Looking for some practical ways to incorporate the multiple intelligences in the classroom?
Then look no further!
I’ve got some great ideas for you that will address the unique learning styles of all of your kiddos!
To begin with, let’s think about our favorite thing in the world…
Faculty meetings. Professional development workshops! (ha! ha!)
We’ve all been there.
Without a doubt, we’ve all experienced the not-so-entertaining presenter reading that PowerPoint presentation LINE BY LINE, rambling ON….AND….ON….AND….ON about theory, theory, theory or something that you probably could care less about or maybe already know (a little harsh, right?)
All the while, a million thoughts run through your head…
“I could be working in my classroom.”
“I’ve got so much grading to do.”
“10 more minutes left of this workshop! YIPPEE!”
“What am I going to cook for dinner?”
And the list goes on and on.
Well, my fellow educators, that’s exactly what our students feel like at times when we’re teaching.
We ramble on and on, and they’re sitting there…chillin’ on Pluto, totally (or almost) disconnected from what we’re saying.
Maybe you hate that they do that.
But I get it, and I’m sure you do, too.
In order to fully engage ALL learners and get them to master the skills they need, it’s important to shape lessons around their unique learning styles.
So How Do You Do That?
Well, it’s actually quite simple!
- The 8 types of multiple intelligences & their connection to learning styles.
- Various examples of the multiple intelligences.
- Steps you can take to implement multiple intelligences in your classroom ASAP.
Hope you’re ready!
Let’s dig into it!
If you’re reading this article, then you’re probably already familiar with Howard Gardner. He’s the Harvard professor who developed the Multiple Intelligence Theory back in 1983.
The basic premise of the Multiple Intelligence Theory is that individuals learn in different ways and that their intelligence(s) are manifested through their unique strengths.
Admittedly, when I was teaching, I erred on the side of caution when implementing theories from “experts” who had never taught in an elementary classroom, much less an at-risk and/or a high-needs one.
As educators, we know that kids learn differently. We see it everyday because we work alongside kids day after day.
Fortunately, Howard Gardner packaged that knowledge and understanding into language that can be understood not only by educators, but by parents and students!
And one of the best things is that the theory makes sense and is practical.
As a result, that makes using the multiple intelligences in the classroom extremely doable!
So What are the 8 Multiple Intelligences?
The eight multiple intelligences are…
- Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence (WORD SMART)
- Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (MATH SMART)
- Spatial Intelligence (PICTURE SMART)
- Musical Intelligence (MUSIC SMART)
- Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (BODY SMART)
- Interpersonal Intelligence (PEOPLE SMART)
- Naturalistic Intelligence (NATURE SMART)
- Intrapersonal Intelligence (SELF SMART)
Let’s explore each of these a little more.
First we have the Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence.
Learners who are Word Smart have a way with words. They are comfortable expressing themselves verbally, whether in spoken or written form.
Students who have Word Smart intelligence show talent in entertaining, persuading, and teaching with their linguistic abilities.
Consequently, they make awesome debaters!
Examples of Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence Activities (Word Smart)
- Giving Oral Presentations
- Reciting lines in a reader’s theater play/role-playing
- Composing Poetry
- Conducting an Interview
- Completing Crossword Puzzles
- Writing Stories/Essays/Articles/Jokes (within various genres)
- Playing games such as Scrabble
- Debating with others about an important issue
- Reading aloud
- Writing story problems
Next is Logical-Mathematical Intelligence.
Children with Logical-Mathematical intelligence (Math Smart) do well with interpreting data and analyzing patterns.
They generally excel with numbers and are very logical in their reasoning.
Because of their skill for using numbers, “Math Smart” individuals make great accountants, bankers, and engineers.
Examples of Logical-Mathematical Intelligence Activities (Math Smart)
- Performing scientific experiments
- Solving Sudoku puzzles (and similar math-focused puzzles)
- Playing math games
- Creating and analyzing patterns
- Doing computer programming
- Creating timelines
- Solving word problems
- Creating a spreadsheet
- Collecting and organizing data
As a side note regarding multiple intelligences in the classroom…
School systems and society highly value the verbal-linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences.
As a result, reading, writing, and math scores from standardized tests usually carry more weight than science and social studies scores.
Furthermore, a significant number of college and graduate school entrance exams prioritize verbal and mathematical skills.
Now, I’m not arguing that this is right or wrong, but such facts highlight the importance of implementing multiples intelligences in the classroom so that all learners can shine in their own way.
Not everyone is meant to be an engineer, architect, author, orator, teacher etc., and not everyone will attend college.
So as educators, it is very important that we help students discover and cultivate the skills that they possess naturally.
This helps them to understand their own unique skill sets, learning styles, and even future career goals.
The following intelligences are just as valuable as “math smart” and “word smart” , so let’s see what activities you can use to incorporate these multiple intelligences in the classroom!
Learners that possess visual-spatial intelligence (Picture Smart) process information via images and pictures.
They visualize how something works, and then they use their artistic abilities to design and create it!
Students with “picture smart” talents manipulate objects mentally (think about a memory game) because they have an excellent visual memory.
Examples of Visual-Spatial Intelligence Activities (Picture Smart)
- Taking photographs for classroom projects/activities and school events
- Recording a video
- Creating objects using Play Dough or clay
- Designing various types of charts, graphs, diagrams, and posters
- Creating, analyzing and processing information through the use of graphic organizers and mind maps
- Building with blocks, Legos, or other objects
- Putting together jigsaw puzzles
- Studying maps to find geographic locations
- Illustrating written work
- Sketching, drawing, or painting
- Playing memory games
- Visualizing an idea before materializing it/brainstorming
- Making 3D projects
- Putting together a scrap book
- Creating a collage
- Putting together a puzzle with LOTS of pieces
Got any students that are “Music Smart“?
Do they process information better through sound and rhythm?
Are they adept at showing mastery of content by performing musically or by composing some type of melody or song?
If so, then, yep, you’ve got a learner in your classroom with musical intelligence!
Musical students have an ear for sound. They excel in their ability to use melody, rhythm, sound, and/or songs to express their learning.
Examples of Musical Intelligence Activities (Music Smart)
- Singing songs or jingles
- Composing music or a melody
- Writing songs
- Playing an instrument
- Playing musical games
- Creating games that incorporate music
- Listening to and analyzing music
- Incorporating clapping and rhythm
- Listening to audio books
- Differentiating tone, pitch, and sounds in a song
- Developing a podcast
For elementary teachers, using this multiple intelligence in the classroom is always a hit!
As a result, those teachers tend to use lots of “Body Smart” activities!
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, also known as being “Body Smart”, involves physical activity.
“Body Smart” learners do best with “hands-on” activities that incorporate body and mind coordination.
Examples of Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence Activities (Body Smart)
- Designing costumes or props for readers’ theaters
- Building a model of something
- Repairing equipment
- Playing a game of Charades to act out vocabulary words or characters from a book
- Playing and designing interactive games such as Simon Says or Twister
- Participating in scavenger hunts related to a class assignment
- Choreographing a dance sequence
- Playing sports
- Performing in a play or skit
- Using Manipulatives
When you have students work in collaborative groups or teams, you are developing and nurturing their interpersonal intelligence.
“People Smart” students make good leaders because they are good at persuading, negotiating, and getting along with others.
These learners work well with others.
Examples of Interpersonal Intelligence Activities (People Smart)
- Debating an issue with a team
- Collaborating with peers
- Participating in community service
- Interviewing others
- Participating in group projects
- Playing in team sports
- Working in cooperative groups in order to complete projects
- Leading a book club or literature circle group
- Sharing constructive feedback with classmates
- Teaching peers a skill through reciprocal teaching
- Tutoring younger students
- Acting in a play
Compared to interpersonal intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence is focused on the individual, the ability to be “self-smart“.
Sometimes I feel that intrapersonal intelligence gets a bad rep.
Because working in a group, promoting team work, and all that jazz is hyped up in elementary schools today.
And I get it. No one lives in a vacuum.
There’s nothing wrong with students working alone~and liking it! (That was me in school! ☺️)
Learners with a knack for intrapersonal intelligence need time alone to process their thoughts. They have a healthy perception of their limitations and strengths.
While “Self Smart” students do enjoy being around others, they are ok and quite comfortable working alone.
Examples of Intrapersonal Intelligence Activities (Self Smart)
- Completing individualized projects
- Writing an autobiography
- Pursuing a new goal
- Evaluating own work
- Creating goals with an action plan
- Analyzing text-to-self connections
- Independent reading
- Writing from different points of view
- Participating in independent study activities
So far I hope you’re thinking that using multiple intelligences in the classroom won’t be too difficult.
What’s more, I’ve got one more for you!
And it’s for your nature-lovers!
“Nature Smart” students have a thing for the environment and the beings that live within it.
Students with naturalistic intelligence are into animals, plants, Earth, Earth-related issues, etc. They’re really into nature in some way, shape, or form!
Examples of Naturalistic Intelligence Activities (Nature Smart)
- Caring for plants and animals
- Organizing a recycling campaign
- Leading beautification projects
- Researching a particular plant or animal
- Developing an outdoor classroom
- Collaborating with environmental groups
- Collecting, sorting, and classifying rocks, leaves, or other natural objects
- Researching and reporting on global issues
- Completing nature-focused science projects
- Participating in nature clubs
An Easy Way to Start Using the Multiple Intelligences In the Classroom
Before we get into this, know that you don’t need to target all multiple intelligences within every lesson.
Your goal is to sprinkle the different intelligences among your lessons throughout the school year. It’s normal that some teaching objectives lend themselves better to some intelligences than others.
1. First, think about your teaching objective.
What skill are you trying to get your students to master?
As an example, let’s use the objective…
“Students will be able to determine the author’s purpose of a piece of writing.”
2. Next, mentally divide your lesson into three parts…
- Guided practice
You want to make sure that you target at least one multiple intelligence in each part of your lesson.
Thinking about the lists of activities mentioned earlier, brainstorm at least one activity that you can use in each part of your lesson plan.
To illustrate with the example objective (author’s purpose), for the mini-lesson, you could have students do one of the following…
- Show them a video (spatial-visual)
- Review vocabulary with a game of Charades (bodily-kinesthetic)
- Have them record in their reading notebooks the author’s purpose of one of their independent reading books (intrapersonal, verbal-linguistic)
See how that works?
3. Next, let’s focus on the guided practice part.
Specifically, you can have students…
- work in groups to do an author’s purpose scavenger hunt using various text genres (interpersonal) OR
- practice an author’s purpose reader’s theater script (interpersonal, bodily-kinesthetic, verbal-linguistic) OR
- analyze author’s purpose using a graphic organizer (spatial)
There are indeed tons of possibilities!
4. Finally, let’s take a look at the assessment part.
Since we haven’t focused on musical intelligence, let’s have students compose a jingle for an advertisement! (This is still author’s purpose because they have to focus on persuading now!)
Furthermore, you can have the naturalistic learners read a science-focused book and analyze the author’s purpose of that!
After a while, integrating activities that target the multiple intelligences will become second nature!
In addition to these activities, if you really want to go wild and target multiple intelligences in the classroom several at a time, set up centers! Have each center focus on a different multiple intelligence!
Check out how multiple intelligence centers can function in the elementary classroom!
At this point, you probably notice that the logical-mathematical intelligence was not targeted.
No worries, my friend!
Just make sure that it gets targeted during another lesson or within another subject area that you teach!
Looks like you’re all set to start using multiple intelligence activities in your classroom! Yahoo!!!
A Few Extra Tips for Using the Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom
- If you’re not familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy, take a few minutes to check it out. Bloom’s Taxonomy will make teaching to various learning styles even easier.
- Have your students complete a Multiple Intelligence survey a few times during the school year. Doing so serves as guidance for you as you plan your classroom lessons.
- Do integrate technology wherever possible to engage students’ multiple intelligences even more deeply. Take a look at this awesome list of online teaching tools to get you started!
To sum up, using multiple intelligences in the classroom will ensure that all of your kiddos are exposed to a variety of activities.
But be aware not to attach students to only one or two intelligences.
Though one or two intelligences may dominant a student’s learning style, remember that students naturally possess (even if it’s a tiny fraction) parts of several intelligences.
Nurture what intelligences they excel in and help them discover and develop others.
Teaching to the multiple intelligences not only helps parents and teachers see specific talents in each student, but most importantly, it helps students see that they are indeed smart in something!
Happy Teaching and Learning,