Since the 1980s various new definitions of the concept of intelligence have been formulated. Many of these stand in direct opposition to the psychometric tradition of a fixed intelligence. The dominant figures in this revolution in thinking about intelligence include, Sternberg, Goleman and Howard Gardener.
Gardener postulates, in his theory of Multiple Intelligence, that people have nine different kinds of intelligence all of which can be enhanced. M.I. (Multiple Intelligence Theory) has been readily embraced by large numbers of educators, although there is great academic debate as to the scientific validity of the theory. With regard to classroom practice the academic debate does not negate the fact that pupils have different learning preferences and that appealing to these preferences is an obvious way of stimulating pupils interest.
One of Gardener's intelligences is 'Logical-mathematical': in this article practical ways of appealing to logical-mathematically inclined learners (in the context of literacy lessons) will be considered.
Strategy one: numeric challenge
The most obvious facet of 'logical-mathematical' learners is their interest in numbers. Harnessing this interest in literacy lessons can prove to be a powerful motivator for pupils who prefer numeracy. Numeric challenge can be related to a broad range of literacy objectives and, basically, takes five forms,
Strategy Two: Number-based writing activities
The number based writing activity which most readily comes to mind is the Haiku, a three line poem with five syllables on the first line, seven syllables on the second line and five syllables on the third and final line. There are, however, many other number-based writing activities which will appeal to 'logical-mathematical' learners. With younger pupils 'Getting bigger poems' are popular. They have one word on the first line, two words on the second line, three on the third etc. as shown in the example below,
GETTING BIGGER POEM
It gets bigger,
It becomes a tree
The 'Getting Bigger' poem could, of course, be combined with a numeric challenge such as making it more than six lines long. It could also be turned into a 'Getting smaller' poem with, say, ten word on the first line, nine words on the second line etc.
With older pupils syllabic forms have a useful mathematical element and appeal to the organisational tendencies of 'logical-mathematical' learners. There are numerous well-known syllabic forms so two less well known examples will be detailed,
Strategy Three: Shape
An aspect of mathematics that shouldn't be ignored is 'shape'. Two basic shape-related literacy activities can be used,
Strategy Four: Graph based work
Graph based work can provide a useful alternative to the production of prose text.
My personal favourite is the 'Use of Language' graph. This can be used to assess how effective an author's use of language is. The teacher, firstly, reads a given text with the pupils. This is followed by giving out an A3 sheet of paper marked in the following way
Pupils then have to analyse the author's use of language and produce a line graph with explanations for why they thought the author's use of language was effective, or wasn't, added to the various peaks and troughs in the graph. This is best demonstrated in the completed example given below.
Strategy Five: emulating the games-based approaches of numeracy lessons
The structure of numeracy lessons can often be more dynamic than literacy lessons. Opportunities to emulate games based approaches (as evidenced in numeracy) in literacy lessons should, therefore, be explored by staff. Five minutes spent on a literacy-based game at the start of a lesson is five minutes well-spent. Fostering 'Learning readiness' is the essential first step in any effective lesson and developing a bank of literacy games to be used in this way will help to create a start to a literacy lessons which mimics the effective start of a numeracy lesson. This familiarity acts as a trigger (In Neuro-Linguistic Programming an 'Anchor') which elicits a positive response in the pupil. For the pupil who enjoys mathematics it recreates the 'feel' of the opening of a maths lesson thereby triggering an emotional state (enjoyment) which is the same as that felt in the mathematics lesson.
In conclusion a raise in writing standards will not be achieved by merely writing more. The consideration of pupils learning preferences and the application of a pedagogy which appeals to these varied learning preferences is a stimulating way of breaking the somewhat artificial boundaries which separate lessons so that titles like 'Numeracy' and 'Literacy' begin to blur and the focus of our teaching fixes firmly on the stimulation of curiosity, excitement and enjoyment.