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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Multiple Intelligences, The Modular Brain, and Student Learning

I’ve mentioned before that I am getting my Masters degree in Brain Based Teaching.  It is the BRAINSmart program through Nova Southeastern University in Florida.  This week, among other things, we learned about the modular brain and it’s connection to Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences.  Following is a snippet of what I learned. 

Introduction

The human brain is profoundly efficient.  Consider the following: skin sends impulses up to 10 million bits per second to the sensory cortex, the eye sends 100 million bits per second to the occipital lobe, and the ear sends 30 thousand bits per second to the brain stem.  (Conyers, 2008b)  Finally, our modular brain system works to make sense of, and react to, all of this sensory input in the blink of an eye.  The modular brain system is made up of four lobes, the frontal, occipital, temporal, and parietal lobes, plus the brain stem and limbic system. (Carter, 2009) All work together seamlessly. Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences compliments the Modular Brain Theory perfectly by accessing the different neural pathways.  Putting all this together in a meaningful way with practical applications will enhance student learning in the classroom.

Connection to Multiple Intelligences

            Modular Brain Theory supports Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences.  According to Buraldi (1996), “Gardner argues that there is both a biological and cultural basis for the multiple intelligences. Neurobiological research indicates that learning is an outcome of the modifications in the synaptic connections between cells.”  Gardner’s theory therefore utilizes all four lobes of the brain by emphasizing eight different types of intelligence.  Those intelligences are: logical-mathematical, spatial, naturalist, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, linguistic, intrapersonal, and interpersonal.   Gardner’s theory therefore gives us a framework to apply the Modular Brain Theory to our classroom. 

Classroom Application

Not only is sensory input is the basis for learning (Conyers, 2008b), but each student has a sense (or intelligence) that works best for them.  Therefore, it is logical to incorporate as many as possible in a lesson. Before beginning this course of study, I tried to incorporate the various senses (or intelligences) into daily class work, but I didn’t have a full understanding of its importance or function.  However since starting the BRAINSmart course I’ve tried to integrate the senses in a number ways.  For example, one day I took students outside to write their spelling words in sidewalk chalk.  In addition to writing the words, I had them spell each word out loud as they wrote it and then draw a picture to go with each word.  By doing this students were accessing all four lobes of the brain as well as the linguistic, spatial, naturalist, and kinesthetic intelligences.  Last week I had them stand in a big circle facing the back of the person in front of them.  I would say a word, spell it, then have the students spell the word out loud as they drew big letters with their finger on the back of the person in front of them. This way, they were again activating all four lobes as well as logical, spatial, kinesthetic, and interpersonal intelligence.  The children enjoyed the change of pace and did well on the spelling tests.
Music is also a good tool.  Carter (2009) refers to the possible effects of Mozart on increased student performance.  She states that the increase “may have more to do with changes in mood and arousal affecting mental performance…” (p. 91).  I purchased a Mozart CD and played it last week in class.  Students enjoyed the music and appeared to have more focus during math while the music played softly in the background.  Next week I plan to play the CD during spelling practice, then again during the spelling test to see if there is another increase in comprehension.

Finally
            Modular Brain Theory and Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences are a must for any teacher interested in increasing student achievement.  I highly encourage you to look further into the connection between the two and how to implement them in your class.



References

Brualdi, A. (1996). Multiple intelligences: Gardner’s theory. Practical Assessment,
       Research & Evaluation, 5 (10). Retrieved from http://PAREonline.

Carter, R. (2009). The human brain book. New York: Darling Kindersby
       Publishing. 

Conyers, M. A. & Wilson, D. L. (2008a). The body-brain system: Leaner body, sharper mind EDU 610 BrainSmart Science, Structure, and Strategies, Disc 1 [DVD]. Orlando, FL: BrainSMART.

Conyers, M. A. & Wilson, D. L. (2008b). Gateways to learning: Perception, senses and emotion EDU 610 BrainSmart Science, Structure, and Strategies, Disc 1 [DVD]. Orlando, FL: BrainSMART.

Restak, R.  (2009).  The modular brain.  Chapter 1.  Retrieved from  http://richardrestak.com/modular.html                                                                                                                              

Wilson, D.& Conyers, M. (2010). BrainSMART science, structure, and strategies:
      EDU 610 study guide. Orlando, FL: BrainSMART.




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3 comments:

  1. I'd be interested in your "compare/contrast" of brain based, constructivist, inquiry based teaching.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm not there yet... but when I am I'll post it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Greetings,

    I'm a teacher up in Canada looking at Master's options. How are you liking the BrainSmart program so far? How far into it are you? Would you recommend it for a teacher at a higher grade level (8th grade)? I'd love to hear any feedback you have.

    Please email me at tavisnewman@yahoo.com


    Thanks,
    Tavis Newman
    Lethbridge, AB

    ReplyDelete