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 the more kid-friendly terms shown above. 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.
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 slidecast video tutorial that explains exactly what to do and where to find additional resources on this topic. Both the survey and the video are free resources on the Multiple Intelligences page on my website.
Step-by-Step MI Lessons
In addition to the survey, I spent years developing 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 an ebook to share my resources with others. Teaching Multiple Intelligence Theory: Step-by-Step Lessons for the Intermediate Grades includes engaging, cooperative learning activities for students to help them learn about all the ways they are smart. I've recently updated this ebook to include information about how MI theory and the research on growth mindset can be integrated into one approach. You can preview the entire ebook online from my TeachersPayTeachers store.
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.