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Chess and Literacy

"by San Diego Chess Academy Inc."

Content area literacy refers to the level of reading and writing skills necessary to read, comprehend, and react to appropriate instructional materials in a given content area. This means that teachers must provide appropriate, differentiated instruction to enable students to succeed in their given subject area. These skills are developed through instruction that involves writing, reading, listening, thinking, and speaking. A great resource for the latter four of these elements is the San Diego Chess Academy Inc. program. Along with the program’s success in enhancing academic skills, such as problem solving and visualization, chess instruction offers further student development in language arts literacy.

Listening and Speaking
Because both the in-class and after school chess instruction is given in a lively verbal style while using visuals and manipulatives, each student gains experience in listening and speaking. Instructors assess student understanding by asking questions and listening for correct responses. The follow standards in the listening/speaking domain are found in chess instruction.

1.1 Understand and follow one and two-step oral instructions
1.2 Share information and ideas, speaking audibly in complete, coherent sentences.
1st Grade
1.1 Listen attentively
1.2 Ask questions for clarification and understanding
1.3 Give, restate and follow simple two-step instructions
2nd Grade
1.2 Ask for clarification and explanation of...ideas
1.3 Paraphrase information that has been shared orally by others.
1.4 Follow three and four-step oral instructions
3rd grade
1.1 Retell, paraphrase, and explain what has been said by a speaker
1.2 Respond to questions with appropriate elaboration
1.5 Organize ideas chronologically
4th Grade
1.1 Ask thoughtful questions and respond to relevent questions with appropriate elaboration in oral setting.
5th Grade
1.1 Ask questions that seek information not already discussed.
1.2 Make inferences or draw conclusions based on oral reports

Reading/Reading Comprehension
After a school has invested its time in an in-class chess demonstration, the San Diego Chess Academy after school instruction provides continued development in literacy, which involves ability appropriate worksheets that engage the students in chess problems. The worksheets organized format offers game practice using diagrams, chess vocabulary, and simple one to three-step instructions. The follow is a list of some of the language arts standards that are satisfied by these activities.

1.3 Understand that printed materials provide information.
1st Grade
2.1 Identify text that uses sequence or other logical order.
2.3 Follow one-step written instructions.
2.6 Relate prior knowledge to textual material.
2nd Grade
2.1 Use titles, tables of contents.... to locate information in expository text.
2.4 Ask clarifying questions about essential textual elements of exposition.
3rd Grade
2.7 Follow simple multi-step written instructions.
4th Grade
2.7 Follow multi-step instructions in a basic technical manual.
5th Grade
2.1 Understand how text features make information accessible and usable.

Although there is no “Thinking” domain included in the standards, all of them are designed to incorporate exercises in the development of the thinking process. Since chess is a game of logic, it requires advanced critical thinking skills. By providing such exposure to the process of thinking and other crucial literacy components, students’ overall ability to perform in all academic areas will be increased. These important values are instilled in a way that is entertaining and enjoyable to all children.


"Standards Source: California Department of Education (1999)
Reading/Language Arts Framework for California Public Schools, Sacramento"




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