June 1, 2013
Multiple Intelligence Theory for Kids
Multiple Intelligence Theory suggests that IQ is not one-dimensional and can't be described by a single number. Dr. Gardner proposed that there are at least eight different types of intelligence, each one with a corresponding area in the brain. He used terms like “mathematical-logical,” “bodily-kinesthetic,” and “visual-spatial” to describe these intelligences, but many educators have adopted more kid-friendly terms like "Music Smart," "Body Smart," and "Math Smart." My students really enjoyed learning about the “eight kinds of smart,” and this knowledge helped everyone appreciate each other’s strengths, especially when working in cooperative learning teams. If you'd like to download a mini poster with all 8 kinds of smart, head over to the Multiple Intelligence Theory and Growth Mindset page on my Teaching Resources website.
Free MI Survey and Video Tutorial
When I set out to teach my students the basics of MI theory, I faced a problem. Most Multiple Intelligence Surveys were long and difficult to read, especially for elementary students. I looked for a survey that was short and included common activities that kids do, but I couldn’t find one anywhere. So - you guessed it – I created my own! It’s not research-based, but enough kids have used it over the years for me to feel confident in saying that it’s an effective tool when presented as a fun activity rather than as a scientific assessment. The survey is pretty easy to administer, but because it appears complicated, I created a video tutorial that explains exactly what to do and where to find additional resources on this topic. You can download this free survey and watch the video from the Multiple Intelligences page on my website.
Step-by-Step MI Lessons
In addition to the survey, I developed a series of interactive lessons to help my students understand each of the eight kinds of smart. A few years ago, I decided to write a book to share these lessons with others. Multiple Intelligence Theory for Kids: Step-by-Step Lessons and Ready-to-Use Printables includes engaging, cooperative learning activities for students to help them learn about all the ways they are smart.
MI Theory and Growth Mindset
Some educators believe that the recent research about growth mindset means that MI theory is no longer relevant, but I disagree. However, I do understand concerns about praising kids for being smart, so I think it's important to have a full grasp of both theories to avoid fostering a fixed mindset in your students. I updated Multiple Intelligence Theory for Kids to provide information about how to use MI theory and growth mindset research together to empower students. I also developed a two-part webinar during which I shared step-by-step strategies for implementing both MI theory and growth mindset research. Interested? Sign up for the replay of MI Theory, Mindset, and Motivation!
If you still have a few weeks of school left with your students, this would be a great time to test out the survey and some of the activities. If you are already out, you'll find this kid-friendly Multiple Intelligences survey to be an excellent way to start off the new school year. It will help your new students identify their own strengths and it will help you get to know them better. Teaching your students how people are smart in many ways can be very empowering, and most students enjoy the process of discovering how they learn best.