Some schools are using new teaching strategies and view chess as a tool for education. You may be wondering how this game can teach young people anything at all. But this isn’t the first time there have been educational games in the classroom.
The city of Sunrise is taking part in the First Move program.
It integrates formal instruction of chess into the curriculum of 40 second- and third-grade classrooms at Village, Banyan and Discovery elementary schools.
America’s Foundation for Chess initially approached Broward County Public Schools about First Move. Since Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan believes the game provides big academic benefits, he was brought into the discussion over the summer.
Using Games as a Tool For Education
“The superintendent was a huge fan of bringing chess into the schools and had prior experience in Chicago with it,” he said. “The challenge we had was the school board can’t fund a specific pilot program for a specific school. It would have to be countywide.”
The Sunrise Police Department stepped up to provide the additional money needed from its forfeiture funds, which are confiscated from criminals.
The program includes streaming video, a curriculum book and training for each teacher, chess sets, demonstration boards and activity workbooks for students to practice their reading and writing skills. The 50-minute lessons are taught once a week.
“Really, becoming a chess player is almost secondary to the academics,” said Kathi Cirar, the foundation’s program director. “Students are having a fun time and are engaged learning about coordinates, math [and] reading comprehension. With the curriculum, it’s taught via streaming video by the ‘Chess Lady.’ … The video teaches the new concepts. The classroom teacher simply facilitates the reinforcing activities in the classroom that were introduced in the video.”
The focus is on second- and third-graders because the belief is they already have basic math, writing and reading skills, and they can build on those fundamentals with the program, in use in 24 states over the last eight years.