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