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...

Perfectly Not Perfect X 18

  Click HERE or on the Image to read the Complete Story It’s been almost a year since I first met the third graders  you see pictured above, and if there’s one thing they’ve taught me it’s that each and every kid is special. Each and every kid brings a unique set of experiences, memories, abilities and dreams to a class, which in turn becomes its own laboratory of learning. In the hands of a teacher like Tammy Massman, it’s a chance for each child to evolve, explore, practice real-world skills and learn the all important lesson that no one is perfect. Or, as my friend Rylee likes to say, “You can only be perfect at being yourself.” Yesterday, something extraordinary happened as a result of our work together on the Not Perfect Hat Club in Tammy’s class. You can read all about it in the terrific article written by  Teresa Wood at The Daily Freeman Journal entitled, ” NEH third-grader’s project, blog capture national attention.” It goes without saying that we are proud as punch of Rylee, but it wouldn’t be fair not to acknowledge and celebrate the teacher and classmates whose laughter, tears, and unflagging joie de vivre made it possible for Rylee to shine. Each and every one of  Rylee’s classmates is extraordinary in his or her own way. Each and every one has touched my heart and challenged me to keep working on my own dreams. By way of illustration, I like to tell the story of  logging onto Twitter to find a Tweet from the class. “Is your new book done? Can you send it to...

The ELLEN Show Features the NPHC’s First Kid Blogger

 Rylee and Opie We’re excited to report that Not Perfect Hat Club member, Rylee Keehn, has been featured on the ELLEN show’s website! The article is based on the blog Rylee wrote for the Not Perfect Hat Club’s Kid Blog on February 26, 2015. Entitled, “You Can Only be Perfect at Being Yourself,” the blog talks about the importance of seeing yourself as awesome, as opposed to perfect, and tells the story of Rylee’s new project – making clothes for homeless dogs. We could not be happier that the Not Perfect Hat Club has begun its global journey via the ELLEN show. Helping children understand that no one is perfect, and to think of themselves as awesome, is at the heart of the Not Perfect Hat Club mission. We want every kid to have a place to hang a hat and give them entertaining and fun ways to explore differences and learn empathy, compassion and kindness. To learn more about how you can earn rewards and support the Not Perfect Hat Club,...

Consciously Kind

“There’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”  – Scott Adams Three years ago, while sipping a grande Americano at my favorite table at my favorite Starbucks in Cary, North Carolina the word “CritterKin” popped into my head.  As a writer, words pop in and out of my head all the time, but this one was different.  I liked the meaning – animals (critters) are family (kin) – and the childlike, playful sound it made as I whispered it aloud to myself. Here was a word that had lots to say, and I could hardly wait to get started. Writing each of the books in the CritterKin series (there are four now with a fifth on its way) has been a conscious act of kindness. Every time I sit down to write a new book, I give my characters another piece of the kindness puzzle to figure out. Kindness, you see, is a catchall word. It’s used so much and in so many situations that its meaning gets watered down. Ask any elementary school student what kindness means and you’re liable hear meaningless cliches like, “Nice, good, neat,” or as one creative second grader put it, “nice means I can’t hit my brother.” To really get myself and kids thinking about what it means to be kind, I started writing stories that would let us explore why people are unkind. I wrote about Ricky Bobby, a paralyzed puppy mill survivor whose life was saved by an act of kindness. I based another book on an exuberant dachshund who...