Multiple Intelligences: Equal Access to the Curriculum for Deaf Students All children deserve to have equal access to the curriculum. However, in a time when standardized tests have become the focal point of our schools and classrooms, students with diverse learning styles and disabilities are falling behind educationally. We cannot allow children to slip through the cracks because we, as educators, are not providing them with the tools they need to achieve.
Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (MI) provide the basis for designing the curriculum to meet the needs of diverse learners, with research supporting the use of these instructional strategies. These strategies also can be applied to the education of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. In 1983, Dr. Howard Gardner developed the theory of multiple intelligences in his book, Frames of Mind. He reported that regular I. Q. tests only evaluate verbal, logical-mathematical, and possibly some spatial intelligence (Campbell, 1994).
Gardner believed that there were other aspects of intelligence, such as visual/spatial, musical, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and — recently added to the list — naturalistic. Dr. Gardner has continued to write several books on this topic to help educators and students acquire more successful ways of learning. The eight intelligences that Gardner defines are as follows (“MI Basics,” 2008). Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence involves a mastery of language. It includes skills in reading, writing, and using language to convey ideas or thoughts.
People who are “word smart” are able to use language to express themselves and convince someone of a course of action. They also tend to be clever at using language to remember information, telling stories, and playing word games and puzzles (“MI Basics,” 2008). Mathematical/Logical Intelligence deals with inductive and deductive reasoning, numbers, and the recognition of abstract patterns and relationships. “Math smart” students enjoy ordering objects, categorizing, calculating and experimenting with hypotheses and consequences.
It is most often associated with scientific and mathematical thinking (“MI Basics,” 2008). Visual/Spatial Intelligence relies most heavily on the sense of sight and being able to visualize an object. Students who are “picture smart” have an active imagination while forming mental images and recognizing relationships of objects in space. Visual/Spatial learners may like to design, draw and create things, enjoy videos, pictures, photos, and charts (“MI Basics,” 2008). Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence is related to the physical ability to use one’s body in a skilled way, for self-expression or towards a goal.
The brain’s motor cortex includes bodily motion, ‘voluntary’ and ‘preprogrammed’ movements. People who posses this kind of intelligence tends to like physical movement such as in sports, dance, drama and body language (“MI Basics,” 2008). Musical/Rhythmic Intelligence is based on recognition of pitch, timbre, timing, and the rhythm of sounds. People with “music smarts” are sensitive to the human voice, sounds from nature, musical instruments, and percussion instruments. They have appreciation for the structure of music and might enjoy producing, writing, and playing music (“MI Basics,” 2008).
Interpersonal/Social Intelligence includes an ability to understand other people, such as their moods, desires, feelings, temperaments, and motivations. It is activated by person-to-person communication as in working cooperatively in a group for a common goal. Individuals with “people smarts” are good leaders and organizers. They enjoy to communicating, performing in front of others, and understanding other people’s behaviors (“MI Basics,” 2008). Intrapersonal/Introspective Intelligence incorporates inner states of being, self-reflection, metacognition, and awareness of spiritual realities.
People exhibiting these qualities have higher-order thinking and reasoning skills. Students who are “self smart” tend to be good at goal setting and enjoy activities that help them understand and be aware of themselves and their feelings (“MI Basics,” 2008). Naturalistic Intelligence was later added to Dr. Gardner’s original seven intelligences. These individuals enjoy nature and the environment. Students who are “environment smart” enjoy recognizing, discriminating, sorting, classifying, and caring for plants and animals (Checkley, 1997).
The theory of MI is based on the idea that all children learn differently. It is a “child-centered” approach, much different from the traditional, “curriculum-centered” approaches of the past (Hoerr, 2002, p. 1). Proponents of MI believe that all children can learn, but some learn better when taught through different modes. For example, in a traditional classroom in which material is presented through reading, lectures, and workbooks with written assignments, a student who struggles with verbal/linguistic learning would have difficulty.
However, if the teacher incorporated some hands-on activities and possibly several charts, diagrams, and pictures, it would quickly add the options of visual/spatial and bodily/kinesthetic modalities. Now the students have the possibility of learning the information through at least three different modes. For this reason, MI lessons have the ability to reach a larger group of students. In order to implement MI learning into the classroom, educators need to be certain to use tools beyond the traditional linguistic and logical methods.
At first, it may be difficult to think of activities that meet the needs of the diverse learners in the classroom. However, there are some simple ways to start applying Gardner’s eight multiple intelligences. To begin, write the lesson topic in the center of a piece of paper and draw eight spokes or lines coming out from it (Armstrong, 2000). Place one intelligence on each line, and then begin brainstorming ideas for activities. Other options include brainstorming the ideas on a tape recorder or as a group (Armstrong, 2000).
There are many ways to arrange the classroom, students, and activities to support an environment for diverse learners. Bruce Campbell, a third grade teacher with 27 students, set up his classroom into seven learning centers. Each center was dedicated to one of Gardner’s first seven intelligences. Although Campbell admits that it continues to be a challenge on some occasions to create lessons utilizing seven intelligences, the benefits definitely outweigh the struggles.
In his classroom, he spends 2 1/2 hours of each school day with his students working in the centers. Students are in groups of three or four with approximately twenty minutes at each center. He believes that the students really enjoy the activities while learning the topic through diverse modes (Campbell, 1989). An MI approach can also be used in high school classrooms. For instance, if the topic is economics and the lesson is on supply and demand, it is feasible to incorporate activities for a variety of learning styles.
Students can read about supply and demand (verbal/linguistic), study formulas to express it (logical/mathematical), examine a graph or chart that illustrates the principle (visual/spatial), observe the law in the natural world (naturalist) or in the human world of commerce (interpersonal/social), examine the law in terms of your own body (intrapersonal/introspective and bodily/kinesthetic), and/or find or write a song that represents the law (musical/rhythmic) (Armstrong, 2000).
Along with the diverse lessons, there should also be multiple assessments. Proponents of Gardner’s theory believe that students are better able to demonstrate that they have indeed learned the information if they are able to explain the material in their own diverse ways. MI supports preferred assessment methods that include student portfolios, creative tasks, independent projects, and student journals (Brualdi, 1996). Thus far, research on using MI in the classroom has been quite encouraging.
Principals from 41 schools using MI were interviewed, and 78% had increased standardized achievement scores, 63% of which attributed those gains to the MI instruction (Hoerr, 2002). Of these same schools, 78% reported improvements in students having learning difficulties, 80% reported improvement in parent participation, and 81% reported improved student discipline (Hoerr, 2002). As a result, MI does not merely increase test scores; it is a means to improve education as a whole.
MI open the doors to the general education curriculum for special education students. Educators must change their pedagogy and assessment techniques. The traditional techniques do not work for all students; therefore we need to enhance our practice to incorporate strategies for our diverse learners. All children deserve equal access to the curriculum; through Multiple Intelligences, we can give them the educational opportunities that are their right. References Armstrong, T. (2000). Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom.
Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Brualdi, A. C. (1996). Multiple Intelligences: Gardner’s Theory. ERIC Digest, ED410226. Retrieved July 27, 2009, from http://www. eric. ed. gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/0000019b/80/16/cd/7a. pdf Campbell, B. (n. d. ). Multiplying Intelligence in the Classroom. New Horizons for Learning. Retrieved July 27, 2009, from http://newhorizons. org/strategies/mi/campbell3. htm Campbell, B. (1994). The Multiple Intelligences Handbook: Lesson Plans and More.
Palatine: Iri/Skylight Training & Publishing,. Checkley, K. (1997). The First Seven. . . and the Eighth: A Conversation with Howard Gardner. Educational Leadership, 55(1), 8-13. Hoerr, T. (n. d. ). Applying Multiple Intelligences in Schools. New Horizons for Learning. Retrieved July 27, 2009, from http://newhorizons. org/strategies/mi/hoerr2. htm MI Basics: The Theory. (2008). Multiple Intelligences Institute. Retrieved June 9, 2009, from www. miinstitute. info/uploads/download/MI_Basics. pdf