Thursday, 11 August 2016
On Monday at lunchtime, I was doing my library duty. There were not many students in the library, so I decided not to read them a book aloud, instead I found two of my own students who were setting up a chess board.
I was stoked! Kids who WANTED to play chess, what magic is this..
As I watched them set up the board, I realised they had nooooo idea what they were doing.
Their layout was three rows deep on each side of the board, with multiple kings, 6 horses and no pawns.
At this point, I intervened.. I showed them how to set up the board properly, and described how each of the players is allowed to move (e.g. diagonally, one block at a time etc).
I challenged one of the students, who had no idea what was happening to a game. I re-explained how each piece could move, as I moved them. She began nervously moving her pieces around the board. I explained that the end goal of chess, was to capture the king - and showed her how I purposely left two pawns in front of my king and queen to protect them. The other girl was just watching and learning, giving advise where she saw it. Twice, I got 'check' on my student, and twice she evaded me (on my advise). Then i got her - checkmate!
What happened next surprised me..
The two girls played each other.. well! They set up the pieces mostly in the right places, knew how each piece moved and played each other fairly.
At one point, I said 'hey you could take her pawn here', then the girl replied 'no Miss I can't, cause then she will take mine like this' and showed me how the next four moves would have played out.
I hadn't even seen that...
In five minutes, they had understood pretty much all the rules of chess and wow'd me by thinking ahead four moves at a time, noticing things I hadn't even noticed.
These girls then started discussing how chess was really hard, like maths, and how you have to 'think really hard' and think of lots of different avenues you could take. I was really impressed by this, as they had made the connection to the problem solving we do in maths and the critical thinking that it requires.
The next morning, the two girls asked if they could play chess while waiting for the bell to ring. They began all on their own, I left the room and came back a little while later to find..
Other students joining in, while the two girls taught them how to play!
Throughout the day they kept asking if we could have a whole-class session where they could teach the others how to play chess properly, but as we only have two small chessboards, and no spare pieces, that idea will have to wait..
Although this isn't exactly targeted teaching and learning, or anything to do with the curriculum learning areas, I just loved how these girls WANTED to learn something different, something they didn't HAVE TO learn. Their enthusiasm towards it was just awesome. Go girls!