Spring ISD chess program captures national media attention
By Jennifer Pett
In October, NBC’s “TODAY” had its cameras focused on students and staff at Northgate Crossing Elementary inSpring ISD. The TV show wanted the scoop on the district’s use of First Move, a curriculum for second and third graders that, through the game of chess, teaches math concepts, critical thinking and social skills. This school year, nearly 60,000 children in 27 states across the country are participating in the nationwide First Move program.
Spring ISD was invited to be part of the First Move story on NBC’s morning news show because of the district’s across-all-campuses adoption and commitment to the First Move curriculum.
“The district’s belief that the program has real value as a tool for engaged learning starts with Superintendent Ralph H. Draper and extends throughout the elementary schools,” says Dalane Bouillion, Spring ISD associate superintendent for curriculum and instructional services. Based on the favorable results among second and third graders, Bouillion says the school district has implemented the program at other grade levels as well.
Several factors made the chess curriculum’s implementation successful at Spring ISD. From the start, administrators widely supported the program and several school principals completed First Move’s instructional training. Also, to minimize class schedule disruption, principals were given the flexibility to choose which day of the week their campuses would focus on the First Move curriculum, and those days became “Chess Day” at the respective campuses. Several months into teaching the curriculum, the district also issued user surveys to teachers involved in the program to solicit feedback and make improvements moving forward.
The district didn’t have a chess-playing faculty in place when First Move was initiated, so program representatives served as consultants when needed. Spring ISD also held internal meetings throughout implementation to support the new chess educators.
Boullion adds, “Because we were teaching staff and students at the same time, support sessions were offered that allowed us to collaborate and solve problems together, as we would with any first-year curriculum implementation.”
Bouillion says the chess curriculum definitely has improved student engagement. Rodney Castille, a Spring ISD parent, says of his son and the First Move program: “I have personally seen my son’s analytical reasoning improve greatly over the past year.”
“Engaged learning is a key component of our district’s vision to become a leader among learning organizations and known for exemplary student achievement,” Bouillion says.
Link to original article: http://texasschoolbusiness.com/www/docs/10.2959/