Queens and Bishops”
In a previous post, we discussed how integrating other subjects into chess lessons can be beneficial. The idea is that the more you integrate other subjects into your chess classes, the more likely what they learn will be applicable to academic performance and increase motivation to succeed in subjects outside of chess. This is particularly the case if students have some choice in what they learn (learn more here and here).
The MATCH curriculum is a comprehensive chess program based on the training methods Grandmaster Maurice Ashley has been using effectively for over 25 years with the students in his classes, camps and private coaching. If you’ve seen Maurice teach, then you know that he keeps his classes moving and entertaining as he instructs with dynamic interaction and fun activities. We’ve taken all of that and crammed it into a curriculum that includes not just the content, but the activities and games that make his teaching so engaging. It is all provided in a digital presentation format so you can easily focus on teaching your students. No more hustling to pull together puzzles or other activities. The lessons are planned out and waiting for you to bring it to life. If you would like, you can also purchase the hard copy student manuals or simply print out the specific resources you want to incorporate.Continue reading “MATCH Chess Curriculum Highlights and FAQ”
By Guest Blogger Coach Jay Stallings
It’s going to happen. A child will be embarrassed about losing to a younger player. A student will accuse another of cheating and you of allowing it. You will offend a student without even realizing it. What you do next is critical!
First…What NOT to do:
Give the teacher glare
Talk, talk, talk.
If you lose controlof yourself, you will lose control of your class, and you will lose the respect of many of your students.
In recent years, interest in chess as a tool for improving the lives of youth has grown. At last year’s London Chess Conference, presenters discussed chess as a therapeutic tool, the value of chess for improving academics, training teachers to teach chess, and more. Increasing numbers of schools are adopting chess as a way to develop cognitive and academic skills based both on the compelling intuitive case and years of accumulated research. Yet, overall research has been mixed (learn more here and here). Factors such as duration, frequency, particular aspects of instruction, instructor chess and teaching skills, coach-student relationship, teacher stereotypes and expectations, parent involvement, student confidence and environment (e.g., classroom space, how well resourced the school is, temperature, time of day) make consistent and comparable experimentation challenging. In addition, the studies conducted rarely implement the same thesis or seek the same outcome (e.g., chess as an intervention for substance abuse versus to improve math skills).Continue reading “Differences in Teaching Chess for Academic Success”