Sometimes, there’s no substitute for human interaction

This is my final post wrapping up my learning project for ECMP355.

By learning to play chess, I learned a lot about learning (that makes sense, right?)  What I mean is that I’m taking away so much more than knowledge of playing a game. I rediscovered a lot about the actual process of learning. I don’t remember the last time that I consciously learned and developed a new skill. Especially as teachers, I know that we are constantly learning and growing, but it is something else entirely to concentrate on learning one particular skill. I’m not getting any younger, and I’m sure it helps to keep the mind sharp to learn a new skill or game every once in a while!

I was stuck in the substitution and augmentation levels in my journey learning to play chess. Yeah, I was using technology, but not in a way that greatly benefited of transformed my learning. I think that if I had chosen a different learning project I would have been able to move more into the modification and redefinition levels. A goal for my teaching is to stay out of the substitution area with tech in the classroom!


So what I came to realize through teaching myself a new skill through the internet…
Don’t force it. Don’t use technology just for the sake of using technology.  If the internet or tech tool you are using doesn’t feel right, try something else. Yes the internet is an incredible learning resource, but it has so suit your learning style to be useful. In watching videos, reading tutorial, and playing matches against the computer, I felt like I was lacking the hands on interaction that helps me learn best. So like I said before, the internet is great but it doesn’t work for everyone’s learning preferences. Sometimes there is no substitute for good old fashioned hands on learning and human interaction. Once I decided to return to playing chess with my boyfriend in real life, I caught on so much quicker. It really helped my learning to physically move the piece and interact with another person.

Which leads me to another nugget of knowledge I’ve obtained:
Don’t be afraid to access people as resources! While I struggled with learning online for weeks, there was a real live person sitting in my house the whole time who could have helped me. Use people as learning tools! I also found it helpful to reach out to other chess players I found on Facebook groups. Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge that other’s can offer you. I’ll be sure to remember this in my teaching. I’ll keep in mind that often student’s parents and family members could be excellent experts to invite into the class, Nothing wrong with admitting I don’t know everything! I’ll ask for help and invite them into the classroom to share their knowledge.

Although I didn’t end up loving learning through the internet, I definitely used technology to show my progress. I used Snapchat, YouTube video editor and uploader, Screencastify, and so many littler tricks on WordPress. I think I learned more about these resources than I did about playing chess! (Maybe that was Katia’s intention all along..?Sneaky..)



I may not be a chess master, and I may not even really like the game… but I discovered a lot about myself as a learner and developed new skills in using technology!


I think I’ll stick to checkers

Okay so chess isn’t exactly my favourite thing in the world. I wanted to give it a fair shot and really understand how to play before I decided whether or not I liked it. Well I know the rules and am capable of playing a whole game… and I just don’t really like it. Not my thing.  I’ve been practicing online at  which is really a fantastic website. You can customize all the settings to changing the level of difficulty and hints it gives you and the speed of the game. I played against the computer but you can also play against other people in real time. It was a great way for me to practice up!

Here is a short screencast  of my playing against the computer-just to give you an idea of what it looks like. If you are interested in playing chess or wanted to gain some experience, I highly recommend this site!

Just a short sample, but you get the point. I ended up losing this match… Beat by the computer (sigh). My strategy isn’t exactly the greatest. (Okay, I have no strategy whatsoever). But the important thing is that I understand how to play chess!

c07ff66d5b (1)
My favourite form of self expression is through internet memes. Image from

At the beginning I was really hoping that I would turn out to be a naturally awesome chess player and would love it, buuuuuut that’s not the case. Not my thing. But that’s okay.  I went through the process of learning a new skill and can cross one thing off my bucket list. And I have a new game to play on my phone when I need to kill some time, and that’s the important thing right? 😉

My first real chess match

This week I took a break from my online chess efforts and decided to give it a shot in real life. It went much better. There’s just something about the human interaction and hands on factor that helps my brain grasp easier.

This is Quinn. Electrician by day, chess master by night

I promised not to whine and complain, so he agreed to play a match against me and help me along the way. I only needed a hint a few times.

I was the black squares/frosty pieces. Wasn’t sure what move to make next!
(This chess set is very frustrating. I wish I had gotten one with two distinct different colors- would be less confusing)

Right now, I definitely have no strategy and I certainly lost, but at least I get the point. It was almost fun.

Dramatic footage of me loosing…

Now its back to my chess app to practice up and perfect my strategy so I can beat him next time!

Slowly but surely

Trying something different for this blog post. I have uploaded simple videos to YouTube before but I have never used a video editor so  wanted to give it a try! Basically all I did was record three separate videos on my iPhone, upload them to YouTube, then use YouTube’s video editor to put them together and adjust the color and brightness. Very simple but its an accomplishment for me!

Here is what I have learned so far. Enjoy!



Next up…. a practice chess match with my boyfriend!

Patience is a virtue

Okay teaching myself to play chess is harder than I thought. I am quite frustrated. I’m not catching on as quickly as I thought I would.

I’ve been trying to play against the computer on I’ve set it to beginner mode and enabled the hints. I get the fundamentals of the game but I can’t yet seem to remember how each piece moves- I constantly have to refer back to a cheat sheet to check!  Or I end up using the hint option a little too often so I’m not sure that I am really playing…

Needless to say, the learning has been sloooowwww going. I have two options at this point: A) Suddenly become a more patient person (not likely). Or B) Take a different approach to learning. I know that I learn best through hands-on. While the live game online is helpful, I think my brain would respond better if I could actually touch the pieces and physically move them.  Get that muscle memory working! SO… I bought a second-hand chess board. I think it’s time to swallow my pride and ask my boyfriend to play a game against me/teach me. At least now I know what the pieces are called!

Chess lesson


Today’s the day. I sat down at my computer determined to begin learning to play chess. I figured I would search for a tutorial on wikiHow because it’s basically a guide for dummies.  What I found looked like a well organized and straight forward instruction about the basics. I read through the rules and they went right over my head. I literally did not retain a single thing. I know myself well enough by now to recognize that I am a visual learner! I love reading but I do not absorb new information very well that way. I needed to watch a video. What did we do before YouTube? Seriously.


Not that helpful ^

BUT  I learned how to take a screen capture on my laptop! Also with the help of a YouTube video. Yay

I watched this video and was able to wrap my head around the basic concepts a bit better. It gave me a beginning understanding of the rules.



I struggled a bit to find other useful videos. Maybe I’m too impatient, but I really can’t make myself pay attention through a 40+ minute video.

I eventually found this video of an 8 year old kid and the mayor of a town in North Carolina (random) which was actually very helpful.

I thiiiiiiink I get it. Next step is to find an online game and give it a try. I’m imagining that I will learn best by doing and learning from mistakes.

If that 8 year old boy can play chess…so can I!



As part of my #learningproject for #ECMP355, I have decided to teach myself how to play chess!  Why chess? Because it seems like something that most functional adults know how to do (no offence if you don’t). Whenever the subject comes up, people are typically surprised that I don’t know how to play! I guess I missed the memo. It is a game I have attempted to learn in the past (by attempted I mean gave up after 3 minutes) but never really followed through. So this is finally the push I need to master it! (and by master I really mean gain a basic functional understanding)

Right now, my knowledge of chess is basic. I know what the board looks like and I can name a few of the pieces (queen, pawn, castle, horse ?)
So I’m basically starting from scratch.

I tend to get frustrated easily and don’t have much patience with myself. But I think this is a reasonable task to master in a reasonable amount of time!

The plan:
Step 1) Watch YouTube videos and read online tutorials.
Step 2) Practice with virtual games until I feel confident I have grasped it
Step 3) Real life game

I will blog my progress along the way!

Step 3 will be the final test to determine if I have succeeded will be a match with my boyfriend- who claims he is a “chess master”.

Wish me luck!