Marty Keltz – The Road to Not Perfect

Click on the Image Above to Watch the  YouTube  This story always amazes me. It is both shocking and inspiring – a testament to human resilience. perseverance and creativity. But it also makes me wonder how many kids, how many “different” and exquisitely unique souls, we’ve lost due to our insistence that everyone learn the same thing the same way. It’s time we started celebrating and embracing diversity, finding ways to help each child find and grow his or her special abilities. Our future depends on what and how we teach our kids.  – Jena...

Hey, I Can Do That!

by Marty Keltz and Jena Ball Anyone who’s been in education any length of time knows the feeling. A TED talk, blog post or quote shared by a colleague reignites your passion for teaching; a child’s eyes light up as she discovers the answer to a question; and something you hear in a Twitter chat makes you sit up, take notice and think, “Hey, I can do that!” We call those feelings, “aha moments,” and we’ve been having them for several weeks now during a Twitter chat called, #Edtechbridge. Despite its techie title, the real power of #Edtechbridge lies in the bridges participants are forging between industrial era, one-size fits all approaches to education – which quality test children like cars coming off an assembly line – and 21st century models, which stress the importance of teaching the whole child by finding and nurturing what makes each unique. Educators who show up for #Edtechbridge not only articulate, discuss and suggest real-world solutions to issues facing teachers, but propose alternative, some might say disruptive, approaches to educational reform as well. That many of these discussions include technology is to be expected, but are nothing new. The equivalent of today’s Genius Hour and Maker Movement were already happening in the mid 1960s during the Media Literacy movement, and were supported, in part, by the first federal title grants (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) under Lyndon Johnson. What distinguishes #Edtechbridge is the opportunity to meet and collaborate with a global community of educators who not only inspire but empower one another as well. The best and most exciting example of empowerment we...

The Butterfly Challenge

I invite you to take a close look at the images above. Notice that some remarkable, almost unheard of things are happening in these classrooms where the Not Perfect Hat Club has been enthusiastically embraced. The classroom on the left is a group of thirteen 7th and 8th grade “Special Ed” students in Whitehall, New York. The class on the right is a group of eighteen 3rd graders in the rural town of Webster, Iowa. The Not Perfect Hat Cub concept and its goals – to celebrate differences and give every kid a place to hang a hat – was introduced to the students in Whitehall at the start of the school year. The students, and their enterprising teacher Deb Aubin, made the Not Perfect Hat Club their own, raising more than $600 by designing, sewing, marketing and selling Not Perfect Hats not only to other students, teachers and families, but to local businesses and even some overseas customers as well. You can read about their extraordinary journey and the resulting news coverage here: Not Perfect Hat Club on CBS6: http://critterkin.com/2015/02/not-perfect-hat-club-on-cbs6/ Special Education Students Soar to New Heights: http://mittaubs.blogspot.com/2015/03/special-education-students-soar-to-new.html It should come as no surprise then that when Tammy Massman’s third grade class in Iowa began its own Not Perfect Hat Club project, the students in Whitehall were eager to help. Using Skype, the two teachers brought the students together for a crash course in Not Perfect Hat Club manufacturing and selling. The Whitehall students did a fantastic job of describing the process of deciding how much and what kind of fabric to buy, itemizing the costs for supplies (fabric, thread,...

Disruptive Crowdfunding

Disruptive Crowdfunding by Marty Keltz  I want to congratulate #edtechbridge, Steven Isaacs (@mr_isaacs),  Katya Hott (@katyamuses) and PledgeCents for an excellent chat Wednesday. The stated topic for the chat was crowdfunding options for educators, but quickly deepened to include a discussion of the motives behind crowdfunding. Yes, funding for schools has been cut and teachers need to find ways to pay for things like band instruments, new technologies and art supplies. However, the root of the problem goes deeper than that. Beginning with the “Back To Basics Movement,” and on through “No Child Left Behind” and “Race To the Top,” priorities and dollars have shifted away from teaching the whole child to teaching for the test. We have to be doing more than just purchasing new tech to automate learning and to teach digital citizenship. I realize that what I am suggesting may seem disruptive, even subversive, but it is nothing new. The concept of using multi-media as a way to teach the whole child dates back to the “Media Literacy” movement of the 1960’s and 70’s. We believed that if education was multimedia/modal we could empower children with all kinds of learning styles to be storytellers and story consumers while teaching emotional skills such as empathy, compassion and kindness. I see a lot of similarities between what we were trying to accomplish in the Media Literacy Movement and what I am hearing on a daily basis in chats around the world. So I urge you to think beyond raising funds to buy technology and equipment, because the equipment and technology you purchase are just the tools. It’s equally...

Frogs, Colanders, Ice Cream and Not Perfect Hats

 The Magic of Not Perfect Hats!  I know, I know that’s an impossibly long title for a blog post, but I couldn’t resist, and it really should have been longer! What do frogs, antennae, ice cream birthday cakes, fake purple hair, colanders, pirates, jelly beans, blueberries , lemons and red apples all have in common? Not Perfect Hats and a wonderfully imaginative, up-for-anything-class of second graders willing to ponder what it means to be “Not Perfect” by creating Not Perfect Hats. The results of our efforts are pictured above. The amazing thing to me was that every student knew exactly what his or her hat said about his or her personality.  “I’m a birthday kind of girl,” said Amy. “I like tall hats and lots of presents.” Billy said that he liked frogs and blueberries. The connection between the two still isn’t clear to me, but judging by the big grin on his face, it was something funny. Then there was Joshua who drew what looked like a house, but turned out to be a “Hat Jar”for jelly beans (he likes the orange ones best). All in all, it was a laughter filled hour in which the kids and I discussed everything from why certain colors make us smile and why it’s impossible to be perfect. We also had a lively debate about Joshua’s jelly beans and decided that butterflies should come in shades of aqua marine, hot pink and lime green.  It was quite a visit that left me feeling energized and amazed by the curiosity, creativity and compassion that come so naturally to kids. It also left...