Question 1: What is the definition of intelligence?
This is an easy question to answer, you may think. However, when it comes to writing down a definition, it may not be as easy as it appears.
Question 2: What is that makes you think X student is more intelligent than Y student?
Because X student always gets the highest grades in tests.
What about the student who interacts actively with his peers; thus, contributes to a better learning environment? And, what about the student who is a musical virtuoso? Are they really ‘less’ intelligent compared to the student who scores high in math tests?
Question 3: How intelligent are you?
Uhhh!!! This is even more difficult to answer, isn’t it?
Intelligo me intelligere- I understand that I understand (St. Augustine)
Although there is no single definition of intelligence, Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligence has been acknowledged by many educators. “[MI] has been embraced by a range of educational theorists and, significantly, applied by teachers and policymakers to the problems of schooling” (Smith, 2008).
Every single individual has a unique intellectual make-up; therefore learns, thinks, processes, and produce differently (Gardner, 1983). Multiple Intelligence theory suggests that we all possess at least nine intelligences: Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Visual-Spatial, Bodily Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Musical, Naturalist and Existential intelligence. It is proposed that Multiple Intelligence instruction (Hereafter MI) should be employed primarily for the following reasons; (1) it acknowledges each child as a unique individual with different potentials, (2) it provides teachers with a wider scope on effective lesson execution, (3) it supports cooperation among all teachers in schools, and (4) it increases students awareness on the way they learn, think, process, and produce (Saban, 2009).
The exam system and the curriculum in Turkey have heavily been based on logical-mathematical and linguistic intelligence, leading the ones who have strong mathematical and linguistic intelligences shine out in the class, and even be identified as the “intelligent” ones. What about the others? Does it mean that they are they less intelligent?
As teachers, it is our responsibility to implement activities that cater for different learners and allow every single individual to shine in the classroom, which could be possible through MI teaching strategy (Gardner, 1983). Research indicates that MI instruction can make students better acquire and retain knowledge (Özdemir et al., 2006). The good news is that there has been a significant increase in the number of MI studies in Turkey influencing teachers’ and curriculum designers’ view to learning (Saban, 2009).
Last Saturday, I gave a workshop at Eclipsing Expectations- the conference of Sabancı University, School of Languages. The purpose of my workshop was to share and get some ideas on various activities we could do to cater for students with different intelligences. We first talked a little bit about MI. I then had my audience to imagine they had a class of students of famous people with different intelligences. I then had them add two other students (of their choice) to their imaginary class and think of possible activities that could cater for as ‘many’ intelligences as possible. I then went on by sharing two different activities we could do; one for a grammar and one for a reading class. I had promised to share (to my audience) the activities and ideas on my blog, so here we go…
ACTIVITY 1: “Go Fishing”
The first activity I shared is called “Go Fishing” which I came across on ELT Classroom (posted by Victor Mejia). Upon reading the post, with some modifications and additions, I prepared a lesson based on ‘passive voice’. The song I choose to use for ‘Passive Voice’ was “I can’t be tamed” by Miley Cyrus. (Please feel free to adapt this activity with any other songs to present vocabulary or other grammar items. I can also send you the materials if you drop me a few linesJ ).
1. I first display some parts of a picture of the singer, in this case, Miley Cyrus. I start by displaying her eyes and ask students who they think it is (or what it is) (the purpose here is to generate some interest to the topic/lesson). By showing some more cues, I go on eliciting until they get the whole picture of the singer.
2. Once they find who it is, I then ask them whether they know any songs of her. (Young learners would know Miley Cyrus from the TV series Hannah Montana while very few teenagers would know about her. Therefore, if you teach young learners, it wouldn’t be a good idea to do this song with them as they would already know the song by heart; thus, would not create any need to do the activity).
Discussion to generate some background knowledge
3. I play the first part of the video, and stop at “…lady and gentlemen, in captivity….”, and ask students in pairs/groups to discuss what animals and birds are kept in captivity; the reasons why they are kept in captivity; and their ideas about it. Then I elicit their ideas. (This stage would most probably cater for visual, linguistic, interpersonal and naturalist intelligences.) Once some ideas are collected, I play the video to have them see who it is (Miley Cyrus in a bird costume). I then give them the title of the song- I Can’t be tamed, and ask them to predict what meaning it could have.
Predicting the verbs to set a purpose for listening
4. I distribute the lyrics from which some active and passive words are blanked out, and tell them to individually think of possible words that would be appropriate to use in the blanks (Without any prior idea, it is very difficult to understand a listening text. Some sort of prediction always helps as they are to compare their predictions, which subsequently gives them a sense of a purpose for listening). This would most probably cater for learners with strong intrapersonal, mathematical and linguistic intelligences.
5. Put students in groups of 3 or 4. Then, I give each group the pieces of paper on which the ‘active and passive verbs’ are written. Play the video or the song, and the students “go fishing”!. The student who has the most pieces of verbs is the winner! Here, would the bodily-kinesthetic ones shine out.
DISCOVERING THE GRAMMAR
6. Once the winners are applauded, students work in groups to put the verbs in two different categories (as students have verbs like ‘be tamed’, ‘be jagged’, ‘understand’ they will easily put the verbs into two categories). Mathematical and interpersonal ones would probably be more active here, and would help out the others in the group.
7. I then ask the students some grammar related questions. For example, I ask them to find the doer of each verb, how the verb is formed when the doer of the action is obvious/stated, and so on.
8. Once the students have discovered the use and meaning of the language, I go on with some controlled and freer practice from the available materials I have (course book and supplements).
The intelligence left out with this particular activity would be the existential one; however, if we happen to have a student whose existential intelligence is strong, I am sure we could find a way to make them shine out as well. We could just ask them some ‘big questions, such as “Do you think keeping animals in captivity would give bad karma?”
Having shared this activity with the participants in my workshop, I also asked them to get into groups of three/pairs to think of for further ideas we could use. And they came up with lovely ideas, which you can see below. I would like to thank them all for the lovely ideas However, it’s pity that I can’t provide any reference as there were no names indicated on the post-its.
A note to my audience in my workshop: If you happen to read this post, and you would like to add your name, please let me know which one is yours so that I can make the necessary additions.
And the lovely ideas they came up with were as such:
- Before giving the lyrics, show the video in silence. Then ask students to write up a story about it.
- Ask students to stand up when they hear a passive structure.
- As a speaking activity, students can assume themselves as one member of the audience and share their opinions.
- Write a different ending.
- Tick things you see in the video from a (brainstormed) list
- Watch a video without the music and they try to write the lyrics.
- Silent movies- understanding and deriving meaning (for productive skills lessons)
I then went on with a second video activity…
ACTIVITY 2: Video-dictation for pre-reading
We can use videos as a pre-reading activity. I love the videos of Mr Bean which is good to use especially for dictation activities. The topic of the reading is about the dangers of swimming pools; therefore, I chose to use the video of Mr Bean at the swimming pool.
Here is how I do it:
1. Assign A and B students.
2. Turn off the sound and play the video. While one student watches the video and describes the action, the other one listens. (In grammar classes, this could also be used as a production activity in which students are asked to use present continuous- see my blog post here).
3. After a while, I have pairs switch roles so that they can take turn.
4. I then stop the tape at a point and ask students to come up to the board and write the possible dangers of swimming pools.
5. I give the text and ask students to compare if any of the things they mentioned are in the text. The purpose of this activity is to set a purpose for reading so that students get involved with the text. After that, I go on with the comprehension questions, and the tasks that follow it.
And that was it:)
I would like to thank you all for your active and positive contributions, which I really really appreciate:)
Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of Mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.
Korkut, I. (2008). Implementing multiple intelligences theory in foreign language teaching. Ekev Academic Review, Vol. 12(35). Retrieved May 26, 2011 from EBSCOhost
Özdemir, P., Güneysu, S., & Tekkaya, C. (2006). Enhancing learning through Multiple Intelligences. Journal of Biological Education, 40(2). Retrieved May 20, 2011 from EBSCOhost
Saban, A. (2009). Content Analysis of Turkish Studies about the Multiple Intelligences Theory. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 9(2). Retrieved May 19, 2011 from EBSCOhost.
Smith, M. (2008). Howard Gardner, Multiple Intelligences and Education. Retreived May 31, 2011 from http://www.infed.org/thinkers/gardner.htm