Written by Susan Nourse, AmeriCorps Member serving at Celerity Lanier School
A few weeks ago, one of my students asked me to play chess with them during their activity. I have a basic understanding of chess; I know how the pieces move and I used to play chess as a kid, so I thought I might have a pretty good chance at winning. The student checkmated me in a matter of minutes.
But I shouldn’t take my loss too personally. My students have been learning how to play chess since they were in kindergarten. Learning not only basic moves, but strategy and how to compete with their peers and teachers.
Chess is a part of Celerity’s model, and is one of their rotating activities, along with typing, test prep, and dance. And just as their dance class has a final performance of the work they’ve done in class through their participation in three plays throughout the year, students compete in chess tournaments, not only with each other, but with other schools around Louisiana. .
They’re gearing up for their district wide chess tournament where they will compete against students in other Celerity schools across the state including, Woodbine, Dalton and Crestworth. The tournament will be held at Crestworth on April 1.
Chess class isn’t just about physically playing chess. Students have to learn chess vocabulary and solve chess puzzles. The chess coaches are even giving students the opportunity to contribute writing samples for their new monthly chess newsletter. Learning chess has also been linked to higher academic achievement including reasoning, visualization, critical thinking and math.
So although it might be slightly embarrassing to get schooled by one of my students in chess, what chess is doing for both their academics and self-confidence is well worth it.