Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to Basics - Mirror

Back to Basics -Mirror
Mirror is a strategy that we use everyday in our classroom. It is instant student engagement and my children just love it. Here is how it works and why it works.

I put two hands up and say mirror. The students put two hands up and say mirror. Then I speak and they copy what I said and how I said it, including my gestures. It works because the children love to learn, love to speak, love to move and love to have some fun. They are using so many areas of their brain all at once. It is active learning. No one sits back and observes, everyone is participating. You teach them the correct way to talk about a concept or skill and have them learn that,  by using correct practice repetition.

They love to catch me out when I forget to say mirrors off and they keep copying me when I don't mean for them to copy me. So a big hint is always remember to say mirrors off, when you are finished.

I mostly use mirrors for whole group instruction however I am also using it in small groups now and it works really well. Today I had a small group for spelling ,  I asked, "what they were learning about?"  A child answered, "blends"and was able to say "a blend is two letters that work together and you still hear their sounds". He also used the gesture that had been used during mirror time. Amazing, no more blank stares when I ask, what are we learning about in spelling?

Another helpful hint is to have a colourful picture prompt to go with mirror. It has the picture, the question, answer and gesture you are teaching. In Whole Brain Teaching this is called a power pix. In my classroom I have two power pix walls. One is for Mathematics and the other is for English. I'll have to save the explanation of power pix for another blog post. 

Now back to mirror. Once the students have used mirror a few times with the teacher. I then have them turn to their partner and teach it to them. I encourage full body turn, big gestures and using the words we all used. In the world of Whole Brain Teaching we call this, Teach o.k. Oh, there is another blogpost in the back to basics series. You will have to just keep coming back to read and learn more. 

Another way I use mirror is for the students to stand up at the front of the class and use it with their class mates. When I select a child I say all eyes on and the child's name and the children repeat it. The action for this is, touch your eyes,  then point fingers toward the child who is now standing up and is the teacher. The child than uses the mirror routine to reinforce a concept or skill we are practicing. The extra perfect practice this provides is an extra bonus in building that strong pathway for learning, that children and adults need. 

I strongly encourage you to use mirror in your classroom. You will be surprised how effective it is.


  1. We love "Mirror" in our room too - especially when the kids are having a turn to share an idea. It's much more engaging for the children who are listening if they are also able to move and talk along as they listen. With "Mirror" they repeat what the student is saying rather than just tuning out while it is someone else's turn to answer. :-)

  2. I agree. Mirror is a great strategy that my students also love to use. They also like catching me out when I haven't remembered to put the mirror down. It certainly is a strategy that engages the entire class.