Professor Tom Lee and his amazing grid on the carpet.

Professor Tom Lee and his amazing grid on the carpet.

I was walking by one of the classrooms in our department recently and caught a glimpse of something going on that lured me into the room to find out more. It turned out to be Tom Lee’s middle school methods class. Tom is one of my colleagues in the teacher education program at PUC and is famous for coming up with learning activities that are engaging and relevant.

What I saw when I entered the room was a grid that Tom had taped onto the carpet. He had moved tables in the room to create a large space for this grid, which had Gardner’s eight multiple intelligences along the vertical axis and Bloom’s taxonomy categories across the horizontal axis.

As a reminder, Gardner’s intelligences included –

1) Verbal/Linguistic

2) Logical/Mathematical

3) Visual/Spatial

4) Rhythmic/Musical

5) Body/Kinesthetic

6) Intrapersonal

7) Interpersonal

8) Naturalistic

Bloom’s taxonomy (the new version) includes –

1) Remembering

2) Understanding

3) Applying

4) Analyzing

5) Evaluating

6) Creating

The students were asked to place a marker on one of the grid spaces and then describe a lesson focus or activity based on that grid space’s “address.” For instance, a student could place a marker on the space that combined Body/Kinesthetic (vertical) and Applying (horizontal), and then, on-the-spot, create a lesson focus based on a combination of those two categories.

A blogger in search of a bird's eye view of the grid.

A blogger in search of a bird’s eye view of the grid.

Instead of placing a marker in a grid space students could also throw a marker onto the grid for a more random challenge. Students just needed to keep in mind that a row or column could not contain more than two markers. Initially, students would be able to comment on areas in which they felt more confident, however as the game went on they would need to comment on every area of the grid, regardless of their level of prior knowledge.

I joined in the activity and enjoyed listening as students displayed their creative understanding of Gardner’s intelligences and Bloom’s taxonomy. There was a special energy in the room as students engaged in the activity.

What does Tom Lee’s lesson have to do with choice theory? From a classroom perspective, quite a bit. Choice theory explains the importance of school being a need-satisfying place. Tom’s lesson was need-satisfying on several levels.

Purpose/Meaning – Students were allowed to make personal meaning from the experience. The activity was very relevant to them and challenged them to take previous learning (Gardner and Bloom) and add new layers to their own understanding.

Love/Belonging – There was an obvious camaraderie that developed during the activity. Students rooted for one another and offered comments in support of each other. This camaraderie existed between students and teachers as well.

Power/Success – You could tell students felt satisfaction as they came up with their own lesson objectives. Their ideas were ultimately affirmed by classmates and by Tom.

Freedom/Autonomy – Students had so many choices to make during this activity. They could choose the grid space to attack, and afterward they would choose the kind of lesson they wanted to teach.

Joy/Fun – Joy and fun were both present throughout this activity. Students were engaged with the learning and with each other.

Safety/Survival – I think the students, to some extent, looked into the future and saw themselves as teachers working through the same kind of challenge. Doing the activity well had something to do with their professional survival.

I love the “grid on the carpet” that Tom came up with. In future Soul Shaper / choice theory workshops that I teach I want to steal this great idea. For instance, I can see having the Basic Needs across the top (the columns) and content areas on the side (the rows). By content areas I mean Social Studies, Math, Science, Language Arts, etc. I will then have participants select a grid space (either intentionally or randomly)  – let’s say the grid space combining Social Studies and Freedom/Autonomy – and then describe how lesson objectives in that content area could address or meet that basic need. This idea is really growing on me!

Can you think of ways in which you could use the “grid on the carpet” idea? And could you take a moment and share your idea with the rest of us?


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Our next Choice Theory Study Group is December 7!