School Redesign and Multiple Intelligences

By anna rusbosin, October 23, 2009

Grade Level

  • High School


  • Architecture

Subject Area

  • Social Studies

Lesson Time

150 minutes for classroom activities and 60-100 minutes for homework


In this unit, students will explore theories of learning and intelligence.  We will look not at how smart someone is, but how s/he is smart.  Students will have the opportunity to examine their own dominant area(s) within Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory and understand its impact on their preferred learning styles.  The unit ends with an analysis and presentation of how your school incorporates the needs of a diverse learning community. This lesson deals with the analysis of how school design influences learning styles. 

National Standards

Behavioral Studies

Standard 1. Understands that group and cultural influences contribute to human development, identity, and behavior

Standard 3. Level IV. Understands that interactions among learning, inheritance, and physical development affect human behavior

3. Understands that expectations, moods, and prior experiences of human beings can affect how they interpret new perceptions or ideas


Standard 3. Level IV. Understands the characteristics and uses of spatial organization of Earth's surface

3. Understands how characteristics such as age, sex, employment, and income level affect the way people perceive and use space (e.g., school-age children traveling to and from school, employed people commuting by public transit, high-income people traveling long distances for vacations)

Thinking and Reasoning

Standard 4. Level IV. Understands and applies basic principles of hypothesis testing and scientific inquiry

2. Presents alternative explanations and conclusions to one’s own experiments and those of others

Standard 5. Levels III and IV. Applies basic trouble-shooting and problem-solving techniques

2. Selects the most appropriate strategy or alternative for solving a problem

5. Engages in problem finding and framing for personal situations and situations in the community

10. Evaluates the feasibility of various solutions to problems; recommends and defends a solution

Common Core Standards

Anchors for Reading:

Key Ideas and Details:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

Craft and Structure:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Range of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Anchor standards for Speaking and Listening: 

Comprehension and Collaboration:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Anchor standards for Language:

Conventions of Standard English:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.


Students will be able to:

  • use the design process to refine their observations and hypotheses regarding behavior and design
  • analyze how environment impacts behavior and learning
  • make a judgment on the effectiveness of design on behavior and learning
  • conduct analysis of public facilities using basic knowledge of psychology and theories of learning


textbook: Psychology and You by McMahon and Romano, 3rd Edition, digital cameras, printer, paper, *design assessment rubric


  • paper
  • pens
  • poster board
  • markers
  • colored pencils
  • blank school map
  • sketchbook




This is the final project for the unit on intelligence and memory.  This lesson will be introduced after students have studied intelligence and learning for four 75-minute classes.  They will have already taken sample IQ tests, and multiple intelligence tests.  They will already be familiar with Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences.


Step 1 - Review the Challenge

1. Tell students: Based on what you have learned about the theory of multiple intelligences, examine and analyze how your school makes use of this theory.  How does your school incorporate the needs of a diverse population of learners, so that all students are engaged and can be successful?

2. Lead a discussion with the students about what makes a good school.  Ask: How does our school meet the needs of diverse learners? What could be improved to meet the needs of diverse learners?  As far as constraints, there is no budget or time limit, but students must work within the existing physical structure of the school building.

3. Students will create a poster board presentation highlighting how the school could encourage their two assigned intelligences. Students will work in self-selected groups of four.  (ten minutes to introduce)

Step 2 – Investigate the Problem

1. First, students need to gather data from the teacher’s assigned intelligence.  Consider the layout and physical design of the school, the course offerings, and the extracurricular activities available to the students.  Students will need to collect evidence to put on their display board such as pictures, course descriptions, school flyers, etc.

2. Take a tour of the school during class to identify characteristics of the building. For the next class students will bring in at least five pieces of evidence analyzing the school: photos, interviews with students/staff/administration, course descriptions, event fliers, observations of behaviors, etc.

Step 3 - Frame/Reframe the Problem

1. Students will analyze their observations through the lens of their assigned intelligences. They will free write for five minutes, highlighting how their observations reflect well or poorly on their assigned intelligences. Students will meet in their groups and determine the common problem associated with their assigned intelligences. Each group will get a piece of big paper on which to write their problem, for each intelligence

Step 4 - Brainstorm

1. In their groups, students will generate solutions to their problem. On their big pieces of paper they will write down all possible solutions to their problems.  They will have five minutes to brainstorm for each intelligence.

Step 5 - Edit Ideas

1. Propose one new addition to your school community which would enhance the learning experience for students whose dominant ability falls under the assigned intelligence.  Explain why there is a need for this change and what effect it will have on the school. At this point, students will start to work on their poster to develop the visual side of their presentation.

Step 6 - Share and Evaluate

1. Students will do a Tuning Protocol with one other group (see the attached handout). This is a timed activity that will take fifteen minutes for each group. There is an attached protocol and handout to fill out.  At this point, the teacher does not participate in the tuning protocol, but facilitates and times the procedure. The teacher monitors progress and assesses the work based on the completion of a tuning protocol handout

Step 7 - Finalize the Solution

1. After the teacher looks at the tuning protocol handouts, there is a pause for reflection with teacher guidance.  Students work on the final drafts of their presentations: the poster boards and the oral presentation.  The instructor provides final critical feedback and sets the order for presentations to the Principal. (35 minutes in class, 60 to 100 outside of class)

Step 8 - Articulate

1. The Principal and any other administrators are present for final presentations.  Each group gets five to seven minutes to present their assigned intelligences and proposed design solutions.  There is then a three to five minute question/answer session.  Students fill out a rubric for each presentation, as does the administration present.  (Note: This should take one 50-minute class period.)


Students ideally will have gained mastery by attaining at least an 80% on the project rubric.

The project can be adjusted for differentiated instruction by grouping students of differing abilities together, reducing workload for students with IEP’s (give one intelligence rather than two).

Enrichment Extension Activities

This activity definitely ties into the architecture, construction, and engineering curriculum of a school and can work into afterschool enrichment programs that focus on beautification projects such as the art club.

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