Tuesday, September 18, 2012 was my first day of teaching chess at the extended day program at Greenhill School, Addison, TX. Chess runs from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. each Tuesday through November 13. Three groups (beginner, experienced, and advanced) rotated to me during the hour. Before I began teaching each group, I explained my expectation of their raising hands before they speak to allow everyone a chance to think without the answers being given away.

I also mentioned that I will give a warning for inappropriate classroom behavior and that a second instance will mean that they need to go see the Chess Program Director. I had a demonstration board and, nearby, one chess set for every two children for the “practice” parts of my lesson plan. I had a pad to write my name and the agenda for Rook Day for each of the three groups. Each group spent about 15 minutes with me. When not with me, each group played chess games supervised by the Chess Program Director.

Rook Day for Beginners

How does a rook move and capture? (lecture format at demonstration board, calling on children to answer questions)

Rook Maze. This lesson plan is in more detail in my book Science, Math, Checkmate: 32 Chess Activities for Inquiry and Problem Solving, Mazes and Monsters lesson activity. Briefly, in a rook maze, the black pawns and pieces do not move. A white rook captures one chessman on each move. I called on each child to say one move, in algebraic notation, for each move of the rook maze on the demonstration board until all the black chessmen were captured. There was a wrong turn on the maze, so I reset to that position and called on children again. I made sure there were as many black chessmen (eight) on the demonstration board as there are children in the beginner group.

Practice: The children set up rook mazes for each other on their chess boards and played out those mazes.

Rook Day for Experienced Players

How many moves does it take a rook to move from any one square on the board to any other given square?

I called on students to give examples, using their words/notation of squares, with my moving the rook following their words/notation on the demonstration board. We tried this blindfolded, i.e. a student turned her back to the demonstration board, and is asked "Can you move a rook from e1 to f6?" The student could have responded either, "Re1-f1-f6" or "Re1-e6-f6" but was not successful. So she got to turn around and solve it by looking.

Then the eleven students partnered up to try the blindfold rook moves with each other. One student would choose a place for the rook to be and a place for it to move to, announce those locations in algebraic notation to the other student, whose back was turned. Then that second student had to say how to get the rook from the first square to the second square.

Rook Day for Advanced Players

Two-rook checkmate lesson plan, from Children and Chess: A Guide for Educators(includes practice with partners on their chess boards after a demonstration by me on the demonstration board).

Then the five students partnered up to try the two-rook checkmates with each other. I partnered with the fifth student, who mastered the checkmate. From what I could observe (which was hard, since I was partnered), one student definitely had trouble with the two-rook checkmate. The others seemed to finish okay but I cannot be sure because I was not walking around watching their technique. I will begin next week by reviewing this checkmate.

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