How Do I Incorporate Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom?

Elizabeth West

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.

Technology can be used to incorporate multiple intelligences in the classroom.
Technology can be used to incorporate multiple intelligences in the classroom.

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.

Projects and education games are often used to reach students who learn in a different way.
Projects and education games are often used to reach students who learn in a different way.

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.

Incorporating multiple intelligences in the classroom is a good way to ensure that curriculum material is reinforced.
Incorporating multiple intelligences in the classroom is a good way to ensure that curriculum material is reinforced.

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.

Using art to teach spelling is a way of incorporating multiple intelligences in the classroom.
Using art to teach spelling is a way of incorporating multiple intelligences in the classroom.

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.

Using a variety of teaching methods can help incorporate multiple intelligences.
Using a variety of teaching methods can help incorporate multiple intelligences.
Gardner theorized that there were seven types of intelligence, including musical.
Gardner theorized that there were seven types of intelligence, including musical.

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