Later this summer, I am doing a professional development for my friend Sean at Success Academy, and possibly also for some school in Canada, and one component I was envisioning was a couple of hours of "My Favorite Lessons" delivered at high speed. Some no-prep, easy-set-up, time-tested, pull-out-when-you-have-no idea-what-to-do-today guaranteed-success lessons.
So to motivate myself to prepare them ahead of time, I thought I would share them with you.
Here's the first:
Mate in 5This lesson teaches mating patterns, planning, piece coordination, and creativity. It can be done as a large group lesson, in small groups or pairs, or as homework. It's good for multi-level classrooms, since it exposes beginners to a lot of checkmate practice, while advanced students can be given paper and pencil and asked to list as many solutions as they can find.
In the position below, explain that white gets 5 moves in a row, while black doesn't get to move. Students are asked to find as many checkmates as possible.
"You found a lot of checkmates on h7. Can you find some on g7?"
"Can you find a checkmate with a queen and bishop? Queen and knight? Queen and pawn?"
"Can you find a checkmate with two knights?" (This is also the only mate in 4 in the position)
"Can you find a checkmate using a bishop and pawn (or) using a pawn promotion?"
A Swedish visitor, Jesper Hall, showed me that lesson a few years ago, and it always works like a charm.
In other news, the pregnancy is going ok. It's getting a little annoying, lumbering around, having to hold on to stair railings, unable to lift even moderately heavy things or drink wine, but overall it's not so bad.
I'm endlessly amused by the baby kicking me.
I'm also having very vivid dreams, which is fun.
Strangers are all extremely nice to me. People smile at me on the street, and let me go first. Everyone talks to me, wants to know my due date, and seems impressed it's a boy. I always get offered a seat on the subway (the hands-down winner of offering the seat? Chinese males age 18-30. They get up 100% of the time.)
Here is a funny ultrasound picture (not mine):
see the cat?
In non baby news, we moved up to the top two floors of our house (unbelievable how much space there is) and are remodeling it. Remodeling is fun, like playing design-your-fantasy-house, only for real. Here is the bathroom floor tile I picked out:
Also, Jonathan bought the largest fridge I have ever seen, and it dispenses water and ice from the door! I live in the lap of luxury! (or I will soon, when it's delivered).
I've been reading a lot, because I spend a lot of time lying around. In the last month, I finished:
How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America (Otis Brawley)
The Circumcision Decision: An Unbiased Guide for Parents (Lorna Greenberg, Susan Terkel)
A World of Hurt: Fixing Pain Medicine's Biggest Mistake (Barry Meier)
The Norm Chronicles: Stories and Numbers About Danger (Michael Blastland)
We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lionel Shriver)
Ninety Days: A Memoir of Recovery (Bill Clegg)
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (Amy Chua)
The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius (Kristine Bartlett)
The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed State (Andrei Lankov)
Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey (Blaine Harden)
Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting (Pamela Druckerman)
They were all pretty-to-very-good, or I wouldn't have finished them. Except The Norm Chronicles, which was recommended in the Economist, disappointed me.
That's all I have for you this evening. Hopefully I will blog 10-15 times in the next few weeks with brilliant lesson ideas for you. Also, I'll be attending the upcoming US Chess School and will take photos.