Sunday, May 27, 2012

Multiple Intelligences and Math

When I started teaching, I was competely overwhelmed by having to meet the expectations in the curriculum documents and making sure I touched upon every strand for reporting purposes.  The pressure was on! I had been "thrown" into a classroom the day before school started to cover an LTO for the year.  At least in the beginning it felt that way.  When I reflect back to my teaching style, I can definitely see a change.  I can honestly say that due to the overwhelming feeling and all the pressures, deadlines, and time restraints, my lessons were structured around the idea of "one-size fits all".  I definitely focused on the class as a whole as opposed to recognizing individual difference. With experience, I began to recognize that while meeting expectations was important, student learning was more important.  As I realized this, I began to get to know my students more.  I realized that each and every one of them were unique and all had diverse preferences, needs and interests. 

I was introduced to Multiple Intelligences, the work of Howard Gardner and his theory that intelligence shouldn't be conceptualized as one overall measure of cognitive ability, rather a variety of relatively separate and independent intelligences. 
I began to use various teaching tactics to meet the various intelligences in my classroom.  The following is a list of some examples on how to incorporate multiple intelligences into the mathematics classroom:

Musical/Rhythmic Intelligence
Chanting of math facts and using rhythmic activities such as using tunes from songs.

Visual/Spatial Intelligence
Using visual aids such as pictorial representations of concepts (mindmap, drawing, chart) and manipulatives.

Bodily Kinesthetic Intelligence
Using manipulatives; movement to represent a concept, for example, representing a circle and its parts (diamter, circumference, radius) by using the students.

Naturalist Intelligence
Recognizing patterns in natural objects: lines, shapes, repetitions, or cycles.  Graphing these patterns using various graphs (i.e. histogram, bar graph etc.) 

Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence
maintaining a journal of problem solving approaches or to raise questions about what they don't understand, giving presentations to classmates.

Intrapersonal Intelligence
Independent projects, providing options. 

Interprsonal Intelligence
Working collaboratively, in pairs or in groups on math investigations, peer editing to practice critiquing another students solution to learn how to give and receive feedback.

Students can plan various strategies to solve problems, analyzing data, using organizers(webs, mind maps, flow charts) to enhance thinking.

Many teachers question using Multiple Intelligences because of the fact that student interests and strengths at the intermediate level continue to form and change. Thus, they may think that multiple intelligences may still be too soon to use because students may not have any real idea of who they are or how they learn best. In addition, intermediate teachers may also feel that instead of focusing on student strengths, attention should be given to student weaknesses because intermediate students are still at the age where they are still learning.  What do you think?


  1. I am a big fan of Multiple Intelligences. I personally learn well through kinesthetic and musical intelligence. I think this goes well with the blog that follows this one on differentiated instruction. I think looking at differentiated instruction you can use the different multiple intelligences to assist in your teaching and reaching the students in your class. There's no student too young or too old for these. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  2. Thanks Colleen, you should take a look at my Blog on Differentiated Instruction.