Friday, March 27, 2009

Teaching The Boys Chess

We are finishing up our first week of Standards-Based Assessments, the big state tests that measure how well our schools are performing (according to No Child Left Behind).

There are no theatre classes for the two weeks of testing, as I will be helping to administer tests as needed. Mainly, my job has been to administer the test to two fifth grade boys who have special accommodations and thus need to be tested in a room separate from their classmates.

The testing goes much quicker for a group of 2 than for a group of 20, and they have finished their tests as much as an hour before their homerooms are done, so they wait around with me. They have books with them but aren't much on reading. The first day, we hung out and talked. What I noticed then was that DP is obsessed with gang culture. His father is connected to it, and it fascinates me. He makes up tall tales and returns without fail to that one subject.

The next day, we got DP some playdough. I played them a video about the musical duo Roderigo y Gabriela and then broke out the playdough. DP immediately fashioned a handgun, of course. Soon after the boys were playing catch and dodge ball with hunks of playdough. This was not going to work.

During lunch, I grabbed my father's chess set, which has followed me around all over the country. After their afternoon testing, I set up the chess board and informed them we were going to play.

It turns out DP knew how to play -- his dad had taught him. BC was completely new to the game and quickly got drawn in. The next day, more chess. They each played me, then jointly played against me, and played against each other. When I played, I thought out loud so they could hear the thought process and strategy.

No more throwing playdough.


Do you know about Roderigo y Gabriela yet? Check 'em out:


Kelly said...

Playing chess was a great idea!! My son has always loved chess and is quite good at it. When he was young I got him one of those electronic boards that he could play against since he couldn't always find a willing opponent at home. I play, but it's never been my favorite. I prefer pente.

quid said...

From playdough handguns to chess. It must feel good to really make a difference in the world.

You turned me on to Roderigo y Gabriela a while back. I'm a fan!