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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?

How do I work with my school, the parents, and the community?

Below is a comprehensive list of things you can do to involve families and the community in your school.

  • Enlist support from administrators and supervisors early. Keep people informed about any initiatives designed to enhance learning. The director of curriculum in your school district can help with staff-development opportunities, consultants, and support for attending conferences. Their help can also come in handy later, if you need to make adjustments to schedules, room assignments, or budgets to facilitate your project.
  • Build relationships with colleagues in other disciplines. This is a critical component of any interdisciplinary project. Science and math teachers might collaborate with music and arts educators or performing arts faculty on projects that benefit everyone. If you initiate collaborations, be sure to give people enough lead time and information.
  • Look for curricular overlap. Poll your colleagues about their curriculum for the upcoming months, in an effort to coordinate and team-teach several overlapping areas. A more elaborate practice of creating curriculum maps for an entire grade level or school aims to precisely target those specific areas of overlap and thereby provide opportunities for rich interdisciplinary connections.
  • Bring in outside speakers and guest lecturers. You may wish to poll your students to find relatives or neighbors with first-hand knowledge of subjects your class is studying. Some schools and districts have compiled a list -- which identifies members of the community who have expressed an interest in donating a small amount of time to help students in your area. Some examples: An artist came in to teach some grade 2 students about the ancient art of origami. A former Peace Corps volunteer who had lived in Africa came in to give students a slide show presentation of her experiences. In her presentation, she was able to include artifacts, clothing, and musical instruments from the area she visited. In appreciation, students can develop homemade thank-you cards.
  • Get the word out. Use school newspapers, the school P.A. system, and library bulletin boards to share the news of events in your classroom. For extended, collaborative class projects, you might even contact a local news station to do a feature on your students' accomplishments.
  • Send notes to parents and guardians. Inform them about the nature of the project, the due dates, expectations of students, and any special requests that you may want them to attend to. Notifying family members is especially important if you are planning a larger event, a science fair, a Renaissance evening, or a debate. In addition, a very useful communication tool between parents and teachers is making lesson plans public via the Web and providing "newsletters" to go out to the families. These tools increase discourse between the teacher and parent and thereby increase awareness.
  • Educate parents and guardians about the theory of multiple intelligences. Family members need to understand how M.I. enhances the student's learning experience, if you want to get their support. Unless it's pencil and paperwork, some parents won't see the value of it. Be sure to let them know that M.I. classroom application can be aligned with the national and state standards.
  • Set aside special time for student presentations of projects and performances. Students become more motivated when they know there is an audience for their work; they rise to the occasion. Start small. Begin by informally inviting colleagues to your classes, and scale up to include school-wide assemblies, presentations to parents and guests, and other community events. Successful projects tend to garner administrative support, and parental involvement and often acquire a momentum of their own. Successful implementation of these type of student presentations quickly become institutionalized into annual "Greek festivals," "Medieval Banquets," or "Rocket Launches" that the entire school community looks forward to and supports. These projects provide optimum opportunities for authentic assessment.
To explore issues of parent and community involvement further, take a look at our Making Family and Community Connections workshop.

Workshop: Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning
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