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Multiple Intelligences and How to Teach Them Effectively Through Differentiation

written by: skline • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 9/11/2012

Since teachers bear the challenge of teaching varied levels of students in the classroom, differentiation is definitely the way to go. By differentiating instruction to provide opprotunities for each of the multiple intelligences, teachers will optimize the amount of learning that occurs.

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    Differentiating Instruction for Each Intelligence

    When creating differentiated lessons, be sure to include choices for each learning style. In this article, which is the second in a series of three, you will find a variety of tips for creating differentiated lessons.

    The linguistic learner has a tendency to enjoy reading, writing, word games, and story-telling. Books, tapes, writing tools, journals, dialogue, discussion groups, and debate are some activities they may enjoy. Linguistic learners are “word smart," so incorporate choices that play to that particular strength.

    Logical-Mathematical learners think in numbers and by reasoning. They thrive when they are conducting experiments, questioning, working on logical puzzles, calculating, and figuring out statistics. They want to explore and think about things, use science materials, have manipulatives on hand, and go on fieldtrips to science museums or planetariums. Finding ways to incorporate some of those choices into your classroom will play to their strengths.

    The spatial learner thinks in images or pictures. They are the visual learners in the classroom. They need the ability to draw, design, and visualize. Some things they may enjoy are art, LEGOs, video, movies, imagination games, mazes, puzzles, picture books, and trips to the art museum.

    Students that thrive when they are allowed to move are called bodily-kinesthetic learners. Somatic sensations are how they learn. Activities that incorporate dancing, running, jumping, building, touching, or gesturing play to their strengths. Using role play, drama, movement, physical games, and hands-on learning when offering choices will aid in maintaining the attention and interest of this type of learner.

    Musical learners think via rhythms and melodies. They enjoy singing, whistling, tapping their feet and hands, and even listening. They need things like trips to concerts, music in the classroom, the ability to write raps or songs, and the opportunity to put information to a beat. Activities that allow them to use or create music will also aid in their comprehension of the lesson.

    Interpersonal learners need the ability to share their thoughts and ideas. They tend to be leaders and organizers. They enjoy mediating, relating, partying, and manipulating. They need friends, group games, socialization, clubs, and mentor/apprenticeships. Activities that allow them to peer tutor or work in a group setting are ideal for these learners.

    Intrapersonal learners think deeply inside themselves. They enjoy setting goals, meditation, dreaming, quiet time, and planning. They need secret places to go, time alone, and projects that allow them to work at their own pace. These students also appreciate the freedom to choose. Things like independent study and the choice to work alone or in a group will appeal to them.

    The naturalist typically has an appreciation for Mother Nature. He/She enjoys nature walks, bird watching, classifying animals, trips to the zoo or parks, working with animals, collections, observing nature, and taking walks outside. This learner is one who likes projects that involve nature in some form or fashion. Providing materials he/she can use for projects that are from outdoors or allowing him/her to collect materials from outdoors can aid in teaching this type of learner. Holding class outside is something that would also be appealing. Choices for this learner should involve animals and nature.

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    Concluding Thoughts

    When planning curriculum, do what you can to include ideas for each intelligence. Since we all learn differently, curriculum should be taught differently. Remember that organization and effective classroom management are of extreme importance when differentiating instruction. For successful ideas on how to differentiate instruction for each intelligence, read the third article in this series.

Teaching to Gardner's Multiple Intelligences Through Differentiation of Instruction

Classrooms are comprised of all types and levels of learners. Teachers must find an effective way to teach each learner present in the classroom. In this series, I combine my personal experiences and the research I've conducted to produce effective ways to teach each intelligence and all levels.
  1. How Do Differentiation and Multiple Intelligences Fit Together?
  2. Multiple Intelligences and How to Teach Them Effectively Through Differentiation
  3. Six Ideas For Any Classroom That Can Be Adapted For Each of the Multiple Intelligences