How is Multiple Intelligences relevant to the principles of UDL? First, let's look at a brief summary of the guiding principles of UDL:
UDL also promotes the inclusion and engagement of all students by offering students multiple ways to learn and demonstrate their learning. UDL is largely supported by brain research, which shows that each individual brain has unique patterns of activity while learning (Rose & Meyer, 2002). Teachers are therefore tasked with teaching a room full of students, all of whom learn differently. Teachers can reach more students by presenting concepts to target more than one sensory pathway. Information can be presented verbally to appeal to auditory learners, it can be presented visually to visual learners, artifacts and manipulatives can be presented to tactile and visual learners, and opportunities to learn through movement appeals to kinesthetic learners. Presenting information to target different senses not only helps students learn in ways that are best suited to their strengths, it also helps all students better internalize information by accessing it in multiple ways.
This cartoon exemplifies the traditional classroom perfectly. Teaching and assessing everyone in the same way only benefits those who learn best that way, and ignores the strengths of everyone else.
Both UDL and Multiple Intelligences serve to meet the needs of all learners by providing everyone an opportunity to learn and demonstrate their learning in ways better suited to their needs and learning styles.
If we use the cartoon as an example, instead of having one big exam - climbing the tree, why not...
- Offer a choice of exams between climbing a tree, swimming, running, and lifting heavy objects - this way all of the animals would be given a chance to shine.
- Why have an exam at all? Each of these skills could be taught, students could have a chance to practice each one, and the teacher could observe their results and make anecdotal notes of their progress in each area.
- Offer opportunities to collaborate - the animals could team up to complete an obstacle course that utilizes all of their skills, and each member of the team could choose an area to work on, and make a meaningful contribution to the team.
- Let the students teach their areas of stength to others - the teacher could create a rubric to evaluate how well the animals can teach one another to climb, swim, run, or lift.
How can we follow the principles of UDL and Multiple Intelligences in the classroom to promote the inclusion and engagement of all students? Teachers can:
- Plan lessons and units to target as many multiple intelligences and sensory pathways as possible (students can watch videos, read or listen to stories, play board games or online games, pair and share, have opportunities to move while they are learning, explore artifacts, view and/or create models or works of art, writing, create or view maps/graphs/tables, invite guest speakers, take students on field trips, etc).
- Provide students with choices in how they learn (this could include centres, choices in projects/assignments).
- Provide choices in types of assessment (multiple choice, essay questions, short-answer, interview, projects, group assignments, etc).