Saturday, November 7, 2009

AASL Conference - Day 3 - Spatial Intelligence and Information Seeking Skills

This afternoon I geeked out and attended a fascinating session that focused on a research study and dissertation that a colleague in the northeast had completed. In working with her students at her all girls’ school, she was concerned about how students learned the information seeking process. Why were some kids asking her to slow down her instruction and yet other kids were complaining that she moved too slowly?

After a number of different theories, studies, and research (that I’m sure I could link you to if you really need to see it), she basically drew the following conclusion:

Students with high spatial intelligence find information faster than those students with low spatial intelligence.

What followed her introduction to the research was a presentation of interventions, ways that we can help our students increase and grow their spatial intelligence in order to help improve their information seeking skills. For many students, all it takes is talking the language, using the vocabulary to get them thinking in those terms.

One intervention is to use gestures when answering spatial questions. For example, when asked about moving an object, you could just answer “move the objects closer” OR you could give that answer AND gesture with your hands to show the movement that you would make to move objects closer together. This helps build spatial intelligence. (I’ve also read that gesturing while talking improves vocabulary.)

Other early interventions to help build spatial intelligence:
Mapping – navigation, scaling
Math talk – equivalence, symbols, ordering, calculation
Block-building – building up, towering, instead of building out
Visual representations
Perspectives – zooming in and out
Aiming games – physical outdoor games, video gaming
Mechanics – putting things together, taking things apart

I can see how my daughter is already building her spatial intelligence based on these early interventions. Now I need to figure out where my middle schoolers are in their spatial abilities and intelligences and determine the interventions I can use to assist them in transferring that into strong information seeking skills.

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