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Educational researchers have long advocated a shift in the way we think of learning and processing information. The original research indicated that there are three basic “learning styles," including visual, auditory and tactile/kinesthetic. Since then, Howard Gardiner has proposed a wider scale described as multiple intelligences.
One unfortunate misunderstanding in all the applications of the research is that a student only learns in one style and that the student’s learning style is fixed. In fact, however, the styles or intelligences are only a preferred mode, one in which a student is more comfortable learning. A teacher offers his or her students the best results when the instruction in class is multi-modal. In that way, not only do students have the opportunity to learn in their favored style, but they are exposed to other styles. This is important to success beyond the classroom, as the business world rarely concerns itself with these issues. The fortunate student will graduate with enough experience with all modalities as to bring their results on screening tests almost even.
So, what types of activities can the teacher interested in best practices use to provide opportunities in all learning modalities? Using Gardiner’s model, let’s explore some fun learning style activities.
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The VL learner has a love affair with words. He will usually excel at writing activities, making speeches and dramatic presentations. Provide this student with the chance to debate topics, to dramatize and role-play themes, to make books and to write stories. Encourage him or her to keep a journal and to research topics of interest.
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This student excels at problem-solving and critical thinking. Present new information to her in the form of puzzles or let him practice his new knowledge by creating logic games with it. Since collecting data is a strong area for this student, allow these students to research topics that provide opportunities for classifying information and making and using manipulatives.
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Seeing is believing--or learning--for this student. Graphic organizers like story maps, charts and sketches are invaluable learning tools. Give these individuals the chance to use photography and videography in sharing what he or she has learned; let him or her make three-dimensional models or paint murals to show what they know.
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This child wants to move and touch, so let that be a guide. Hands-on projects are perfect for this learner, including experiments or creating crafts, models and displays. This learner will get the most of your field trips and will excel at creative movement and dance projects. Dramatizations are also great for these children and they do quite well in cooperative learning groups.
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Rhythm and rhyme will be important to the musical learner. Begin by providing the chance to hum softly or listen to music while learning; research shows that all students benefit from baroque music playing in the background, so you can accommodate this learner and his or her peers at the same time. Projects that involve rapping or singing as a means of communicating learning are ideal for this mode of intelligence.
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This is your outdoors loving child and he or she will excel at science activities that involved things like locating the constellations, planting a garden, or identifying animal habitats. Accommodate this child by taking the class outside to read or study.
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This child is often a social butterfly. Cooperative learning groups, peer teaching, peer editing and brainstorming are right up this child’s alley. Let this child lead out in class discussions or be in charge of forming clubs and study groups. Use the skills of the interpersonal learner in classroom mediation and in making the rest of the class aware of social issues relevant to your students.
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This child may seem shy or aloof at times. While you do want to encourage cooperative activities for this learner, allow him or her time to work alone, as well. Provide opportunities to select projects which she or he completes alone, or chances for him or her to study away from others. Encourage the intrapersonal learner to continue with independent reading and to make personal goals for success.
With these fun learning styles activities, you will be preparing your students for life in the “real world."
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Learning Styles Explained, http://www.ldpride.net/learningstyles.MI.htm
Tapping Into Multiple Intelligences, http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/mi/index.html
Multiple Intelligences, http://www.tecweb.org/styles/gardner.html
Multiple Intelligences and Learning Styles, http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Multiple_Intelligences_and_Learning_Styles
How to Address Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, http://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-immersion-enota-how-to