Hello, I have just taken the 7th and 8th grade math position at my school for the remainder of the year. My students have had several different adults already this year and while some of them are still easily able to connect with "traditional" math lessons, I would like to find as many avenues as possible to open this world up to them. Others of my students require more enticing and I mean to provide as many options as possible for them to engage in work that is meaningful.
I brought in my old wooden chess set from home, and it sat on a window sill for a week or so, until one day two of my boys who sometimes struggle with being rowdy when rowdiness is not called for stayed in the game's thrall for an entire class period.
Chess is a game that calls upon players to think strategically, and not get to attached to any one approach at solving a problem.
I sometimes spend 45 minutes helping my students develop strategies for the types of math problems they'll see on tests. I will still work with them in that way, however having access to chess, they will generate their own strategies organically, instantaneously and with a sense of discovery over the course of a game.
Many of my students have come through difficulties in their lives, and this makes it hard for them to navigate social conflicts. They can be quick to be defensive or go on the attack. With chess, their attention is not focused on the other person but an inanimate object, and I have seen them be very generous with each other over the course of a game.
I now have a line of kids who want to play, but only one set!
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