The concept of multiple intelligences (described in detail in the Edutopia video Big Thinkers: Howard Gardner on Multiple Intelligences) has been a great help to me as an educator, tutor, and coach. I work in a secondary school program. Students in this environment have often been identified as having learning problems. These students rarely consider themselves intelligent, and label themselves as slow or not smart.
I've found that multiple-intelligences categories provide these students with a unique opportunity to identify strengths and to figure out ways in which they can learn the material presented in their classes. My students and I thank you for highlighting this powerful, positive teaching tool.
Mary Ann Rood
What a wonderful group of contributors you had for the "Brilliant Minds" feature in your special issue on multiple intelligences (April/May). Cross-functional teaching and learning go hand in hand with open source tools. Implemented correctly, these teaching tools hold the potential to unlock doors for the next generation of great thinkers.
Jamaica, New York
I have no doubt that the full-time style of education mentioned in "After the Bell Rings" (April/May 2009) would benefit the student, the community, and even the nation. Students receiving an education from a full-time-learning program could realistically set educational plans and goals before completing high school. This kind of program would answer the students' persistent question "Why do we have to learn this stuff?"
Greener School Redesign
Bravo to both the administrators and the designers of the Atrium School for thinking outside the box. What a wonderful learning space they have created for their students. We are beginning to hear about more schools making their facilities green, but your article "Students Learn Environmental Lessons from a Green School Renovation" made me wonder what percentage of schools in the United States are taking it to this level.
St. Petersburg, Florida
On the Gaming Trail
I enjoyed reading Kara Platoni's online article "Computer Games Explore Social Issues." Using today's technology to reinforce core curriculum is imperative for agile learning. Tapping into student gaming skills is a good way to start. Those of us in the teaching world need to start thinking of gaming as another form of project learning. We've come a long way since the classic PC-based game Oregon Trail!
A-Ha, Project Learning!
I was so glad to see your article with advice for successful project learning. Often, we hear about the value these projects represent for students. But they can be a real challenge to teachers. It's necessary, as writer Bernice Yeung points out, to have a deep understanding of the content. She helps us imagine all the twists and turns the project might take.
As someone who is fond of a structured, orderly classroom, project learning initially went against my gut. By my third year, however, I had a number of projects related to the content in my biology and environmental science classrooms that were effective and enjoyable for my students and for myself. The students always surprise me with the energy and enthusiasm with which they tackle a new project. Years later, it's always the projects that they remember the most.
Questioning the Technique
Ben Johnson's recent blog entry "The Right Way to Ask Questions in the Classroom" applies to me in so many ways. When I began teaching six years ago, I had never heard of questioning techniques. I had no idea that I was doing it all wrong. I would even ask questions and expect the class to answer in unison. If the majority of the answers were correct, I usually moved on. Bad, bad teacher!
I eventually corrected that mistake with the help of my principal during an informational observation. I now choose who to call on by pulling Popsicle sticks printed with students' names from a cup. Finding an effective technique is important. After all, whoever does the most explaining does the most learning!