Maximizing Multiple Intelligences through Multimedia: A Real Application of Gardner's Theories

Article excerpt

As teachers, we spend endless hours developing lessons and crafting activities, all of which must integrate technology, comply with new curricular standards, and be effective and meaningful for our students. I [Graham] knew that in order to serve my students better, I had to work smarter, not harder. That meant incorporating more, in the same amount of time. That also meant I had to plan activities with less breadth and more depth.

Howard Gardner in his theory of Multiple Intelligences provides insight into the way students assimilate information [http://edweb.cnidr.org/edref. mi.th.html]. Gardner has identified eight "accepted" modes of learning: Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Linguistic, Mathematical, Musical, Naturalist, and Spatial. Traditional education emphasizes Linguistic and Mathematical Intelligences, while current testing and reporting methods do not allow us to measure growth in all intelligence sets.

An electronic portfolio can be an instrument to both establish baselines as well as to measure growth in all of the intelligence sets that Gardner has identified. At its simplest, a portfolio is a repository of work or interactions of a particular student during the year. Therefore, this means of assessing growth and reporting has to be an integral part of the curriculum and not an "add-on." We also decided the only way to measure growth in all of the intelligences was to look at the electronic portfolio as a malleable resource so it could better reflect the students' development. The work reflected is a cumulative showcase.

We [Graham and Carter] realized that "working smarter" meant my activities had to encompass a broader array of learning styles within the time allotted. The effectiveness of an activity (Activity Effectiveness or AE) is increased by addressing more Multiple Intelligences (MI). Therefore, AE is proportional to the number of intelligences addressed. An additional factor is the amount of time spent on an activity. If we decrease the amount of time spent on an activity and achieve the same result, its effectiveness increases. Therefore, AE is inversely proportional to time (T). The resulting formula postulates the relationship among these three components: AE[Alpha]MI/T. This provided us with the framework to determine if the activities planned in my classroom were as effective as possible. As a working theory of time classroom management, this hypothesis was very useful.

To assess my current classroom activities with regard to Gardner's Theory, we developed a matrix showing Intelligences against Activities. This visual representation enabled us to easily identify the strengths and weaknesses of the activities I had planned. By analyzing the data in this matrix, it is evident that most of this curriculum is still based on the two traditional intelligences: Linguistic and Mathematical. However, integrating more intelligence sets could develop more effective activities. Additionally, we noted that activities occurring outside of my core curriculum complemented inherent gaps in the matrix (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

                            MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES

Activity                  Kinesthetic   Interpersonal

Locker Head
Book Review & Interview                       *
Tower Building                 *              *
People Search                  *              *
Math Test
Gates McGinitie
Newspaper Names                               *
Science                        *              *
Music                          *              *
Art                            *              *
Physical Education             *              *

                            MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES

Activity                  Intrapersonal   Linguistic

Locker Head                     *             *
Book Review & Interview         *             *
Tower Building                  *
People Search                   *             *
Math Test                                     *
Gates McGinitie                               *
Newspaper Names                 *             *
Science                                       *
Music                           *             *
Art                             *             *
Physical Education              *

                          MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES

Activity                  Mathematical   Musical

Locker Head                    *
Book Review & Interview
Tower Building                 *
People Search                  *
Math Test                      *
Gates McGinitie                *
Newspaper Names                *
Science                        *
Music                          *            *
Art                            *
Physical Education             *            *

                          MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES

Activity                  Naturalist   Spartial

Locker Head                               *
Book Review & Interview
Tower Building
People Search
Math Test                                 *
Gates McGinitie                           *
Newspaper Names                           *
Science                       *
Music                                     *
Art                           *           *
Physical Education                        *

The next step was to determine which of these activities readily translated into components for an electronic portfolio. …