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The language of the American colonists was highly colorful but quite formal in style, and the presentation of a speech or a content analysis of primary sources would provide elementary school students with an opportunity to experience these fundamental differences for themselves, all with a view toward improving their understanding of what life in Colonial America was really like.
2. Logico-mathematical. One of the most glaring differences between life in the 21st century and that of Colonial Americans involves logical reasoning and mathematical functions. Today, even very young students are generally able to use sophisticated calculators and computers to help them with their reasoning and mathematical computations and enjoy the benefits of classroom instruction in these areas; by sharp contrast, many students of Colonial America were not provided with a formal education to begin with, and when they were, it was drastically different than that typically experienced by modern students (Kavenagh & Morris, 1973). Therefore, an examination of what mathematical topics were viewed as important for Colonial American students would make a good starting point for this component of the multiple intelligences approach.
3. Musical. Keeping the multiple intelligence approach curriculum components relevant for students remains an important element in design. In this regard, Wicks (1997) suggests that, "If music is a resource that individuals use to articulate their cultural heritage, could students be better motivated if we placed the music that means the most to them at the core of their complex learning experiences?" (p. 460). Perhaps more than any other component of the multiple intelligences approach to learning, the musical component represents a prime opportunity to communicate essential elements of the curriculum for young learners. For example, one elementary school teacher used this component of the multiple intelligences approach by teaching her students a song about Colonial America (Holland, 1997).
Likewise, Jimmy Driftwood was a history teacher who used music in an highly effective way to help his students learn about American history. According to the National Institutes of Health, Department of Health & Human Services, "Mr. Driftwood wrote many songs, all for the sole purpose of helping his students learn about historical events" (Battle of New Orleans, 2005, p. 2). One elementary school teacher reported that her students were able to learn and retain numbers better if they learned them by counting to music; however, there are other key advantages to this technique that readily lends itself to teaching young students about Colonial America:
Teachers in all disciplines report that their students are more accepting of the people and practices of different cultures if they are introduced to the cultures' music and musicians. The teachers also affirm that taking an interest in and respecting the music of students' heritages or the music that is most popular with students - rock, rap, hip-hop, and the like - significantly bolsters the students' pride and contributes to positive individual and group identities. (Wicks, 1997, p. 461)
4. Spatial. To help elementary school students gain a sense of the geographic considerations involved in the daily life and material cultural in Colonial America, photographs and Web sites of restored historical structures could be integrated into the curriculum. For example, according to Field and Labbo (1999), elementary school teachers can help communicate this sense of spatial relationship to students' current locations by using an overhead of a map that shows the location of these historic structures to provide the students with a geographic context. These activities were shown to provide elementary school students with naturally occurring and authentic interdisciplinary connections that enabled them to use literacy skills and strategies to organize and communicate their findings in meaningful ways (Field & Labbo, 1999). Accounts of individuals and events who may be of interest to students can also help to communicate a sense of the spatial considerations involved in historic events (Deutsch, 2000).
5. Bodily/kinesthetic. Although dancing would make an appropriate communicative device for this component of the multiple intelligence approach, the practice was largely prohibited or at least frowned upon in Colonial America (Bonomi, 1997). While this would make a good interpersonal point (see further discussion below), it does not provide an avenue for elementary school teachers. Therefore, elementary classroom teachers could employ a reenactment of the daily lives of colonialists, with an emphasis on the gender differentiation that existed at the time.
During this period, there was a profound connection between home, hearth and women in Colonial America that would make an interesting topic for this component; while colonial homes were largely self-sufficient due in large part to the contributions of the women, the contributions of the men were also highly physical in nature and would also lend themselves to this component for young learners. Vignettes and plays of daily lives of colonialists, based on such gender differences, would provide an effective vehicle for the communication of this component of the multiple intelligence approach.
6. Interpersonal. A study by Lehrer and Romberg (1996) reported the results of a curriculum designed to improve elementary school students' understanding about American history by working together in six different design teams to develop hypermedia documents about Colonial America. In this project, a class of fifth grade students compared the lifestyles of colonists with their own lifestyles; this analysis included a comparison between the lives of colonists, which students abstracted from a variety of text sources, and the lives of classmates (Lehrer & Romberg, 1996). Each of the documents prepared for this assignment were designed to address one topic; e.g., technology or education.
7. Intrapersonal. By incorporating elements of student design into this project, the educators also provided opportunities for student learning in interpersonal contexts that were not directly related to their project. "For example, students elaborated their summarization skills with text not directly related to Colonial America" (Lehrer & Romberg, 1996, p. 72). The fifth graders collaborated further by developing these documents for use by other students in a "jigsaw arrangement" in which they learned about each topic from the documents prepared by their peers. In addition, the students presented the results of their research to their parents and peers in other classrooms. "Student work in the classroom was supported by instructional templates for a wide range of research and communication skills, such as posing questions or organizing information, that previous research suggested are necessary for student design of hypermedia documents" the authors add, and the students worked on the research and design of this analysis for approximately 4 months (Lehrer & Romberg, 1996).
Adams, T.L. (2000). Helping children learn mathematics through multiple intelligences and standards for school mathematics. Childhood Education, 77(2), 86.
Battle of New Orleans. (2005). National Institutes of Health, Department of Health & Human Services. [Online]. Available: http://www.niehs.nih.gov/kids/lyrics/battleof.htm.
Bialystok, E. (2001). Bilingualism in development: Language, literacy, and cognition. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Bonomi, P.U. (1998). Under the cope of Heaven: Religion, society, and politics in Colonial America. New York: Oxford University Press.
Brooks, C.K. (1996). Controlling the metaphor: Language and self-definition in Revolutionary America. CLIO, 25(3), 233.
Kavenagh, W.K., & Morris, R.B. (1973). Foundations of Colonial America: A Documentary History, Vol. 2. New York: Chelsea House.
Davies, L.L. (2001). Lessons for an endangered movement: What a historical juxtaposition of the legal response to civil rights and environmentalism has to teach environmentalists today. Environmental Law, 31(2), 229.
Deutsch, S. (2000). Women and the city: Gender, space, and power in Boston, 1870-1940. New York: Oxford University Press.
Field, S.L., & Labbo, L.D. (1999). Journey Boxes: Telling the Story of Place, Time, and Culture with Photographs, Literature, and Artifacts. Social Studies, 90(4), 180.
Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind. The theory of multiple intelligences. New York:…[continue]
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