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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Saturday, February 27, 2010

In My Heart

In everything I do

In everything I see

In every thought I think

In every word I speak

I want

No matter how difficult


Or even dangerous it is to be


In my heart

Because the people in this world

Are worth it

~ Adam Stuart
Feb 27, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Read With A Purpose

"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention." ~ Francis Bacon (16th century English philosopher)

When you take the time to figure out what your purpose is for reading the story before you, you greatly increase your chances of retaining what it is you read.

Having a definite purpose for what you are doing unleashes a new level of ability to achieve that purpose. This is what I mean when I encourage you to read and learn actively. 

Practice this and see if you don't have a better feeling while you read. Notice if you don't sit up straighter and your eyes become more focused on the words and the meaning they bring to the story. The brain loves to make sense of what it is doing and consciously knowing why you are reading a particular story not only helps you make more sense of it, but make more sense of it much faster.

I am not a speed reader. I am a speed understander.
~ Isaac Asimov ~

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Joseph Addison  ~

That is a good book which is opened with
expectation and closed in profit.
~ Amos Bronson Alcott ~
When I look back, I am so impressed again
with the life-giving power of literature.
If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of
myself in the world, I would do that again by reading,
just as I did when I was young.
~ Maya Angelou ~

To feel most beautifully alive means to be reading something beautiful,
ready always to apprehend in the flow of language the sudden flash of poetry.
~ Gaston Bachelard ~

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

That Inner Light Must Be Turned On

A middle school teacher came into my room to observe some of my students she'll have next year. I asked her about the student I had last year whom I'm currently working on a super hero/educational comic book with this year. She shook her head and told me he's not doing well. When I asked why she told me things that were wrong with him.

When I mentioned how much he grew last year (probably as much if not more than any other student in the country - 700+ points in math and 865 in reading, when @100 points is equivalent to one year's worth of growth) she told me even more of what was wrong with him. It hit me this morning that her jaw had clenched and face tightened as she said this....almost as if she was fighting to justify why he wasn't learning this year...i.e. why in no way was it her fault

I tried planting some seeds of how she could help him grow by mentioning some things I did with him that worked, like finding out what was right about him (his love of drawing super heroes). It didn't seem the "soil" was very fertile planting ground though. Her mind seemed set on why his current failure was his fault and not hers.....and everything that was wrong with him v. right............whereas last year my mindset was on where was his failure WAS my fault, what was right already about him, and how I could change my teaching to allow his strengths to help him succeed.

Whatever I was doing in the first part of the year wasn't working, and in a parent-teacher-administration meeting I took the blame for it

I began to try a new approach with him.......and it didn't work

So I tried something different....and that didn't work either

It wasn't until mid-year that I became a much better student of him that I learned how to become a much better teacher for him

But this process wasn't possible without taking full responsibility for where I was failing, learning from my failures, trying a new, more intelligent approach.....and continuing to try UNTIL I found an approach that worked.

If someone like Edison can try 1,000's of times to figure out how to invent something like the light bulb, can't we as teachers and parents try at least more than a couple of times with these young human beings that have been placed in our care?

We know when we're born that light bulb is on, illuminating us with all that is good about us and all that is possible in this brand new wonderful world.

That light goes out in way too many of us way too soon. But that doesn't mean the bulb is broken. It just needs to be rewired and then relit.

And we must find a way to do that.

"Mr. Stuart, one day a kid just like me is going to be reading a comic book written by me."

I just heard what he said to me at the end of last year.

This year it seems less likely that will ever happen.

You don't give up on your most important dreams simply because the light has gotten dimmer on them.

It means you put more energy towards making it burn even brighter.

I'll make sure when I call him today that his inner dream light floods out the darkness beginning to surround him.

And I'll keep doing it until he's able to do it on his own.........His dreams depend on it.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Einstein's Brain Wasn't Bigger

He just used more of it than what the average person did, and still does use, which is @3-5%.

We ALL can learn (or relearn) to use more of our brain at any time, at any age. Case in point, my daughter Sofia can't get on FCAT Explorer because there are no programs designed for 2nd grade. As her father I thought, "Well, how CAN I make it possible for her to have access to these learning programs?"

I discovered I can set her up in her own classes, allowing her to begin at the lowest levels available. In reading she is doing the 3rd grade program, and in math and science she is doing the 5th grade programs.  I told her the questions would be hard, but not impossible if she thought them through.

She completed the first reading story, getting 4 out of 6 questions right on her own, and the other 2 right after being given a hint.

She is doing the science program and although much harder (because it's at a 5th grade reading level and asks questions about matter, mass, volume and density), she is doing even better, getting 5 out of the first 6 questions correct on her own, and the other one correct after guidance.

She looked at me with tears in her eyes. I asked her if those were tears because she loved me, or tears because she hated me asking her to try doing such hard problems.

She said she was crying because of how much I believed in her.......

Maybe when we learn to use more of our brains, we also learn to use more of our hearts.
We apply this to education, and learning can go from teachers pressured to teach to the test and students studying just to get "good grades", to teachers teaching to the hearts and minds of the future, and students studying to become fearless and free.

*I haven't had time to download any new pictures since school started last fall, but it has allowed me to  rediscover old pictures, which are bringing a giant smile to my face....and enough energy to bring this love and belief to all my students this week.
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