Saturday, July 6, 2013

Chess Rage Day 1

There were sixteen students that signed up for the first BCSD Chess Rage Chess Camp and the first day was a very successful day.  We provided five counselors from our high school chess team.  Three more were added by the end of the week making an awesome counselor/camper ratio every day.  This first day was a great test in patience and flexibility as the counselors were getting used to their charges and I was getting used to which level to teach at.  As it turns out, ages were seven to twelve and there were a variety of skill and experience, so I differentiated my instruction for each lesson. Kids were grouped in similar ability and age.  I made a couple of switches the next day which we kept for the rest of the week.  We began each day with the kids playing each other, and then the counselors would meet with their groups and play, teach, and evaluate each player.
The two Sarah's warming up their chess and to each other.
Darwin, my son, impressed me with his seriousness during the week.  He brought his own chess set each day and would set up at a lone table and would quietly sit until a competitor would sit down.  On this day, Jon Reigle, a former chess student from my class, sat down for a game.  It was clear that he was going to promote his last pawn but Darwin had a little surprise.
Darwin actually got a draw in this game.
Darwin seized an opportunity soon.

Think, Pair, Share!  is a wonderful way to engage students and model a problem solving process.  I would show a chess problem on the big screen and students would get to think for 1 minute, then pair with a partner and discuss the options for 1 minute.  Then as a large or small group, we would all share ideas and/or offer opinions.  Differentiation was implicit in this process.

Small discussion groups  - Think, Pair, Share!
I was very impressed with how intensely the students engaged in solving problems and in creating them as well.  I used mate in one or two problems before each lesson to focus attention.  But the problem sets that students found most fun were the pawn mower problems.  Pawn mowers were developed by GM Maurice Ashley and are similar to chess mazes, but you must take a pawn each move.  I gave students a chance to stump their counselors by creating their own pawn mowers.
A Maurice Ashley puzzle

The goal is to capture a pawn on every move.  The black pawns cannot move.
It was my goal to get students to record games by the end of the week.  And to my surprise, all but one could do it proficiently.  On the first day, some of the students began the process.  Score Keeping is required at most high caliber tournaments, and the score sheets are good tools for chess improvement and analysis.  Replaying an past game is very enlightening.  Using a chess engine such as Fritz or Chess Assistant is also beneficial in that alternative moves are offered by the computer.  Two students uploaded their games on my Fritz program later in the week.  Here are some blossoming chess players recording their first games:

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