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The Role of Multiple Intelligences in The Lesson Planning

The Role of Multiple Intelligences in The Lesson Planning | ITTT | TEFL Blog

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.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Ilma J. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

The MI Theory Outline

Eight intelligences:

  • 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.

Theory eventually became popular with K-12 educators who were seeking new ways to reach students that were not responding to traditional methods of teaching.

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Applicability of The Theory

Teachers naturally often come across such situations where a student is excelling in one area, like reading and writing, learning new languages but has unsatisfactory results in math maybe. Of course, this should not be an excuse for students to not put any effort into anything else except what they are good in. The point is, both students and teachers should work on creating an environment where all students can thrive and acquire knowledge in the way that’s easiest for them, using their strengths.

This mostly presents a challenge for a teacher to create a place and a program that would inspire and encourage students to perform better.

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According to this theory, there are different learning styles and the teacher should be in charge to make them available in their classroom. Challenging part would be for teachers to balance a subject part and learning styles; the teacher should show students how to understand a difficult subject by applying their most developed intelligence domain. For example, a student that has highly-developed musical intelligence can be asked to learn about certain tense by making up a song about it or making a song using newly learned vocabulary.

Still, not all intelligence mentioned in the theory can be utilized easily in classroom activities. The teacher’s goal should be to target as many of those as possible to make sure that all students are to engage in prepared activities. Teachers also should be aware that while addressing one particular type of intelligence should not mean they ignore other types as they aim to help students’ to reach their potential but also help develop all their skills.

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Planning Lessons

Gardner himself summarized his method with three recommendations for teachers, and it short it would be to:

  • Individualize the teaching style (to suit the most effective method for each student)
  • Pluralize the teaching (present important material in multiple ways so all students can understand the basics and build upon them)
  • Diversify the teaching (every next lesson emphasize a different intelligence or two, i.e. using puzzles and brain games one day, drawings and flashcards next day, cooperative groups and games another day, or mix and match between those)

Also, homework can be a great way to give students a chance to improve in their way and to give them more freedom to explore their intelligence.

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From everything being said, it is quite obvious that taking MI theory into consideration preparing classes will take more time, patience and imagination, but also that it has more chance of outstanding results. As teachers become more aware of their students and their strengths and weaknesses they can help them see their intelligence and therefore show them that they are smart in their way and help them maximize it in their future endeavors.

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