Category Archives: Leading MI in Schools

This thread discusses how leadership impacts the implementation of MI in schools.

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:



Generation Z Learners Prefer YouTube







Education Week,  September 12, 2018

By Lauraine Genota

“The preference for Youtube and videos signals a shift in learning styles, Pearson’s director of global research and insights said. The role of video and visual learning is “essential in rising learners and the generation to come, “ Broad said. Pearson has also found that there is growing interest in other video-based learning platforms like Khan Academy. Some teens are turning to YouTube because they find it’s easier to understand something when they watch someone explain it visually. It also helps that they can pause and rewind a video if they don’t understand it right away.”

So… the visual-spatial intelligence is important for learners of all ages.

Read article here:



Movement and Play in Upper Grades

Making Room for Movement and Play in Upper Grades

by Barbara Michelman

Reading this article reminded me again how educators have been talking about the need to infuse movement into our instruction. Of course, MI theory highlights the equal importance of kinesthetic intelligence in human thinking and learning along with the academic related linguistic and logical mathematical intelligences. I appreciated Michelman’s article because it focused on the upper grades (and not just elementary children, which is the usual approach). She also highlights the important role of “playfulness” in learning and this counters the usual attitude that high school learning must be serious to be effective.

“It’s a strange way we’ve set up the education – that play is ‘extra,’ something that just little kids do,? Says Wendy Ostroff, an associate professor … “to bring play to a screeching halt just as students hit adolescence reflects a misunderstanding of the research literature on the importance of play for learning.”

This brief article also mentions how neuroscience evidence describes how physical movement can enhance attention and engagement.

“She also wants teachers to understand the “neuroscience rule of thumb?: Children can only handle sustained, focused attention in a sedentary state for about as many minutes as they are old, plus or minus two minutes (e.g., 10 – 14 minutes for a 12 year old), she said, “After sustaining focus for about 15 – 18 minutes, even the average adult brain then needs to something, such as move, talk, and so on.”

Read article here:




The Tug of War is Over!

The war of words between psychologists over the nature of human intelligence is over

Branton Shearer < excerpted 12/12/17 >

A scientific puzzle is solved. The debate is over. For 35 years teachers, students and parents have been stuck in the middle of the war of words between psychologists regarding the nature of human intelligence. Neuroscience evidence now builds a coherent bridge between IQ and multiple intelligences. This battle among theorists has resulted in confusion and unhappy compromises as teachers struggle to serve two masters. On the one side are IQ-ists who argue that intelligence is unitary and only associated with academic skills (reading, math and such). These folks advocate for a standardized curriculum emphasizing basic skills development. On the other side are advocates for personalized instruction based on the idea of multiple intelligences. They argue that human intelligence cannot be summed up with a single number and that student learning will increase with differentiated instruction that emphasizes strength-based activities.

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.

Of particular concern are the large numbers of students who are marginalized as a result of being stigmatized by simplistic labels such as “merely average,” or “below average,” or “not very bright.” On the flip side are students with highly developed skills that go unrecognized, unappreciated, or denigrated because they don’t fit into the academic hierarchy. No room for creativity on tests of intelligence or math skills.

This debate is not merely an arid academic question among ivory towered grey beards. Millions of dollars are paid out to the winners. Careers are wrecked or made; egos bruised or acclaimed. This conflict is most keenly felt in the schools and classrooms as teachers plan lessons and curriculum designers organize their priorities. Students and parents are casualties of the conflict, too. Parents preside over the “homework wars” as students wrestle with worksheets and perplexing projects.

There is something appealing about the simplicity of the IQ score (as a measure of general intelligence, also called g by psychologists). Unfortunately, like most simplistic labels it is simply not true that a person’s intellectual potential can be neatly fit into the box like someone’s shirt size. The human brain resists being carved up into neat categories because it is a massively interconnected and always changing and growing organ.

Five investigations involving more than 500 neuroscience studies lead to the conclusion that each intelligence possesses its own unique neural architecture. What is the relationship between IQ and MI? In 1983, Howard Gardner explained that general intelligence is comprised of the Logical-mathematical and Linguistic intelligences. This theory is supported by the neuroscience evidence because IQ is associated with nearly the exact same neural structures as those two intelligences.

The debate is not MI vs. IQ but rather how can we use a multiple intelligences understanding of each student to build the academic skills associated with IQ? MI does not minimize the importance of skills such as reading, attention to detail, logical thinking, and mathematics. Of course, those are important skills. But for artists they are no more important than imagination, spatial awareness, and intuition. Only when we understand each person’s unique profile of strengths can we devise strategies to maximize their development and build or manage weaknesses. IQ-based limitations are not to be avoided but instead creatively addressed by leveraging strengths in the service of whole brain development. This is not a dry theoretical argument but instead a practical approach to developing human potential.

To read the full article email:


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:














Teachers’ Cues, Subtle or Not, Shape Students’ Experiences

Three children holding hands with a teacher

This interview in Education Week, June, 2017 with Dena Simmons highlights the impact of the classroom culture on students.

Her comments highlight social acceptance and echo the work of Mary Helen Immordino-Yang on social-emotional brain development. Simmons comments on the importance of social acceptance for students with different socio-economic backgrounds but I think they also apply to students with MI profiles that differ from what the teacher values in the classroom.



“If students don’t’ feel like they belong to their school environment, they can feel like impostors….That feeling can create fear and anxiety that hijack students’ learning experiences or lead them to believe they are not capable of success….”


Education Week, online, June 21, 2017



Academic Testing: What good does it do?

Three articles in Education Week, Washington Post and Educational Researcher recently caught my attention regarding  academic testing and the “accountability movement.”  It seems odd to me that we are still arguing about the effectiveness of high-stakes testing after two decades of testing has had ZERO positive impact on schools. Very odd, indeed. When will we learn?  Maybe that’s the question that should be on THE TEST for any politician running for office.


The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better. by Daniel Koretz

“Because many people have been pretending that test-based accountability has been working as promised. Faced with pressure to raise scores, many educators cut corners, and one result was badly inflated score gains. Some cheated, but much of the fake improvement has been produced by bad test prep that isn’t considered cheating. … So time after time, we have had proclamations of success, but it’s often a sham.”

“Policymakers have ignored the fact that tests capture only some of what we want students to accomplish and even less of what we want schools to do… Inflated scores don’t provide a trustworthy indicator of what students actually learn.”

Read it here:

Buy the book here:


Does test Preparation Mean Low-Quality Instruction? by David Blazar and Cynthia Pollard

“…efforts to improve standards and tests were insufficient conditions for increasing teaching quality.  … improving teaching and learning required coherence among the tests and several other policy instruments, including curricula and opportunities for high-quality professional development…

“…positioning testing and new assessments as the primary solution to instructional ills may distract from more comprehensive efforts to elevate teaching in U.S. classrooms.”

Read it Here:


We Made This Too Hard   by Jenny Froehle

“The idea that learning should be designed with a clear goal was, and still is, a good one… but basing lessons on lists of knowledge and skills, then measuring those skills to death for 13 years in discrete pieces that never seem to thread back together into any recognizable meaningful whole? That idea backfired on us.”

“As educators, we know it is past time for us to free learning from this constraining cocoon of regulatory nonsense. The world is complex; problems do not come packaged simply. Only practice with complexity can provide the experience our children need to survive in the unpredictable world ahead … ”

Read it:   We Made This Too Hard, by Jenny Froehle, Nov. 29, 2017


MI Makes a BIG Difference!

Colegio Evangelico Capitan Correa

I just returned from a very productive and inspiring week in Puerto Rico where I visited two schools where both MI and MIDAS are key elements in their educational programs.   The first was Colegio Evangelico Capitan Correa   K- 12 school in Arecibo. For several years they have been giving 9th grade students the MIDAS at the same time introducing project-based learning activities into various subjects. They were afraid that such activities would negatively affect their academic test scores but instead the opposite happened – test scores increased!  As did student motivation and enthusiasm.



. . .

Puerto Rico Career Institute — where MI is alive!

Manuel Maldonado (Intelligence Forecasting) Olga Rivera (president, ICPR) and Branton

MIDAS Works!

The Career Institute of Puerto Rico (ICPR) is a network of five campuses providing two year career training in areas such as culinary arts, hospitality, book-keeping, etc. For seven years they have been training their faculty to design MI –inspired projects and giving all students The MIDAS. They began at one campus then trained faculty at a second campus and so on. They now have all five campuses involved in the MI project and all students do their MIDAS upon admission. They have observed an increase in retention along with improved student satisfaction. There is a director of innovation, Mayra Ruiz, who liaisons with faculty at each campus a facilitates the adoption of various development activities such as a MIDAS Café and MIDAS mentors and other awareness building efforts. They have the support of the school’s president and a base of enthusiastic faculty who are committed to student-centered instruction.

It was my honor to participate in their Teacher’s Appreciation Day and share the results of my neural MI investigations. They appeared to be very interested in this topic!

. . .

Building Better Teen Brains Tip #8

Get Real!

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

Real-world experiences. Work activities engage higher-order thinking processes that are impacted by social and emotional influences…providing opportunities to develop executive functions…prefrontal cortex…

“…In real-world settings, adolescents are under optimal conditions for dealing with issues related to “hot” cognition, where on-the-spot behaviors and good decision making result in the formation of new neural connections between the emotional brain and the rational prefrontal cortex.. where life is unpredictable…with meaningful consequences.. that result from the choices we make…” (p.135)

Armstrong lists 6 ways that teachers can give students real world work experiences ….:

  1. Institute a job-shadowing program
  2. Provide internship experiences
  3. Create an apprenticeship program
  4. Establish a career academy
  5. Incorporate community-based learning and service learning
  6. Encourage entrepreneurial learning

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 incorporating real world work experiences  into your subject area? What could help you to do more of this? Materials?