8 takeaways about multiple intelligences in the classroom
Howard Gardener (Harvard University) theorized that students learn and understand in different ways. He determined that every child has intelligences, and some of these intelligences are stronger than others.
Effective teachers encourage their students to use their strengths when learning. These strengths keep students engaged, and they serve a vehicle for connecting with new concepts.
Differentiation based on strength
Students are more or less apt to remember their world based on their multiple intelligences. Because they learn differently, students must be taught differently as well. Differentiation is the best approach to instruction.
Think about the students in your classroom. Some of the children are probably good in math, and others have a facility with language. You may have a child who can tell you in what key the classroom lights hum. A few students may have exceptional artistic skills.
The best way to differentiate instruction is by addressing each one of Gardener’s eight multiple intelligences.
The eight intelligences
- Linguistic: If your students excel in linguistics, encourage them to write for a variety of purposes, including to entertain, inform or persuade. Let them present their work in speeches and presentations that rely heavily on linguistic skills.
- Logical-mathematical: These students are skilled with numbers. Allow them to collect, analyze, and present data while showcasing their strong reasoning skills.
- Visual-spatial: Student artists and visual thinkers can design and visualize. They take the numbers from logical-mathematical students and present them in graphics. Students who are dominant in the visual-spatial intelligence are also good at solving puzzles and interpreting space.
- Intrapersonal: Students will strong evaluation skills are considered intrapersonal. They often do their best work when reflecting independently. Consider having them keep interactive notebooks to show off their strength.
- Interpersonal: Students with dominant interpersonal skills make excellent leaders and team captains They are skilled communicators, which makes them natural actors or debaters.
- Musical Some students benefit from showing you what they have learned through sound and rhythm.
- Bodily-kinesthetic: You will have students who need to show you what they know by moving. They may pantomime, act out, or even dance. Bodily-kinesthetic students often enjoy competition.
- Naturalistic: Almost empathic in nature, these students relate best to nature and their environment. They will find themselves drawn to the plants and animals you have in your classroom
Your students may be strong in several of the multiple intelligences, but one intelligence will usually be dominant. There are dozens of ways for your students to engage in each of the multiple intelligences and increase understanding.
Consider grouping your students by their multiple intelligences when assigning a project. Make sure no two primary intelligences are in the same group. That way, every member must contribute based on strength.
By understanding multiple intelligences and encouraging the strengths your students bring to the classroom, you help them uncover those skills at which they excel. Then they can use their strengths to demonstrate what they’ve learned.
What about your own multiple intelligences?
If you are curious about your strengths, try taking a multiple intelligences self-assessment. Then use your strengths to build differentiated lessons based on your students’ multiple intelligences.