EDU 6526: Classroom Design: Building the Foundation to Teach to Multiple Intelligences

P – Practice effective teaching: inquiry, planning, instruction & assessment.

P1 – Practice intentional inquiry and planning for instruction. Teacher candidates plan and/or adapt standards-based curricula that are personalized to the diverse needs of each student.

“We have this myth that the only way to learn something is to read it in a textbook or hear a lecture on it. And the only way to show that we’ve understood something is to take a short-answer test or maybe occasionally with an essay question thrown in. But that’s nonsense. Everything can be taught in more than one way” (Gardner, 2009).

When examining Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences theory, one can easily agree that students have diverse backgrounds based on knowledge received from their own personal experiences, upbringing, and cultural roots. It is important that teachers diversify instruction, in order to meet the needs of increasingly growing diverse student classroom populations. The work required to do this may be overwhelming for many teachers. The requisite is clear though and as emerging teachers enter their new classrooms, it is essential that they move into this profession with the understanding that they will be challenged to continuously evolve their curriculums and practices to meet the needs of individual students. Gardner (2009) expresses “…once we realize that people have very different kinds of minds, different kinds of strengths — some people are good in thinking spatially, some in thinking language, others are very logical, other people need to be hands on and explore actively and try things out — then education, which treats everybody the same way, is actually the most unfair education” (Multiple Intelligences section, para. 2). Understanding Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, one must try to visualize the classroom that would promote this kind of learning environment. In order to support this theory in the elementary classroom, it is essential that the learning space be organized appropriately.

An elementary classroom can be reorganized each year to rotate students in different learning environments and workgroups, based on material that is to be presented for any given subject and the personality of the student population any given school year. (1) Desks may be arranged in small groups for students to regularly interact with each other, working together to problem-solve and helping each other on inductive learning activities; (2) technology stations can be setup in a section of the room for individualized digital learning activities and online research; (3) a large meeting space, such as a colorful carpeted area or benched seating area is also ideal for group conversations and classroom readings; (4) a round or oval table in another section of the room is helpful to have more individualized instruction between the teacher/paraprofessional/volunteer and students; (5) the teacher’s desk can be used as another small meeting space for an instructor and student gathering; (6) Ipads, smart phones, and other flat screen devices can promote learning in a variety of ways; (7) every elementary classroom should also utilize a classroom library with not only age appropriate literature but also literature for lower and higher-grade levels as well; (8) lastly, independent workstations or cardboard privacy shields can be utilized for students that need more focused practice on assignments. In addition to these suggestions, wall space should be highly visual, surrounding students with opportunities to absorb information based on the curriculum and environment that is to be promoted. Teachers should familiarize themselves with student interests as well and when appropriate, utilize these interests to promote learning. The Seahawks are popular; this subject matter may be utilized to enhance learning.

In other words, the design of the learning environment further prepares the space for a variety of activities. A classroom should be a place of instruction but also a place of movement, excitement, and activity. This space can be utilized for lectures and assignments, but can also be used for rotating instruction, having students participate in a variety of activities at the same time, allowing the teacher to also work with smaller groups for more direct instruction to provide more individualized assistance. It may also be wise to situate the space to utilize paraprofessional and volunteer help. The classroom should be a flexible, inviting, and fun space capable of housing a variety of teaching strategies. It should promote excitement for learning and motivate students and the teacher to discover new ways to receive knowledge. If a classroom is dynamic and flexible, multiple intelligence learning practices may be more easily designed and delivered to a diverse student population. “Students simply think and learn in many different ways” therefore educatory educators should “…extend opportunities to explore a realm or topic in many different ways” (Scheuerman, 2015). What better way to start than by organizing the learning environment to make this practice as easy as possible!

References:

Gardner, H. (2009, April 1). Big thinkers: Howard Gardner on multiple intelligences. Retrieved from Edutopia.org: http://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-howard-gardner-video

Scheuerman, R. (2015). Session 7: Learner centered approaches. Personal Collection of (Scheuerman, R.), Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA.

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