On July 23, 2013, I did a full-day workshop for new teachers at Yav Pem Suab Academy in Sacramento, CA. Yav Pem Suab Academy is a public elementary school which is part of the Urban Charter Schools Collective. It primarily serves the Hmong population in Sacramento. The Hmong are fiercely independent hill people from Southeast Asia who helped the United States fight the communist Pathet Lao during the Laotian Civil War, and were rewarded for their courage by being allowed to immigrate to the U.S.
The Yav Pem Suab Academy provides a dynamic curriculum based on the work of brain-based and integrated thematic instruction pioneer Susan Kovalik and multiple intelligences innovator and Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner. Its curriculum includes teaching the language and culture of the Hmong, instruction in tae kwon do (see photo) and hip hop music and dance, and a solidly academic program. The deep respect that the Academy has for its students is revealed by the practice of referring to them as ”scholars” rather than students.
In the morning, the teachers explored the 8 intelligences in Dr. Gardner’s model through experiences, learned about the criteria Gardner used to come up with his theory, took an inventory to identify their own multiple intelligences, and learned tips for introducing MI theory to students and for identifying the MIs in their students.
In the afternoon, we focused on practical strategies. We brainstormed strategies first as a whole group (topics included the California missions and the habitats of animals). Then teachers worked individually or in pairs on their own objectives. Some of the objectives that they worked on in terms of coming up with strategies covering 8 intelligences were: cultural dances, magnetism, the lines of the treble clef in music notation, the mechanics of throwing a ball, and the building of community in the classroom. I’ve provided a link to download the handouts for the workshop on Slide Share (click here). For educators interested in implementing MI theory in their classrooms, order my book Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, 3rd edition.
I want to thank the new teachers and Vince Xiong, the principal, for their enthusiasm and openness to this dynamic method of differentiating instruction for diverse learners, and I wish them a terrific school year in 2013-2014!