Brain-Based Learning

Geoff Davis: Multiple Intelligences, Projects, and Assessment

April 11, 2002

Geoff Davis, a geography teacher at Key Learning Community in Indianapolis, describes the school's approach to projects and assessment.

1. How does basing a school's curriculum on Multiple Intelligences enhance teaching and learning -- for students and teachers?

It's important that a school gives children and the adults in the community an opportunity to utilize their intelligences, develop their intelligences. And so I really am embracing it here -- the opportunity to use art and music and movement with more traditional curriculum and to be able to sit down and play the ukulele in my prep period and it's OK. That's me developing myself, which is important for us here.

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2. You offer a music pod; please describe pod classes.

The pods are a means to get teachers and students an opportunity to do something that they really love and are passionate about during the day -- it kind of keeps us going. And I started out last year teaching a pod about jazz and was looking for a way to give students firsthand knowledge of what jazz is, and what it's about and I wanted them to gain a sense of jazz music, like the rhythms and the chords. And so I went back to my roots and where I started and that was the ukulele so we put up a Web site and we started looking for people that would support us and donate ukuleles. We had no budget and they started pouring in and we've dug up a lot of old tunes from the '20s and '30s and the rest is history.

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3. How does Key's approach to assessment differ from that at most other schools?

In my older school system, everything was data driven, numbers driven. I was grading papers and collecting columns of data and numbers to back up my grades. I can evaluate a kid's work; I work with a child every day; I know what their habits are; I know [in] what direction they're going; I know when they've improved; I know when they're not doing their best. Those things I know. But turning that into numbers never felt like it was worth the effort. And so I find evaluation much easier here. It's much more informal, but I think it gives a much better picture of how the kids are performing and where we expect them to go.

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