Stuart's Spectacular Students

This is dedicated to my amazing students. The goal is for each and every one of them to feel unstoppable by the time they walk out of the classroom door for the final time in May. This chronicles their journey; their own Chronicles of Self-Actualization.

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Monday, June 09, 2008



"All our dreams can come true - if we have the courage to pursue them." - Walt Disney

"Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others." -- Sir Winston Churchill

"If there is one thing upon this earth that mankind love and admire better than another, it is a brave man, -- it is the man who dares to look the devil in the face and tell him he is a devil." -- James A. Garfield

"Courage is the thing. All goes if courage goes." -- J.M. Barrie

Sunday, June 08, 2008

You Guys Are Making Me Sick


(*Although my posts are all intended to be uplifting and positive and have picture media releases for all students, some anonymous person(s) have gone to others causing a problem and I have been asked not to post any more pictures of students in order to protect me from losing my job.

That is too bad, and I argued for keeping them for the wonderful stories they tell, but in the end said "I wouldn't", and I will kill myself keeping my word once given. It's one of the few important things I am in complete control of, doing what I say I'll do.

I'll work on finding a solution to the problem over the summer, but until further notice, no pictures or even first names will be published, no links to outside blogs, and all blogs set to private where possible. And, I will choose in the meantime to focus on the "sick" success of the students v. letting this latest challenge make me sick.

As a substitute for the pictures, I have found some of the 5th grade banquet where two other teachers (hidden by masks) and I performed as the Jonas Brothers to their song, "Kids of the Future".

I also found one picture of my son by himself, and I understand why he's as full of life as is his father. We both tend to push the envelope a little too far for the comfort of others, but much to the joy of the universe. We both do what supposedly can't be done....Brosden, who doesn't like school, grew by well over a year on the same tests mentioned below.)

Thank you students of Room 208. This is for you:

One morning last week as I came down the hall and around the corner to my classroom, I saw my class sitting on the floor reading quietly. Looking up at me with their happy smiling faces, I made my way through them towards the door, and said in my best pretending-to-be-angry voice, "You guys are making me sick".

I looked back at them as I opened the door, and said, "I am getting sick-and-tired of you succeeding at ridiculous levels. The national test results just came in and your scores were unreal. Get in here so we can celebrate!"

I had just come from a morning meeting (of which I was on time for, thank you) where we were handed the results of the national reading and math tests. Although not seen as challenging as the state tests (of which the results are late in arriving, no thank you) these national tests are the last two in two long weeks of testing, and it's challenging to get them to give their best when they're sick-and-tired of being tested.

Many, many students scored in the top 20%, 10% and even 1% of the country, truly the best of the very, very best.

I was looking at the score of a child who didn't score so high, and perhaps with my face indicating I was wondering if I failed this student, the principal told me to look at the student's scores from last year.

When I did, she had grown 3 years in reading and 2 in math!

I began comparing all students' scores, and when the principal came in the file room to see how much the growth was I said, "You're right! Her scores are sick. They're all sick!" Some students had grown by as much as 4.5 years academically based on their scores.

If they're not at the top of the country, they sure as heck-fire are getting there! They have PROVEN that IT IS POSSIBLE to change the reality of your life....because they have done it....and if they continue this rate of growth, will become the best of themselves too!

And they have shown us all that WE CAN ALL DO IT! Whatever it is......beginning with the thoughts we think and feelings we feel.

Throughout the year their thinking and belief systems were constantly challenged by such controversial and envelope-pushing declarations as:

"The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and for the most part.....they deserve to.....because they do the things that either make them richer or poorer.

The truly wealthy save and invest their money to make more...and the truly impoverished spend more than they make. If you want to be richer, start spending less and start investing more.

The same goes for the strong get stronger and the weak get weaker, due to their habits of mind and body. Who do you usually see exercising? ....Those already in shape! The fit burn more calories than they consume......While those out of shape continue to eat more calories than they burn off.

And undoubtedly true is that the smart get smarter and the dumb get dumber! Yes, I said 'dumb'.

Look, quit complaining how unfair the world is. Look at yourself honestly in the mirror, and if you don't like what you see....CHANGE IT by CHANGING YOU!

If you are among the lowest thinkers/performers in the class, you have to start thinking and performing the most. But who are the ones who participate the most in class, speak up when they don't understand, and put the most thought in their homework?.......The already 'smart' ones, because it's safe. They KNOW they're smart.

Who are the ones who do this the least?...The 'dumb' ones, because it's scary. They've been given little EVIDENCE that THEY ARE smart, so they try to be smart less and less often.

But if you don't like being classified as dumb, then stop doing dumb things! Face your fears! I don't see you as dumb or a failure, so it's time to stop failing and doing dumb things. You are not allowed not to believe in yourself any longer!

If you are not one of the best students in class then YOU WILL learn to give THE BEST EFFORT. You will do MORE than what's required, recognize where EVERYONE around you is better than you are and SEEK THEM OUT as teachers, and ASK MORE QUESTIONS than anyone else in class.

And YOU WILL develop your own gifts and TEACH us!

In a phrase, YOU WANT MORE?............DO MORE and GIVE MORE!

I thank all of them for giving themselves their best, and becoming more than they were. They have all DREAMT BIG, DONE BIG, and BECOME BIG......and made the world better in the process, a process that will have a powerfully positive ripple effect throughout the world in the years to come.

And finally, I thank them for showing us the way we adults can do it too.

In the innocence and purity of children, a truth and beauty can be found; one that shows adults the way home again........Home again to our own truth and beauty.....our own innocence and purity.

From the day we are born to the die we day, the universe is constantly trying to welcome us back home.....and giving us opportunity-after-opportunity to develop the inner strength to get there.

With each challenge comes a gift of growth waiting to be unwrapped.

As Enigma's song Return to Innocence says,

"Don't care what people say,

Just follow you're own way,

Don't give up,

Use the chance to return to innocence."

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Key to All Optical Illusions Discovered
Key to All Optical Illusions Discovered

Jeanna Bryner
Senior Writer
Mon Jun 2, 9:50 AM ET

Humans can see into the future, says a cognitive scientist. It's nothing like the alleged predictive powers of Nostradamus, but we do get a glimpse of events one-tenth of a second before they occur.

And the mechanism behind that can also explain why we are tricked by optical illusions.

Researcher Mark Changizi of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York says it starts with a neural lag that most everyone experiences while awake. When light hits your retina, about one-tenth of a second goes by before the brain translates the signal into a visual perception of the world.

Scientists already knew about the lag, yet they have debated over exactly how we compensate, with one school of thought proposing our motor system somehow modifies our movements to offset the delay.

Changizi now says it's our visual system that has evolved to compensate for neural delays, generating images of what will occur one-tenth of a second into the future. That foresight keeps our view of the world in the present. It gives you enough heads up to catch a fly ball (instead of getting socked in the face) and maneuver smoothly through a crowd. His research on this topic is detailed in the May/June issue of the journal Cognitive Science,

Explaining illusions

That same seer ability can explain a range of optical illusions, Changizi found.

"Illusions occur when our brains attempt to perceive the future, and those perceptions don't match reality," Changizi said.

Here's how the foresight theory could explain the most common visual illusions - geometric illusions that involve shapes: Something called the Hering illusion, for instance, looks like bike spokes around a central point, with vertical lines on either side of this central, so-called vanishing point. The illusion tricks us into thinking we are moving forward, and thus, switches on our future-seeing abilities. Since we aren't actually moving and the figure is static, we misperceive the straight lines as curved ones.

"Evolution has seen to it that geometric drawings like this elicit in us premonitions of the near future," Changizi said. "The converging lines toward a vanishing point (the spokes) are cues that trick our brains into thinking we are moving forward - as we would in the real world, where the door frame (a pair of vertical lines) seems to bow out as we move through it - and we try to perceive what that world will look like in the next instant."

Grand unified theory

In real life, when you are moving forward, it's not just the shape of objects that changes, he explained. Other variables, such as the angular size (how much of your visual field the object takes up), speed and contrast between the object and background, will also change.

For instance, if two objects are about the same distance in front of you, and you move toward one of the objects, that object will speed up more in the next moment, appear larger, have lower contrast (because something that is moving faster gets more blurred), and literally get nearer to you compared with the other object.

Changizi realized the same future-seeing process could explain several other types of illusions. In what he refers to as a "grand unified theory," Changizi organized 50 kinds of illusions into a matrix of 28 categories. The results can successfully predict how certain variables, such as proximity to the central point or size, will be perceived.

Changizi says that finding a theory that works for so many different classes of illusions is "a theorist's dream."

Most other ideas put forth to explain illusions have explained one or just a few types, he said.
The theory is "a big new player in the debate about the origins of illusions," Changizi told LiveScience. "All I'm hoping for is that it becomes a giant gorilla on the block that can take some punches."

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