Health Lesson

Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences in 5th Grade

During my junior year as an undergrad I took a class on brain based learning.  I loved it!  We worked in cooperative groups, found hands-on ways to make concepts stick, and learned how to adapt instruction to meet different learning styles.  But, what really stuck with me was how the professor helped us to learn more about ourselves as learners.  My professor helped me to discover “HOW I am smart.”

Flash forward to ten years into my teaching career, and today my students and I walked down that path of self-discovery as we looked at Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences.  I teach advanced learners most of the day, and like most middle-grade kids, they have already decided who is smart.  To them, smart is something you are born with.  Smart means you make perfect grades and know all the right answers.  I wanted to give them a new idea about ‘smart’ and help them see that there are different ways to be smart.  I wanted my students walk away knowing more about themselves, their interests and gifts, so we took a survey on Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences.

Students worked independently to check the questions that applied to them, then tallied their results.  Of course, a few of them checked almost all 80 questions (despite my encouragement to focus ONLY on statements that truly described them).  We then took some time to debrief.  I wanted this to be a personal journey and didn’t make kiddos share, but many of them wanted to.  We discussed what the different intelligences meant and what each might look like.  We made an anchor chart…see!

Multiple Intelligences Anchor Chart 5th Grade @thepensivesloth

Anchor chart illustrating Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences for intermediate and middle grade students.

Then we reflected and discussed a few questions:

  • Did your survey results match what you thought about yourself?
  • What do you consider your strongest talents?
  • Was there anything that surprised you?
  • Can people be smart in different ways?
  • What if we were all strong in the same areas?
  • Can you still be smart if you don’t know all the answers in school?  If you don’t make straight As?
  • What subject areas do the different intelligences lend themselves to?

Most of my kids were shocked, and super excited, to learn that body-kinesthetic gifts are considered a way to be smart, too.  Or that being interested in rocks, animals, and the weather  is just as important as knowing the meanings of words or how to solve math problems.  There were some eye-opening moments during our discussion.  When I mentioned inter and intra personal smarts, the more introverted kids sat up a little straighter.  There’s a tendency for those quiet ones to get overlooked by their peers.  But, intrapersonal skills are very valuable!  For me, that is a big strength.  I explained how I talk to myself, and it doesn’t mean I’m crazy!  It’s called procedural self talk, and it is very helpful.  My musically and spatially gifted kids also left with a little more pep in their step!

Why now, at this time in the year, did I do this?  Well, it is career week and I thought it just fit.  Also, my students are going off to middle school in a few weeks and I want them to celebrate who they are and start thinking about their future.   Tomorrow we take a career cluster survey and our path of self-discovery continues!  They are very excited, and so am I.

If you are interested in some of the ‘getting to know me’ and career day activities we are doing in the classroom, check out some links:

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Thinking Maps and Anchor Charts–The Brace Map

I love Thinking Maps! If you haven’t heard of them, a quick search will help you find lots of information. In a nutshell, Thinking Maps are a set of 8 specific graphic organizers based on 8 cognitive skills. They are meant to help students visually represent content based on relationships. The focus of this post will be on The Brace Map.

Brace Maps are used to analyze the structure of whole/part relationships. The Brace Map is quite popular in my classroom.  Here are two ways we have used it this past year!

At the beginning of the year while setting up reading workshop we always discuss genres.  This is a great opportunity for a Brace Map.  You can see we started with genre and categorized it into fiction and non-fiction.  We then took it one step further and broke each of those into parts.

A Brace Map we created at the beginning of the year when learning about different genres.

A Brace Map we created at the beginning of the year when learning about different genres.

Ok, this next one is a little funny.  I have to say that my anchor charts don’t always turn out like those glorious ones you see on Pinterest with all of the color and professional illustrations.  Someday I fully expect to see them on a FAIL meme.  I was not blessed with artistic talents.  Nope.  But this does not stop me in adding illustrations to my anchor charts!  It is important for students to have illustrations to accompany new vocabulary.   ELL students really need these and the brain loves color and novelty, so illustrations are a must!  I don’t pre-make my anchor charts.  We gather together to record our thinking and I’m usually in a hurry to keep up the momentum, so I quickly sketch!  My students and I get a chuckle sometimes (OK, often) at the drawings, it gives them something to look forward to when we meet on the rug, and it lets them know that it is OK to take risks and laugh at your mistakes.  Oh, and we label things a lot so that it is obvious what was drawn there.  Here it is folks…a Brace Map of human body systems that we created during our health unit.

A hilarious anchor chart on human body systems.  We used a Brace Map to sort the whole into parts.

A hilarious anchor chart on human body systems. We used a Brace Map to sort the whole into parts.

I hope you got a chuckle, and perhaps learned a little about how to use Brace Maps in your classroom!

–The Pensive Sloth