Ah, the Multiple Intelligences!  I am excited to be spending the rest of the month reflecting on these.  The MI theory fits so well into the practice of integrating the arts.  It suggests that each of us has our own way of being smart: a combination of eight intelligences.  As learners, it is important that we be in touch with our stronger intelligences because they can be the key connector to how we learn best.   As teachers, it is our duty to help students understand, identify and utilize these intelligences in the classroom.

When I introduce the idea of MI to my students (who are in elementary school), I do so as identifying their “smarts.”  As is suggested in many of the books I have read on using the multiple intelligences in the classroom, I refer to them as Word Smart, Music Smart, Art Smart, Body Smart, Self Smart, People Smart, Math Smart and Nature Smart.  Here are some small activities I do to get students to think about the intelligences:

  • After stating to students that not only are they smart, but they are smart in 8 different ways, I introduce the eight smarts.  This takes no more than 5 minutes because students start to get it right away.
  • The students stand up and find a place in the room.  I call out a smart and the students make a one-person tableau (freeze position) that demonstrates that smart.  (For Body Smart, a student may pretend to play hockey, or for Word Smart, a student may pretend to read.)
  • I also may ask small groups to create a tableau together to demonstrate a smart and present it to the class.  The other students need to guess which smart they are portraying.
  • Then, I assign small groups to work on a poster that will illustrate the different smarts.  We display these posters in the room with a sign that states, “Wow, are we smart!” which all the students sign.
  • These posters can be used to create a live graph.  On the board, I write a vertical number line from 1 (at bottom) to 10 (at top).  Then, I display these posters across the bottom using magnets and show my students the ways I am smart by placing the posters at different levels on the board: higher on the board meaning I am really smart in that way.  Students are invited students to do the same.  It’s fun to reflect on how people are smart in different and similar ways.

A fun way to prepare before introducing the smarts to your class is to explore your own intelligences.  Here is a quiz from Edutopia.org, where  you can discover the ways your smart: MI Quiz

Here are my results. 🙂

In the book I am currently reading (and what prompted this series) Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong, he makes this statement about how he was initially attracted to the MI theory.  For me, it sums up not only the benefits of using the Multiple Intelligences in your classroom, but also the arts as a means to awaken student learning.

. . . it (the MI theory) provided a language for talking about the inner gifts of children . . .”

Our job is to have the tools to open up children of all ages so that we can help them discover what their potential is inside.  His words make me WANT to learn more about the uses and applications of the multiple intelligences.

Please join me on this learning journey. ~EMP

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