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Strategy # 2: Identifying your students' multiple intelligences and learning styles

We can easily recognize within a group of people that not everyone is alike, but it may take a little more effort to understand fully how students in our classrooms learn best. Sometimes the best way to learn about your students is to watch them work and see what choices they make. Other times we need to ask them to get their perspectives.

Two approaches can help you learn more about your students and what helps them learn the best: Observing and Assessing

Observing: What kinds of "smart" are my students?

Spend a day or two in your classroom noting which students stand out for particular reasons. If you had to characterize Bill, would you say, "He's really verbal!" or "That kid doesn't want to stay still" or "Just give Bill a paint brush and you'll know what he's thinking"? These statements tell us a lot about our students, how they process and express information and how they learn best. Fill in the chart below for students who seem to fit the categories listed on the left.

Obervation Tool: What kinds of "smart" are my students?

Adapted from: http://www.multi-intell.com (retrieved 2/1/06)

What characterizes different ways of being of ‘smart’? Student names and evidence
Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence: Word smart; book smart; highly developed skills for reading, writing, speaking, listening Susan, Rod, Brittany and Juan read during their free time.
Logical-Mathematical Intelligence: thinks conceptually and abstractly; sees patterns and relationships; likes to solve puzzles Brad, Karen, Cecilia and Ghazala need to be pushed out of the math center, especially when we have pattern work!
Visual/Spatial Intelligences: likes to think in images and pictures, likes puzzles, reading maps to find places Dwayne and Bart were stars during our map unit when we posted our journey out west.
Intrapersonal Intelligence: likes to work alone, self-reflective and self-aware, in tune with inner feelings

Han writes often in his journal and seems to think a lot about questions raised in class.
Interpersonal Intelligence: learns through personal interactions, often as part of a team; sensitive to others’ feelings and good at compromising

Leroy and Cheryl lead our group through many a compromise when we have group meetings.
Naturalist Intelligence: loves the outdoors, animals, plants and other natural objects; fascinated by the natural world; likes to classify natural world Adiba and Haojing have brought in specimens for our science projects without even being asked.
Musical-Rhythmic Intelligence: loves music and rhythmic patterns; sensitive to sounds and the environment; skilled at mimicking sounds, accents, speech patterns I wonder if Baker is going to have a rock band when he's older.
Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence: keen sense of body awareness; likes to learn by doing through physical movement; doesn’t like to sit for long periods Fletcher, Amahd and Alex need freedom to move during mini-lessons to keep their attention.

Download this form: PDF version for printing... RTF version for revising... MS Word version for revising

Self-assessment surveys: Getting in touch with our own intelligences

Sometimes teachers are not able to observe students in situations that reveal particular intelligences students have. Students may have hobbies, play sports, participate in clubs or read about topics that we do not find out about without asking. Therefore, it can be helpful to ask students directly about their habits and preferences. A number of self-assessment tools have been developed and are available on the following websites:

Walter McKenzie's Multiple Intelligences Inventory

Learning Styles Test

Seven Intelligences Checklist (Youth Version 13 - 18 years)

Seven Intelligences Checklist (Adult Version)

Assessment: Find Your Strengths

What are My Learning Strengths?