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Multiple Multiple Intelligences

Notes and Conference report from Jalt Junior,
Shizuoka, Saturday, 24th November 2001

  1. The theory of Multiple Intelligences was developed by Howard Gardner and first published in the 1983 book Frames of Mind.
  2. The theory was popularised and made accessible by Thomas Armstrong who took Gardner's academic approach and developed practical applications for it. Spencer Kagan took the model further by developing the three visions of matching, stretching and celebrating.
  3. Now there are 8 accepted Intelligences, though there are probably many more. The eight are summarised in the wheel below. Gardner's original definitions run around the edge with Armstrong's 'Smarts' in the centre. Possible applications for each intelligence are placed around the circle.

    MI Wheel

  4. The number of Intelligences is less important than the realisation that to be effective a lesson should incorporate as many Intelligences as possible.
  5. All of us have our own unique 'Intelligences mix'. Or put simply, we all In other words we all learn best in different ways and we all tend to have a particular intelligence that we favour. So some of us may favour 'chalk n' talk' and some of us may prefer logical challenges, others may respond to music and rhythm, others to physical activities and so on.
  6. In addition to making learning targets more accessible by presenting the same information in different formats the teacher can seek to extend and increase individual students' Intelligences. Encouraging students to try out and acquire new learning strategies will increase students overall intellectual capabilities.
  7. The first stage in 'stretching' students' abilities lies in stretching our own. We all have our own favourite ways of teaching that are comfortable for us. By challenging ourselves and taking small risks we demonstrate to students how it is possible to extend and increase our abilities.
  8. After attempting an activity for the first time students might like to consider whether the activity was a 'match' or a 'stretch'. An activity that can be completed comfortably matches an individual's Intelligences mix. An activity that is difficult or causes stress is probably outside an individual's current Intelligences mix. It can be brought inside by 'stretching'. By continually stretching ourselves over time we can develop new skills and develop our own personal intelligence mix.
  9. By celebrating successes teachers can encourage students to stretch themselves further. It is the teacher's responsibility to ensure that where possible in a lesson all students will find some activities that match and some that stretch. Matching activities create a 'safe zone' from which the students can gain the confidence to move out and extend themselves by stretching.
  10. It follows that preplanning is a vital component of a good MI lesson. The following planning tool builds on ones created by Spencer Kagan. It is intended for use at Japanese Elementary Schools.

    MI Planner

    1. The whole process from planning, through execution to evaluation is listed at the bottom of the sheet. A lesson begins with planning but it is not complete until it has been assessed.
    2. To use the sheet start by noting down the lesson topic.
    3. Divide the topic into targets. Targets are subdivided into language targets and cultural targets.
    4. Consider how the targets are to be achieved. List down the structures (activities) that you will use to reach the targets. It may help to brainstorm at this point. Use the MI Wheel and any other resources you have available to generate ideas.
    5. Look at the activities and check which Intelligences the activity involves. A good lesson will cover the full range of Intelligences but a strong mix will do.
    6. After you have a list of activities it is time to consider the sequence (SEQ) you will follow in the actual lesson. Write down the running order. This may, or may not, be the same order that you thought of the activities.
    7. Note down the materials required to present the activities.
    8. After the class use the Assessment box. Consider whether the class felt like a stretch or a match for yourself. Notice what changes would make the lesson more comfortable for you to do again but actually focus on changes that will make the lesson better (more effective at meeting the targets).

Report from Jalt Junior, Kokura:
25th November 2001
Co-Presenter - Kathy Kampa-Vilina

Whenever giving an early morning presentation always have breakfast. A good sleep helps too. For some reason I had neither and lacked a little sparkle. Fortunately Kathy made up for my flat feet with an abundance of energy and grace.

We began by giving a timed one-minute self-introduction. To demonstrate how the structure of an activity makes a difference I suggested that one of us do the introduction with background music and the other without. Kathy bravely went first without the music and I followed up with it. The difference was so stark that when we asked the participants to find partners and perform the activity for themselves everyone wanted the BGM.

After this we introduced the idea of matching and stretching followed by a quick survey to find out what people generally knew about the topic. We invited the participants to give answers to out questions in different physical ways.

Then came the story. I began the story of Paula and found myself getting quite emotional. Feelings from my own school days came flooding back and I was almost overwhelmed. How everyone could follow my cracked and creaking voice I don't know. I broke the story at the point where Paula attempted suicide.

After this we got the participants into groups and asked each group to choose one activity from other presentations at the conference that was impressive. Because group members had seen different presentations they were required to negotiate and choose a speaker to share the activity with everyone. We analysed the activities and wrote down which Intelligences were used by each activity. In this way participants encountered the MI approach to looking at activities.

Keeping people in the same group we invited them to share information about rainforests. The rainforest was our metaphor for the day. We also asked them to use a "talkin' chips" structure. We were deliberately contrasting this method of talking turns in a discussion to the previous free-for-all.

Next we went into the rainforest with some activities for young learners. We planned to use a very unnatural sequence to show how different activities use different Intelligences. Our aim was to begin by plain reading a chant and then in turn add visuals rhythm, movement and music. Simply reading it proved impossible. It was too alien. But in a way this demonstrated both the desirability and practicality of making activities richer by factoring in different elements supporting the different Intelligences.

Having planned out the presentation by email and never having done it before it was almost inevitable that we ran out of time. We had planned activities to enable the participants to experience the Intelligences as students but left them out in favour of making a balanced conclusion. The conclusion of the story about Paula tied in very neatly with an experience of Kathy's at Howard Gardner's project zero. There she had been forced to write answers to questions that did not match her own preferred intelligence. When she was able to illustrate her answers by movement and dance she was not only able to answer the questions but also demonstrate the validity of the theory itself. We all really do learn in different ways. And when teachers allow students to do so the learning is so much more powerful.

Report Written January 2002

getfile:Lesson Planner & MI Wheel

PDF File B5, pages, 186 KB

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