Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Whole Brain Teaching Wednesday! Mind Soccer

     My second student teaching placement has finally begun! I am still just observing and getting to know the students but I start teaching next week and you can be sure I will be introducing them to WBT asap! In preparation, here is my seventh Whole Brain Teaching Wednesday post! I hope that this focus on a specific WBT strategy is helpful to those of you who are wishing to learn more about how a certain strategy may work and what my personal experience with it has been. Last time I highlighted "The Agreement Bridge", this week I would like to introduce you to the WBT strategy of "Mind Soccer". (I realize that my introduction of these strategies are not in any specific order).

     As teachers, we are always finding/inventing ways to review material with our students and gauge their comprehension. These can include traditional worksheet assignments, trivia games, curriculum-themed board games and card games, SmartBoard interactive games, jeopardy.... the list goes on and on. The point is that we need to have a way to understand what our student's understand and provide our students with opportunities to review content in various contexts. Growing up I actually don't remember what types of activities my teachers used in elementary school but I do remember spending time in high school reviewing material by writing out facts again... and again... and again during class. For me, this did work incredibly well and this is how I continued to study through the four years of my undergrad degree. Do I remember any of the material from high school now? No, not at all, but I do remember how time consuming it was and how much I disliked it (no matter how well it worked).

     With this in mind, I think that students need to enjoy what they are doing and have fun with their learning. I believe that if students can have an emotional reaction (in this case, fun/laughter/excitement) to their learning then they will remember it more easily. I mean, it works with the subjects we hate right? I struggled with math and despite having difficulty with it, I can remember specific questions from my Grade 12 pre-calc provincial exam because I had such a strong (and negative) emotional reaction to them. "Mind Soccer" is an activity used to review material with students that is meant to be fun, exciting and engaging for our students. The rules of the game specifically create intense and exciting situations for our students which I believe may assist them in remembering material more effectively. The following describes the rules of "Mind Soccer" as stated by Chris Biffle in the Mind Soccer free e-book download.

The Set Up: Draw a horizontal line, about six feet long, near the bottom of your blackboard. Mark off the line in 11 equidistant vertical marks. The horizontal line stands for a soccer field; each end of the line is a soccer goal; the vertical marks divide the field into units (like a football field). Place an eraser under the vertical mark in the middle of the field. The eraser is the soccer ball.
How To Play
1. Divide the class into two teams. We’ll use boys against girls, but it could be right side of the class against left side, etc.
2. Each team chooses the other team’s captain (this is usually quicker than having each team choose its own captain.)
3. To start the game, the captains stand face to face at the front of the room. You pose one of your review questions and, just as in “Family Feud”, the captains slap their hands down on a desk as quickly as possible if they know the answer. The captain who is quickest, gets the chance to answer. If the captain is right, his/her team gets the ball. Otherwise, the opposing team’s captain gets the ball.
4. Assume the girls’ team wins control. Picking one player at a time, ask review questions to the girls’ team. If the player’s answer is correct, loud, fast and with an energetic gesture, that counts as a “strong kick.” Advance the ball, the eraser, almost a full hash mark down the field toward the boys’ goal. If the answer is correct but too quiet or slow or doesn’t have an energetic gesture, that is a “weak kick.” Advance the ball a short distance toward the boys’ goal. If the girls’ answer is wrong, shout “Turnover!” and now the boys’ team gets a chance to play. If you like a rowdy classroom, encourage teams to cheer when the ball is going their direction and groan when it isn’t. Thus, every time the ball moves, you’ll have cheering and groaning.
* See additional rules that can be incorporated to add excitement by downloading the FREE e-book (it was too much to include everything in this post)

     This is an activity that I will be using with my students as soon as I begin teaching again! Right now I am still just observing but I start teaching next week and I think my students will love this. I may, however, need to change it to "Mind Hockey" to make it more meaningful for them haha. (My first day in the classroom I walked in and was amazed by how many boys had bright pink mohawks, which I quickly learned were to celebrate their hockey team making it to provincials.) I think that this activity will be especially beneficial for our class because many students have difficulty with writing and reading but excel in their verbal language skills and would be able to answer questions verbally more easily. Check out this video of a 7th Grade Class in Texas using "Mind Soccer".

Check out the Whole Brain Teaching website to see Chris Biffle's instructions in context or check out Chris Biffle's YouTube channel to see this strategy in action.


  1. This sounds like a lot of fun! I bet the kids like it a lot! I may try to make a simplified version of it for my kids.

  2. Thanks Angel! The great thing about this is that you make up whatever questions you want so you can tailor them to fit your student's curriculum and ability levels. You can also chose what "options" you include so you can play a basic version or add more modifications to add excitement or change difficulty levels. If you try it with your class make sure to let me know how it goes :)


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