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How Do I Incorporate Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom?

By Elizabeth West
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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As a teacher, you will have a variety of students who all learn in different ways. Incorporating Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences in the classroom is one way to ensure that curriculum material is reinforced several times, giving each student a chance to assimilate it according to their best strengths. You can do this by structuring activities and lesson plans that make use of aspects of intelligences. Most schools concentrate on linguistic and mathematical abilities, but teachers can make use of the theory to give creative lessons that call on most of their students’ talents and skills.

Dr. Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory states basically that intelligence is not one capacity shared by everyone, but that all individuals possess a total of seven different types of intelligence. These include logical mathematic, linguistic, spatial, and musical types of intelligence. Rounding out the seven types are kinesthetic as well as inter- and intra-personal intelligence. They are all present in each individual, but different people have more or less of each to varying degrees. Gardner has posited that all the intelligences work together to solve problems and function productively.

To structure material and incorporate multiple intelligences in the classroom, you will have to begin thinking about all the different aspects of each lesson. A math lesson on measurements may be taught with the children using parts of the body to measure objects for a kinesthetic approach, or intrapersonal by showing through examples how real-life applications use math processes. Students can act out historical scenarios, choose music that expresses art concepts, or use demonstrations in a multi-faceted approach to traditional subjects.

Technology is a great tool when used to incorporate multiple intelligences in the classroom. Keeping a video diary or digital journal and creating multi-media presentations are great ways for students to reinforce material they have been studying. If they cooperate to choose music and artwork for the presentation and eventually present it to the class, they can even help other students learn. Peer-to-peer lessons are great for engaging otherwise lackadaisical students who may become bored with traditional classroom teaching.

Another effective way to use this technique is to show your students how to use multiple intelligences in the classroom themselves. Plan a lesson around Gardner’s theory and teach them the seven intelligences, then invite them to think about how they learn different things. If the curriculum allows, students can also construct ways to show what they have learned and how they learned it, rather than using traditional tests. You can give them a self-assessment to help them retain the concept, which they can use to help them study in future classes.

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