Using Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom

Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

How do you try to address the needs of every single student? This lesson outlines how you can use the multiple intelligences approach to learning to provide the best learning environment for all of your students.

Multiple Intelligences

How are you smart? To most, that might seem like an odd question. Everyone knows a person is either smart or not, right?

If you're a believer in multiple intelligences, then you strongly disagree with the idea that a person is either smart or not. Instead, you'd be focused on how a person is smart. The theory of multiple intelligences (MI) suggests that there are eight different areas in which an individual can be intelligent. This idea was developed by Dr. Howard Gardner, who thought using only one measurement from an IQ test limits one's potential.

Here are the eight intelligences outlined in the MI theory.

  • Linguistic intelligence = using words and language
  • Logical-Mathematical intelligence = using number/reasoning skills
  • Spatial intelligence = thinking three dimensionally
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence = manipulating objects and being physically adept
  • Musical intelligence = being sensitive to rhythm and sound
  • Interpersonal intelligence = understanding and interacting with others
  • Intrapersonal intelligence = understanding oneself
  • Naturalistic intelligence = understanding patterns in nature, including animal and plant species, habitats, and human behaviors

The Eight Areas of Intelligence
Multiple Intelligence

So if a student can be smart in eight different ways, how do you incorporate that into your teaching? The rest of this lesson describes how to create a classroom based on the theory of multiple intelligences.

Classroom Layout

Let's first look at the physical classroom. A dedication to MI means designing everything with the goal of creating an individualized approach to education. The emphasis must be on learning concepts in a number of different ways.

For example, imagine a student who has high scores in linguistic intelligence, but is weak in spatial reasoning. An MI classroom needs to provide areas where this student can show his or her abilities by using words, like writing or making a speech. At the same time, have an area where this student can work on improving his or her spatial intelligence. Thus, use a classroom layout that will allow each student to learn with his or her strengths, but also to work to improve weaknesses.

Overall, the layout of the classroom needs to contain areas where students can interact with different learning strategies based on the eight intelligences. Here are some examples of what sort of areas could exist for each intelligence.

  • Linguistic: a quiet area for reading, writing, possibly even practicing speeches while recording oneself
  • Logical-Mathematical: a section for scientific experiments and mathematical calculations, with other materials like charts and graphs to allow for reasoning activities
  • Spatial: open areas where students can manipulate objects, build things, create artwork with tools like canvases and easels
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic: this area could be combined with the spatial intelligence area, or an outdoor area to allow for physical activities
  • Musical: a separate space for musical activities, with either soundproofing or computers with headphones
  • Interpersonal: an area with larger tables where groups can work together on solving problems
  • Intrapersonal: a quiet area where students can work on individualized activities alone or it could be combined with the linguistic area
  • Naturalistic: ideally, a space outside, but other options include an area of the classroom for living terrariums or a place that can act like a greenhouse

Obviously, the physical dimensions of your classroom are beyond your control. Feel free to combine intelligences in shared classroom areas and activities.

Technology

Technology, which in a classroom is machinery or equipment used for applying or gaining knowledge, is a huge factor in today's world of education. Here are some ideas for technology to help provide opportunities for reaching each of the eight intelligences.

  • Linguistic: Kindles, word processors, recording devices or composition programs
  • Logical-Mathematical: calculators, science equipment for experimentation, robotics equipment, computers with math, charting, or graphing programs
  • Spatial: tools for artwork, computers with design programs, SMARTBoards, or virtual reality headsets
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic: woodworking tools, equipment for physical exercise, or robotics equipment
  • Musical: instruments, CD players, cassettes, record players, computers with composition video/audio editing programs
  • Interpersonal: SMARTBoards or computers for group work
  • Intrapersonal: computers for research or headphones
  • Naturalistic: terrariums, aero gardens, greenhouse equipment, or virtual reality (VR) headsets

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