Gestures for Silicate Structures

Barb Dutrow (Louisiana State University), Kinnari Atit (Temple University) and Carol Ormand (SERC at Carleton College)
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Initial Publication Date: May 12, 2015 | Reviewed: August 4, 2022


In this exercise, students use gestures to show the structures of single and double chain silicate minerals, paying attention to where silica tetrahedra share oxygen ions and the relative positions of the tetrahedra.

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Learning Goals

After successfully completing this exercise, students will be able to

  • Use a gesture to illustrate the structure of a silica tetrahedron.
  • Use gestures to show how silica tetrahedra share oxygen ions in chain silicates.

Context for Use

This exercise is designed for use when students are beginning to learn about the classes of silicate mineral structures.

Description and Teaching Materials

Students use gestures to show the structures of island silicates, dislocates, single and double chain silicate minerals.

Silicate structures gesture exercise (Microsoft Word 1MB May12 15)


The instructor walks around the room and verbally quizzes students as they are doing the exercise to assess their understanding.

References and Resources

Goldin-Meadow, Susan (2011). Learning Through Gesture. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, v. 2, n. 6, pp. 595–607.

Using Gesture to Support Spatial Thinking highlights the value of gesture in communicating spatial information. It consists of two short exercises, and can be used in preparation for any other exercise in which students will be asked to use gesture to communicate spatial information.