Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Part I

As an educator, I really appreciate Dr. Howard Gardner’s ideas regarding different types of intelligences. Why? Because it has helped to validate different types of learners, and dispels the idea that only people who are good at ____ (fill in the blank) are smart.

In his book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, he identifies different categories of intelligence. They are:

  • Linguistic Intelligence
  • Musical Intelligence
  • Logical-Mathematical Intelligence
  • Spatial Intelligence
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence
  • Interpersonal Intelligence
  • Intrapersonal Intelligence

When a student shines in one area, it is a great idea to validate that. It may not be, “You are really good at math,” rather, “You were just so kind and caring to ___” (Interpersonal Intelligence). I think students know a genuine compliment when they hear it.

More on the intelligences in Part II.

Monday Mornings: Proverbs, Quotes, and More

Fall Leaves“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” –Albert Camus

It is such a beautiful time of year, with the brilliant colors and cooling weather.

As teachers, once fall hits, we start to get our rhythm going. Students know classroom expectations and routines, we have assessed all our students, and we focus on core curriculum and meeting the needs of our students.

I hope you all have had a great start to your school year!

Teaching Writing and a Freebie!

One of my favorite subjects to teach is writing. If you show an enthusiasm for writing, and pick interesting topics, students really begin to enjoy writing as well.

Each morning, all year, I started my class with a writing prompt. I taught a range of abilities that included non-readers to readers, ages 6-9.

Here are the steps and how I did it:

  • I used my overhead (then my smartboard projector once I got one) and wrote the beginning prompt at the top of the screen. For example: My favorite summer activity is
  • I put a line under the prompt, and then one by one, I called on students and wrote their answers under the line. The students copied the prompt and their answer. I would alternate colored markers so the students would copy the correct answer. I would also use the actual whiteboard if I needed more space.
  • Eventually, the students began to write more on their own. I would always do the first sentence for them on the overhead, and then depending on their grade and ability, they had to add one to three more sentences themselves.

It was a slow process, but the students really got the hang of it. I also realized an added bonus–the kids got really good at copying from the whiteboard to their paper! This helped with other subjects as well.

I would always have fun lined paper with a border on it on the desks for the kids when they entered the class in the morning, as well as the overhead turned on.

This was more of a teaching process than free journaling–I love that too, but I wanted to actually teach how to write sentences–it was a guided process.

More and more, state testing is about the short constructed response, and students often do poorly on this; writing daily makes kids comfortable with the process (starting with a capital, ending with an end mark, a complete thought, practicing printing and spacing, etc.).

If your class is too big to work with each student daily, then alternate groups, or have a volunteer work with a small group.

Here is how I started each Monday: This weekend I

Try this on Mondays, and please let me know how it works!

Download: Weekend News

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An Evening with Abraham Verghese

iStock_000019487243_ExtraSmallI had the opportunity to attend a talk by Abraham Verghese, M.D., and author of the best selling novel, Cutting for Stone.

Although the talk was primarily about his philosophy of medicine, I found parallels that cross over into teaching.

Some of his more memorable quotes/phrases for me were:

“Books are about those quiet epiphanies.”

“To love the sick as if they were your own.”

“A human to human interaction.”

“Words of comfort.”

“The difference between curing and healing.”

I think a good teacher is a lot like a good physician. Verghese’s theme seemed to be: getting back to the human element in being a doctor, and taking the time with the patient. Studies have also shown the importance of getting to know your students, and the positive benefits it has on the student. I hope with all the emphasis on test scores and results, we hold to the human element of teaching as well.

Recognizing and Encouraging Positive Behavior: Using Stamp Cards

I have a great teaching tip for you to try.

About five years back, I remember thinking to myself, “I feel like I am neglecting my students who always follow the rules, and am giving way too much time to a particularly difficult student.” This made me feel bad, and I decided to add a new, simple element to my classroom management so as to reward the well behaved/on task students.

I went out and bought blank stamp cards (you don’t have to buy yours because I made some!) and taped them to the corner of the students’ desks. I explained that I wanted to reward all the good behavior in the class, and as a reward, once a student filled up his or her stamp card, he or she got to choose a friend and play a board game in our class library. It worked beautifully!

Here are some of the benefits of using the cards:

  • Super simple–I used an actual stamp pad with a little smiley face or star–sometimes I just used my pen and drew a star in the box.
  • It motivated other students to get stamps and increased positive/on task behavior. For example, if I just handed out a worksheet, and there was a student that got right to work, I would say, “I love how Susie got right to work. Great job,” and give her a stamp. The other kids would pick up their pencils and get right to work too, and then I would give them a stamp.
  • I felt I was acknowledging all the positive things going on in my class–a great shift in focus.
  • Once students learned the system, they would see me grab the stamp pad and get working–I didn’t have to say a word (this saved my voice).

It is important when first implementing any reward system, that you make it very easy for the students to succeed, and that they get the reward almost right away. Then it takes on value. Once the other students see the first couple getting to play a board game, the stamp cards take on a whole new significance. Also, choose whatever reward is the most motivating. It could be free time on the computer, free time in the library, etc. I gave out stamps for all sorts of behavior: kids who lined up quietly, kids who were straight in line, acts of kindness, etc.

I only had one rule: Students were not allowed to ask for a stamp for behavior. I did not want to hear, “Can I have a stamp?”

I hope this helps, and please tell me how it works out in your class or at home!

Click here to download: Rewarding Excellent Behavior

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