Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Staying Inspired While Learning About UDL
Now, I'm lucky. I know many great educators, but today I visited with one of my all-time favorites: Justin Metz. Justin teaches vocal music in various classrooms, ranging from kindergarten to high school, for the Fargo, North Dakota School District. He's just in his fourth year of teaching, yet he kicks my 20-years-of-teaching butt when it comes to innovation in the classroom. Let me explain...
Justin is driven by a great love of music and people. He is committed to assisting EVERY student he sees to reach their potential---potential the student might not even see in him/her self. His brilliance and incredible musical talent enable him to create amazing learning activities for his classroom.
Justin teaches a class called "Adaptive Music." This is a course Justin designed for kids classified as severely or profoundly handicapped. "But I hate that word 'handicapped'," Justin said. "I'd rather say 'challenged." I immediately thought of Aimee Mullins' rant on her TEDTalk about much she hates the word disabled. Justin's rant wasn't quite so long, but it was comparable. (BTW...this is another reason I love him). Here is another:
Justin wanted to do something special with his adaptive music kids that would feature each child in a special way. So, Justin used his many gifts (and some terrific technology) and created a modified version of the great play The Wizard of Oz. It is an amazing piece of educational creativity, for Justin found ways to let each child shine. One boy who cannot speak played the Wizard and was given a button to push. Each time he pressed his button (on cue, of course), it would say, "No!"
"Can I have a heart, Wizard?"
Another girl in the class cannot speak, but she can manage four different buttons. So Justin wrote the script so that she had four different "lines" to "say." He recruited the assistant principal to narrate and invited friends, family, and other students to the final performance. They performed to a full room. After the show, "the wizard's" mother approached Justin in tears: "No one has ever done anything like that for my child." Wow. What a moment...it gives me goosebumps.
Thanks for the inspiration, Justin. You are an amazing educator!
Comments with Justin Metz