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The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive” Thomas Armstrong.

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1 The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive” Thomas Armstrong

2 The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive” The Conundrum of Multiple Intelligences Thomas Armstrong Bodily/Kinesthetic Spatial/Mechanical Musical Verbal/Linguistic Naturalist Logical/Mathematical Intrapersonal Interpersonal

3 The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive” The Conundrum of Multiple Intelligences Thomas Armstrong Bodily/Kinesthetic Spatial/Mechanical Musical Verbal/Linguistic Naturalist Logical/Mathematical Intrapersonal Interpersonal

4 Page 6-7 Whether we like it or not, one of the best things that we as educators can do to help our students achieve success in this culture is to assist them in becoming as fully literate as possible… What we really need are not reasons or excuses for why so many children and adults are not literate, but rather positive solutions for helping empower everyone with the skills of literacy… I advocate an approach to literacy based on the belief that there is no one best way to teach reading and writing skills, in part because each person is so differently organized neurologically, and that the best attitude to adopt in any literacy program is a multiple-solution focus… reading and writing are not simply linguistic acts; they involve all of the intelligences, and many more areas of the brain are involved in literacy acquisition than has previously been assumed by educators working in the field. We have limited ourselves too much in the past – even in the field of MI theory – by considering too narrow a range of interventions, and ignoring many other strategies that are available for helping children and adults acquire literacy skills. Introduction Thomas Armstrong The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive”

5 Page 7, 21 …Literacy emerged out of our oral language capacities (verbal/linguistic intelligence), our logical capabilities (logical/mathematical intelligence), our physical movement (bodily/kinesthetic intelligence), our image-making abilities (spatial/mechanical intelligence), our musical proclivities (musical intelligence), our emotional life (intrapersonal intelligence), our attempts to decipher and control nature (naturalist intelligence), and our impulse to connect meaningfully with others (interpersonal intelligence)… A revolution of sorts is required in the way that we think about reading and writing, so that more of the brain’s power may be brought to bear upon the acquisition of these valued skills. The biggest question is whether we as educators are going to teach literacy skills in such a way that the words lie dead there on the page for so many students, or, conversely, whether we’re going to take positive steps toward the ultimate goal of making the words come alive for all students. Introduction Thomas Armstrong

6 The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive” Page 10-11 The Blind Educators and the Literacy Lion 1.“The Blind Educators and the Literacy Lion” Thomas Armstrong

7 The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive” Page 10-11 The Blind Educators and the Literacy Lion 1 “The Blind Educators and the Literacy Lion” “This beast is made up of whole words! Yes, all sorts of words, like the and captain and sure and poultry and wizard and tens of thousands more.” Thomas Armstrong

8 The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive” Page 10-11 The Blind Educators and the Literacy Lion 1.“The Blind Educators and the Literacy Lion” “This animal isn’t made up of whole words! It is made up of sounds! Sounds like ‘thhh’ and ‘buh’ and ‘ahhhh’ and ‘ayyyy’ and ‘juh’ and many more. In fact, I counted all the sounds, and there are exactly 44!” Thomas Armstrong

9 The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive” Page 10-11 The Blind Educators and the Literacy Lion 1.“The Blind Educators and the Literacy Lion” “This creature isn’t made of sounds or whole words. It’s constructed out of stories, and fables, and songs, and chants, and poems, and storybooks, and Big Books, and board books, and novels, and plays, and whole libraries full of living, exciting tales, and lots more besides!” Thomas Armstrong

10 The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive” Page 10-11 The Blind Educators and the Literacy Lion 1.“The Blind Educators and the Literacy Lion” “They’re all wrong! This beast is made up of whole cultures, and people crying out for freedom and power, and it’s about understanding who we are and what we’re capable of, and how each of us can speak, and read, and write with our own voices, and in this way contribute to the good of all.” Thomas Armstrong

11 The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive” Page 32-34 2.“Coming to Grips with the Muscularity of Words” (Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence) I’ve often suggested to educators that if, after reading a story, teachers would simply have students quickly role-play the material that they have just read, reading comprehension levels would increase rapidly for many students, particularly for many of those students who have been labeled as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or learning disability. What we’re asking students to do is think through material in the text through their bodies, instead of simply requiring them to sit still at their desks and do all the thinking invisibly. Tel them that in addition to having a physical body, they also have an imaginary kinesthetic body. After reading a text, have students experience the action of the text (if it is a narrative) by closing their eyes and imagining themselves in the story. Thomas Armstrong

12 The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive” Page 49 3.“Seeing the Visual Basis of Literacy” (Spatial/Mechanical Intelligence) Perhaps the simplest activity – and one that I believe would make a big difference in the reading comprehension rates of students, especially for those with good imaginations – would be to ask students anytime they have read a body of text to close their eyes for a minute or two and picture what they’ve just read. To go one step further, students might be asked to draw their images of what they’ve just read, making quick one- to – three-minute sketches or creating longer art projects. Another approach to employing visual imagery in reading involves the use of guided imagery to help students into the text. Thomas Armstrong

13 The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive” Page 55, 57 4.“Grooving with the Rhythms of Language” (Musical Intelligence) Notice how, this sentence is particularly; difficult to, read because, I; have put in, punctuation, marks that, disturb the, basic, flow of what I am, trying to, say. Whereas, when I place the punctuation marks appropriately, my ability to communicate effectively with you becomes much smoother. This little experiment provides a small indication of the huge importance that rhythm, meter, and music have in language and literacy… The rhythms of music stir words to life in our great orators (remember Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech)… Thomas Armstrong

14 The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive” Page 63 4.“Grooving with the Rhythms of Language” (Musical Intelligence) There is the sense in education that music is a frill and that, aside from small doses of it in cute little songs and rhymes, formal reading programs are much too serious to be bothered by this kind of creative nonsense. And yet, for the highly musical individual who struggles with reading using traditional methods, such a program might well be the key that gives them access to the world of literacy. Look for environmental sounds in texts, such as rain falling, the wind blowing against the trees, or the sounds of an avalanche. Have students keep a journal of sounds and rhythms they hear in their everyday world. Thomas Armstrong

15 The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive” Page 68, 75, 80 5.“Calculating the Logic of Words” (Logical/Mathematical Intelligence) (The logic or illogic of letters, sounds and words.) There are more than 1,100 ways that letters in English can be used to symbolize the 44 sounds in the spoken language. This diversity gives rise to sentences that would baffle just about anyone trying to learn the code. Some examples: “The bandage was wound around the wound.” “The farm was used to produce produce.” The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.” In a classroom, students who have logical proclivities may be interested in thinking about and creating both logical and illogical sentences. Ask students to share the problem-solving process they go through when reading something that they don’t initially understand. Encourage them to articulate what questions, ideas or strategies work best for them. Thomas Armstrong

16 The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive” Page 82, 6.“Feeling the Emotional Power of Text” (Intrapersonal Intelligence) I have to chuckle a little when I hear educators and researchers discuss reading and writing as if they were exact sciences… I suspect that for most of us, our early memories of literacy acquisition were probably not scientifically neutral experiences… Instead, I’ll bet these memories were something far more luminous, set in a complex web of emotions: sitting in the arms of a loved one reading a book together, angrily attempting to write some words after a real or imagined slight, writing a love note to a secret admirer, listening to a fairy tale before drifting off into dreamland. (Quote by 1971 Noble Prize winner in Literature – Pablo Neruda p. 82) Thomas Armstrong

17 The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive” Page 91-92 6.“Feeling the Emotional Power of Text” (Intrapersonal Intelligence) What are we doing in our literacy programs, reading classes, and literature courses to help students feel deeply what they read? We need to remember that while illiteracy is a terrible plague on society, so is aliteracy, a term I like to use to describe people who are able to read, but choose not to do so. Too many people are turned off by text because they feel there is nothing in the words that speaks to their lives, their concerns, their hopes and dreams. Select materials for reading that has been passionately written. Avoid textbook materials that have been written by committees or with a “school culture” voice. (share from Beyond the Aspen Grove by Anne H. Zwinger p. 278) In writing activities, help students move beyond the superficial mechanics of writing to focus on what real writers care about: telling a moving story in the most compelling way possible… Thomas Armstrong

18 The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive” Page 99 7.“Relating to the Social Context of Literacy” (Interpersonal Intelligence) (The Power of Words) An 8 year old writes the words “Go Away!” on a piece of paper and tacks it to his bedroom door, and suddenly he shapes the social world around him in a tangible way… A 6 th grader writes an essay on environmental waste that helps to create a recycling program for her school A teenager writes a passionate love letter to a girl he just met and discovers to his joy that it serves to transform an accidental meeting into a significant romantic relationship. An adult writes an article for a local newspaper on recent layoffs in his community and generates a political action group from among several of its unemployed readers. Thomas Armstrong

19 The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive” Page 99-100 7.“Relating to the Social Context of Literacy” (Interpersonal Intelligence) (The Impotence of Words) The infant may “up” until she is blue in the face, and no one may come. The school child may write the environmental essay, only to have it filled with red pencil marks and given a D for poor penmanship. The teenager may strike out with both the letter and the girl. The adult may find his submission to periodicals met with rejection at every turn. …No mini-revolution, no big or small social reforms to create, no cultural transformations to effect – but rather serve only the narrowest social goal of “doing what the teacher wants me to do.” When students feel their words are written only to be graded and then tossed into the wastepaper basket, then clearly they are being indoctrinated into the social impotence of words. Thomas Armstrong

20 The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive” Page 111, 115 8.“Speaking out About the Oral Basis of Reading and Writing” (Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence) Even people who may not be able to read or write a single word have the ability to speak thousands of different words and know what they mean. They can orally construct complex sentences with elaborate syntax and intricate meanings…Oral language has had an enormous head start over written language in evolution and history… Prior knowledge of words and their meanings – a good oral vocabulary – is a very useful prerequisites to launching into the experience of reading and writing. Consequently, any program that provides students with plenty of exposure to spoken words through discussions, conversations, dialogues, lectures, storytelling, and plays, as well as through having books read to them on a regular basis, will help create a strong foundation for literacy acquisition. Thomas Armstrong

21 The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive” Page 123-124 9.“Opening the Book of Nature” (Naturalist Intelligence) Words and literacy have a central relationship to the natural world… for example, …humans were pre-adapted neurologically for reading through, among other things, the ancient skill of animal tracking, which could be considered the “reading” of hoof and paw prints. In ancient Egypt, the need the to control the flooding Nile using vast irrigation systems, led to more complex social organizations and the need to develop a system of writing to handle the increased workload. A young child is alive with the rhythms and sensations of nature – she revels in watching a bird fly, smelling a flower, feeling the wind against her face, observing a squirrel eating a nut. These experiences captivate the child in a way that words, lying lifeless on a page, simply cannot. However, as a child is introduced to printed words and discovers the mysteries they can reveal about the world around her, they too become imbued with a kind of magical natural quality Thomas Armstrong

22 The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing “Making the Words Come Alive” Page 127, 132 9.“Opening the Book of Nature” (Naturalist Intelligence) As they walk, students may be asked to name the many natural things they see… Once back in the classroom, each student might assemble (these words) into a story or poem. In a nature-focused literacy program, many student’s first words might consist of onomatopoetic words based in nature, such as buzz, splash and murmur. Sitting in a chair at a table or desk in a classroom with fluorescent lighting and no windows is certainly one of the worst places for highly naturalistic students to do their reading and writing…Have students go to a specific place in nature (preferably of their choosing) for 5 to 10 minutes a day for a week or longer and read or write down their observations in a notebook. Thomas Armstrong


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