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MI and Differentiated Learning at Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School

Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School pic

Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School
Image: chch.org

A successful competitive water polo coach, Cory Olcott holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Northwestern University, a master’s degree in education and English literature from Stanford University, and a master’s of education in school leadership from Harvard University. Cory Olcott serves as dean of sophomore class, director of student activities, and basketball coach at Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School (CH-CH).

CH-CH is a private, independent college preparatory school situated on a 40-acre campus in Waltham, Massachusetts, just a few minutes outside of Boston. The school provides an intimate classroom experience with, on average, just over 10 students per class.

The institution differentiates itself from similar schools with its approach of “teaching the way students learn.” Rather than seeking to demonstrate how smart the students are, the school strives to identify how the students are smart. In practice, CH-CH uses the Multiple Intelligence (MI) theory to better understand its students and applies differentiated instruction to more suitably serve its various types of learners.

The MI theory was developed by Dr. Howard Gardner, a Harvard psychologist. According to Dr. Gardner, there are nine intelligences (mathematical/logical, naturalist, interpersonal, musical, linguistic, bodily/kinesthetic, existential, spatial, and intrapersonal) that need to be stimulated and supported by schools. CH-CH designs its lessons so that students can achieve their full potential by tapping into these distinct intelligences.

Differentiated instruction takes into consideration that not all students in a classroom have uniform levels of ability or learn subjects using the same processes. Thus, lessons are designed and delivered in a manner that can best reach each student. Studies reveal that differentiated learning is beneficial to a broad spectrum of students.