Children formulate goals and aspirations for themselves based on the successful people they see in their own community, and in the community I teach in, the students are limited in the types of people they have experiences with. If I asked the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up," many of the students would reply: doctor, teacher, or police officer, because these are the careers that they recognize and have experiences with. Although these careers are respectable ones to aspire to, it limits children who have intelligences in other areas. One of my goals is to expose students to other types of careers in industry while capitalizing on their strengths in an engaging hands-on unit.
When thinking about capitalizing on students' strengths, it is helpful to consider Howard Gardner's research in the area of intelligence. Gardner identifies seven different intelligences. The two that are most recognized in traditional educational settings are the logical mathematical intelligence, and the linguistic intelligence.(1) Students, who excel in school, usually excel in these areas because they are the intelligences we most value in traditional schools. In this unit, I have incorporated learning experiences for the logical-mathematical intelligence, the spatial intelligence, and the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. These learning experiences will act as a bridge to literacy. This will provide students with a variety of intelligence aptitudes with opportunities for success. It will also build valuable skills and competencies.