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Make Multiple Intelligences Work for You

The theory of multiple intelligences has been discussed for at least three decades, but it is still not something that many schools are actively considering when structuring their classes and planning lessons. Howard Gardner proposed that there are eight intelligences by which students might be learning in a classroom: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, intrapersonal, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and naturalistic. Each of these intelligences is an individual’s particular strength for learning.

For example, the linguistic student enjoys learning through words and language.  For the musical student, musical rhythms and melodies help them understand and retain information. While this might sound overwhelming to an educator, accommodating students’ multiple intelligences can be a strength instead of a struggle. Use these tips to help make multiple intelligences work for you. 

Before you are able to utilize or even fully understand multiple intelligences, you need to know which students have which intelligences. This can be done at the beginning of the school year while you are reviewing the syllabus, introducing expectations and routines, and getting to know your new students. Just as important is for you to understand your students’ intelligences so that you can help them succeed in every way possible. Personality tests, individual projects, and even ‘about me’ quizzes will help you understand your students’ intellectual strengths and preferences. With this information, you can individualize education for students. 

Multiple intelligence quizzes, surveys, and tests work well to determine students’ intelligences.  You may also learn students’ intelligences by simply observing them while asking them questions. Their behaviors will follow the intelligences with which they are most comfortable.

Individualizing education can be as simple as focusing a lesson on each intelligence throughout the week. Try to devote each day to one or two different intelligences and focus your lesson through that lens. 

You can even assign homework that focuses on each of the intelligences to strengthen the students who are within that intelligence and encourage those who are not to strive for something they may not feel is natural. 

By diversifying your lesson based on multiple intelligences, you are providing a consistent, safe space for students while encouraging them to grow. Although this might not work in every situation, and there may be times when a written test is your only choice, making an effort to diversify your classroom with multiple intelligences in mind will make the difference between students who feel like their voices are being heard and students who feel like just another statistic in the crowd. 

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