Multiple Intelligences Newsletter, Vol 33, No 5

May 24, 2024

MI is about human potential.
MI is recognizes that we are all smart in different ways.

Dear MI Readers (or “Student Advocates”),

Happy spring! I write as most of the educators and parents I know are preparing for summer. The relatively less challenging pace of summer should be a time for relaxing and recreation. But summer should also be a time for reflection and rejuvenation. What have we learned and what are our goals for the next year?

This newsletter offers two items to help you in that pondering. The first is an article from The Hechinger Report, still another look at the costs of IQ and other standardized tests. It’s a bit of a different take than usual, though: How Flawed IQ Tests Prevent Kids From Getting Help In School: Flawed IQ Tests

The second piece continues this year’s theme of hearing directly from the MI implementors who were at the New City School in St. Louis, MO. These are the people who worked to bring MI to life in a way that benefitted students and themselves, and they were enormously successful. Joyful learning and student successes were the norm! The last issue featured reflections from a New City parent, Joyce Briscoe, and this issue features the thoughts of a remarkable teacher, Carla Mash Duncan. We used a Q&A format and as you’ll see, MI was a powerful tool for her to help students learn.

Thanks for reading – feel free to forward this to others – and for your commitment to children. Please send me an email if you have any questions or suggestions.

Facilitator of the ASCD MI PIC
UM-St. Louis Scholar In Residence

p.s. Many thanks and a happy sendoff to Walter McKenzie, ASCD’s Senior Director for Member Communities. Walter has been a great supporter of many of us, including this MI network, and we wish him well.

Q&A with Carla Mash Duncan,
New City School fourth grade MI teacher

Carla, for how many years did you use MI? Were you initially enthusiastic or skeptical about MI? I began using MI in 1989. Even though I had not been a part of the group who originally read Frames of Mind, I jumped in with both feet because I recognized the power of the theory to reach every child.

How did your teaching/classroom change because you used MI? There were more choices in my classroom than before MI. By far the biggest change was the intrapersonal, reflection process which varied and would include reflection sheets soliciting the kiddos’ thoughts, or questions for small and large student groups to discuss. When we ended a longer activity, some students really enjoyed that intrapersonal experience and others did not. I noticed that those who did not enjoy it were sometimes more vocal during oral discussions versus when having to write it out.

Please share a favorite lesson or activity using MI. Denise, another fourth grade teacher, and I found that simulations really provided an easy way to experience many intelligences, so our Wagons West three-week simulation was a huge, powerful treat which made it easy to use all of the intelligences as our “pioneers” were in wagon trains, and they met daily to make decisions. They kept diaries where they would draw and record information as their wagon train earned points along the trail. To figure out how many spaces your group moved on a map was where a lot of math was done. In fact, I waited to review subtraction of large numbers until right before that simulation, as there was a real need to be accurate with their subtracting in order to figure out how many spaces their wagon train advanced.

A simple MI B-K activity was how I taught the different angles in math. We’d stand up and begin with a RIGHT angle, and everyone would flex their arms at shoulder level into a right angle. Next came the very cute and small a-cute angle was made by closing your elbow more and smiling and being very cute.

For the OBTUSE angle, we would walk around like an obnoxious bully with our own obtuse arms angled way wider than a right angle. We’d greet each other with our bully-like voice. For me, the real bonanza was when I watched a student during a geometry test. He actually made the angles with his arms the way we had learned them. Then he’d go and draw that type of angle on his test paper. This very B-K kid was using his body to recall the angles. That’s what MI is all about.

Another jingle I taught through the musical intelligence was how to remember to write a title of a book into text. We would use different voices (like an opera singer, like a crying baby, like a robot) to sing this song, and we’d use our hands to place the “capitals.”

Capitalize the first word,
the last word,
and all important words!

We moved our hand to show where the first word and last word was placed, then moved them again to capitalize the “important words,” we then would dramatically sweep our hands backwards to UNDERLINE our title all while singing it in a voice that someone had suggested!  Even when the kids knew that jingle, someone would ask if we could still practice that song from time to time. Why, because it was fun to use your body and your sing-song voice to remember how to write titles correctly in text!

How did students respond to your use of MI? What about their parents? Early on during a morning class meeting, I remember when a student said that he was so proud to begin to understand that being mathematical was really special. His sister, who had been in fourth grade before him, was very linguistic, and he now understood that everyone has intelligences that they excel at and enjoy more, and his was math.

What was difficult about using MI? As a teacher who believed in the theory, the main challenge came at the beginning striving to create approaches for students to experience, or at least to have the option to experience, choices from EACH intelligence. I loved brainstorming with my teammate about different options, especially because dividing up the work made it possible to offer more and richer choices. As we navigated this new way of approaching our students, it helped that we knew that the science teacher brought the naturalist intelligence experiences to his teaching. Our students working from time-to-time at the community garden down the street through us expanded their naturalist experiences even further, along with B-K.

Any other thoughts? Tom, I truly felt privileged to be able to teach other teachers about MI. The best part though was working with NCS colleagues and administers on implementing the theory.

This Professional Interest Community (PIC) is sponsored by ASCD as part of their effort to improve the quality of education for all children.

ASCD PICs are member-initiated groups designed to unite people around a common area of interest in the field of education. PICs allow participants to exchange ideas, share information, identify and solve problems, grow professionally, and establish collegial relationships. You can learn about ASCD’s networks, publications, conferences, workshops, and the dialogues sponsored by ASCD at You can also register for the free, daily ASCD SmartBrief.


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