Language Arts: Vocabulary Support, Reading and Comprehension
Great Moves: Learning Chess Through History is written in 5 parts that begin with the origins of chess and continue through the late 1800s; the chess instruction goes from a review of beginning concepts, presented in the context of when the idea was first published or popularized, and advances to feature some of the great games of the Romantic era of chess. The text has been designed as a cross-curricular course where we teach chess and social studies together. Of course, we are also encouraging reading.[read more=”Read more…” less=”Read less…”]
Great Moves has been evaluated by MetaMetrics using The Lexile Framework for Reading. The book scored 1050L, which translates to a middle school reading level. We recommend a minimum of 5th grade. We have tested the material extensively with younger children who love the stories, but most will not be able to read the book independently. For younger grades, Great Moves is more of a teacher manual than a self-study text. For everyone else, we hope they find the book interesting and accessible.
In addition to scoring the entire text, we took the 5 parts and broke each into 2 sections. Using the Lexile Power V Vocabulary Tool, we built 10 vocabulary lists (most are 20 words). Knowing these words will help ensure that the reader understands the content.
Attached you will find the word lists. Each covers approximately 30 pages of the book. You can review both vocabulary lists for Part 1. Chess Origins and Development, for example, at the beginning of the section, or you can break Part 1 into 2 sections and introduce the second vocabulary list around page 43.
The words in the lists have some blanks where letters have been left out. In his book “Learn Better,” Ulrich Boser shares the importance of making learning “active,” even if it is as simple as working through a word list. “The power of mentally doing – of creating value in an area of expertise – is clear in basic memory tasks…. People are far more likely to recall [a word] if a letter is missing from the word when they read it. When people add the [missing letter], they’re completing the word. They’re finishing the thought and in the most basic of ways, they’ve done some work to produce their learning – and thus make it more meaningful.”
So, we have the words with a letter, or letters, missing, and the definitions on the front of a page and the properly spelled words on the back.
We recommend also saying the words out loud. How can one claim to truly know a word, if he or she cannot pronounce it!
Then, as further reinforcement, each word list has also been made into a crossword puzzle. Teachers should have the student complete the vocabulary list and say the words, and then give the crossword later, perhaps as homework. Have the student keep his or her vocabulary sheet. Unlike most crosswords where there is smaller puzzle with the answers on the back of the page, our puzzles require the student to go back to the vocabulary list and check off any words they might not have been able to fill in based on the clues (definitions) alone. Again, we want the students to be “active” learners.
In addition to general vocabulary, we have 2 chess word lists, also with crossword puzzles. These lists are comprised of the words that appear in bold throughout the book. With these, we did not leave blank letters. These lists may be kept aside as a handy glossary when working with Great Moves or other chess instructional material. ChessWords-1 covers all the terms in Part 1 of the book (the “basics”). ChessWords-2 takes up terms from the remainder of the book.
In our “A Note to Students” section we include advice for the student to look up any word or words that he or she does not understand in a dictionary. It is amazing to me when I visit schools and there are no dictionaries in the classroom. It is OK to use online dictionaries, but please encourage your students to be sure they understand the words they are reading.
Be sure to have the students read the “A Note to Students” section; it helps establish why he or she will be studying Great Moves. We know that the subjects that engage us are ones we value, and an important way to establish that value is to answer why.
Finally, as students work through the history portions of the book, they will be asked comprehension questions. They can answer on the lines provided. The answers do not have to be long but we recommend encouraging students to answer in complete sentences. A key to attaining college and career readiness is having the ability to communicate clearly, so your encouragement can be most helpful.