Harnessing Spatial Intelligence in the Classroom

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Spartial intelligence is one of eight different modalities or ways to demonstrate intellectual ability and individual style, according to Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences that receives wide acceptance.

Mapping, drawing and doodling

A student with strong spatial intelligence best understands when seeing a picture. This learner perceives the world accurately and tries to recreate or transform aspects of it for others. Consider permitting activities where spatial intellectual students can use, and maybe even “show off,” this ability to pin down ideas presented verbally.

Use Visuals

Cartoons and similar images may help illustrate main points while providing this learner an important memory device.


Research supports the use of concept maps, diagrams and visual models as effective teaching tools. A student might outline or summarize essays and stories.


All students benefit from hands-on learning experiences. Even a learner who is less than artistic, may benefit from the time spent struggling and putting their thinking into a new format. To paraphrase Heller and Trybom (1905) ‘through reinforcement of earlier learning and the principle that an individual is interested in things about which he knows something, the child is given an opportunity to express himself, by means of both language and hands’.

How do you cater to spatial learners in your classroom?

From Professional Learning Board’s online continuing education course for teachers: Accommodating All Learners

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