Take a moment to remember what it was like to be in grade school. You loved certain ways of learning and perhaps disliked others. Whatever your preferences, they were yours and they were part of what made you a unique learner. Each of your students are just as unique. That is both a joy and a headache when it comes to teaching. However, trying to find ways to cater to each of their learning styles and preferences can make any project a hundred times more complicated (and a hundred times more work for you).
The Multiple Intelligences
In the 1980s, Howard Gardner, an American psychologist, attempted to reduce the myriad of student learning styles to seven categories (now eight). Gardner believed most students were either Visual / Spatial, Logical / Mathematical, Verbal / Linguistic, Musical, Kinaesthetic, Interpersonal, or Intrapersonal learners.
Whether or not you subscribe to Gardner’s pedagogy, you can’t deny that the premise is sound. Students do learn in vastly different ways, whether by doing, reading, listening, or exercising their creative muscles. The challenge, therefore, remains largely the same. How can teachers approach activities in a manner well rounded enough to cater to such a wide variety of learners?
Technology and Multiple Intelligences
Thankfully, we are fortunate enough to live in a world where countless programs, services, and social media platforms are but a click away (and many of them are completely free). These programs can help teachers to tackle multiple intelligences like never before. The following tips are organised according to Gardner’s original seven intelligences. However, the ideas listed here can help revolutionise your classroom, whatever your personal teaching philosophy.
Visual / Spatial Learners
- Videos: Visual learners will find applying what they’ve learned in a video (YouTube or otherwise) engaging and fun. They can do everything from designing the video graphics to editing and adding music.
- Graphics and Flow Charts: A myriad of online programs like Bubbl.us and Text2MindMap can help students organise ideas in a visual way. They can brainstorm using online “cork boards” or create flow charts that clearly represent processes learned in class.
- Websites: Guide students in designing and maintaining websites and blogs.
Logical / Mathematical Learners
- Polls: Analytical students can create and distribute online polls then analyse and present the results.
- Collaborative Spreadsheets: Online collaborative platforms like Google docs or Dropbox allow students to work on spreadsheets at the same time, working together to organise and analyse information.
- Timelines: Sites like TimeToast offer tools for creating detailed timelines.
Verbal / Linguistic Learner
- Podcasts: Verbal learners can create their own podcasts online thanks to sites like Podbean. Have them share reading reflections, current events, or more.
- Discussion Threads: Several services that help students create blogs and websites also offer discussion forums that can be added to said sites. Students can manage intellectual discussions outside class on current events, popular media, or classroom content.
- Videos: Musical learners can merge videos and music for classroom projects. Have them write relevant songs, applying their understanding of the content in a creative way. They can also create musical montages to help illustrate their understanding of class content.
- Recording Songs: Online tools like Audacity and computer software like Garageband make it possible for students to create music from scratch. Have them write the score to a scene from one of the books you’re currently reading.
- Audio Blog: Allow students to blog reflections, reactions, and reviews in a musical manner.
- Smart Boards: Students can mark up electronic documents with pens and otherwise interact with computers in a tactile way.
- Collaborative Mark-ups: Sites like Twiddla allow students to mark up websites simultaneously, making it easier to engage with each other and material.
- Collaborative Mark-ups: Twiddla is also excellent for interpersonal learners who benefit from collaborative study.
- Social Media: Websites like Twitter and Facebook make it easy to collaborate with students in other states and even countries. They can also help interpersonal learners keep discussions going outside class.
- Blog: Intrapersonal learners could benefit from sharing reflections and ideas in blog format.
- Podcasts: Intrapersonal learners may enjoy doing podcasts, allowing them to work alone but still engage with the rest of the class by producing something for everyone’s benefit.
You’ll notice that a few of the ideas above are repeated for different learners. Part of what makes technology such an effective way to engage multiple intelligences is its inherent ability to speak to so many different learning styles at once. A simple video involves design, music, action, scripting, and collaboration.
Kognity is a great example of a tool which allows teachers to open up their classes to students with different learning styles. With videos, interactive apps and tests to name but a few features, students with different learning styles are really able to help themselves find the learning style which works for them with the guidance of their teachers. The ideas don’t stop here either. These are simply samples of what is possible when you branch out. Use this post as inspiration and find ways to tap into every learner in your classroom.