Writing Tutor - Student Coaching

Writing Tutor

A published poet, fiction writer, film critic, and interviewer, I have developed teaching and learning techniques to help inexperienced writers cultivate an appreciation for their own wealth of knowledge and to express their ideas with originality and clarity across many disciplines and in a variety of genres. For over 20 years I’ve helped writers of all ages and ability levels improve the quality of their prose in an enjoyable, non-threatening way.

As a writing tutor, I often administer a survey based on Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences to my students to determine their learning preferences and strengths and to guide them on their linguistic journey. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, linguistic-verbal intelligence is not always the primary strength of creative writers. Creative writing incorporates all nine of the following intelligences that Gardner has identified so far:

  • Visual/Spatial – learning visually and organizing ideas spatially. Seeing concepts in action in order to understand them. The ability to see things in one’s mind in planning to create a product or solve a problem
  • Verbal/Linguistic – learning through the spoken and written word. This intelligence was always valued in the traditional classroom and in traditional assessments of intelligence and achievement (See chart below.).
  • Mathematical/Logical – learning through reasoning and problem solving. Also highly valued in the traditional classroom where students were asked to adapt to logically sequenced delivery of instruction.
  • Bodily/Kinesthetic – learning through interaction with one’s environment. This intelligence is not the domain of “overly active” learners. It promotes understanding through concrete experience.
  • Musical/Rhythmic - learning through patterns, rhythms and music. This includes not only auditory learning, but the identification of patterns through all the senses.
  • Intrapersonal – learning through feelings, values and attitudes. This is a decidedly affective component of learning through which students place value on what they learn and take ownership for their learning.
  • Interpersonal – learning through interaction with others. Not the domain of children who are simply “talkative” or “overly social.” This intelligence promotes collaboration and working cooperatively with others.
  • Naturalist – learning through classification, categories and hierarchies. The naturalist intelligence picks up on subtle differences in meaning. It is not simply the study of nature; it can be used in all areas of study.
  • Existential – learning by seeing the “big picture”: Why are we here? What is my role in the world? What is my place in my family, school and community? This intelligence seeks connections to real world understandings and applications of new learning.

Applying Multiple Intelligences (MI) theory to instructional practices for students with varying learning styles and strengths can improve their learning outcomes. MI theory teaches through students’ strength intelligences that have previously been neglected or overlooked by former teachers. Sarah Freligh, creative writing teacher and published poet, also addresses this issue by honoring writers’ goals for their own work. She helps her students to discover “what their writing could be, not what it should be.” The following grid should help you to think of other events, artifacts, content and activities that could be incorporated into the teaching and learning of the creative writing process.

Applying Multiple Intelligences (M.I.) Theory to Creative Writing

Multiple Intelligence Type Incorporated into creative writing Way of demonstrating understanding
Verbal-Linguistic Books, stories, poetry, speeches, author visits Writing stories, scripts, poems, storytelling
Mathematical-Logical Exercises, drills, problem solving Grammar, mechanics, usage
Musical-Rhythmic Tapes, CD’s, concert going Performing, singing, playing, composing
Visual-Spatial Posters, art work, slides, charts, graphs, video tapes, laser disks, CD-ROMs and DVDs, museum visits Drawing, painting, illustrating, graphic design, collage making, poster making, photography
Bodily-Kinesthetic Movies, animations, role plays Dance recital, athletic performance or competition
Interpersonal Teams, group work, specialist roles Plays, debates, panels
Intrapersonal Reflection time, meditation exercises Journals, memoirs, diaries, personal growth
Naturalist Aquariums, botanical garden and zoo visits, nature walks, museum visits Collecting, classifying, writing field notes about various flora and fauna
Existential Working on causes, charity work Using logic, writing about religion, philosophy, etc.

It’s not how smart you are; it’s how you are smart. Howard Gardner