Whole Brain Teaching Explored – Mirrors

Mirrors

The longer we talk, the more students we lose – Chris Biffle

Mirrors Explained

Mirrors is used when introducing new content in a WBT classroom. When the students are mirroring our gestures, it activates their visual and motor cortices, resulting in student engagement!

The teacher calls out “mirror” and the students respond “mirror.” Students then lift their hands up near their ears, ready to mimic the teacher’s gestures. As the teacher teaches the lesson and makes gestures, the students mimic these gestures. In doing so, their motor cortex, the brain’s most reliable memory area, becomes automatically engaged.

Why Use Mirrors?

  • It activates the motor cortex, the portion of the brain with the highest memory retention abilities. In contrast, the Wernick’s area which is activated during speaking and writing, has the lowest memory retention abilities.
  • Our gestures offer students examples of gestures to use when teaching their partners. (more on Teach-Okay in an upcoming post)
  • We can immediately see which students are on-task and those who aren’t
  • It is just plain fun!

3 Kinds of Gestures

Casual: These are hand motions that you would use naturally while
speaking. 

Graphic: We try and match our gestures to exactly what is being said. For example, if you’re talking about writing something , hold an imaginary pen in your hand and write on the other hand.  Tip : Use when you are telling a story or describing a process.

Memory: These type of gestures are linked to core concepts and/or state standards, and the same gesture is repeated each time. Every memory gesture is unique. For example, a memory gesture for multiplication might be holding your arms out in front of you like an X.

Mirror Words 

Teacher says “mirror words” and students respond “mirror words.” As the teacher speaks, the students repeat your words and gestures. By using mirror words, 5 brain activities are now involved: seeing (motor cortex), speaking (Broca’s area), hearing (Wernicke’s area), doing (motor cortex) and feeling (limbic system). Engagement and it’s finest and highest quality!

Tip: To keep Mirror Words and Mirrors straight, I use Mirrors – Zip! for mirroring without words. When I call out “Mirrors – Zip” (and mimic zipping my lips) the students respond “Mirrors – Zip” as they zip their mouths closed to remind them to not speak my words.

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