In a normal not 2020 year my classroom is filed with unique learning spaces. There is flexible seating, all surfaces including walls are writable and students get to pick seats based on the activities that we are completing that day.
This may sound like the makings of pandemonium, student choice is liberating especially on the first day of school.
To make sure the space is used correctly and intentionally on the first day of school students learn about Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. We begin by exploring the idea that everyone’s brain is different and functions in a unique way. Through a student lead class discussion we settle on the conclusion that if we’re all different how could we possibly learn the same way.
Excited students jump at the chance to decipher their own brains by taking Multiple Intelligences quiz . After a brief overview and some reflective prompts students take their quiz and then research what that means for their learning style.
Finally, they are ready to put that into action. In a typical year that means trying different seats, different areas in the room and different ways of completing tasks.
This year it looks quite different.
In 2020, over distance learning, we were able to recreate the same lively conversation, draw some similar conclusions and get excited to crack our own internal code. While seated in our bedrooms, living rooms and dining room tables we jumped into learning about ourselves and setting intentions for the year.
Instead of picking spaces in the room and fun configurations of furniture we created our own meta cognitive learning journals. The first entry required students to take a deep dive into their past learning and try to apply their new knowledge of multiple intelligence into their 8th grade year.
Their journals entries had to answer the following prompt questions:
- What are your top three intellgiences. Describe what they are and how they work.
- How do you see these intelligences in your past learning and everyday life?
- How can you use this knowledge in all of your content areas throughout your 8th grade year? (ex: How can you use word knowledge intelligence in math and physics? How can you harness kinesthetic intelligence in English?
These are some results:
“After taking the quiz, I found out my strengths/ intelligences were body movement, Musical, and Self, Which I completely agree with. I am a very active person, taking part in multiple sport teams. I have also done dance in the past. Fidgeting is very normal to me as well, so this the body movement category fits perfectly. I believe I could incorporate movement into all of my classes, whether it is going on a walk to think about a prompt given, or role playing a story from history to comprehend it, I will consider this type of learning. My second intelligence was musical, which I mostly agree with. All my life I have been a musical person, not just listening to it, but also playing musical instruments and singing. This makes me very observant with rhythms and other factors of music. Although, I find it hard to use this skill in the classroom. I have tried listening to music while I study but have been too concentrated on the music to focus on my work. I find it very difficult to concentrate on both at the same time. They’re may be other ways to incorporate this intelligence into my everyday work that I have not tried yet, such as using rhymes with emphasis on words to help me remember the material. Finally, my last skill is self (intrapersonal). I agree as I work very well by myself, organizing my thoughts and knowing what I have to do. When I work with others I feel more stressed on getting the work done, as I feel like now I am not only organizing my own thoughts, but the other person’s too. However, when it is not school work I am an extremely social person and can communicate very well with others. This is also one of the reasons I find it hard to work with others a lot, as I get distracted with being talkative about topics other than the work. I am capable of working in groups, but not for every project. I can use this intelligence in my classes by setting personal goals, small or big, to help organize my thoughts better.” – E
“My top three intelligences are body movement, logic/math, and social. I think that these intelligences describe me very well and they are very accurate. I have danced as long as I can remember. I like to be enjoy being active and exercising. I also really like numbers. When I see a problem (math or socially), I like to do whatever I can to solve it. Weather that means having to remember a formula or make someone feel better. I like talking to people and communication is one of my strong suits. My fourth intelligence, nature, also describes me very well. I love spending time outside whether I am swimming, paddle boarding, skiing, or hiking. I had expected all four of these responses because I am a mix of many things. I will now use this information to help my learning by working outside, studying with other people, or studying while on a walk. Knowing these strengths will help me become a better learner and I know I will grow as a person because of it.” – S
“Logic/math, nature, and musical were my top three intelligences that I received after taking the quiz. Although those were my top three most of mine were very similar in ranking. I mostly agree with these results because math has always been a relaxing subject for me, and I have always seen things in life logically with numbers. I have also always loved nature. My brain processes information better when I am outside, so whenever I read my summer books, I always go outside. For the most part I agree with musical intelligence. I do remember information when it is in a song form, I can find and remember the rhythm, and I love listening to music, but I have no musical talent. If I were to choose another one that described me it would probably be kinesthetic. I always work better when I am moving around, and I like taking breaks to go walk around and stretch when I am thinking or working. This quiz could be very helpful for me this year when I am learning in school. With the information I have now I know that if I have to learn vocabulary for American Government or English, I could put it into a song to remember it. If I am doing homework for any class, I know that I can go outside and my brain will be able to process the information better, and if I am struggling to understand something in class, I can think about it mathematically or logically and I might be able to understand it more.” – C
These journals will be used as a way for students to reflect and create a learning portfolio of their year. They will provide artifacts of learning from their sprints, record their sprint retrospectives and reflect on the intentions that they created on the first day of school.
By the last day in May students will have a whole portfolio of accomplishments and meta cognitive thinking to reflection on as a final celebration of their hard work, effort and growth in such an incredible time in their lives.