Monday, 14 May 2012

How do I use MI in the classroom?

Your next question was " How do I use MI in the classroom? "

The answer is not so much, 'How do I use MI in the classroom?' but 'How do I provide an environment and tasks that will help all my students learn and succeed rather than only those who learn best through their linguistic intelligences (reading, writing and speaking and listening)?'

The traditional classroom centred round the teacher talking and asking questions (so the students listened and spoke), then they read from a text book (reading), and then they wrote in their exercise books (writing). Children who did not learn easily through their linguistic intelligence more often than not failed, although they were not less intelligent.  They just learned best in a different way.

So how can you use MI in the classroom?  By planning your lesson or a series of lessons (as you can't possibly cover all the intelligences in one lesson) so that those who learn best through using their bodies (kinaesthetically) can learn the same information through drama, dance or my making things related to the subject.  When the exams come they too will be more likely to remember the facts along with their linguistically intelligent peers.  Why not let both pass and do well in the exam rather than only a few? And exams are not the only reason for education, although some may think that, but education is about developing the whole child and is valuable in itself. 

So, in one lesson you might focus learning through kinaesthetic activities, whilst in the next lesson you might focus on musical activities.  I know one secondary teacher who raised the exam results of his students who previously had failed with a 'D' grade but achieved a 'C' grade and passed as a result of this.  What did he do?  He set the boring facts of history, so difficult to learn for those not lingusitally strong, to music - jazzy music that they enjoyed.  Can you imagine the students sitting there in the exam, singing to themselves the historical facts, and answering the exam questions correctly?

Then there are those who learn best visually, in fact there is a Chinese saying, 'Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Let me do it and I understand.'  Well show them visually using any visual aids you can muster up: PowerPoint presentations, pictures, posters, artefacts, visits, mind-maps and their own drawings and paintings.  We now have an additional three groups of students remembering and successful, instead of only the linguistic group.

Now go through the other intelligences and think up activities that you could provide to enable every child in your class to learn what it is you want them to learn.  For example. history is full of mathematics, and geography is about people and interpersonal relationships. Science often has an ethical dimension and the intrapersonal could be developed and mathematics can be found in nature.

The important thing is to provide an environment in which all can learn, rather than an environment in which you can teach but only some learn.  You can teach again and again but students may learn very little!  Have you ever seen that 'switched off' look in your classroom? Focus on learning instead of teaching and see the magical results.

The MI and Lesson Planning booklet provides example lessons for different ages and subjects.  I have called them 'lesson plans' but you may prefer to call them 'unit plans' as you may want to spread the different activities over a number of lessons.  However, the reason I have called them lesson plans is that, especially if time is at a premium, the best way to organise the work is to have different groups learning in different ways within one lesson and then give a presentation to the others in the same or next lesson.  In that way time is actually saved, as you don't have to spend six lessons 'teaching' them different facts, as different groups will be 'learning' these same facts simultaneously in half the time.  You could probably cover the syllabus in a third of the time this way and have more time to go into some in more depth.

So for those or you who say the syllabus is too vast to plan MI activities, you could be wrong!  MI may help you cover the syllabus is less time.  And for those of you who say that you won't get the exam results that you want - you could be wrong!  You may actually get higher results! Read Multiple intelligences & student achievement - success stories from six schools by
Linda & Bruce Campbell.  Then there are those of you who complain that parents and 'management' have high expectations of you.  My answer is use the students multiple intelligences to show them you can meet their high expectations focusing on learning instead of teaching.

I hope this has helped you answer your question, "How do I use MI in the classroom?".  Have a look at the other ideas in the MI and Lesson Planning booklet, try them out and see how your students blossom. Learning does not have to be a chore, it can be fun!

With best wishes,


Margaret Warner
Dip. S.M.S., A.C.P., M.A. Ed.

International Education Consultant

Lesson plan templates

MAW Education
MAW Publications

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