Differentiated Instruction Through the Lens of Multiple Intelligences

By: Tzippy Staum, Hadassah Lax
from RYNJ

Differentiated Instruction

Subject(s) of entry:
Mishnah, Philosophy/ Values/ Ethics/ Hashkafa, Tanach

Blended Learning, Gamification, Hevruta Learning, Wholebrain Teaching, 21st Century Skills

Grade(s) to which this was taught:
6, Middle school

Grade(s) for which this will be useful:
6, Middle school

Using Gardner's multiple intelligences as a guiding lens for differentiating instruction to students with varied learning profiles, we created a differentiated unit for a Middle School Chumash class learning the topic of Nazir (Numbers 6: 1-8). The instructional tools address the unique learning styles and intelligences of students in any subject.

Entry Narrative

In differentiated classrooms teachers are able to identify and describe the differences among their students and apply that  knowledge to their instruction. These differences, or learning profiles as Tomlinson describes, can be associated with Gardner’s multiple intelligences.

​Many educators have experienced the challenge of not being able to reach some students until presenting the information in a completely different way or providing new options for student learning. Some students struggled with writing until the teacher provided them with an option for an input of illustration. Some students could not retain vocabulary until they sang it in a rhythm or song.

This submission focuses on using Gardner’s multiple intelligences as a guiding lens for differentiating instruction. Instruction should be informed as much as possible by detailed knowledge about students’ specific strengths, needs, and areas for growth (Tomlinson, 2014). The differentiated instruction tools address the unique learning styles and intelligences that can be applied across many other subjects and grade levels that may include text and vocabulary , making connections and assessments. Our unit of study, “Differentiated Instruction through the lens of Multiple Intelligences,” recognizes this need and allows for each student to work toward the same high standards in ways suited particularly to them.

This project has been organized into one comprehensive and user-friendly platform for teachers to access and find examples with ease. Please use this site to see the unit in its entirety. (https://differentiatednazir2.weebly.com/)

We divided the unit of study into three categories; Learning Text, Making Connections, and Assessments in the context of students learning the Biblical unit of Nazir.  Each instructional tool has an icon next to the subtitle correlating to Gardner’s multiple intelligences that are being considered. Often there is more than one icon correlating to a method of instruction as they can apply to varied learners. Gardner states, “When one has a thorough understanding of a topic, one can typically think of it in several ways.” Students range in one or more of Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences and it is therefore critical that teachers differentiate their lessons to meet the needs and learning styles of their students.

  1. Learning Text: Chumash (Bible) is based on our unique ancient Hebraic text and language. Although it is filled with rich meaning and lessons, the text itself consists of vocabulary and textual nuances that are new and can be attained and retained in a variety of ways. Aside from Biblical texts, many areas of study consist of new text and vocabulary and could benefit from the varied tools presented.
    1. We have created a Milon sheet (Word Translation Sheet) with an extra column.  This extra column allows the students who may need to draw an image, write a hint or mnemonic that helps them associate the translation and remember the meaning.
    2. An alternate Zoom sheet utilizes a magnifying glass to focus and ‘zoom in’ on key words and ideas. This sheet helps guide and scaffold some of the main points for the weaker learner.
    3. 2 tools to reinforce vocabulary: Vocab Word Cards and “I have__Who has__ Card game”
    4. Students are given a set of vocabulary cards with picture icons on Side A and the definition on Side B.
      The picture icons are a great way to make an association with the text and help retain the knowledge.  The students can use these cards as a study guide, as a game individually or with a partner.

      The picture icon vocabulary cards works well for visual learners and can allow a student to learn the new vocabulary words in an efficient manner, simultaneously feel confident by being able to test him/herself.

      Ways you can DIFFERENTIATE using the vocabulary cards:
      1. Remove pictures for those who are stronger with language
      2. Don’t double side the cards and use as a matching game
      3. Sequence the vocabulary cards and ‘tell the story’ of the unit being taught using the vocabulary cards.
      4. Create a Quizlet game that utilizes flashcards with technology. (See a sample on the Assessments tab)

      Another great way to reinforce the vocabulary words is by playing the game “I have…Who has…”  This works very well for the Verbal/Linguistic Learners, by allowing the words to be repeated in a rhythm.
    1. The Pictorial Flow Chart can be used for foreign languages or in other subject matters that contain new vocabulary to be mastered.  A Pictorial Flow Chart allows a student to visualize the process of how something is made. This too can be differentiated by creating different charts based on students’ levels.  In our lesson, the Pictorial Flow Chart helps the students visualize the flow of the process of the grapes while reinforcing the definition of the words. Text and content are being connected.
    1. Rhythm Review “This is ___________…!” “A What?”  Students are given the opportunity to review the new vocabulary words in a different way.  Rhythm Review Instructions.

             As the students sing the rhythm, they repeat the word three times which helps retain the word.   WATCH Video1   WATCH Video2

    1. Synthesizing the vocabulary to context and checking for understanding.  After students learn and study the new vocabulary words and understand their meaning within the context of the unit, it is beneficial for them to apply the knowledge and content.  This can be done in various ways. In our unit of study, the following fun checklist is done in pairs to determine if the students can apply their understanding of the new concepts learned.​                                                                                                                               
  1. Making Connections: Analyzing the data learned by drawing connections among ideas is one of the steps of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  When students are given the opportunity to make the connections between similar ideas and texts it deepens their learning for better mastery.
    1. Connecting Cause and Effect – Students are given the opportunity to make the connections between two ideas that are related through the imagery of a bridge connecting the two points. In our study of unit, the students are introduced to the concept of Smichut Parshiyot through the imagery of a bridge connecting two points. There are 2 different leveled worksheets to help them trace the steps and make the connection from Sotah to Nazir. Students are asked to retrace their steps to go ’round trip’ to check for complete understanding! They do this in pairs and read their connections aloud to each other. This promotes a crucial piece of learning through review and reinforcement, and will help identify if there are any gaps in the analytical thinking process.         
    2. Connecting Text to Text – Students are given excerpts from various texts to connect.  Students are also given out graphic organizers, such as, venn diagram or a t-chart to record the information needed.  Students may choose the chart of their preference. 

Differentiate:  Level 1: A Zoom page is designed with magnifying glasses to help focus the student on the key terms and ideas to compare. Level 2: The stronger students receive the same text without zoom magnifying glasses.

Students can also be challenged to read a text on a higher level comprehension or higher order thinking and make the connections.

Linking all Connections:  Students can use this graphic organizer of chain links to identify and explain the connections they made at the conclusion of the unit of study.   In our unit of study the students are challenged to identify and explain the connections of the prohibitions to the Nazir. The chains connect:

– Nazir and Sotah with the ‘link’ of wine.

Nazir and Yosef with the ‘link’ of hair.

– Nazir and Kohein Gadol with the ‘link’ of being impure to a dead body.

                            3. Making Personal Connections – Text to Self

Text-to-self connections are highly personal connections that a reader makes between a piece of reading material and the reader’s own experiences or life.

Connecting Nazir to MYSELF

What can I refrain from in order to be closer to Hashem? to be a better person?

3. Assessing the Students:  Throughout the unit of study, we as teachers expect the students to demonstrate their understanding of the lessons being taught.  When given an opportunity to display their knowledge through by choosing their learning style, the students are able to feel accomplished and confident with their learning.

  1. Wordle: Students will create a Wordle of the keywords from the unit. The students will then use the Wordle as a guide and reference tool for the other assessments.
  2. Google Drawing: At the end of the unit, this Google Drawing helps the students check for understanding as the students have to click and drag to connect content, vocabulary, and pictures in the correct categories.
    – Some of the terms and pictures can ‘overlap’ allowing for flexibility and creativity.
    ​- No writing required
    Google Draw Template           Google Draw Nazir Review
  1. 3. Choice Board – Students are given a choice board of activities to demonstrate their understanding of the content, vocabulary, making connections and applying the lessons to themselves.
    1. Vocabulary:

Option 1: Quizlet Live – quizlet.com/create-set

Students create a vocabulary quiz that will be used as a class game to review the words learned.  The benefits of Quizlet Live is that it allows the students to work as groups and see the correct and incorrect responses and to be able to reinforce the content. Here is a sample set: https://quizlet.com/_5obcji

Option 2: Crossword Puzzle worksheets.theteacherscorner.net/make-your-own/crossword/

Students can use their creativity and humor to come up with clues in the crossword puzzle. This can be created online or designed by hand.

​Option 3: Kahoot! – https://create.kahoot.it/#login

Student can use their creativity and humor to come up with clues to be used in a Kahoot game.  The Kahoot requires the students to come up with multiple choice answers, obviously giving them the ability to challenge their classmates.

                 2. Content

Option 1: Thinglink – www.thinglink.com
Through a Thinglink, students creatively ‘link’ their knowledge of content through pictures or text. Students will be guided and graded by a rubric.

Option 2: Compose a Song –
Students compose a song, rap, or poem incorporating the main ideas and specific details of the Nazir in their song.  Students will be guided and graded by a rubric.

Option 3: The Price is Right! –
Students are to creatively summarize the 3 stages of the Nazir: The prohibitions, the sudden impurity, and the completion of his vowed days. Each section has a price tag. Every key term from the Wordle has a dollar value. The students will ‘add’ their words together to  depict and reach the price of each stage of the Nazir. When completed, the students deposit it in the ATM – All Thoughts Matter.​

               3. Application

Option 1: Google Slide –

Students are required to create a cumulative review in a slide show and specifically incorporate a few personal applications they were able to take out of the lessons. Student Example 1      Student Example 2      Student Example 3

Option 2: Mirror Mirror on the Wall –

Students create an image of a mirror and embellish it with post-it notes stating life lessons learned from Nazir that they can apply to themselves.​Option 3: Dear Diary

Students will write a journal entry personalizing their application of the lessons from Nazir to their lives. Examples can begin like:  Dear Diary,

After learning about the Nazir, I too am going to refrain from something that will help me focus on my relationship with G-d. I am going to limit my time on my cell phone so that I can make time for prayer.

Entrant Bio(s)

Tzippy Staum and Hadassah Lax teach middle school girls at the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey.
Educators with both regular education and special education degrees, Hadassah and Tzippy look to integrate and weave together their expertise to identify and reach the diverse learners in their classroom.
They are currently co-teaching in a max-support inclusion model and are consistently looking for new and creative ways to differentiate instruction for the academic and emotional needs of the students of this transitional age of middle school girls.