Term Paper: Colonial Times for Third Grade Using Multi-Intelligence

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¶ … Colonial Times for Third Grade Using Multi-Intelligence Theory

The multiple intelligence theory was developed in 1983 by Howard Gardner, whose professional experience in the education department at Harvard galvanized him to inspect the world of thought and its relation to academia from a different perspective. Through his multifaceted approach to intelligence, he suggested that the standard form of analysis, I.Q. testing, was far too limited to accurately surmise a person's intellectual capacity. Instead, he proposed eight different intelligences to not only account for the broader range of adult success but also the according potential of children.

As a neuropsychologist, Gardner examined the biological activity of the human brain, unearthing the reality of a modular configuration, not the presumed unitary mental organization. Through careful research, he found that different aspects of mental function were relayed by specific physical realties; for example, a person who gets a tumor in the central area of the left cortex will have difficulty reading, writing, and speaking, but still do well singing a tune, relating to other people, or following a map. Applying this physical construction of the brain to learning, Gardner began exploring a broader definition of intelligence to include the mental abilities of differing individuals: Is this ability impaired by damage to part of the brain while other abilities remain? Does the ability have an evolutionary history or usefulness? Can prodigies and expert performances in the ability be demonstrated? Is the ability supported by psychological research?

As he studied the abilities of individuals of all ages, Gardner's definition of intelligence expanded to include the many talents he observed. Gardner's modern definition of intelligence is an all-encompassing, defining it as "a biopsychological potential to process information that can be activated in a cultural setting to solve problems or create products that are of value in a culture." Gardner originally identified seven intelligences, but recently expanded the list to what he jokingly refers to as 81?2. By way of illustration, some occupations that possibly pull for predominantly one type of intelligence are included.

The varied forms of intelligence he recognized were: linguistic intelligence ("word smart"), logical-mathematical intelligence ("number/reasoning smart"), spatial intelligence ("picture smart"), bodily-kinesthetic intelligence ("body smart"), musical intelligence ("music smart"), interpersonal intelligence ("people smart"), intrapersonal intelligence ("self smart"), and naturalist intelligence ("nature smart"). Gardner says Americans focus most of their attention on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence, esteeming the highly articulate or logical people of our culture. As an educator, however, he insists that there is a necessary societal shift, particularly on the part of educators; while not intrinsically natural in the vein of current mores, society needs to recognize individuals who show gifts in the other intelligences.

The success of other intelligences is widely received in the corporate world; artists, architects, designers, dancers, entrepreneurs, musicians, naturalists, therapists, and others are the benefactors of admiration and respect both within their own industries and without. Gardner notes with remorse that many children who reveal these talents at an early age fail to receive reinforcement for them in school. Furthering the idea, he stressed the concern that these children may end up being confused as learning disabled, under achievers, or as suffering from a mental disorder like ADD/ADHD. While they are enormously gifted in their own right, a school system that fails to address their strengths and tries to pin them down between math and language not only ignores their when their unique ways of thinking, but also ceases to serve the public purpose of educating and furthering the mental and intellectual life of America's youth.

One of the most powerful aspects of the multiple intelligence theory is how it provides eight different potential pathways to learning. If a teacher is having difficulty reaching a student in the more traditional linguistic or logical ways of instruction, the multiple intelligence theory allows several other ways in which the material might be presented to facilitate more effective learning. Regardless of learning level, the dynamic intellectual construction of a classroom remains resolutely diverse; finding a way to get through to each student is the responsibility of the teacher for which Gardner provides a roadmap of suggestions.

Gardner and his followers propose a major transformation in the standard ideas of schooling to address this systematic problem. To address the needs of all students, teachers must be trained to present their lessons in a wide variety of ways, including though music, cooperative learning, art activities, role-play, multimedia, field trips, inner reflection, and apprenticeship. Since its original publication, Gardner's most decisive piece of multi-intelligence literature has garnered national attention, spawning movements in educational circles around the country, with hundreds of schools revamping their philosophies to address the needs of all children.

Gardner carefully defines intelligence as distinct from morality, character, creativity, motivation, and other critical personal qualities. Having intelligence alone is not enough, because it can be used, or not used, to do good or bad things. He quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Character is more important than intellect." Ultimately, it is through the recognition of each child's individual character that can further his or her intellect, though; to Gardner, that child's own character is the key to providing the fuel to feed the hungry intellect of youth. According to Gardner, "we each have a unique blend of intelligences.... We can choose to ignore this uniqueness, strive to minimize it, or revel in it."

Statement of the Problem

In order to devise a careful lesson plan for a third grade unit on colonial times, a teacher must address the intellectual needs of all students. Applying Gardner's theory of multiple intelligence, the pedagogue must make an inclusive plan replete with a variety of multimedia to engage and stimulate children of all intelligence. "[a]lmost any number of educational programs can be crafted in the shadow of MI theory. However, there is one form of education that is antagonistic in spirit to MI -- the uniform school."

Because education is not a one-size-fits-all program, teachers need to devise lesson plants that incorporate many ideologies at the same time.

A personalized lesson plan that takes into account the intellectual needs of not only all types of intelligence but also all the children in the room demands a teacher who "takes individual differences seriously, and insofar as possible, crafts practices that serve different kinds of minds equally well.... The crucial ingredient is a commitment to knowing the minds -- the persons -- of individual students... [keeping] an up-to-date profile of [each] student."

Because the act of learning involves a student using his or her own talents to engage with the material, non-standard, experiential and, hands-on activities such as storytelling, drama, dance, music, art, observation, experiment, constructing, problem-solving, discussion, reading, and writing are all important. "[a]ny rich, nourishing topic -- any concept worth teaching -- can be approached in at least five different ways." Any lesson plan needs to encompass these varied intellectual needs, strengths, and abilities.

A lesson plan for a third-grade colonial times unit needs to incorporate the standardized "three R's," but also needs to provide students with new physical, visual, aural, verbal, and interaction-based activities to help relay the material to all the children in the room. Capitalizing on each child's strength, a teacher can engage the students with each other, enabling them to display the knowledge they have gained through the manner best-suited to them as well as providing a diverse system of stimulation based on the colonial world.

Literature Review

The explosion of Howard Gardner's book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (Basic Books, 1983) onto the academic scene seemed to answer many questions for experienced teachers. Many had witnessed capable students in their own classroom who failed to fit into the mold, yet despite their academic tribulation, the teachers were aware of how bright the children actually were. Gardner's claim that there are several different kinds of intelligence illuminated a way of learning and teaching that might successfully reach those students previously untapped by the system: teachers no longer had to just examine what students did wrong, instead, they could look at all the things students did right.

Later Gardner books, such as the Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and How Schools Should Teach (Basic Books, 1991) and Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice (Basic Books, 1993) furthered an understanding of how multiple intelligences could help pedagogues and students in the passing of knowledge. At the same time, an outcropping of other social scientists and educators joined the philosophy of the multi-intelligence theory with their own analysis, teaching practices, and cultivation of students' knowledge through their own rights.

Among this growing awareness of multiple-intelligence theory, Linda Campbell reformatted her own classroom to incorporate the ideas of Gardner. She describes her five approaches to curriculum change in "Variations on a Theme: How Teachers Interpret MI Theory," (Educational Leadership, September 1997). The core of her classroom metamorphoses was based in lesson design. She describes this design on both the school and classroom level, incorporating team teaching ("teachers focusing on their own intelligence strengths"),… [END OF PREVIEW]

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