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.


Harry said...

Hi Chess Cyberspace buddies,
The tournament is exciting and will be the crowning achievement of the ‘Chess in Schools’ program. The development of an enduring relationship between the Castlemaine Community House, the Castlemaine Chess Club and the Mt Alexander Schools Cluster and the Innovations and Excellence Office is a triumph of the vision imbedded in the new VELS document which enables people to think outside the square and be innovative. Also our school cluster is blessed with many gifted class teachers who have been remarkably generous and supportive in the program thereby doing much to facilitate its success.
The program thus far has not just been an impressive logistical enterprise but has already yielded positive results in the lives of some students with a number of disinterested boys, who were falling behind in school and in life, finding meaning and success in playing chess with accompanying improvement in concentration, social skills, self-esteem and confidence.
This deserves some analysis. I interviewed a number of students and one boy, a year 6 student, who has come from a difficult family background, and has had learning difficulties, low motivation, and found himself constantly in trouble during his school life has begun to thrive in the school chess program. His Principal told me he has found nothing to praise this student for, try as he might, until the chess program appeared. This student, who previously disliked learning, and spent his time playing video games, or watching TV, now goes home to study chess! He has taken upon himself the task of mastering an intellectual discipline that takes persistence and resilience to develop competency in. He is showing the signs of an independent learner.
I asked this student what he thought about chess. He replied, “I love chess. It is part of the maths program as well. Chess helps me think ahead. It makes me think before I move- you just don’t do it straight away you have to think first. It has changed my feelings about maths. It helps because it is like maths but it is fun. I know I can get better at it. This is the most successful thing I have done at school and I want to go on into the senior school chess program next year.”
Prior to the chess program this student had no successes at school to inspire and motivate him and now he is taking up the challenge of a self improvement goal. When he says he knows he can get better he has discovered the link between work and personal improvement. What is it about chess as a pedagogical tool that produces outcomes like this on a regular basis particularly with boys at this age level?
On this topic the market place abounds with theories but generally pundits and researchers alike believe the positive outcomes are brought about because chess is a hands on kinetic game involving spatial awareness and 3D problem solving with geometric relationships, also it involves learning in the context of a game which is fun, so kids learn that thinking is fun, and the problems and puzzles are immediate with real concrete solutions that can be found with a little ingenuity.
It is a concrete hands on game which offers immediate rewards and the opposite. All this makes it very appealing to some students, and many argue it is consistent with strong tendencies in boys, particularly because it is suggested they favour product over process, concrete hands on kinetic activities over abstract language based learning, and there are immediate answers with consequences.
We hope the Mt Alexander Cluster will be making significant contributions to this research as the program grows in the coming years.
Regards Harry

Natalie said...

Natalie from Castlemaine Primary School writes;
Chess. Before Harry started teaching chess at our school, I thought chess was just a boring game where you had to kill the opponent's king. I did not know anything about stalemate, check, planning; all I knew was the way each piece could move.I was also quite bad at chess.
That all changed when Harry came to Castlemaine Primary School and started teaching us chess. I started looking at chess from a different point of view. After my first lesson with Harry, I started to like chess. I was also getting better at chess.
Chess started to get more amd more complicated. For a start, the notation system seemed very hard and now it is almost as easy as counting to three! I could understand chess and I knew the aim of the game, but I still had a lot to learn.
The four move check mate it was just so good. I thought I could beat anybody with it.It was a brilliant strategy for a start. Then I realized I had to plan my own checkmate strategy. People began to discover the four move checkmate so I could not use it anymore.Then I learnt to plan.
I learnt that math's was an important part of chess. Maths was something I was not very good at, (or I did not know I was good at it).Then I learnt about stalemates.It was a good way to stop your opponent winning if you only have your King left on the board.
We are continuing to have lessons from Harry and are learning more and more. I would like to continue chess for as long as possible.
Bye Natalie

Artichoke said...

Hi Steven, Glad to read Natalie's comments about the impact of the Chess initiative on her thinking - sounds great.

You have probably already seen this but I got a great link from Bill Kerr's blog today that reminded me of your efforts with -
the drosophila of cognitive science

Skill at chess, however, can be measured, broken into components, subjected to laboratory experiments and readily observed in its natural environment, the tournament hall. It is for those reasons that chess has served as the greatest single test bed for theories of thinking--the "Drosophila of cognitive science," as it has been called.