Monthly Archives: June 2016
One size (style) does not fit all. Effective teachers try to understand how individual children take in and process information. They realize that not all children learn the same way. Learning styles describe the ways in which individual children acquire information, evaluate it, and then examine their findings. Learning styles in general are applicable to all content areas and settings. Effective teachers try to present materials in ways that will interest children and help them to absorb the information. Understanding a child’s learning style helps accomplish this.
Most theories of learning styles, beginning with the theory of Carl Jung in 1927, focus on the personality and motivation of the individual. Most learning style theories place individuals into four groups of learners, with approximate percentages for each group. The following model by Silver, Strong, and Perini (1997) is a good example.
- Mastery Style Learners: Absorb information concretely step by step. They value practicality and clarity (35 percent).
- Understanding Learners: Work with ideas and abstractions using methods of questioning and reasoning. They value logic and evidence (35 percent).
- Self-Expressive Learners: Learn through feelings and seeing images in materials. They value originality (12 percent).
- Interpersonal Learners: Work with others using concrete ideas. Results should be of social value. They are the future humanitarians or volunteers (18 percent).
Currently, most learning style theorists believe that individuals become more flexible in the ways they approach learning as they gain knowledge and experience. Eventually most individuals will have a favored learning style but will use other learning styles when necessary. Teachers can help children develop a profile of their preferred learning style but should also encourage them to utilize other ways to process information. This will give them more options in the future.
Multiple Intelligence Theory
Understanding what is meant by intelligence or trying to separate intelligent from unintelligent behavior is difficult. There are many different theories. According to Wechsler (1975), intelligence is the capacity to understand the world, think rationally, and use resources effectively when faced with challenges. Gardner (1993), a Harvard theorist, defines intelligence as “the ability to solve problems, or to fashion products that are of consequence in a particular setting or community.” Gardner (1983) does not define intelligence as a single broad-based domain, but describes nine distinct intelligences: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal. naturalist, and existential. The first seven are described and integrated with learning styles in the next section. Each of these intelligences is relatively independent, but can combine with any other intelligence depending on the activity (Gardner and Hatch, 1989). This theory is based on research in physiology, anthropology, and personal and cultural history (Silver, et al., 1997). Individuals show different aptitudes in each of these content areas but no one is highly gifted in all areas. It is often easy to identify someone who is gifted in one area such as music, sports, or writing, but many times it is not so obvious. Consulting with parents helps teachers find children’s strengths.
Integrating learning Styles with Multiple Intelligences
Each of these theories presents us with different information about children’s learning. Gardner’s multiple intelligences theory provides cognitive information about the various content areas and the products of learning. Learning styles look at how individuals may differ in the ways in which they process information. By combining both learning styles and multiple intelligences theories, one can understand the different ways in which individuals process information as well as look at how this occurs in the different content areas and contexts (settings).
The following chart shows seven of Gardner’s multiple intelligences and how each of the four learning styles operates within a particular intelligence. It includes possible vocations people might choose. Individuals utilize their particular talents differently based on their learning style preference. For example, a journalist, lawyer, playwright, and salesperson all use their linguistic skills differently because of their different learning styles. Learning Styles are Mastery, Understanding, Self-Expressive, and Intrapersonal.
# Linguistic Intelligence: the ability to produce and use language
Mastery: Uses language to describe events. Jobs: journalist, technical writer, administrator
Understanding: Uses logical arguments and rhetoric. Jobs: lawyer, professor, philosopher
Self-Expressive: Uses metaphoric and expressive language. Jobs: playwright, poet, ad writer, novelist
Interpersonal: Uses language to build trust and rapport. Jobs: salesperson, counselor, member of the clergy
# Logical-Mathematical Intelligence: Ability to solve problems and think scientifically
Mastery: Uses numbers to compute and document. Jobs: accountant, bookkeeper, statistician
Understanding: Uses mathematical concepts for conjectures, proofs, and other applications. Jobs: computer programmer, scientist, logician
Self-Expressive: Sensitive to the patterns, symmetry, logic, and aesthetics of mathematics. Solves problems in design and modeling. Jobs: composer, engineer, inventor, designer
Interpersonal: Uses mathematics in everyday life. Jobs: tradesperson, homemaker
# Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence: Ability to use parts or the whole body to solve problems, to construct products or displays
Mastery: Uses the body and tools to act, construct or repair effectively. Jobs: mechanic, trainer, craftsperson
Understanding: Develops strategic plans and critiques the actions of the body. Jobs: physical educator, sports analyst, professional athlete, theater or dance critic
Self-Expressive: Appreciates and uses the aesthetics of the body to create new forms of expression. Jobs: sculptor, choreographer, actor, dancer, puppeteer
Interpersonal: Uses the body to build rapport, console, persuade and suppport others. Jobs: coach, counselor, salesperson, trainer
# Spacial Intelligence: Uses visual and spatial configurations
Mastery: Views the visual-spacial world accurately. Jobs: artist, guide, photographer
Understanding: Interprets and graphically represents visual or spacial ideas. Jobs: architect, icongrapher, computer graphics designer, art critic
Self-Expressive: Uses visual and spacial ideas creatively. Jobs: artist, inventor, model builder, cinematographer
Interpersonal: Uses color, space, line, form and space to meet the needs of others. Jobs: illustrator, artist, guide, photographer
# Musical Intelligence: Uses skills involving music
Mastery: Understands and develops musical technique. Jobs: technician, music teacher, instrument maker
Understanding: Interprets musical forms and ideas. Jobs: music critic, aficionado, music collector
Self-Expressive: Creates expressive and imaginative performances and compositions. Jobs: composer, conductor, individual/small group performer
Interpersonal: Works with others and uses music to serve others. Jobs: choral, band, and orchestral performer or conductor
# Interpersonal Intelligence: Interacts with others, sensitive to their moods, temperament, motivations, and intentions
Mastery: Effective communicator and organizer of people. Jobs: consultant, politician, evangelist
Understanding: Interprets differences in interpersonal clues. Jobs: sociologist, psychologist, psychotherapist
Self-expressive: Creates imaginative and expressive performances and compositions. Jobs: composer, individual or small-group performer
Interpersonal: Works with others to use music to meet the needs of others. Jobs: coach, counselor, salesperson, or trainer
# Intrapersonal Intelligence: Understands one’s own feelings and emotions
Mastery: Accesses and uses one’s own weaknesses, strengths, talents, and interests to set goals. Jobs: planner, small business owner
Understanding: Develops concepts and theories based on self-examination. Jobs: psychologist
Self-expressive: Creates and expresses a personal vision based on inner moods, intuitions, and temperament. Jobs: artist, religious leader, writer
Interpersonal: Uses understanding of self to serve others. Jobs: counselor, social worker
This integrated plan for understanding the acquisition and use of knowledge can help:
- Teachers individualize learning in a manageable way.
- Children acquire the specific skills that society requires.
- Children acquire information and an appreciation of each intelligence by exploring it through their personal learning style.
- Children identify and develop their special talent or talents (Silver, et al., 1997).
Historically, there has been a difference of opinion about when children actually begin the process of learning to read. Perhaps you have heard people speak about reading readiness and thought that this was current terminology. Actually, this is an echo from the past; reading readiness is a concept from the 1940s.
In the 1960s, Marie Clay challenged the view that real reading started when children were in formal school settings and reading from their textbooks. She argued that this view disregarded all of the important milestones that occurred before children could read independently (Clay, 1985). For example, perhaps the biggest breakthrough in learning to read is realizing that all of those marks on paper mean something. At first, children do not know how an adult performs this almost magical feat of reading a picture book in the same way each time. Young children appear to assume that it is the pictures that are being read, not the words. This is reflected in their earliest attempts to pretend to read, in which they study the illustrations and tell the story while sprinkling in some words and phrases that they remember from repeated readings of the book.
The realization that print carries meaning is a major achievement of emergent literacy. Emergent literacy consists of the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that are presumed to be “developmental precursors to conventional forms of reading and writing and the environments that support these developments” (Lonigan & Whitehurst, 1998, p. 849). As Braunger and Lewis (1998) concluded from their review of the research, “In a very general sense, emergent literacy describes those behaviors shown by very young children as they begin to respond to and approximate reading and writing acts” (p. 16).
Reading emerges as children do the following :
# Acquire oral language by exploring its meaning, noticing its structure (e.g., word order), and experimenting with its sounds (called phonological awareness).
# Ascribe meaning to the symbols around them (e.g., a stop sign, a food label, a fast-food restaurant billboard).
# Attempt to produce symbols, signs, and letters.
# Approximate print behaviors modeled to them, such as pretending to read a book, make a shopping list, or write a check.
# Repeat processes until they are clearer and more refined, such as mastering an action song with all of the accompanying motions.
# Begin to connect speech sounds to print patterns, such as saying “Y-e-s spells yes, and n-o spells no” (Braunger & Lewis, 1998, pp. 16-17).
As a teacher, you will use many informal strategies to nurture friendships among students. For a few students, you may collaborate with a special educator or counselor in using a formal instructional package that builds student social skills. However, a third option also exists. Particularly with elementary students, you may decide to teach friendship skills directly using these steps :
# Identify someone to whom you can introduce yourself . Students should examine their surroundings and find someone with whom they would like to play or talk. Students should be given examples of how people look when they want to play or talk. To illustrate, the teacher can use pictures of students engaging in a variety of activities—for example, a student finishing a homework assignment, a student coloring alone, a student with a sad face, and a student with a happy face.
# Smile and approach the person. The teacher should model walking up to someone with a smile on her face. Students should practice this while approaching a peer.
# Introduce yourself. Students should say their names, ask the other person his name, and look at the person and smile. The teacher should continue modeling.
# Ask open-ended questions to get and give information. Students can ask the other student what he is playing with, what’s happening, and so forth. Students need to know that open-ended questions have answers of more than two or three words. Students should remember to look at the person and smile. The teacher now can ask two students to model for the class, or the teacher can continue modeling. A list of questions can be provided for the students if they are able to read, or the teacher can provide questioning prompts. This step will depend on the level of the students.
# Suggest something to play or do together. Students should find some activity or game to play on the playground, during free time, or during passing period. The teacher can prompt pairs to engage in an activity and provide ideas for students so their interaction will continue.
Once students have learned these skills, you can provide them with simple reminder cards with words and/or pictures so they can practice on their own. Teaching these steps will be even more effective if you use children’s literature to illustrate how friends are made.