Playing chess dramatically accelerates academic growth in elementary children!
I am a first-year Teach for America teacher in a Title I elementary school, where I am a fifth grade teacher. The students in my school are predominantly African American, though we also boast a large international population, with the largest ESL population in our district.
The achievement gap is very apparent in our school. Specifically, in my class, diagnostics administered at the beginning of the year revealed a 6% proficiency level in Reading and 5% in Math. With an awareness of the environment in which many of these kids are growing up, I am very concerned about their futures, and how their academic performance may contribute to or limit their options. My students desperately need access to every tool and resource that will effectively accelerate their academic gains as well as their motivation and desire for learning.
I would like to start an after school chess club at my school for the upper grades. To hit the ground running, I just need 12 chess sets (2 people can play on each board at a time). Research on children and the game of chess has shown that playing chess can have an incredible effect on academic performance, self-esteem, as well as parent support of school programs. In a 1994-97 Texas study, regular (non-honors) elementary students who participated in a school chess club showed twice the improvement of non-chess players in reading and mathematics between third and fifth grades on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills. Another study conducted by the New Jersey State Department of Education (1980-1987) found that playing chess consistently promoted self-esteem after a year of exposure. Finally, chess has been shown to be an equally appealing learning tool to both male and female students. I will work hard to make the club accessible to all students.
Your support will help to establish a lasting after school club at my elementary school - a club in which students will accelerate their academic growth and improve their self-esteem by learning and playing a fun game that encourages new ways of thinking and problem-solving. I am confident that your support will be a significant force in improving the alarming proficiency levels of my students.
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