Saturday, September 21, 2013

Scenes from my room

I transferred positions from Wood River High School to Silver Creek High School (a.k.a. The Alternative School) as their new science teacher this year.  Consequently, I have been very busy unpacking, moving, designing a new website using Edline, ordering, creating a curriculum for three new classes, and learning the ropes as the new kid on the block.  The kids are tough, but respectful and I have improved as a teacher in the few weeks here.  Silver Creek High School recently received a five star rating and accreditation this past year and the faculty and staff are very caring and nurturing.  Our school board decided the school should be more autonomous and begin severing ties with the main high school, WRHS.  I will still keep some ties to the students so I can keep funneling students into chess, however.

The chess class is available to both the SCHS and WRHS students, which get to travel to SCHS, rather than the other way around.  Previously, students would have to take science at WRHS or on Idaho Digital Learning Academy (on-line science with no lab component).  Needless to say, students were not very successful in either venue.  It made perfect sense to me - provide the kids with a highly differentiated, skill-based, hands-on science class to breed some success and build confidence.  My new course load includes Botany (see the green house in the background of the picture?), Biology, Forensic Science, Environmental Science, and Chess.  I also adopted a "Leveling Up" concept for curriculum organization and it is successful, so far.  My renewed enthusiasm is very clear to my colleagues at my previous location.  I do miss visiting my wife's classroom, however, and I already miss some of the familiar and friendly faces of some of my colleagues and students.  The grind at the main high school with the cliques among the faculty, the frantic pace of meeting change with change, and the lack of appreciation or acknowledgement will not be missed.

I now reside at a small school, with three other faculty, a para-professional, a get-the-job done secretary, and an outstanding Principle that visits my room every day with a pleasant smile and a understanding.  Principle Mike Glenn was a former colleague at WRHS that taught Social Studies (an avid civil war buff) with an open perspective and a whole-hearted love of children.  He used to visit my classroom at WRHS and steal a coffee, a joke, and a laugh.  I missed him when he became an administrator at SCHS.  He is the same and better, and I am his underling now.

When the maintenance crew met with me last spring to discuss the room modifications to create a science room, I quietly asked the project director if they could make a chess board with tile.  He excitedly said, "absolutely."  And I now have the best looking floor in the district!  When I finally unpack the giant chess pieces, the kids will probably be fighting to play on the floor.  I picked a red boarder with black and white squares (of course) to convey the classic and royal nature of the game.   My new digs is sweet and look for some great games from these unique and creative students!  (intentional grammar violation).

Real Weatherly and Luke Moses 

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

More Mate in 2 Puzzles for Class

Arthur Bisguier vs. Fabian Geisler, New York, 1991

Josh Waitzkin vs. Luis Hoyos-Millan, New York, 1992

Wilhelm Steinitz vs. David Sands, New York, 1887

Wilhelm Steinitz vs. Herbert Trenchard, Vienna, 1898

Charles Watson vs. NN, Melbourne, 1916

Saviely Tartakower vs. Richard Reti, Vienna, 1920

Arthur Bisguier vs. Fabian Geisler, New York, 1991

Josh Waitzkin vs. Luis Hoyos-Millan, New York, 1992

Problems for Chess Class

Mate in 3
Adolf Anderssen vs. G Lepge, Leipzig, 1855

Magnus Carlsen vs. Hans Harestad, Copenhagen, 2003

JR Capablanca vs. Gunnar Friedmann, Cuernavaca, 1933

Mate in 2
Larry Christiansen vs. John Nunn, Vienna, 1991

Max Euwe vs. A Van Mindeno, Netherlands, 1927

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Chess Camp Simul

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!
This summer I had the distinct pleasure of performing a simul for the chess rage day camp held in June.  My intent was to provide an educational and memorable experience and it proved to be just that and more for the kids involved.  I was proud of the way they played and some even recorded the game to completion.  The exhibition lasted for nearly two hours and I really had to be careful for some of the nifty moves they pulled out.  I let the kids choose which color they wanted, explained the rule and etiquette, and then, coffee cup in hand, I shook hands and moved clockwise from one eager player to another.  As players capitulated and the numbers dwindled, the counselors began supporting the remaining players and I suddenly found the games becoming more challenging.  Sarah Feldman fought to the end and was finally checkmated.  Connor Manning was the last player in the simul and very excited during the entire time.  My counselors were mostly scattered with the other kids while Andre, Matka, and Des remained with Connor and counseled him well.  I let Connor ask yes and know questions of the counselors and before you knew it, the sorted group crushed me.  Connor was the only student to beat me.  He received a blue rosette ribbon for his efforts and he gladly and confidently accepted it during awards.

Teaching mode before the simul 
I heard coffee is bad for males this summer . . . I don't believe it.

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