Like many good ideas this just began with 'let's have a go'. I was approached by two teachers Steve Carroll and Harry Poulton who had an idea to extend the idea of chess clubs into the mainstream classes in thirteen Castlemaine district schools (central Victoria).
Steve and Harry wanted to get kids enthused by playing chess and seeing if there is an improvement in numeracy skills. They gained academic support from Dr Stephen Tobias of James Cook University, who is just as enthusiastic to see if there is an improvement in numeracy thinking and strategising skills of middle years students.
The cluster principals decided to use funds from our Innovations and Excellence initiative to fund tutors and to purchase chess kits for each school.
Once a week for a maths session tutors would take the kids through chess strategies and play chess games. The initiative took off at an astounding rate with kids who never expressed an interest in chess getting hooked. The key ideas of mainstreaming the chess as a normal class and supplying outside tutors proved the key.
A chess blog is running and has received favourable feedback from US chess guru Susan Polger.
I've been involved as the Educator for the cluster and we have a big tournament this coming Monday, also funded by our Innovations and Excellence Initiative.Chess Kids is running the tournament at the Old Castlemaine Prison, a rather unique environment for our students.
We estimate over two hundred of our primary students will compete. It seems virtually all of the grade 5 and 6 students want to compete, that's how enthusiastic they are.