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How will we explore multiple intelligences theory in the classroom?>
How do I apply multiple intelligences (M.I.) theory in my classroom?
What are some simple ways to get started?
What are some of the challenges I may face?
How do I assess students' progress?
How does curriculum align with state and national standards?
How does technology complement the M.I. approach?
How do I work with my school, the parents, and the community?

What are some of the challenges I may face?

When trying out new techniques in the classroom for the first time, unexpected problems may come up. Here are a few potential problem areas.


Assessment becomes more complicated. Take the case of a report. If the modification you have added to report-writing is to write an illustrated report, then evaluation will likely include assessment of not only the writing but also the illustration. One student may produce brilliant writing and inadequate illustration while another may illustrate well and write poorly. There are several ways to address this sort of dilemma:

  • Develop methods of assessment that don't indicate one intelligence is more valuable than another. These may include rubrics . . . letting students know at the outset the criteria for weighting different parts of the project. Additionally, try to incorporate a component of your assessment that shows development of M.I. over time in a few areas. This way, students and parents will see that students are not "locked into" a particular intelligence, but actually have room (and school support) to develop in other areas.
  • Show students concrete examples of finished assignments or projects before they begin their assignments. Exhibit both the minimum expected, and an example of the highest caliber (against which the students can measure their achievement.)
  • Allow for flexibility and feedback during the process. Provide extra time (either during "free" periods, or after school) for students to work on their projects. In class discussion, students may help you formulate appropriate standards for M.I. evaluation.
  • Without turning over the responsibility for evaluation, engage students in the process. Some rubrics include peer evaluation. Some classes set up student panels to review demonstrations.

2 The Schedule may seem to block some of your plans. Incorporating multiple intelligence activities into your work does not necessarily entail more time.

However, when students are doing activities that they enjoy, they become entranced, in what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls a state of "flow." When the students are absorbed in their work, you may feel frustrated with the amount of time the schedule allows.

Assigning projects and performance-based tasks can mean restructuring part of the daily schedule, altering the physical setup of the classroom, or allowing extended time for completion of assigned work. Some solutions:

  • If your room is not large enough to accommodate group activities, move to the auditorium or the cafeteria for one period.
  • If your unit is only three class periods, allow students additional time for independent work on a portfolio or presentation.
  • Bring other teachers (the art teacher, the physical education instructor) into the unit. Using a language arts and art class effectively doubles your time.


Lesson design may be a problem. Consult some of the sample lesson plans we provide. We will also give you practice in the next section of the course.

Before you begin, we would like to offer some advice:

  • Make natural and common sense choices rather than forcing material.
  • Not every lesson or assignment has to have all of the intelligences and all modalities of instruction.

4 M.I. Resources consist of both materials and people. You will need both as you answer each question and meet each challenge.

  • Use the list of resources from this course as a foundation.
  • Introduce your ideas about using multiple intelligence theory in a faculty meeting. An inventory of M.I. strengths in your staff could reveal a corps of willing supporters.
  • Get support from your building and district administrators. Their involvement is vital for any systematic reform to take place in the school.
  • Call on "experts" to be guest speakers for your class. Be sure to seek the guidance of school administrators as you engage community members in activities.
  • Work with your library or media-center staff to collect in-school resources and put up a Web page with links to important M.I. sites.


Workshop: Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning
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