Once involved in the game, the pieces become”concrete manipulative” with which students can discuss their problems and find alternatives and/or solutions.
Life Skills Trough Chess Chess pieces are used as a metaphor for life situations.
Social Skills Daniel Goleman, in his book Emotional Intelligence (1995) noted that it is not only our pure intelligence that helps us to achieve in today’s society, it is also our social emotional competence. The following slides compare some of the skills developed in chess with some of those cited as key for effective social competence programs by the W.T. Grant Consortium.
Emotional Skills Managing skills: You need to manage feelings in every position of the game. Controlling impulses: If you do not control your impulses you might move too fast and may be not see that your chess position is in danger Delaying gratification: Sometimes in a chess position it is better not to capture a piece and wait for a better opportunity. Identifying & expressing feelings: Playing Chess offers an opportunity to discuss feelings that arise in different situations. For example: “I made a mistake…” Reducing Stress :To control and reduce stress when you play is very important in chess and in life.
Behavioral Skills Non verbal communication:In Chess, you learn to see non-verbal clues from your opponents Verbal : making requests, respond effectively to criticism, resisting negative influences, listening to others, helping others, participating in positive peer groups. When you are conducting a chess class, you point out mistakes players make. Sometimes they play 2 against 2 on only one board. They need to understand, cope and learn negative decisions and influences from each other.
Understanding behavioral norms: In Chess you must always follow basic rules and etiquette rules. A positive attitude toward life: In chess you must try to find the best choice in each position. Evaluate your position and try to gain insight to improve it. Self- Awareness: developing realistic expectations about yourself. In Chess, you see that other players can be better than you and that you can be better than others.
Using steps for problem solving Decision making, controlling impulses, setting goals, identifying alternatives and consequences: When you play chess you have to make decisions and resolve situations every time you move a piece. You must control your impulses. You must set short and long term goals to achieve a better position and win the game.
The Chess board represent our lives. The chess pieces become us. Each piece may represent the skills we have. The way we move them will lead us to success or failure.
The chess discussion produces meaningful interactions among students. At the same that language development is occurring the discussion linking chess positions with life situations promoted the development of social/emotional skills.
Classroom/guidance presentation A chess/guidance lesson is conducted following Mr. Moreno’s life chess curriculum. A special social development objective is linked with a chess concept.
Individual/group counseling A session starts with a specific position that reflects a specific student problem. Other times, students play and the game is stopped by the counselor. Students will gain insight about a chess position as it relates to their particular problem.
Conflict resolution/fight It’s White’s turn to move. The Black pawns just moved forward. What would you do? If the white pawn moves forward, nobody can stop it. It will be promoted to a Queen and later the black King will be checkmated. But, if white captures black, the other black pawn will capture white and nobody will win. It will be a draw. Advice for Life : When somebody challenges you, bothers you or steps into your space, your first reaction may be to bother or fight them back. Is it the best decision? It might be best to think before you move, focus on your goal and move away from trouble. Fighting does not solve anything, nobody wins
Dialogue Journals Using Journal writing is a great way to interact with your mentee and develop a personal contact. Each mentor should decide the frequency of the entries in the journal. For some of the students one’s a week could be enough, other will like to do more or less entries. For some students I suggest to use pictures, drawings, word games along with conventional writing…etc
Peer Mentor/Chess Club HS ESOL students are selected to be Peer Mentor Volunteers. They teach and conduct activities in Elementary Chess Club.They earn community services hours required for graduation. This activity will provide an opportunity to develop language skills, social and chess skills.
Students’ Comments “I like to play chess because I have to think and it is not boring” “I learned that you must think before you move” “I want to be successful and it is fun” “This is not just a game, it is a learning and thinking game” “I like to learn new things” “It’s all about making the right move”
Teachers’ Comments “In general, they have learned a lot about choices and consequences. Chess is a complicated game that students can learn, and when they do, they feel very good about themselves; students learn to apply choices they learn in chess to real-life choices they most make.” Mr. Redding, ESOL teacher, Oak View ES “I saw the students grow as they learned more and listened to them discuss a variety of issues during the sessions. Sometimes, Mr. Moreno was able to raise issues that I had concerns about. He related behavior to chess and then branched out from there. This gave students something concrete to begin with, and also made the discussion non- threaten Mrs. Carlson, ESOL teacher, Blair HS
“Recently, I had the opportunity to observe Fernando Moreno "in action" during a lunch time session of Chess for Success for 5th grade Hispanic boys at Forest Knolls. It was exciting to see how Fernando uses the game of chess to build essential skills such as conflict resolution, decision making, and goal setting. Through his energy and enthusiasm, he seamlessly moves between specific instruction in chess concepts and life skills. The students, regardless of their proficiency in English, are engaged in the lessons and eager to respond to his instructions. Mrs. Starke, Principal at Forest Knolls ES
EVALUATION OF THE PROGRAM Almost all teachers agreed that through the game of Chess, students have increased their social skills. Almost all students liked the program and recommended it.