The conference has a panel debate on digital assisted learning on Saturday afternoon: ‘Promises and Limitations of Digital School Chess’ which will be an opportunity to discuss a topic which is becoming increasingly important to the teaching community. Schools are gaining experience in how to integrate online curricula into the classroom but there are many issues to be resolved. Digital applications supplement the traditional methods and teachers value the structure and insights these can bring especially as the applications evolve through feedback from many users. Teachers feel more effective and better able address the diverse range of abilities and interests of their children. Schools are exploring which systems to use and the best way to introduce them. On the panel are János Pallagi, who developed a chess learning system (that he will present on Sunday morning), Mads Jacobsen who heads the Danish Scholastic Chess Association, and Melissa Remus Elliot, the Headteacher of Heathside Preparatory School in London who strongly promotes chess for educational purposes.
János Pallagi´s LearningChess system arose from a project at Pipacsvirag Secondary School outside Budapest. János Pellagi, an IT specialist, worked with Erzsébet Sarlós, the school Director, on a Chess and Logic Curriculum which breaks new ground. The accompanying software was further transformed into a chess learning application system. This has been translated into English and made free for schools (see video). Already, a couple of thousand children are using it worldwide. The system has evolved so that pupils can track their own development and teachers can monitor the progress of their pupils and their strengths and weaknesses. The evidence suggests that tools such as this can improve attainment in chess, logic and mathematics.
Chess wasn´t supposed to be suitable for pre-teenage children only a century ago. Since then it has not only entered primary education but the game is now reaching preschool. Some chess schools and teachers have started to focus on very young children. Suitable materials for kindergartens and infant schools have recently come up in numerous countries. To feature this development we introduced a workshop “Early Years Chess”, giving opportunity to some of the pioneers to present their approach.
Among these pioneers are Boris and Luba Alterman and their company Chess in a New Way. Hundreds of Kindergartens and Primary Schools in Israel are using their materials, curriculum and trainings for educators. Boris estimates that they are reaching close to 20,000 children. A Christian school in Ramle encouraged them to translate their textbook from Hebrew to Arabic.
Shortly after Boris and Luba returned from our 2013 conference, Chess in a New Way was voted Israel´s best small business among many hundreds of applicants. This ensured a lot of attention and publicity.
Chess in a New Way is truely a family business. Their daughter Ariela is working in the company and will also come to London to show and explain their materials in our exhibition. Their son Lior, a programming genius who has started a professional IT career at 15, has developed an app called Chess World which started sales just in time for our conference.
Is there anybody else who is an expert on as many aspects of school chess as Karel van Delft? The psychologist, chess teacher and coach from Apeldoorn has just published a compendium on school chess in his native Dutch. “Schoolschaken” is available from his personal website and will be presented to the public at the prestigious Max Euwe Centrum in Amsterdam on 17 December.
Formerly a newspaper journalist, Karel covers the contributions of others equally well as he is explaining his own ideas and experiences. He proposes an analytic grid for evaluating chess instruction and has an original chapter on chess and dyslexia. The book includes a glossary of more than hundred pages with 328 entries and an annotated reading list. Out of his many fields of expertise, Karel will be presenting at our conference on chess instruction for gifted children and for autistic children, in both of which he has years of experience.
If you want an exemplar of “Schoolschaken” at the conference contact him at k.vandelft AT planet.nl
Karel is also going to document the conference with us. His excellent footage of the 2013 presentations is still on his website.