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 School Go Teaching Program Lessons

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 General Information

This is a fourteen lesson plan that was used for several years in public elementary schools in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Go classes took place once a week for forty five minute to an hour period. Students were mostly in fourth and fifth grade classrooms.

The week before the go program started, an introductory letter was sent home to parents explaining that their children would be learning go, and why the game was educational and beneficial on a number of levels. Click on "introductory letter" on the left side menu. I felt it was impotant to create some excitement and positive expectations before even coming in to the classroom.

The first three lessons are an introduction to the history of the game and learning the rules to "the capture game". A new concept is introduced each week, and the class is playing go by the fourth lessson. I found it best to use the capture game to introduce go because the rules were quickly and easily explained, and kids could get down to playing before their attention spans were exhausted. Click on the weeks 1-14 on the left hand menu to see the individual lessons.

The program was set up so that the first 4-6 weeks, lessons were given to the entire class. After this time, students individually elected whether to continue (not everyone is going to be attracted to the game, and it was good to not continue with children who were not interested and could be disruptive). Thus, after this time, go became a pull-out elective for the group of continuing students.

The lessons are set up to take the first 15 minutes of class time, leaving a half hour for game play. Please note that while the idea was to have the next lesson each week, sometimes we spent more than one week on a particular lesson, depending on the class. This means that some classes progressed to the full board lessons, while other groups did not. Progressing is not as important as understanding and having a good time with the material.

Some other things that were really helpful:

  • Before coming in the first time, I asked the teacher to have each child make a name tag and a "Go" folder. It is much easier to keep control in a classroom if you get to know the children's names. I would also get a class list from each teacher so as to be able to work on names.
  • Every week, we would introduce new terms, which the kids would write down and keep in their go folders. I found the kids loved learning the Japanese and Chinese terms and would occasionally quiz them on them.
  • We also went over game etiquette very early, and had them write that down and also keep behaviour rules in their folders. Etiquette rules were considered the same as playing rules (Etiquette rules are in week 2).
  • Importantly, during one of the last full class lessons, each child wrote a thank you letter to the AGF, who was matching the funds for the program. The letters were really priceless, very encouraging to read, and are also wonderful tools for future fundraising and program promotion.
  • Carry bags of wrapped candy (Jolly ranchers were a favorite) for various uses. The kids would get them for good etiquette, answering problems, and I would give them to both players after they'd finished a game, counted, and thanked each other.

I tried to end the program at each school with a 9x9 tournament for the all the classes in the program at each school. This always generated a lot of excitement and an upbeat ending for the program. Click on "tournament" on the left side menu for ideas on how to run one. Also, on this page there are details on giving an evaluation form to each teacher for feedback.

Please feel free to use any parts of this program that are helpful to you. I found teaching go one of the most challenging and satisfactory experiences I have had. I hope that it will be the same for you.

Best wishes,

Susan Weir