Presentations by Dr. Thomas Armstrong*

For information about fees or to book a presentation: 

Email:  thomas@thomasarmstrong.com

Call:     707-894-4646

Fax:     707-894-4474

Write:  Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D.
              P.O. Box 548
             Cloverdale, CA 95425

Save on travel expenses and fees by booking a videoconference.  Contact us about details.   We use Pinnacle Communications as a videoconferencing facility. 

   Presentation Topics

Keynotes

The Best Schools:  How Human Development Research Should Inform Educational Practice 

This presentation (based on Dr. Armstrong?s ASCD book of the same name) explores how educators have spent too much time engaging in an ?academic achievement discourse,? and not enough time participating in a ?human development discourse? focused on developmentally-appropriate teaching methods.  Dr. Armstrong describes key developmental features of good schools at four levels of education: 1) early childhood education and the importance of play, 2) elementary school education and the need to teach kids how the world works, 3) middle schools and the necessity of emphasizing social, emotional, and meta-cognitive learning, and 4) high schools, and the need to preparing students for an independent life in the real world.  The keynote ends with practical suggestions for creating "best schools" models that meet the developmental needs of every child/adolescent.

8 Kinds of Smart:  Building on a Child's Assets for Success in School and Life

This keynote shows how Howard Gardner?s theory of multiple intelligences provides a powerful  tool through which all students abilities can be highlighted and worked with to improve student motivation, self-esteem, and academic achievement.  The presentation includes interactive experiences, a PowerPoint presentation connecting theory to practice, a hands-on demonstration, and a practical lesson planning tool educators or parents can use to tailor instructional strategies linked to specific academic outcomes.

Awakening the Genius in Every Child:  Discovering and Reviving the Natural Motivation that Exists in All Children at Birth

Through slides, lecture, and experiences, Dr. Armstrong shows how each child is born into this world as a natural genius (the root meaning of "genius" is "to be born").  First, he describes the twelve qualities of the natural genius in children: creativity, vitality, flexibility, curiosity, playfulness, humor, imagination, wisdom, wonder, joy, flexibility, and inventiveness, Then he enumerates the neurological, developmental, and behavioral foundations of genius in kids.  After that, he explains how the natural genius shuts down through influences in the home ("home-miliation"), the school ("dysteachia"), and the broader culture ("media-ocrity"). Finally, he provides practical strategies that parents or educators can use to help reawaken a child's natural genius in the classroom or the home.

The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing:  Making the Words Come Alive!

This keynote shows educators or parents how to help children develop literacy skills by linking words to images, music, logic, emotions, physical expression, social context, oral language, and nature.  Dr. Armstrong draws upon recent neuropsychological research in showing how reading and writing skills are whole brain activities, and he provides practical tips and suggestions for teaching everything from phonics to reading comprehension using whole brain strategies.

The Myth of the ADHD Child: Challenging the Growing Medicalization of Attention and Behavior in Our Classrooms

This keynote challenges the current use of the medical model to explain attention and behavioral differences in children. The first part of the talk looks at the problems with the ADD/ADHD paradigm, including criticisms of its fundamental assumptions, its assessments and its treatments. The second part provides alternative ways of explaining behavior and attention difficulties, including gender differences, social and cultural factors, psychological influences, and styles of learning. The third part presents a wide rawnge of non-medical strategies that parents and educators can use to help children attend and behave.

The Human Odyssey:  Navigating the Twelve Stages of Life

In this presentation, Dr. Armstrong takes participants on an experiential journey via PowerPoint slides from the earliest moments of conception to the last moments of death & dying, so as to enable them to have a deeper appreciation for the entire sweep of life.  On the way, he synthesizes information from a broad range of traditions, including psychology, brain research, anthropology, sociology, world literature, the arts, mythology, religion, and philosophy.  Toward the end of the presentation, Dr. Armstrong suggests how to use the knowledge gleaned from this quick journey through of the human life cycle to help transform oneself, one's family and friends, and one's community. 

Neurodiversity:  Celebrating Abilities in a Culture of Disability

This session provides a new perspective on diversity by showing how adults and children with special needs (including ADHD, learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and developmental disabilities) can be looked upon in a more positive way by seeing each person in terms of their strengths rather than their weaknesses.   Dr. Armstrong examines findings in evolutionary psychology, neuropsychology, anthropology, and other fields to show that what we regard as ?disabilities? in our culture may have at other times and cultures been considered assets and advantages.  Using this new and inclusive concept of ?neurodiversity? (first developed in the Aspergers or ?aspie? community), Dr. Armstrong argues for a radically new approach to special education based upon deep respect and the celebration of natural brain differences.

Keynotes are also available as breakout sessions or half-day workshops.

Breakout Sessions

8 Ways to Read and Write:  Building a Literacy Program for a Diverse Student Population

This session shows how the theory of multiple intelligences (MI theory) provides a framework for developing strategies to teach literacy skills, including phonemic awareness, vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and reading comprehension, in ways that improve academic achievement for students who traditionally have difficulty with commercial literacy programs.  Dr. Armstrong demonstrates practical examples and shows how literacy skills can be taught in at least eight different ways to reach students with different learning needs.  Dr. Armstrong also shows how MI theory can be used to generate a more diverse library of books and other literacy materials that express the different intelligences, and also illustrates specific "literacy styles" that show how different students process the experience of reading and writing.

8 Ways of Teaching:  How to Teach Practically Anything Using Multiple Intelligences

This session provides practical lesson-planning tools using mind-mapping and brainstorming to generate instructional strategies geared to specific educational objectives. After demonstrating examples from math, science, literature, history, and other content areas, Dr. Armstrong opens up the session to large and small-group brainstorming showing how virtually any subject area or skill can be taught using the eight intelligences. (Note: if not following the keynote, this session begins with a brief overview of the theory of multiple intelligences).

ADHD Alternatives in the Classroom:  25 Practical Strategies to Improve Behavior and Attention Span in All Kids

This session provides an in-depth look at twenty-five specific strategies that can be used to help children with attention and behavior problems, including visualization, relaxation, music, physical movement, nutrition, positive discipline, and peer-teaching.  (Note: if not following Dr. Armstrong's keynote "The Myth of the ADHD Child," this session begins with a brief overview of Dr. Armstrong’s criticisms of the ADHD paradigm, and a look at alternative ways of viewing the child with attention or behavioral difficulties.)

The 12 Gifts of the Human Life Cycle:  Nourishing Ourselves, Our Families, and Our Communities by Understanding the Needs of Each Stage of Life

In this session, Dr. Armstrong describes the twelve stages of life (pre-birth, birth, infancy, early childhood, middle childhood, late childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, midlife, mature adulthood, late adulthood, and death & dying) and the particular gift that each stage offers to humanity (potential, hope, vitality, playfulness, imagination, ingenuity, passion, enterprise, contemplation, benevolence, wisdom, and life).  After describing these gifts, he then enumerates specific factors that are suppressing these gifts in our culture, and shows how we can overcome these obstacles and ultimately bring the benefits of each gift to full fruition in our own lives and in the lives of our families, friends, and community members.

Breakout sessions are also available as half-day workshops.

Workshops (half-day)

The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing:  Making the Words Come Alive

This workshop is based on Dr. Armstrong's ASCD book "The Multiple Intelligences of Literacy:  Making the Words Come Alive."  In this workshop, Dr. Armstrong describes the eight kinds of smart in the theory of multiple intelligences (MI theory), and illustrates the rich neurological, cultural and historical links that each of the intelligences have with the printed word.  After a brief introduction to MI theory, Dr. Armstrong has participants interact with several types of text in showing how words are connected to imagery, musical intonation, physical expression, nature, oral language, feelings, social context, and logic.  In each case he provides tips for educators on how to make these kinds of connections in the classroom. He then takes participants on a trip through the world of literacy from micro- to macro- levels of complexity, showing how phonics, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, reading comprehension, and other literacy skills can be taught in at least eight different ways.  He also illustrates different literacy styles based upon the eight intelligences, and shows how educators can provide books and other literacy materials for students that actively connect words to one or more of the other intelligences.  Finally, using brainstorming and mind-mapping strategies, Dr. Armstrong leads participants in a process of creating their own literacy strategies and lesson plans utilizing all eight of the intelligences. 

Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom:  Responding to Student Diversity with Practical Instructional Strategies

This workshop begins with Dr. Armstrong reviewing the eight intelligences of Howard Gardner?s theory of multiple intelligences (MI theory) through interactive experiences. He then helps participants explore their own multiple intelligences through self-assessment and group sharing, and provides a PowerPoint slide presentation giving the connections of the theory to brain research, symbol systems, cultural diversity, and developmental psychology.  He also shows participants how to teach MI theory to their students, and shares specific tips for identifying multiple intelligences in the classroom. After this, Dr. Armstrong teaches participants a concept using all eight intelligences, then shares a mind-mapping tool they can use to teach anything through the eight intelligences. Finally, after demonstrating examples, he facilitates group brainstorming sessions where participants generate strategies from their own teaching experience. [Note: This workshop is for a K-12 audience, but can also be customized for early childhood, elementary, middle school, high school, or college levels.)

Awakening the Genius in Every Child:  Reviving the Natural Motivation to Learn that Everyone is Born With

This workshop offers parents or educators a radically new way of conceiving each child as a genius in the original sense of the word ("to give birth to joy in learning"). Participants first learn about the neurological and evolutionary basis for natural genius in children.  They then look at those elements in the classroom, the home, and the media, that serve to blunt or repress this natural genius quality in their students. Finally, they explore practical ways in which they can help their children or students (and themselves) reawaken their natural birthright to the genius experience. Participants have the opportunity in this workshop to explore moments in their lives (and their children's lives) when their natural genius was suppressed or supported.