Category Archives: Intrapersonal Intelligence

This thread discusses issues pertaining to self-understanding and its development.

Too much digital??

from Branton Shearer’s MI Blog, April 21, 2019

On Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.  What does it have to do with MI?

I heard Cal Newport interviewed recently on NPR’s Innovation Hub about how to minimize the negative impact of “social media” overload. He describes how platforms such as Facebook engineer their sites to be addictive by capitalizing on our human need to be accepted (Liked) and belong. He offers some good suggestions for controlling our addiction to our smart phones. However, some people might find these tips more easier said than done. Decreasing our stress and anxiety brought about by social media addiction requires something more than the desire to do so. What is this something more that can help us manage our social media compulsion?

Cal describes the essential first step is a 30 day “detox” from all social media where you delete every app from your phone and computer. The second step is where the Intrapersonal intelligence of the multiple intelligences comes in, but he doesn’t call it that.

Instead, he says, “Wipe the slate clean … of digital media…then rebuild that digital life with real intention… only bring in those things that give you serious benefit or things that you really value. The 30-day detox gives you time to think and get back in touch with

‘What am I all about? What do I care about? What are the things I actually want to spend my time doing? What are activities that give me a lot of value?

So that when those 30 days are over you can start from a foundation of real self-reflection and then you can ask, ‘What do I really need in my life? What’s going to give me a big win?”

Developing Good People


From Branton Shearer, MIDAS Blog,  Feb. 26, 2019

Tom Hoerr, former principal of New City School, has published an excellent Commentary in Education Week entitled, How We Can Develop Good People. It is a piece full of common-sense wisdom as illustrated by this quote . . .

“regardless of what technology or the workplace may require – it’s the ability to know oneself and work with others, out human literacy, that is essential for success. . .  people with strong intrapersonal and interpersonal success skills will be better able to solve just about every problem.”

The online version of this article is called: The Five Success Skills Every Student Should Master

Education Week, Dec. 12, 2018

Click here:



Emotional Rudder

The Intrapersonal intelligence is spotlighted in this article that describes the neuroscience research of Mary Helen Immordino-Yang.  I highly recommend this article because it does a fine job summarizing the excellent research of Dr. Immordino-Yang.

“As teachers, we can help students become aware of how emotions steer thinking, and help them develop well-tuned intuitions… If teachers are not attending to the inherent role of emotions in thinking, then the emotions that are being recruited in the classroom may not be facilitating the kind of deep thinking you want. The key is to set up the class so that the students have conductive emotions about the actual ideas that you are working on.”



Intrapersonal intelligence is spotlighted in this article that describes the neuroscience research of Mary Helen Immordino-Yang





Read article here:



Lessons from Neuroscience for Teachers and Schools

How the Multiple Intelligences Can Enhance Education

Guided by Big Ideas from Neuroscience

< excerpted 12-12-17 >

Branton Shearer

Every classroom is its own culture. Students walk in with their brains murmuring unspoken questions: Will I belong here? Will I be successful? Will the teacher like me? As their leader you are charged with creating the class culture so that it is welcoming to all and conducive to high performance. Culture can be defined as shared ideas, values, beliefs, and practices [1]. A sense of belonging is fundamental for individuals to perform at their best. Consider the discomfort of the art student in the calculus class or the engineering student in drama class. Or the star quarterback in speech class who turns bright red when it’s his time to speak. The challenge is to create the culture where all students can engage and make progress towards the learning objectives. The key question is, How will each student strive towards those goals in the best way possible?

Researchers in neuroscience labs around the world are daily generating a wealth of data with varying degrees of applicability to the educator’s job. This article highlights how the multiple intelligences can be deployed in classrooms guided by neuroscience to bring out the best in all students. We will review several Big Ideas and practices.

Multiple Intelligences theory describes eight forms of intelligence possessed by all people but with varying levels of skill and ability. The eight intelligences are Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical (associated with general intelligence and academic success), Visual-Spatial, Kinesthetic, Musical, Naturalist, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal [3]. Since 1983, schools and teachers around the world have been striving to find the best ways of using MI theory to enhance education.

The first Big Idea is that Culture Matters. This means that the school / classroom culture influences the quality of the student’s thinking and performance. The main take-away is that the teacher cannot take for granted that students are completely autonomous learners. They depend upon you to create the highest quality culture to enhance thinking, motivation, and effective performance.

The second Big Idea is that Every Brain is Unique—Activate Strengths! in the service of learning and maximum performance. As teachers we often fall into the narcissistic fallacy believing that everyone thinks like we do and this is the best (only) way to work. As we look out onto the sea of faces we need to remember that each brain is as different as their faces. We can be overwhelmed by these vast differences or we can keep in mind the simple dictum, Look for the Strengths. Ask yourself, How can strengths be activated to maximize success?

The third key idea is that all learning begins with the self. The ancient Greeks knew the fundamental value of self-knowledge and carved the words γνῶθι σεαυτόν (Know Thyself) over the entrance to the temple of Delphi where kings and generals came seeking wisdom.

Embodied Cognition and the Emotional Rudder sums up the findings that it is a mistake to undervalue the role of the body and feelings to enhance learning. We have come a long way from the day where we believed that feelings were separate from thinking. Or that the mind is somehow detached from the body.

Make it Mean Something! No learning that will last takes place without meaning. A simple example is that you will remember many more words when they are presented in a meaningful way rather than at random. When you are presenting a new or difficult concept to students you often hear the question, Will this be on the test?  Rather than being exasperated by this question (for the millionth time) keep in mind that just beneath this query may lurk a number of deeper concerns: Does this make sense to me? Is this of value to adults in my world?

Neuroscience principles can guide the use of the multiple intelligences at all levels of the school experience for students. Of course, teachers can design instruction around the eight MI. Guidance counselors use MI to focus students’ attention on their strengths that are matched with career paths. School psychologists look at learning disabilities in a new light. And tutors can help students activate their strengths to memorize, understand, and use new ideas and skills. The goal is to use strengths to enhance motivation and cognitive engagement in order to leverage achievement and improve limitations.

To read the full paper send a request to:














Building Better Teen Brains – Tip #2

Self-Awareness Activities

This is Brain Friendly tip #2 from Thomas Armstrong’s book, The Power of the Adolescent Brain.

Self-awareness activities activate the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex—for self-reflective processing

“…a critical time for the formation of identity…the sense of an enduring and coherent “I”…pieced together from a broad range of subjective and objective life experiences…aspirations toward a still-unclear vision of how to function within the broader community….help students explore and express their own emerging sense of self..” (p. 53 and 33)

Armstrong lists 5 ways that teachers can give students opportunities to become more self-aware:

  1. Use self-awareness assessments
  2. Have students create autobiographies
  3. Let students keep their own journals
  4. Connect content to students’ personal lives

Points to Ponder and Discuss:

  • Rate these suggestions from Best to Worst
  • Which idea(s) sound the most important or meaningful to you?
  • Which idea(s) are the most doable or feasible?
  • Which suggestion(s) are unrealistic or impossible to do?
  • If you had to choose one to do immediately, which one would you do and what would you have to do prepare to get started?

Do you have your own ideas for building self-awareness learning into your subject area? What could help you accomplish this? Materials? Resources?




Good stuff!









An excellent presentation at the IMBES conference highlighted the importance of engaging Intrapersonal intelligence by having students do Self Explanations of their work. I have witnessed the value of Self Explanations during the RADAR project at St. Patrick’s Elementary. To learn more…

Eliciting self-explanations improves understanding. Cognitive Science, Volume 18, Issue 3, Pages 439-477   M Chi, N De Leeuw, M Chiu, C Lavanche


Learning involves the integration of new information into existing knowledge. Generating explanations to oneself (self-explaining) facilitates that integration process. Previously, self-explanation has been shown to improve the acquisition of problem-solving skills when studying worked-out examples. This study extends that finding, showing that self-explanation can also be facilitative when it is explicitly promoted, in the context of learning declarative knowledge from an expository text. Without any extensive training, 14 eighth-grade students were merely asked to self-explain after reading each line of a passage on the human circulatory system. Ten students in the control group read the same text twice, but were not prompted to self-explain. All of the students were tested for their circulatory system knowledge before and after reading the text. The prompted group had a greater gain from the pretest to the posttest. Moreover, prompted students who generated a large number of self-explanations (the high explainers) learned with greater understanding than low explainers. Understanding was assessed by answering very complex questions and inducing the function of a component when it was only implicitly stated. Understanding was further captured by a mental model analysis of the self-explanation protocols. High explainers all achieved the correct mental model of the circulatory system, whereas many of the unprompted students as well as the low explainers did not. Three processing characteristics of self-explaining are considered as reasons for the gains in deeper understanding.



MIDAS at Cretin-Dunham Hall High School


I was please to receive the following note from MIDAS coordinator Tommy Murray at Cretin-Dunham Hall High school.

        We have had a lot of success with promoting MI at our school with the MIDAS assessment as a resource in understand student learning better.  Talking with teachers and students there is a real awareness of the different intelligences and respecting them equally as ways of demonstrating knowledge.  The community has recognized that being smart is done through a variety of skill sets and not just traditional “school smarts”.

I appreciate your work and support with the MIDAS.

 Tommy Murray

Read more about this excellent school:



Goal Setting: Make it work for you!

Goal setting can be tough. How many goals is the right number? Is two too few or six too many?  Kevin Eikenberry does a good job of giving tips for creating two types of Goal Lists: Type 1: the 3 – 12 month list and Type 2: the Big Picture Lifetime list. He says that it isn’t the number of goals on the lists that matter, but instead, “…keep your focus on a few meaningful goals at any given time. With this dual-goal approach you will achieve more of them faster than with any other method.” The trick to regularly monitor your lists and move items from one list to the other. Be sure to keep in mind those Big Picture Life Goals as items are added to or removed from the near term list.

This sounds like practical advice for building your INTRAPERSONAL intelligence!


by Kevin Eikenberry Tribune News Service

Taming the Screen Beast – Opportunity for Intrapersonal Development??

Screen_BeastAre cell phones disrupting or enhancing students’ classroom learning? This is the tough question facing many teachers and school administrators as this new and powerful technology has invaded classrooms. An even larger question for both parents and educators is: how is persistent use of cell phones affecting students’ social relations and self management?

This recent article in ASCD’s Education Update provides some good information and practical suggestions for managing the “beast” that is the cell phone that never leaves the hands of the teenager….

Taming the Screen Beast
Sarah McKibben

Mobile devices can be a constant source of distraction in classrooms, especially for teenagers. These strategies can help them self-regulate (and restore your sanity).
English teacher Djana Trofimoff has noticed that students at Belton High School in Missouri are always connected to their phones, yet they are increasingly “stressed and disconnected” in the classroom. Beyond being a distraction from learning, a preoccupation with texting and social media is affecting their ability to empathize with one another.

Students are failing to “notice nuances of change in their peers’ behavior” that can be signs of distress, Trofimoff says. She hopes that banning cell phones is the way to bring students’ minds back to the classroom—and their friends.

“I’ve stopped thinking of students as people who simply make choices about whether to pay attention and started thinking of them as people trying to pay attention but having to complete with various influences,” Shirky wrote, “Multitasking is cognitively exhausting… Being asked to stop stop can come as a welcome change.”

“Rather than banning cell phones in classrooms where they’re becoming problematic, teachers can coach students to obsess less…”

EDUCATION UPDATE February, 2016, vol. 58, No. 2

read more…

Secrets of the Teenage Brain

Teenage_brainFrances E. Jensen provides some good insights and tips about understanding the neuroscience and multiple intelligences of the teenaged brain.

Tip #1: The teen brain is still a work-in-progress where the frontal lobes are are not fully connected to the rest of the brain. This means that they have less control over vital functions such as: judgment, empathy, insight, and impulse control.

Tip #2: “…the teenage brain is highly impressionable and excitable because it has so many synapses, and synapses grow by being excited and turned on. This means that good experiences leave their mark much more quickly — but so do bad experiences.”

Tip #3: ” I wish that every teenage had to take a course on how their brain works so that they would understand that they’re building their brain by what they do everyday.”

Tip #4: “Adolescence is a time for figuring out your identity and who you’re going to be for the rest of your life.” Parents are often pushing their kids in our highly competitive culture… and social media can be a source of stress… kids need some down time.”

Read this article in the October issue of ASCD’s Educational Leadership:

You may also access it here: Secrets of the Teenage Brain

for more information read: The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults.(HarperCollins)