On April 26, 2013 I did a one-day workshop on multiple intelligences for teachers at the Yav Pem Suab Academy in Sacramento, a member of the Urban Charter Schools Collective. Also attending the workshop were eight teachers, one librarian, and principal Mary Alvarez Jett from the Joseph Bonnhiem Elementary School, who are in the process of applying to become a charter school.
The day before the workshop, I spent the day visiting the Yav Pem Suab Academy. It happened to be ”Pajama Day” at the school, so most of the kids in each classroom that I visited were decked out in their PJs! During my visit, I saw a lot of evidence that multiple intelligences were being used in both small and large ways.
The photo above shows one classroom creating a ”rain forest” as a group, with some students serving as the forest floor, some representing ”emergent” growth, still others constituting the ”understory,” and towering over everybody was the ”canopy.” Students read from orange cards about their function as part of the rain forest ecology, and they created movements and sounds that were characteristic of those parts of the rain forest. Finally, the teacher came around with a spray bottle of water, and spritzed the canopy (representing rain), and then asked the different levels of the rain forest whether they received any precipitation. A wonderful bodily-kinesthetic and interpersonal way of teaching about biodiversity!
In other classrooms, I heard teachers and students communicate musically and bodily-kinesthetically, saw students working on drawings (the walls were covered with beautiful artwork done using the Monart approach to painting), and toward the end of the afternoon, attended classes in singing, martial arts, and hip hop dancing. Naturally, students were also working on linguistic and logical-mathematical tasks, too, especially in preparation for the big standardized tests that were to start the following week.
During my workshop with the teachers the next day, we explored both multiple intelligences and the idea of neurodiversity as a way of celebrating the strengths of students with special needs. We created activity centers around the multi-purpose room, one for each of the eight intelligences, and then rotated in small groups, doing tasks connected to a theme related to fast food and the importance of proper nutrition. Finally, the teachers created learning strategies around their own interests and shared them with the whole group before we left for the day. Themes chosen included the life cycle of the butterfly, creating friendships, and probability. It was great to end with some great song and dance routines created by the teachers to illustrate how to teach concepts using body smart and music smart learning strategies.
For those who are interested in seeing the handouts for this workshop, I’ve posted them on Slide Share. Here is the link.
Thank you to school founder Dr. Dennis Mah, principal Vince Xiong, and creative consultant Susan Kovalik, for helping to make my experience at Yav Pem Suab Academy a memorable one!