Multiple Intelligences
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The One Who Teaches
Dana Tiger

Our heroes teach us the way of courage. They look straight into the eyes of what others fear and speak out with their best voice.
They listen intently to those whose voice is at times unsure. Our greatest heroes, with fearless eyes and caring heart, show us that there is power within us all.

"Only after repeated experiments did we conclude with certainty that all children are endowed with this capacity to absorb culture. If this be true - we then argued - if culture can be acquired without effort, let us provide the children with other elements of culture. And then we saw them absorb far more than reading and writing: botany, zoology, mathematics, geography, and all with the same ease, spontaneously and without getting tired. And so we discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to words, but in virtue of experiences in which the child acts on his environment. The teacher's task is not to talk, but to prepare and arrange a series of motives for cultural activity in a special environment made for the child. My experiments, conducted in many different countries, have been going on for forty years (ed. now eighty-five years), and as the children grew up parents kept asking me to extend my methods to the later ages. We then found that individual activity is the one factor that stimulates and produces development, and that this is not more true for the little ones of preschool age than it is for the junior, middle, and upper school children."- Maria Montessori
bullet Introduction
bullet Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence
bullet Visual/Spatial Intelligence
bullet Musical Intelligence
bullet Logical/Mathematical Intelligence
bullet Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence
bullet Interpersonal Intelligence
bullet Intrapersonal Intelligence
bullet Naturalist Intelligence



Multiple Intelligences

"My work as an educator and psychologist in the fields of multiple intelligences, the myth of ADD/ADHD, and the natural genius of kids, has been guided by a belief that all children are gifted children. Each child comes into the world with unique potentials that, if properly nourished, can contribute to the betterment of our world. The biggest challenge for parents and teachers is to remove the roadblocks that keep those gifts from being recognized, celebrated, and nurtured."- Dr. Thomas Armstrong. See Also: New Horizons for Learning.


Multiple Intelligences (MI) theory originated in 1983 from the work of Howard Gardner at the Harvard School of Education and Harvard Project Zero. This theory rejects as inadequate traditional measures of intelligence or aptitude such as the Stanford Binet Test or SAT for pre-admission to College. Rather, children should be evaluated by what they can do, not what they can not do. In a nutshell, MI theory is a "pluralized way of understanding intellect". Advances in cognitive science, developmental psychology and neuroscience suggest that each person’s intelligence, as it has been traditionally considered, is made of autonomous faculties or intelligences that work in concert with each other.

The breakdown of intelligences will probably evolve or become more refined over time, but "currently" includes: (1) Musical; (2) Bodily-Kinesthetic; (3) Logical-Mathematical; (4) Linguistic; (5) Spatial; (6) Interpersonal, (7) Intrapersonal and (8) Naturalist. Each page of this very brief paper will be devoted to defining an "intelligence" and outlining associated lesson ideas and classroom activities such as learning centers, uses of computer technology, writing activities, etc. that enable teachers to implement MI theory in their classrooms. The implication is that by properly implementing MI theory and teaching challenging content to all student’s intelligences and preferred learning styles, students will:

bullet Show increased independence, self esteem, responsibility and self direction.
bullet Show greatly reduced behavioral/attention/learning problems at school and home.
bullet Have improved cooperative skills.
bullet Show increased ability to work "multimodally" (use multiple intelligences), when doing school reports, multimedia projects, etc.
bullet Demonstrate improved leadership skills.
bullet Retain information better.

Further, the teachers role in the classroom should become less directive and more facilitative. Along with their students, teachers will also become more multimodal in their approach to teaching and learning.

Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence

The capacity to use words effectively, either orally or in writing. A well developed linguistic intelligence shows itself in attention to word, syntax and style. Linguistic intelligence embodies both left and right hemispheric processing of language- both language in a linear sense and language in the enfolded, holistic sense. Students with a high degree of linguistic intelligence think in words, learn by listening, reading and verbalizing. They enjoy writing, reading, telling stories, poetry, books, records, tapes, etc. They learn best by saying, hearing and seeing words.

Learning Activities:

bullet Performing poetry read aloud.
bullet Dictionary Game (find an unfamiliar word, challenge everyone to write imaginary definitions, read imaginary definitions along with real ones).
bullet Exploring a dictionary of synonyms to attune writers to fine differences in word meanings.
bullet Write a modern day sequel to a classical piece of literature.
bullet Write critical analyses of famous art, music or drama.
bullet Debate controversial political or historical decisions, for example, the Dred Scott Decision Supreme Court decision.
bullet Write math story problems for others to solve.
bullet Computer technology: Promote use of word processors that allow voice annotations; Desktop publishing programs; Programs with speech output; Programs that encourage creation of poetry and essays; Multimedia authoring tools; Use of tape recorders, videodisks, etc.
bullet Construct a learning center where students read a story. Tie this learning center with other learning centers that address the other intelligences.
bullet Make a list of everything you did getting up and coming to school today. Circle every fourth item on your list and make another brainstorm list describing the five senses associated with this item. Write a paragraph about one of these experiences as if it was the most important thing that ever occurred in your life; Share your writings with others and reflect on what was learned.
bullet Write poetry such as Haiku.
bullet Write an imaginative dialogue between two opposing political factions (current or historical).
bullet Class discussions of historical and contemporary issues in areas ranging from science, history, politics, etc.
bullet Listening and reporting on guest speaker talks in areas of special interest (Native American history, a particular profession, etc.).
bullet Set up debating teams and have students support their views of key issues.

Visual/Spatial Intelligence

The ability to comprehend shapes and images in three dimensions. Spatial intelligence is often relied upon by designers, architects, sculptors, engineers, etc.. It is also the "more abstract intelligence of a chess master, a battlefield commander or a theoretical physicist", as well as the familiar ability to recognize objects, faces and details. A sharp distinction can be seen between visual acuity and spatial ability. For example, a blind person may feel and identify a shape with ease, but be unable to see it. Males typically score more highly than females in this category of intelligence.

Learning Activities:

bullet Examine alternate endings to a story to see which one gives a "sense of wholeness".
bullet Examine the language of architects, sculptors and other visual thinkers to see how it differs from common usage.
bullet Observe, discuss and write about slides showing scenery, architectural landmarks, art works, advertisements, cultural artifacts and people.
bullet Work with perceptual puzzles. Solve math puzzles involving space and 3D visualization.
bullet Analyze the "spatial dimensions" of our language (under the weather, beside himself, feeling low, etc.). Observe the effect of font and typeface on the mood of expressive qualities of a piece.
bullet Have an artist talk to the class about his or her work.
bullet Visit a work of architecture that creates a special space.
bullet Computer technology: Draw and paint programs; Reading programs that use visual clues; Programs that present information in the form of maps, charts or diagrams.; Multimedia programs; Science "probeware".
bullet An art learning center that involves cutting out concentric circles of different sizes and colors, pasting and labeling them to identify different zones (Earth layers, Sun layers, Atmospheric zones, etc.).
bullet Create topographical and other types of maps.
bullet Students take notes using visual organizers such as flow charts, Venn Diagrams, caricature and matrices.
bullet Students create visual metaphors (charts, posters, etc.), representing historical and current events.
bullet Analyze art, posters and other visual media for evidence of political distortion, faulty logic, etc.
bullet Demonstrate and compare games of strategy from different cultures.
bullet Create 3D models that show the changing positions of the constellations through the year.
bullet Create murals that depict the story of an historical period.
bullet Illustrate a piece of literature with color, images and patterns.
bullet Draw patterns/images to illustrate different natural processes.
bullet Work with manipulatives to learn math operations.
bullet Study other cultures through painting and sculpture.

Musical Intelligence

The capacity to perceive, compose, discriminate, transform and express musical forms (rhythm, pitch, harmony, timbre, etc.). Musical ability functions according to Gardner like an intelligence- what composers call logical musical thinking- thinking involving both left and right hemispheres.

Learning Activities:

bullet Have students compare and contrast different recordings of a single piece of classical music, for example, Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.
bullet Intersperse music while students write about personal moments and themes in their life. Compare their writing before and after the musical "interlude".
bullet Have students interview several kinds of musicians and compare how these people think musically and create music.
bullet Learn about different periods of history by analyzing their music.
bullet Illustrate a piece of literature with music, sound and rhythm.
bullet Make a music tape to accompany different natural processes.
bullet Write math operations, formulas and problem solving raps.
bullet Learn about math concepts embedded in musical/dance pieces.
bullet Computer technology: Programs that combine stories with songs; Reading programs that associate letter sounds with music; Programs that allow students to create their own songs; Constructing presentations using CD disks; Sing along programs that display words "karaoke" style.
bullet A music learning center where students listen to music while studying spelling words.
bullet Study songs and their uses from different cultures.
bullet Analyze and study song lyrics to gain greater cultural and historical understanding.
bullet Listen to music from various periods and cultures and analyze its elements as well as historical context.
bullet Create sounds to "silent" slides of, for example, the voyage of immigrants into America, sounds that may help bring to life the reality of that experience (creaking boats, screaming children, cries of hunger, the howling of the winds, etc.)
bullet Create advertising jingles to sell a product and relate the jingle to the product/company image and target audience.

Logical/Mathematical Intelligence

The ability to mentally process logical problems and mathematical equations. Examples of such reasoning might include a mathematician working through the implications of a theorem or a reader unraveling a mystery story. According to Gardner, the most successful application of logical-mathematical intelligence is the scientific method as applied for example, in the work of Newton, Einstein and other great scientists. Logical /mathematical intelligence often does not require verbal articulation. However, mathematicians, for example, must be able to not only reason precisely, but also write down their proofs with precision. Piaget stages of mental development- from handling objects, thinking concretely about objects and then understanding formal abstract relations and operations- document the growth of this intelligence in children. Whatever their walk of life and academic background, people gifted with this intelligence will enjoy intellectual puzzles and intellectual discovery- whether they are chess players, mechanics, CPA’s or scientists at the frontiers of new knowledge.

Learning Activities:

bullet Interview someone doing work in the forefront of physics, biology, etc.
bullet Have students write about the use of logical/mathematical thinking on the news and in science reporting.
bullet Writing exercises that focus on precision, fact checking, organization, focus, revision, outlining and analytical writing.
bullet Trace the patterns of historical development in, for example, the Old West.
bullet Predict what will happen next in a story.
bullet Use the scientific method for discovery (science lab).
bullet Analyze a culture’ development chronologically.
bullet Play "Math Jeopardy" and explain operations for arriving at answers.
bullet Use a graphic organizer to analyze a scene/character in a play.
bullet Computer technology: Database and spreadsheet programs for analyzing trends and patterns; Problem solving software; Computer programming/development tools; Strategy game formats/simulations; Calculators; Multimedia authoring programs.
bullet Students are given geographic, demographic, topographic and other data and are told to create a city on a given site, or even choose the site of a city based on these and other factors.
bullet Students construct a timeline of historical events.
bullet Students are asked to graph and analyze a process (economic trends/processes, natural processes such as chemical reactions, population changes, etc.).
bullet Students devise experiments to learn about everything from basic electricity to Einstein’s special relativity theory (mind experiments).
bullet Students conduct chemistry experiments involving prediction, detection of patterns, precise charting of results and careful titration and measurement techniques.

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence

Expertise in using one’s body to express ideas and feelings as well as the facility to handle objects skillfully. Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence involves the control of movement to exhibit fine motor control and characteristics such as grace, balance and agility. It involves a natural sense of how one’s body should act and react in a demanding physical situation, including a sense of timing, a clear sense of goal and the ability to train responses so they become "automatic". Often dancers and actors will talk about a "feeling in their bodies"- an intelligence unto itself yet integrated with one’s entire being.

Learning Activities:

bullet Writing that closely describes an action or characterizes a person through gesture, rhythm and ways of moving.
bullet Interrupt a period of writing with a kinesthetic experience such as a breathing exercise or simple closed eye movement exercises and note the differences before and after the "interruption".
bullet Use improvisation or mime to display an imaginary object to the class, then pass it on to the next person who will then transform it into a different object (using only mime).
bullet Interview people with kinesthetic gifts such as athletes, gymnasts, dance artists, etc.
bullet Act out great moments or historical events from the past.
bullet Act out sun/lunar/planetary rotation/revolution.
bullet Learn to play games that are popular in different cultures.
bullet Physically embody geometry formula/fractions.
bullet Create a living painting/sculpture of an idea or feeling.
bullet Computer technology: Software requiring input such as joystick, mouse, touch windows; Word processing programs; Animation programs; Programs which allow students to move objects around the screen; Science probeware.
bullet Learning center where students construct 3D models, for example, a model of the Earth showing the core, mantle and crust layers.
bullet Students "relive" or recreate some historical event whether it be on a more "global scale", for example "reliving" the Civil War by reenactment of battles, etc. or a simple exercise such as drawing a small part of a picture over and over again until they feel the boredom of factory production (actually, a multiplication drill could accomplish the same thing!!).
bullet Students stand in front of a slide depicting an historical event and act out what they think is happening.
bullet Students setup a mock court or legislative assembly in the classroom, organizing in necessary subgroups and moving about the room to transact business, initiate discussion, get signatures, etc.
bullet Students play the game Scissors, Rock, Paper to simulate the development of capitalism and the Marxist critique of that system.

Interpersonal Intelligence

The ability to perceive and make distinctions in the moods, intentions, motivations and feelings of other people. The ability to interact with others, understand them and interpret their behavior. Interpersonal intelligence and intrapersonal intelligence are "inextricably" interconnected since true self knowledge requires a sensitivity to others and vice versa. Interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences are often found strongly developed in politicians, religious leaders, therapists, shamans, etc.

Learning Activities (all of these are also shared by Intrapersonal category):

bullet Writing from personal experience (journals), writing about another person, writing to a specific audience and presenting an issue in terms of its impact on a single person.
bullet Composing of notebooks, diaries, journals for personal reflection and coming to terms with other’s behaviors.
bullet Writing that involves projecting oneself into an other’s "skin"- seeing through other’s eyes, speaking through other’s voices. For example: writing a poem about rainforest animals from the point of view of the animals themselves.
bullet Have students observe labor management negotiations, a political rally or to interview a noted therapist or teacher.
bullet Have students define what it means to be wise and have them seek out and interview individuals who seem to posses a high degree of self-knowledge and spiritual sense.
bullet Have students write a genealogy not just of birth charts, but also of personal traits and learned habits.
bullet Computer technology: Telecommunications programs; Programs that address social issues; Programs that involve group presentation or decision making; Multi-player games;
bullet A learning center where children work together to read material and complete a worksheet or answer a group of questions.
bullet Jigsawing, STADS, cooperative learning, group investigation, numbered heads, etc.
bullet Joint story telling with a partner.
bullet Conduct interviews with people from different cultures.
bullet Service learning in any of a number of areas. Learning geared to actually, "walking in an other’s moccasins" and doing good in the community.
bullet Choreograph a dance about human relating and caring.
bullet Panel discussions where students assume the role/perspective of a societal group (feminists, business executives, gays, etc.).
bullet Students create dramatic presentations to "bring to life" term such as totalitarianism, democracy, etc.
bullet Students create their own classroom bill of rights and rules.
bullet Students participate in Center Circles, problem solving class meetings, etc.
bullet Students are encouraged, for example through literature circles, to work collaboratively in small groups.

Intrapersonal Intelligence

The cognitive ability to understand our self- access to one’s own feeling life, the capacity to discriminate feelings, to find symbols for them and to draw upon them to guide one’s own life. Again, intrapersonal is closely related to interpersonal intelligence since both are required to fully develop self knowledge and a sensitivity to others. Self esteem, self-enhancement and strength of character are all associated with intrapersonal intelligence and the ability to use this intelligence to solve life problems.

Learning Activities (all of these are also shared by Interpersonal category):

bullet All activities listed for interpersonal intelligence.
bullet Imagine having dialogues with past historical figures.
bullet Write a reflection on a life lesson derived from some piece of class literature or reading.
bullet Brainstorm spiritual gifts of different cultures.
bullet Think and write about how math concepts help in daily living.
bullet Write a reflection on personal tastes in art, music, dance and/or drama.
bullet Computer technology: Brainstorming and problem solving software. Certain types of game software that promote ethical thinking and reflection.
bullet A learning center involving a fantasy writing activity, for example, a journey to Mars or a journey to the center of the Earth.
bullet Mock trial, for example, the Spanish Inquisition, where students would act out roles as jury, juror, accuser and accused.
bullet Students create their own classroom bill of rights and rules.
bullet Students participate in Center Circles, problem solving class meetings, etc.
bullet Students are encouraged, for example through literature circles, to work collaboratively in small groups.
bullet Students experience the sting of discrimination during a simulation of a "separate but equal" classroom in the American South during the 1950s.
bullet Students are asked to do a cultural portrait that involves interviewing a cultural role model and reporting on a culture’s "salient" characteristics.
bullet Students are asked to examine and discuss gender stereotypes found in their favorite music.

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