M I Theory Summarized

In my previous blog I talked about Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (MI) Theory, and how by applying it to the classroom setting teachers could harness student’s different learning styles more fully. The following table nicely summarises this school of thought.

 Multiple Intelligences  Learning Methods/Materials  Learning Activities
Verbal-Linguistic Books, stories, poetry, speeches Writing stories, scripts, poems, storytelling
Mathematical-Logical Exploring patterns, problem solving, classifying systems Counting, calculating, theorizing, demonstrating, programming
Musical Tapes, CD’s, live music Performing, singing, playing, composing
Visual-Spatial Posters, art work, slides, charts, graphs, video tapes, laser disks, CD-ROMs and DVDs, museum visits Drawing, painting, illustrating, graphic design, collage making, poster making, photography
Bodily-Kinaesthetic Physicalizing concepts, rhythm exercises Dance recital, athletic performance
Interpersonal Teams, group work, specialist roles Plays, debates, panels, group work
Intrapersonal Reflection time, meditation exercises Journals, memoirs, diaries, changing behaviours, habits, personal growth
Naturalist Terrariums, aquariums, visits to museums, botanical gardens, zoos etc., nature walks, Collecting, classifying, caring for animals
Existential Working on causes, charity work, spiritual concepts Community service, philosophical debates

MI in the Classroom

It would be quite unrealistic, I think, in the classroom setting to try to tailor-make each lesson to suit every individual’s learning style. It is more realistic, on the other hand, to vary  learning activities as much as possible over the whole of a course, so that in time you can stimulate all the different types of intelligences.

Moreover, by observing students on how they respond to the different activities, and recording this information, one might well discover a certain predominant composition of learning styles; for example, that there is a class with a majority of visual learners. In this case one may try using flash cards more often, for instance, or focus on board work activities more, without forgetting the other learner’s styles of course. I think this partly explains why sometimes I have tried an activity with one group and it has fallen flat, to later find it works really well with another set of students.

Classroom Activities with MI in Mind

Here is a small selection of the type of activities I use in some of my classes in order to tap into student’s differing learning styles.

Name of Activity Brief Description MI Involved
The “Pi” Counting Game Students in a circle take turns counting, in order, from 1 onward. However for certain multiples, e.g. of 3 or 5, they have to say “pi!” instead of the number. Henceforth the counting changes direction. Any mistakes would result in a forfeit, e.g., doing a sum. Mathematical-Logical



Guess the Mime A group of 3 or 4 students organise themselves unseen, and then mime a scene in front of the class. The other students have to guess what the actions are, using set target language, e.g. present continuous. Bodily-Kinaesthetic



 Blind Serial Drawing Students are asked to draw on a sheet of paper. However they start drawing only part of said drawing e.g. the head of a monster. Then they fold the paper so that only part can be seen, e.g. the neck. They then pass the sheet to the student on their right. Then on the sheet they’ve been passed students continue drawing up to another indicated point. The drawing-folding-passing continuous until the drawing is completed by different students. Finally the original students unfold the drawings they had started and describe it. The resulting drawing is usually very funny. Visual-Spatial


Re-writing songs Students are played a song which contains rhyming using particular word types e.g. –ly adverbs, -ing adjectives or –ed participles etc. After a comprehension stage, students in small groups are asked to re-write the song using alternative target words. The groups have to sing their song to the rest of the class. The teacher finally asks comprehension questions about the new song. Musical-Rhythmic


Lottery Conditionals Using the 2nd conditional students write on a sheet of paper what charitable works they would perform if they won the lottery. The teacher collects, and reads out these writings one by one, whereby the others have to try and guess the author. Intrapersonal




In conclusion I would say that although you can’t please all the students all the time, it’s good to bear in mind that there are many different ways of learning and adjust the class activities accordingly. If you identify a loner or someone who is always up and out of their seat, you might try from time to time putting activities into your lesson plan that you think will suit them.

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