You've just read the bad; driving, non-stop to Florida. Ugly is result that comes from swimming your sunblock right off your skin from the hours of water overindulgence. House arrest was an inevitable result. Without the bad and the ugly, "Good" would never have been reached. While under my first of many house arrests I read the Hobbit. As a history book addict this book and the Lord of the Rings trilogy remain the only fiction I've willingly digested. In 1978, during my second incarceration, we viewed Star Wars two days in a row to keep out of the sun. These two episodes mark the "good" that can grow from bad and ugly circumstances. It was my third and final jail stint that provided me the greatest of the good: Learning to play chess with my grandfather...
Over the past 14 months I've been teaching my youngest daughter to play chess. Her experience has been much different than my oldest daughters' first year of the game. Chess for my oldest daughter was, at times, a really frustrating affair. Remembering rules, moves and the names of pieces led us to ending sessions without a sense of joy or fulfillment. This most recent indoctrination to the game, for my youngest daughter, has been quite the opposite. This is entirely due to the use of the book Chess is Child's Play.
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This book is a chess learning masterpiece. As the founder of a middle school chess club, a U.S. History teacher and a football coach for twenty years I can write this statement with expertise in the field of education to back it up. Academic benefits for chess play are abundant, Laura Sherman and Bill Kilpatrick, the authors, make the point. But this book is not written to sell you on the game of chess as a motivator for excelling student success in school. It's a book to become a better chess teacher/coach. The authors know pedagogy. An individuals status as an honor-roll student, all-league quarterback or chess team captain doesn't automatically transcend itself into a classroom as teacher, on the practice field or to the chess table as a coach. Highly effective teachers and coaches are able to shape their content mastery and knowledge in such a manner as to allow others to understand it. It's not as easy a task as it seems. A simple verbal explanation rarely converts into depth of learning. Much goes into the craft of teaching. Chess is Child's Play provides content expertise on how to relate the game to students so learning can occur with fluency.
The true brilliance of this book is the manner in which the game of chess is broken down into digestible bits for the padawan learner (Star Wars pun intended). Mini-games are inherent throughout the book. Never before had I encountered this methodology for the game of chess. Strange because as a chess club founder, football coach and U.S. History teacher I'm constantly breaking down concepts into smaller, more focused, content directed lessons. Participating in these mini-games is akin to breaking down a football practice or a unit of instruction into a 7-on-7 passing session or a Boston Tea Party puppet play. Coaches and teachers employ these planning strategies in an effort to provide hands-on, active learning opportunities for pupils and players because it's proven to help them learn (see Diagram A).
"The true brilliance of this book is the manner in which the game of chess is broken down into digestible bits for the padawan learner."