10 December, 2006

Well Known Chess Aficionado Provides $8000 in Scholarships!

The Mt Alexander School Cluster ‘Chess Squared’ program was given over $8000 in scholarships by a well known chess enthusiast to enable our cluster ‘chesskids’ to attend the ‘Victorian Youth Championships’(17th & 18th of December).
Our benefactor, who wishes to remain anonymous, attended our tournament at the Old Castlemaine Jail, and said it was the largest tournament of its kind in the history of rural Victoria.
He has a passion for chess, and was so impressed with the professionalism of our program, and the enthusiasm of our chesskids, he has subsidized the $220 entry fee by $180.
The top 40 players from the local event were eligible for the scholarship.
Innovations & Excellence have agreed to cover the remaining $40.
Although our lists have not been finalized yet we anticipate 38 students will take up the opportunity provided by the generosity and good will of our anonymous benefactor.
The Victorian Youth Championships provides kids with a tournament-seminar environment. Students will attend lectures, engage in social activities, there will be individual coaching for every player, and $5000 worth of prizes to be won.
It will initiate our Mt. Alexander chesskids into a state wide chess culture, and will provide wonderful learning opportunities.
Our scholarship students have shown great initiative in their preparation for the tournament.
They have undertaken a self motivated course of study in the finer aspects of the ‘royal game’ with a view to making the tournament a rewarding experience.
Castlemaine Chess Club members Harry Poulton and Ron Moore have been running free Sunday training programs at The Castlemaine Community House for students to hone their skills for the upcoming event.
This will be the final event in our 2006 chess calendar, before we return in Term2 2007.
The program coordinators and tutors want to thank teachers, parents and everyone else who have been involved in making the ‘Chess Squared’ program a wonderful success.

11 October, 2006

Report from Sam Grumont

Yes, yesterday 245 primary schools students marched, strolled and bussed their way into the Old Castlemaine Gaol to compete in the Mount Alexander Schools Chess Competition.

Once inside students sat at tables lined along the spokes of the prison which made it a unique experience for the them. Chess Kids ran the competition, supplying all of the equipment, boards, pieces, clocks and computer program.

Each student played 7 games competing with others at their level. The winning team of 4 students get to play the state final next week.

The enthusiasm of the kids for chess has surprised all of our teachers and principals. The Mount Alexander Cluster chess/numeracy initiative mainstreamed chess as part of each school's numeracy work; tutors worked with the kids and their teachers passing on their passion for chess. One of the principals, Kevin Brown, said to me that he had attempted to get chess going with a little success but the tutors brought another level of knowledge and enthusaism to the classes.

In all of the schools I have worked in as a consultant one thing that kids constantly say a good teacher has is 'they really like their subject' or 'really like teaching'. Passion, you can't beat it.

Content knowledge in your discipline is important. It's obvious to kids that you really know what you are teaching and that you can assist them in moving to a higher level because of your knowledge. Both process and content are important. I'm emphasizing this because I seem to be reading a lot of teaching material which virtually dismissed content knowledge as unimportant. But in chess like other areas knowledge of your subject can inspire kids.

The chess competition was the finale of our initiative for this year. We aimed to finish on a high note.

Now we need to evaluate our pre and post test data, anecdotal information and conduct some student assessments to see if there has been some effect on the numeracy skills of our students. Some initial information looks positive.

If you have any stories about using games successfully in class let me know.

Visit Sam's blog:http://learningandknowing.blogspot.com/

24 September, 2006

GRAND FINAL Day- Monday 9th October

I visited the Old Castlemaine Gaols first public open day today.

The facility has a long-term lease from Mt. Alexander Council to CVGT (Central Victoria Group Training) until 2012. It is CVGT’s aim to develop the site into a hospitality training centre, an upgraded tourism venue and viable community facility.

Their long term strategic plan is about getting the ‘formular right’ and developing a sustainable precinct that will benefit the people of Castlemaine.

Although not yet open to the public, the Goal is operating as a training centre for chefs and catering.

So, what’s this got to do with chess you may ask?

As a celebration and ‘Grand Final’ of our program CHESS-SQUARED Innovations & Excellence have contracted Chess Kids to run a primary school tournament open to the 12 primary schools in our cluster on Monday October 9th.

It will be held at the Old Castlemaine Gaol.

Innovations & Excellence are supplying buses to bring students together for the tournament. Hopefully all schools will support the event, and we are hoping to get 200 students participating.

Castlemaine Chess Club convenor Harry Poulton said: “This will be the biggest event in the history of goldfields chess.”

The top four students for the day will automatically gain entry to the Chess Kids Victorian Championship held the following week in Melbourne.

Particpating schools need to enter their school and students on-line:

Sam Grumont will contact all schools in week 1 of term 4 to clarify any questions.

11 September, 2006

ICT confusing you?

  • Worried about wiki’s? Bamboozled by blogs? Missed DIG-TV on ABC2 last night but don’t know how to get the podcast? Interactive whiteboards not your friend yet?

    Don’t panic. You’re not alone.

    At an in-service last year in Bendigo, Tony Ryan explained the exponential rate of change, where we made a list of things that weren’t invented 5 years ago- and came up with 20 'new' items.

    Frighteningly, in the next five years there will be many, many more than 20 new ‘things’ in our lives. And in 5 years time, the above list will, dare I say it, be somewhat passé.

    Take heart however. Sit back and watch the latest technology from 1930 that set the world alight: ‘The Talkatoon’. (It's best to download, make a coffee, then view when downlaod has finished)

    And if you’re too busy to find 6.11 minutes in your life to enjoy Betty Boo, Bimbo and Koko chances are you’re probably working too hard.

    06 September, 2006

    The 'Big Day Out'

    Castlemaine Secondary College made smart moves at the recent Regional Schools Chess Tournament held at Bendigo, winning 6 of a possible 14 medals and seeing 5 students make their way through to the Victorian Schools Chess Championship.

    Of the 42 secondary students participating, 23 came from Castlemaine Secondary College.

    The result is a marvellous endorsement for our chess program- Chess-Squared- funded by Schools Innovations and Excellence, that started earlier this year.

    The program has seen teachers across 13 schools in the Mt Alexander cluster work in collaboration with tutors from the Castlemaine Chess Club and Castlemaine Community House.

    CSC teacher Mark Johansson has been a key player in the initiative. Johansson has run lunchtime tournaments honing players skills to competition standard, and has incorporated chess into his junior maths curriculum.

    Johansson has also visited primary school classrooms, teaching tactics and strategy.

    “In class students are engrossed in the game. It’s surprising how it consolidates so many maths skills.” Johansson said.

    Johansson commented on the steadily growing chess culture at CSC over the year. ‘Earlier this year, we’d run chess one lunchtime per week. Recently, it’s been running three times a week with healthy student numbers supporting the activity.’ Johansson said.

    We wish everyone well in the State Finals early next term.

    01 September, 2006

    'Poem In Your Pocket Day'

    Congratulations Sam Grumont for success of the Third Annual POEM IN YOUR POCKET Day- an initiative that encourages everyone across the 13 school cluster to carry a poem and share readings throughout the day.

    At Castlemaine Secondary College, morning staff briefing shared poetry, a whole school assembly saw principals, teachers and students share readings. My kids, from Castlemaine North Prmary School, had a visiting poet run workshops and came home overflowing with poetry.

    At CHESS-SQUARED we thought we’d get into the spirit, and came up with the work of Lewis Carroll.

    Carroll’s literary skills are legendary: he was a mathematician and chess player(sounds familiar). His work, Through The Looking Glass, follows the journey of Alice who takes on the guise of a pawn and works her way around the chess board.
    A GOOGLE search of Lewis Carroll and chess returns 120,000 repsonses including the following:

    In Through the Looking-Glass, brooks and hedges divide the countryside into one giant chessboard, Alice plays the part of a pawn. Much has been made of the implausibility of the game by chess masters, and questioned why Lewis Carroll, as a passable chess player, did not construct a more plausible game.
    ... the chess framework is full of absurdities and impossibilities, and it is unfortunate that Carroll did not display his usual dexterity by bringing the game, as a game, up to chess standard He allows the White side to make nine consecutive moves(!): he allows Alice (a white pawn) and Alice becoming a Queen, to be two separate moves: he allows the White King to be checked without either side taking any notice of the fact: he allows two Queens to castle (!): he allows the White Queen to fly from the Red Knight, when she should take it. Hardly a move has a sane purpose, from the point of view of chess.

    One can almost feel the indignation at the liberties taken.

    It’s also interesting to see the concept of ‘continuous development’ apply to both POEM IN YOUR POCKET, and CHESS-SQUARED. Both projects started small, have elements of individual passion, and continue to grow bigger each year.

    Anyway, well done Sam. And everyone who participated.

    28 August, 2006

    'A time to reflect.' by Leanne Preece

    “Mrs Preece, ya wanna vs me?” challenged Conor, a delightful year seven student, while I observed a game of chess one lunchtime.

    “If you can teach me how to play first”, I replied. Conor shrugged her shoulders and walked off to find a more challenging opponent.

    And so it came to be that, once again, I found myself reflecting upon why I have never really wanted to learn to play chess before it became so popular at the Junior Campus of Castlemaine Secondary College.

    It comes down to three things:
    1. I once bought myself a terrific book on how to play the game of chess. I read the introduction,
    “Chess is a game of war. You control one army, and your opponent, the enemy, controls the other, the fate of your army depends entirely on your own skill. Most other games rely on chance – a move may be determined by the role of a die, or the turn of a card. But in chess there is no such thing as luck” …………and got no further. I have always enjoyed playing other games; my opponents often accuse me of being lucky.

    2. Before you make a move on a chess board you need to try and predict how your opponent will respond. In deciding what to play, you need to apply REASON, MEMORY, and LOGIC. Why would I want to use up my precious leisure time doing this, it sounds like hard work?

    3. I get my energy from other people (yes call me an extrovert). The though of having to sit quietly, for what seems like an age is not really my style. I prefer to work in collaboration with others, hear their ideas and have mine discussed. Everyone is so quiet when they are concentrating on their game.

    And so you see, Conor chose wisely when she sought another opponent. Is there anyone out there who would be patient enough to teach me how to play and play to WIN?

    Leanne Preece
    Junior Campus Principal - Castlemaine Secondary College

    22 August, 2006

    Chess and 'The Art of COOL'

    OLIVERS Sports Store shop window: Mostyn St. Castlemaine. Victoria

    It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it.
    I’m sure someone famous said something like that once.

    When Harry and I developed the Chess in Schools Program, the game had a bit of an image problem at Castlemaine Secondary College.
    It had a small band of loyal student followers. But there were detractors. Some boys felt chess threatened their sexuality, it wasn’t sporty, was uncool, and even downright nerdy.

    So, therein layed our challenge: how to make chess cool?

    We took a shotgun approach, and were prepared to try anything. We’d smile at the detractors, and ask if they’d ever played chess. We’d invite them into watch- sometimes they entered, other times they declined. And while we played, we’d talk to them: ask them about stuff- home, friends, their history, and school. Chess became a tool for connectedness: getting to know their story. And we noticed more people would come along.

    Another angle was to introduce chess at a primary school level, so when students started secondary school, chess was second nature and something they just did!
    After brilliant work by our tutoring team from Castlemaine Chess Club we’ve managed to weave fun and entertainment with deep levels of thinking, strategising, and learning. Chess is fun and kids feel they are learning and developing useful skills for life.

    Many different threads have woven together to make our fabric: developing a schools chess culture across a community.

    But then something really special happened: a piece of public relations gold!

    It wasn’t a feature article in an Education Research magazine. It wasn’t being mentioned on one of America’s biggest chess blogs. Or a Japanese school picking up our program. Or the Sydney Morning Herald article.

    Parents and students don’t dwell in these spheres. It’s not their world.

    Thanks to Winters Flat P.S our chess program got a guernsey, in the main street of town, in the shop window of the locals sports store!

    And then, we knew we’d made chess cool.

    15 August, 2006

    Our Enterprising Community

    As Phase 2 of CHESS-SQUARED draws to a close lets reflect on some of our achievements since the program started in May.

    The image above is the logo for the ‘Our Enterprising Community’ project being run from Castlemaine Secondary College.

    In May 2005, CSC received significant federal funding to develop national protocols for implementing Enterprise Education in Australian schools. The project invested heavily on staff development with Fabian Dattner, and sent a posse of teachers to Scandinavia examining best practice in Enterprise Education.

    So, what is Enterprise Education?

    In Castlemaine, it’s many things, and operates on many levels.

    In terms of CHESS-SQUARED this translates into a program that has continually evolved, developed, and at times even changed direction. We started with a vague idea- to develop a school chess culture across a community- and slowly, move by move, headed in that direction.

    Most schools run a chess program. So what, if anything, makes ours any different?

    Phase 1 saw an idea develop:
     A partnership with Castlemaine Chess Club and Innovations and Excellence
     Purchase of classroom resources
     Development of lesson plans and resource material.

    Phase 2 saw the launch of the project into 13 schools across the cluster in May, and since then:
     Partnership and mentor support from Latrobe University
     Development of a weblog (Blog) as a communication tool
     Press coverage in Education Times, Midland Express, Sydney Morning Herald
     2,500 feature article in ACER publication Teacher magazine
     Presented at a Simmer conference on using ICT to promote maths, science, and technology in rural school communties
     Featured on Susan Polgars blog in America
     Funding support from School Focused Youth Service (SFYS)
     Partnership with Castlemaine Community House
     Commitment for further support from Innovations and Excellence
     A teacher from Japan visiting the program, taking our model and resources to use in her school in Japan
     Local shops displaying the program in their shop windows
     Enecdotal data from teachers, and empirical data from observation schedules
     An estimated 260 students exposed to regular chess tutoring across Mt Alexander cluster

    Enterprise Education is about fostering the resources of our community to support student learning. It's about thinking laterally. And seizing opportunities.
    If developing enterprising skills in students involves attributes of thinking, planning, impulse control, and using strategy then surely we have embarked on that journey.

    Phase3 of CHESS-SQUARED starts tomorrow.

    31 July, 2006

    'The Seduction of Learning' by Sam Grumont (I & E Cluster Co-ordinator)

    Hi chess aficionados,
    I wandered into an interesting site which talks about the arousal the competing in the game can give to the brain - cognitive arousal is the buzz word to give you some afflatus:

    'Is Sudoku seductive? Is chess sexy? Is crafting code a turn-on? To our brains, absolutely. But while most of us don't use the word "seductive" in non-sexual contexts, good game designers do. They know what turns your brain on, and they're not afraid to use it. They're experts at the art of "cognitive arousal", and if we're trying to design better experiences for our users, we should be too.

    I'm not talking about using sex to arouse your brain. I'm talking about the kind of "experiential pleasure" that comes from solving a puzzle, overcoming a challenge, exploring new territory, becoming swept up in a narrative, interacting with others in a social framework, and discovering something new about yourself. I'm talking about things that engage the brain in a way that Gregory Bateson describes in The Ecology of Mind, discussing games:

    "... they are important emotions that we feel and go through and enjoy and find in some mysterious ways to enlarge our spirit."'

    Want more then try

    22 July, 2006

    The GENDER Puzzle.

    Chess and gender always gets a heated response.
    For those who don’t know chess has, historically, been dominated by males. And the obvious question is WHY?
    A GOOGLE Search on the topic will return 2,600,000 responses- some which I’ve included below.
    Without getting embroiled in gender warfare, I’ve noticed some interesting observations- completely untested- in my own classes.
    Last year, I had a predominately male yr9 maths methods class (16males, 4 females) where the boys would BEG to have chess games/tournaments during class time. They would salivate and engage in battlemode of the highest order.
    Of the 4 girls, one was a good player, one had never played, and two were indifferent. When they played together (chose not to play with the boys!) they had a co-operative approach, naturally sharing strategies and working much less competitively.
    One girl wasn’t the slightest bit interested in playing and continued with maths ‘from the book’. I asked her why girls seemed less interested in playing chess.
    And, her response was a classic!
    She shrugged her shoulders: “Girls have got better things to do with their time.”
    This is interesting when we compare attitudes with my yr7 class: boys and girls seem equally keen to play chess. There doesn’t seem any obvious gender difference and these are the comments we are hearing from primary school sessions.
    The implications, and questions from this are interesting.-
    1) what happens, hormonally with the onset of puberty, that effects interest in chess, and perhaps other areas of maths development?
    2) if chess has the benefits we think, it must be important to introduce it as early as possible.
    3) are girls being disadvantaged if they haven’t been introduced to chess pre-pubescant?
    4) is there any correlation between girls who complete VCE Maths, and those who have been exposed to chess.
    There are many aspects to this fascinating topic. If you have any anecdotes, theories, or ideas, please let us know about them in our comments section.
    Before you find the right answers, you need to ask the right questions.

    05 July, 2006

    Meeting the tutors(2): Guiding Guildford with Ron Moore

    (Ron Moore with students at Guildford Primary School)

    My name is Ron Moore. I’m engaged as a tutor in the ‘Chess in Schools’ Program. It is my privilege to introduce this most fascinating of games to students.
    I first started playing chess when I was at primary school and have been hooked ever since.
    My experience in learning to play better chess was a long process. I ‘pushed wood’ for a long time, suffered many thrashings and only gradually became aware of the strategies, subtleties and complexities of the game.
    As I began to play a better game I came to enjoy chess even more.
    Fellow workers and family recognize me as someone who is very process orientated. Is this an outcome of my chess playing? Possibly! There are probably a number of skills that every player derives from playing chess.
    The purpose of the ‘Chess in Schools’ is to develop cognitive skills, but I believe, in teaching school children to play a purposeful game of chess, much more can be learned.
    And we should never forget that chess is great fun and can be enjoyed at any number of levels by both novices and experienced players.

    26 June, 2006

    SYDNEY: The Sun-Herald 25/6/06 p85

    The article goes on to say:

    A group of children in schools around Castlemaine are being taught chess and encouraged to provide brief comments on their thought process which produce moves.

    Not only are chess-playing children being compared to their non-playing peers in areas such as numeracy, but the effect on patience and self-control within the chess-playing group might also be measured.

    One observation a researcher has made in the early stages of the project is that many children are keen to play chess but regard instruction as redundant- an attitude natural for todays video game users who aquire skill solely by playing.

    This attitude can only be overcome once the connection between chess success and useful advice is established- a link which will hopefully be carried over to other school subjects.

    The Australian Council for Educational Research this month published an article on the project, the ambitions of which appear unlimited given the piece's sub-title 'Chess Generates Genius'.

    Regardless of hyperbole, the project is certainly worthwhile since if chess is shown to be an activity which kids are happy to try and which even indirectly improves numeracy, it could become a useful tool in schools' arsenals

    12 June, 2006

    ACER interest

    ACER (Australian Council for Educational Research) showed some interest in our project and wanted an article. 2500 words later a nice little article features in their latest edition.
    The full article outlines HOW the 'Generating Genius' principles were incorporated into program development.
    If you would like a FREE copy of the magazine, add a comment to our blog and tell us who you are.
    How easy is that?

    If you want to read an on-line shorter version visit: http://www.acer.edu.au/publications/acerpress/teachermagazine
    Click: Current issue > Maths,Science,Environment
    And there it is!

    05 June, 2006

    Susan Polgar sends her regards.

    Hello everyone! I was just told about this blog from Steve Carroll.

    Australia is one of my all time favorite countries. I have so many wonderful memories there.

    I wish you ALL the best and please feel free to visit my blog www.susanpolgar.blogspot.com. I will also put up a notice about your blog shortly.

    Best wishes,
    Susan Polgar

    For those who dont know, Susan Polgar is one of the worlds biggest names in chess, and the first women to 'hold her own' against elite male chess players in the world. (Hope I got that right Susan!)
    Her blogs are fascinating. Some of her passions are bringing chess into the lives of youth, and introducing and promoting chess to girls.
    She's a champion of chess, and a champion of youth!Her efforts to promote chess to young people are truly inspiring. If you get a chance visit her sites listed above.
    I particularly like her motto when teaching children: 'Win with grace, lose with dignity.'
    I feel a discussion about chess and gender brewing! Stay tuned.
    Steve Carroll
    And true to her word, our humble little blog is now listed on Susans Blog:

    29 May, 2006

    Dont look now......but we're getting bigger

    Hi Steve, Sam and everyone,
    Now that the 'Chess in Schools' program is going international with a sister school linking up with us in Japan, ICT is more important than ever.One thing I have not pushed as much as I would have liked thus far are the free chess websites. Here are some great URLs:
    and check out ChessDryad.com. All these sites are worth a look at and they wont cost kids anything to use.
    Regards Harry

    18 May, 2006

    Courtesy of Peter Roberts.

    "Chess and theatre often lead to madness."
    Arrabal, Sur Fischer, 1974

    Peter Roberts seems to be everywhere at once. He teaches drama, co-ordinates publicity for Castlemaine Secondary College, and is close to being the best teacher I've ever come across. I've seen him do things and often wondered 'How does he do that??'.
    Then one day he confessed, with a wink and a nod: "I play a bit of chess". And it all made sense.
    Thanks for the 'toon Pete.

    Continue to hear great reports about tutoring program in the Mt. Alexander cluster primary schools. If you've come this far and you're reading this please add a comment below. This week I've added some quotes about chess to mull over in a quiet moment.

    "Chess is so inspiring that I do not believe a good player is capable of having an evil thought during the game."
    Wilhelm Steinitz, interview with J. Moquette, 1896

    "Dazzling combinations are for the many, shifting wood is for the few."
    Georg Kieninger, Deutsche Schachhefte, 1950

    "Nowadays, when you're not a grandmaster at 14, you can forget about it." Anand Viswanathan

    "A computer beat me in chess, but it was no match when it came to kickboxing"Signature of an anonymous message board user.

    "My life has been determined by the move e2-e1N."
    Johan Barendregt, interview with Max Pam, 1972

    Weaknesses of character are normally shown in a game of chess. Gary Kasparov

    A good sacrifice is one that is not necessarily sound but leaves your opponent dazed and confused.
    Rudolph Spielmann

    Chess is the art which expresses the science of logic

    Mikhail Botvinnik

    Chess is a fight Emanuel Lasker

    Chess is the art of analysis Mikhail Botvinnik

    13 May, 2006

    Interview with Ross Allengame: Castlemaine Primary School

    Ross Allengame has been using chess in the classroom for twenty years.

    He has produced a state chess champion and several really gifted players. I can recall one of Ross’s year 5 pupil’s entering the Castlemaine Chess Club 10 years ago, and trouncing all of us, and dazzling us with his acumen over the board.

    Ross regularly uses chess as a part of his teaching repertoire. Sometimes he sets up a few boards and plays some students simultaneously while the rest of the class looks, on engrossed in the games, and offering suggestions.

    During the tutorial I gave to Ross’s class, before the interview, his students were totally engrossed in their games, and they played for nearly an hour and a half. Some students played three games in a row and were biting at the bit for a fourth game. I have never witnessed such a high level of sustained concentration, enthusiasm and pleasure shown in a class activity before. The students discussed the moves with each other and were intellectually engaged with their games for the greater part of the lesson.

    I asked Ross why he uses chess in his classes. I was searching for some pedagogical insight as I had already gleaned that Ross was interested in learning theory.

    Ross waved his hand and said, “Look around you.” He spoke of their fascination with the game and their sustained interest and then went onto say, “Chess works!”

    After the lesson, Ross and I discussed teaching theory. Ross said his approach was to ask the kids what they want to do and empower them. He sees his approach as vastly different from what he called the jug mug method of pouring content down kid’s throats.

    He sees teaching at its best when teachers become facilitators of education and inspire students to become independent learners. Ross believes chess helps develop this spirit in young students and this is why he has been such a keen advocate and practitioner of chess in the classroom.

    One more word on the virtues of chess and I think an opinion that is supported by all the research. Ross had a difficult student once who had behavioral problems and was disorganized. One of Ross’s solutions was to introduce him to chess. Ross reports it had miraculous results. The boy turned into a fine chess player. Ross says it gave the boy a sense of control and a chance to beat the teacher. The key message Ross conveyed in our discussion was that chess motivated students, improved their concentration, and stimulated intellectual activity.

    Just as I was leaving South School two year 6 boys walked up to me and said they were glad I was coming back next week and added, ‘We like chess, it is fun, and it makes us think’.

    Harry Poulton

    04 May, 2006

    CJ drops in.

    It’s a big world out there. We’ve had interest from schools in Bendigo, Colac and Warrnambool about our chess program.

    Andrew Grimshaw, from Colac, used some of our resources and convinced his curriculum 'powers-to-be' to formally incorporate chess into their program. Andrew has a timetabled class called chess where students leave regular classes to participate. Well done, Andrew.

    I noticed a comment on one of our blog entries (see below) from CJ telling us of a search engine, Technorati, to find other blogs throughout the world on similar topics. Thought CJ was one of our cluster teachers but on investigation found that not to be the case.

    I checked it out and found 49 responses to ‘chess and pedagogy’. Try clicking on Technorati, type and your special interest, and see what other like-minded souls are talking about in cyber-space.

    CJ also recommended I look at Artichokes blog….and what a fascinating experience that was! Artichoke (from New Zealand it appears) seems at the cutting edge of all things education and has plenty of views he has ‘put out there’.

    On the local scene, tutoring started this week, and early feedback has been fantastic. I sense momentum is building. If you haven’t heard from us, expect a phone call shortly confirming dates and times for our tutors to visit.

    And while we’re handing out boquets, special mention to Marg Lewis who, out of 25 emails, was the only person to notice the tutoring schedule ran into the school holidays. Thanks Marg. Marg is principal of Yapeen Primary School who, with 17 students, is one of the smallest schools in the state. Re-assuring such an eye for detail is in there batting for government education. Nice pic and story in last weeks Castlemaine Mail.
    And CJ……whoever…wherever .. you are: thanks!

    Steve Carroll

    28 April, 2006

    Meeting the tutors(1): Harry Poulton

    Hi everyone. I met some of you at the ‘Chess in Schools’ launch. A central component of the program is, working within the VELS framework, to bring the schools into the community and the community into the schools, and to build that connection around a creative learning process. The program includes the Schools, the Community House, and the Castlemaine Chess Club. The Community House and the Chess Club are furnishing the tutoring teams, and helping with the research component of the program which focuses on Maths and Metacognition.

    We are focusing on how students strategize for successful learning outcomes, and to see if we can build resilience through chess, and if/how this impacts in Maths learning.

    Just to let you know a little bit about myself I have recently completed education studies at Monash University and I am looking forward to working as a Humanities teacher, although this year I have decided to commit to building the chess program. I have worked in the building industry, undertaken post grad study, and extensive travel abroad.

    I was raised in a chess family where chess was a regular feature. I was one of six children and four of my siblings were boys. You might think our poor sister was in need of rescuing, well, she went onto have five boys of her own, all of whom are thriving, and some are excellent chess players. We spent many weekends huddled around the chess board in my fathers study and some of my siblings went onto to become school champions and captains of the school chess teams.

    Research, experience and observation have led me to believe that chess is an excellent pedagogical tool which improves concentration, impulse control and accountability, cultivates good sportspersonship and social interaction.

    The ‘Chess in Schools’ program is a challenging opportunity and we are all committed to building a vibrant chess culture through out the Mt Alexander Cluster.

    19 April, 2006

    Dr. Steve Tobias- LaTrobe University

    Welcome to the Mt Alexander Schools Cluster and La Trobe University research project based on Chess and Learning Mathematics. Steve Carroll and Harry Poulton have done a wonderful job in launching the project with Sam Grumont's guidance.
    The project aims to build student resilience and perseverance through games such as chess. Research suggests that there is an underlying link between playing chess and strengthening spatial reasoning skills and students' ability to handle complex reasoning tasks.
    With the new VELS curriculum, this area is covered within the Thinking Domain of the Interdisciplinary Strand and Working Mathematically in the Mathematics Discipline Strand. This project sets out to strengthen thinking and reasoning skills, and possibly inturn students ability to problem solve.
    The Observation Schedule, that has been sent out to you, was designed for the classroom teacher to collect information about the students' reactions while playing chess. We would like you to collect some anecdotal information during the program about the students' willingness to participate, their resilience and perseverance when playing, and their ability to question/discuss the moves made.
    We would appreciate any other information that you might feel is important. We would like students to keep a journal to reflect on their games (metacognition) and anything else that is significant to them when playing. (ie: what they have learnt, enjoyed about the playing- or not enjoyed etc) so hopefully, we will have an ongoing collection of information about who is building enthusiasm and resilience for chess.
    I intend to write a regular section for the blog - so any feedback would be appreciated.

    Steve Tobias

    School of Education
    La Trobe University
    Ph 54447485

    16 March, 2006

    Chess-Squared: March 2006

    Chess-Squared: March 2006

    Welcome to the first issue of Chess In Schools Program, CHESS-SQUARED, a partnership with The Castlemaine Chess Club, LaTrobe University, schools within the Mount Alexander Cluster, and funded by Innovations and Excellence.
    The program aims to systematically introduce students to the game of chess and measure any benefits to numeracy or other areas of learning.
    This newsletter aims to supplement lessons plans being developed that explore mathematical concepts gained by learning and playing regular chess.
    But the program isn't just about learning chess.
    It aims to:
    A) Develop a team of teachers across a cluster working collaboratively on a classroom project
    B) Use ICT as tool to deliver 5 lessons, and foster discussion and reflection about what is happening in our classrooms
    C) Explore whether chess can improve numeracy outcomes by applying statistical analysis to groups across the cluster
    D) Developing a notion of enhancing Community Capacity by introducing students and their families to a ‘not-for-profit’ community organisation.
    E) Enhancing a performance and development culture by seeking mentorship from LaTrobe University School of Education
    F) Explore the relationships of Chess In Schools Program, with Victorians Essential Learning Standards (VELS), and National Benchmarks in Numeracy.

    Chess is a game first invented 1500 years ago. This program wraps it in 21st Century pedagogy.
    The program was developed by Sam Grumont, Steve Carroll, and Harry Poulton. It’s success depends on your involvement, engagement, and feedback.