Monday, March 19, 2012

Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory Makes a Difference

 By Ruth Spears

Teachers Pay Teachers: Ruth's Store Front

It was a crisp autumn, New England morning perfect for writing haiku poetry. As I pulled into the parking lot, there was a mist which rose from the fields, the pond and the rolling hills that surrounded our school. The sun peeked through the clouds, and its light caused the mist to sparkle. I thought about the earliest Japanese Haiku poets, Basho and Issa, who wrote their brief, yet striking, poems about nature. Then, I thought, This is a perfect Haiku day!

When my first period class arrived, we reviewed the elements of Haiku. I gave specific instructions to write haikus then to draw individual pictures of the poems. I asked students to get into small groups and brainstorm. After a few minutes, I circulated the room to see what progress was made. Of the first group of five boys, four seemed focused on the assignment. Their pencils flew across their papers, but one boy looked dreamily out the window. I noticed some doodling on his paper.

“Matt, you haven’t started writing anything. Do you need some help?”

“Nope. Just thinking.” He tapped his pencil and continued gazing out the window.

“Did you talk with your friends about the haiku?’


“Don’t worry, Matt’s helping us,” Joe chimed in.

When I first started teaching I would have insisted Matt write, but, now, I waited to see what would happen. At the end of the period, I asked for volunteers to present their creations. Matt’s group eagerly raised their hands, so I asked them to stand and present their haiku and illustrations.

The boys decided to read it in unison, except for Matt. He stood on the far side of the group and held his paper in front of his face. When the boys finished, they turned to Matt, and Joe said, “Matt did our illustration, and the rap.”

Slowly, Matt turned his paper around for all to see as he held it in front of his face. There were “ooohs” and “ahhhs” from kids and several “that’s awesome” comments. The pencil sketch was exquisite. Shades of light and dark grays mixed with splashes of black depicted a mountain with a shimmery lake at its base. A swan paddled past a small rowboat that drifted to one side of the shoreline.

I praised Matt’s illustration then made sure students understood how talented their classmate was. I told him I’d like to use his illustration as the cover of the haiku book I was compiling with students’ poems and illustrations. When I explained I couldn’t use his drawing as the cover until he penned his “official signature” on it, he looked up at me and beamed. Next, the group of boys presented their rap Matt created to accompany the haiku. The class burst into applause and asked for it to be repeated. Then, the students got out of their seats and joined in.

Ten years prior to this lesson, I would have thought that Matt was unfocused and refused to collaborate with his group members. Now, I understood he gazed out the window not because he was bored, but his mind was in another place and time. As he listened to the other boys talk about the haiku, he visualized it then created an illustration and set the poem to rap.

As a new teacher, the name Howard Gardner popped up repeatedly in conversations. A colleague stated Gardner’s ideas were fresh and new, and his theory on Multiple Intelligences was going to change teaching. I was given some literature about Multiple Intelligences theory, and I had the opportunity to hear the author speak. From that day on, my classroom became a Multiple Intelligences world.

Watch the following videos on Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences to learn more about how to implement the theory into lessons plans:

Mutliple Intelligences based on Gardner's Theory
Edutopia's Multiples Intelligences Based on Gardner
Mutliple Intelligences Thrive in Smartville
Total Physical Response Teacher Training Film
Bill Gates on How to Make a Teacher Great!

1 comment:

  1. I am enjoying reading through all of your blog posts. I will be back to read more later. Great blog!! I am your newest follower.


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