Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Teaching Strategy First-Graders Moved by Chess Game

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Teaching Strategy First-Graders Moved by Chess Game

Article excerpt

Jarod Magdon's chess-playing strategy paid off Thursday morning.

"I try to surround her king," he said, pensively maneuvering his chess men. "I win!"

Not bad for a 6-year-old.

Jarod and his first-grade classmates at Cunningham Creek Elementary School --- in addition to learning to read and add --- are learning the intricacies of chess from teacher Allen Anderson.

Anderson is one of 29 St. Johns County teachers awarded a grant for innovative teaching strategies.

Grants totaling more than $18,000 were awarded last month to teachers at 17 schools by the St. Johns County Education Foundation, formed six years ago to enhance public schools.

The competitive Horizon Grant program is funded by corporate and private donations and proceeds from the annual Teacher of the Year banquet, sponsored by Northrup Grumman. To date, more than $80,000 in grants have been awarded.

Anderson got about $170 to pay for 10 chess games, including chess men that are marked with arrows showing the directions they can move.

The only other grant recipient from the northwest part of the county was science teacher David Pomerantz of Switzerland Point Middle School, who received $200 for a kite design project.

In December, Pomerantz's students will work in groups of three to create kites using geometry, symmetry, drawing to scale, proportion, aerodynamics, construction skills and cooperation.

A contest will determine the strongest, highest-flying and most interesting kite design. Before building kites from wooden dowels and heavy plastic, students will research kite sites on the Internet. In the past, students have found kites valued at $10,000.

Students will learn the history of kites, including the fact that the Chinese built kites 2,000 years ago and that they were used during war time to fly information, Pomerantz said.

Other awards went to schools in the south and northeast areas of St. Johns County. Five went to R.B. Hunt Elementary School.

Meanwhile, Anderson has been teaching his students to play chess by introducing one chess man at a time every couple of weeks.

So far, they know the pawn, the king and rook and are playing games with just those pieces. …

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