Saturday, December 12, 2015

Differentiation through Multiple Intelligences

Differentiation in the classroom is not an option anymore.
Is it difficult? Maybe
Does it take time? Probably
Will it motivate your students? Yes!
Will it help them learn? Absolutely!

The trick to differentiation is taking baby steps.

Teaching with Multiple Intelligences is an easy and fun way to start differentiating today.

What are Multiple Intelligences?
Well, we all know the two most visible and dominant intelligences in the school system are linguistic and logical-mathematical. Why? That’s simple…because of the curriculum.

The theory of Multiple Intelligences was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner.
It suggests that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on I.Q. is far too limited. 
Dr. Gardner says that we should place equal attention on individuals who show gifts in the other intelligences: the artists, architects, musicians, naturalists, designers, dancers, therapists, entrepreneurs, and others who enrich the world in which we live. 

Here are the different Multiple Intelligences:
      Multiple Intelligences                       Kid friendly terms
Word Smart
Number Smart
Art or Picture Smart
Music Smart
Nature Smart
People Smart
Self Smart
Body Smart

Everybody has a bit of each intelligence. But some are more dominant that others.

The trick is finding what each person is good at. How they learn. How they think.
It’s important to tell your students that liking something doesn’t mean that they have THAT specific intelligence as a strength.
I’ll explain. I love listening to music all the time. It gives me energy and I like hearing sounds and rhythms. But that doesn’t mean that musical intelligence is one of my strengths. That I’m Music Smart.  In fact, it is one of my least dominant intelligences. So don’t forget…liking something doesn’t mean that it’s your strength.

So how can you differentiate your teaching with Multiple Intelligences?
You don’t have to teach or learn something in all eight ways, but take the time to see what the possibilities are when you plan for your week.

Here are key words that can help you differentiate 
your teaching with multiple intelligences.
Writing, speaking, vocabulary, words puzzles, interviews, reading, spelling
Math games, logic puzzles, numbers, computer games, problem solving and thinking activities, patterns
Pictures, diagrams, sculptures, puppets, drawing, puzzles, building, mind maps, montage using pictures
Music, songs, instruments, rhythmic language, poetry
Plants, pets, classifying, natural objects, environment, outdoors
Reflections, journaling, self-directed projects, goal-setting, independent
Cooperative groups, interviews, board games, people, social
Sports, role-playing, movement, building, fine and gross motor skills, learn with the body

The trick is to think outside the box and give students options. This will empower them!

Maybe they don’t need to show their knowledge on paper. Paper is okay but not all the time. And not for all students.

Some of you are probably thinking: How will we assess them?
Maybe they can explain it or role-play their learning. Maybe they can draw it or create a montage. Maybe they can prepare a Powerpoint or write a book of information. Maybe they can record their knowledge.

There are so many options.
THE question you should ask your students is: How can you show me what you have learned? The trick is to involve students by asking them how they can show what they have learned. They will come up with so many different ideas. When they realize that their teacher is open to differentiation, they will share their ideas and be motivated to come to school.

Another way to differentiate in class is by offering students the possibility to work on self-directed projects. Sometimes, self-directed projects have NOTHING to do with learning. NOTHING to do with the curriculum. For some kids, it has everything to do with MOTIVATION. Here are some examples chosen by my students.
20 to 30 minutes to:
  • -      Read
  • -      Create a PowerPoint of their choice.
  • -      Help students in a lower level once a week.
  • -      Plan a lesson that they will teach in class.
  • -      Help out the physical education teacher once a week.
  • -      Write a book.
  • -      Learn a new skill. (Examples: How to make bracelets?, How to make a smoothie?)

I usually choose specific times for self-directed projects: during morning work, library or reading. Some other times can be chosen to accommodate my colleagues.

I always promise my students that they will have at least one self-directed project during the school year.  First, I meet with a student and ask him what he would like to do. Then, I tell him what day and time he can work on his project. After a few days, I meet with another student. And then another...

You can start this at any time. When I meet with my students, I always tell them that it is their responsibility to remember their day. If they miss it, they don’t get to work on their project the next day. This helps students to become more autonomous. I have been doing this for many years and I can promise you that students do NOT forget their day.  They are very motivated to work on something they have chosen, with my help of course.

Thank you for reading!

Clipart and font by:
Kimberly Geswein FontsCara Taylor

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