The Importance of Passion by Sophia Wieber 6 Grade

24 01 2012

“Once you do something you love, you never have work again,” Willie Hill. Your passion is not a burden or any work. It is something you choose to do because you want to, not because of a manacle disallowing you to follow your dream. A boy in high school can choose a class he has a passion for. He will be rapt, attentive and have dexterity of the subject. When he has a job, it would not be work because it is his passion. It will be manifest that he chose a career because he loved it, not because it was easy. He will work efficiently like a child playing a favorite game, because to him, this is the climax to the game of life. If you have a passion, you will succeed in that part of life.

How do I find my passion? by Ryan Q 5th grade

24 01 2012

To find my passion, I experiment and take observations. Experimenting with different subjects is a common practice I do, and I take mental notes and observe anything that could lead to my passion. One little detail that slips past an eye, one little slip, could lose the most intriguing passion I have ever known. I always have my eyes open, my ears listening, and even my nose smelling to catch a passion. These powerful senses are ready to catch those tiny slips, for one missed word on a sign could lose a passion.

I observe to see if something is missing in my life, or if one subject is to empty, or bland. I always finish signs I read the best I can, to discover a possible passion. A passion is influential on a person’s life, and I always am trying to find the most influential one, the one that speaks loudest to me. “Your work is to discover your work, and then with all your heart to give yourself to it,” Buddha.

How Have I Practiced Resilience in a gifted class? Nate Lanza 5th grade

24 01 2012

Resilience is a great trait to have. If you can bounce back, life will be like an eternal trampoline, so when you fall off the high wire, you will simply bounce back. Early in life, you will fail commonly. However, this can be good. Failing builds resilience. The more you fail, the more resilience you will have. When I first came into a full-time GATE classroom, I started too fail miserably. But I learned from my mistakes.Now, I am getting high grades, all due to resilience. I constructed mytrampoline.

Some people use the material provided by failure to build a concrete landing area instead of a trampoline. Some people act perfectionist,fearing failure so much that they don’t try new things. They walk onto the highwire with all the support they can get, intent on not falling at all. However, ifthey let their support do all the work, they will eventually fall, withcatastrophic results. You need resilience. When I fail, I use it to build my trampoline, an example I hope other people follow.

How do I find my passion? Nate Lanza 5th grade

24 01 2012

Finding a true passion is a very difficult task. It’s like trying to steer a massive airplane through a zero visibility storm during a meteor shower. At the start of life, you have no idea what you like, in the way a storm can provide zero visibility. The meteors are the challenges of life, hurling at you as you search for your passion. “I wonder. I wonder why I wonder. I wonder why I wonder why I wonder.”-Richard Feynman. There are many unanswered things out there that you can wonder about. Wondering leads to passion, for at the heart of passion is wonder. That is how I find mypassion.

How Do I Find My Passion? by Lily Brucker 6th grade

24 01 2012

There are many methods of problem solving, but among these is trial and error. Usually brushed aside by less time consuming methods, this can actually be helpful in life. When finding a passion, trial and error is probably more effective than any other mathematical method. Trying many activities, looking up numerous occupations, shines a flashlight in the cave of possibilities. And with that flashlight we find the vein of gold embedded in rock, our passion, waiting to be mined out.

How Would Life be if I had a Passion? By Venec Miller

23 01 2012

Once, there was a boy,

One who wanted a dream.

He tried sports, he tried music,

But then he rode a train.

 Oh the fun they were!

The ones who said, “choo! choo!”

The ones who saved him from the cold,

 That made his lips turn blue.

He knew they were his dream,

He knew they were his life.

He was awed at their beauty,

They could never cause him strife!

He said to himself, years later,

Memory causing him pain,

Three words that described his life:

I Like Trains!

The trains are a metaphor,

Of all that I may like,

Out of all the grand things I can be in life!

Opening Wings by Lindsay Habig 5th grade

23 01 2012

If one was to understand by creating, they would be the smartest person in the universe. They could read words that had never been written. They could sculpt the impossible and believe in the far away lands. They could climb the highest mountain or dive into the deepest sea. If only memorization would be thrown to the mice and grouse that lived in the damp ally. Then, everybody could be this person. Every soul in the world has grown wings, but many souls don’t know how to fly. This person does. Forget the memorizing and reciting. It strips away the questions of the minds and allows blankness to take its place. Many people fall into this trap, but the talented ones, the ones who realize the use of their wings, they are able to fly out. No matter the profession, everyone still has wings, slowly unfolding, just waiting to fly.

The Magnificent Black Widow by Lindsey Habig 5th grade

23 01 2012

“A deadly spider,” as some would say,

But their stunning orb webs blow your mind away!

The female, a black venomous spider indeed,

However the tan males are in lack of that need.

Upon the female abdomen you’d acquire a surprise,

As a colorful hourglass would meet your eyes!

A combined eight types of silk would definitely appeal,

But only the stretchy one will catch the best meal.

The female alone would dine at this feast,

For just after mating, she swallows the fatherly beast!

Latroxin is injected through a powerful bite,

Although with medical care, everything is all right.

This magnificent spider doesn’t need your gracious affair,

It can fend for itself in the cool night air.

The Importance of Passion by Billy Feehan 6th grade

23 01 2012

Life is like climbing a mountain or walking across a plain.

With no passion it’s dull and boring but passion adds motion to the still photo of life.

Climbing a mountain is amazing with the view,

walking across a plain is amazing with the vast sky and the endless stars.

Nothing great the world has been accomplished with out passion.

Be passionate about what you do and enjoy doing it

Brain-Based Praise that Motivates

17 01 2012

In schools, self-esteem boosting is losing favor to rigor, finer-tuned praise

Washington Post

By , Published: January 15

For decades, the prevailing wisdom in education was that high self-esteem would lead to high achievement. The theory led to an avalanche of daily affirmations, awards ceremonies and attendance certificates — but few, if any, academic gains.

Now, an increasing number of teachers are weaning themselves from what some call empty praise. Drawing on psychology and brain research, these educators aim to articulate a more precise, and scientific, vocabulary for praise that will push children to work through mistakes and take on more challenging assignments. Consider teacher Shar Hellie’s new approach in Montgomery County.

To get students through the shaky first steps of Spanish grammar, Hellie spent many years trying to boost their confidence. If someone couldn’t answer a question easily, she would coach him, whisper the first few words, then follow up with a booming “¡Muy bien!”

But on a January morning at Rocky Hill Middle School in Clarksburg, the smiling grandmother gave nothing away. One seventh-grade boy returned to the overhead projector three times to rewrite a sentence, hesitating each time, while his classmates squirmed in silence.

“You like that?” Hellie asked when he settled on an answer. He nodded. Finally, she beamed and praised the progress he was making — in his cerebral cortex.

“You have a whole different set of neurons popping up there!” she told him.

A growing body of research over three decades shows that easy, unearned praise does not help students but instead interferes with significant learning opportunities. As schools ratchet up academic standards for all students, new buzzwords are “persistence,” “risk-taking” and “resilience” — each implying more sweat and strain than fuzzy, warm feelings.

“We used to think we could hand children self-esteem on a platter,” Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck said. “That has backfired.”

Dweck’s studies, embraced in Montgomery schools and elsewhere, have found that praising children for intelligence — “You’re so clever!” — also backfires. In study after study, children rewarded for being smart become more likely to shy away from hard assignments that might tarnish their star reputations.

But children praised for trying hard or taking risks tend to enjoy challenges and find greater success. Children also perform better in the long term when they believe that their intellect is not a birthright but something that grows and develops as they learn new things.

Brain imaging shows how this is true, how connections between nerve cells in the cortex multiply and grow stronger as people learn and practice new skills. This bit of science has proved to be motivating to struggling students because it gives them a sense of control over their success.

It’s also helpful for students on an accelerated track, the ones often told how “smart” they are, who are vulnerable to coasting or easily frustrated when they don’t succeed.

That’s how teachers at Rocky Hill Middle started talking about “neuroplasticity” and “dendritic branching” during training sessions. They also started the school year by giving all 1,100 students a mini-course in brain development.

“This is the most important thing you are going to learn this year,” Hellie said she told her students before playing a YouTube video that explains how brains grow. “It has to do with the way you are going to live the rest of your life — whether you will continue to learn, be curious, have an active, growing brain or whether you are going to sit and let things happen to you.”

An online curriculum called Brainology developed by Dweck and another researcher in 2009 has been used in 300 schools. Joshua P. Starr, the new Montgomery schools superintendent, selected Dweck’s book, “Mindset,” for the inaugural session of a book club he created to introduce his education philosophy.

Dweck’s work builds on other research about motivation and the malleability of intelligence that has stirred significant changes in curriculum, teacher training and gifted instruction in many school districts.

In Fairfax County, for example, students are no longer labeled “gifted” but considered on a spectrum of “novice” to “expert” in each subject — the kind of language that is seeping into teacher praise, said Carol Horn, coordinator of advanced academic programs for Fairfax schools.

Education experts have long warned about the dark side of praise.

Alfie Kohn, author of the book “Punished by Rewards,” has said most praise, even for effort, encourages children to be “praise junkies” dependent on outside feedback rather than cultivating their own judgment and motivation to learn.

Michelle A. Rhee, the former D.C. schools chancellor, often recounts a story about how her daughters’ many soccer trophies are warping their sense of their athletic abilities. Her daughters “suck at soccer,” she said in a radio interview for Marketplace last January.

“We’ve become so obsessed with making kids feel good about themselves that we’ve lost sight of building the skills they need to actually be good at things,” Rhee said.

Underlying the praise backlash is a hard seed of anxiety — a sense that American students are not working hard enough to compete with students from overseas for future jobs.

In an oft-cited 2006 study by the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution, U.S. eighth-graders had only a middling performance on an international math exam, but they registered high levels of confidence. They were more likely than higher performing students from other countries, such as Singapore and South Korea, to report that they “usually do well in mathematics.”

Praise should be relevant to objective standards, said Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education think tank. Whether it’s given to make children feel good or because “at least they tried,” it’s not helpful if students are still “50 yards from proficient,” he said.

“Winning or losing also matters in the real world,” Finn said. “You either beat the enemy or you don’t. You either get the gold medal or you get the silver.”

Dweck said it is important to be clear with children about what proficient or gold-medal performance looks like so they know what to strive for. (Unhelpful: “You were robbed! Those judges must be blind!”)

But she stresses the importance of using praise to encourage risk-taking and learning from failure in the classroom, experiences that make way for invention, creativity and resilience.

“Does the teacher say: ‘Who’s having a fantastic struggle? Show me your struggle.’ That is something that should be rewarded,” she said. “Does the teacher make it clear that the fastest answer isn’t always the best answer? [That] a mistake-free paper isn’t always the best paper?”

Changing the language of praise can be difficult for adults who grew up thinking that an “A for effort” was a consolation prize.

During his book club, Starr recounted how his 3-year-old son recently discovered that the word “brown” starts with B.

“My wife says, ‘You are so smart,’ ” he recalled. When he discouraged her from praising his intelligence, Starr said, “she looked at me like I was crazy.”

Typically, young children don’t second-guess praise. But teenagers understand when feedback is useful and authentic. “Great job!” doesn’t tell them what was great about what they did, experts say.

“They know that everything they do isn’t ‘Magnificent!’ ” Hellie said.

And so her class is becoming accustomed to awkward silence.

The same January morning, another seventh-grade boy struggled to figure out what was wrong with this sentence: Un chico soy inteligente.

One classmate started to answer, but Hellie stopped her. Another classmate volunteered, in newly acquired vocabulary, why the boy needed to persist on his own. “He’s trying to connect pathways in his brain or whatever,” she said.

Finally, the boy understood.

“Soy un chico inteligente,” he said.

“What does it mean?” the teacher asked.

“I am an intelligent boy?”

The class broke into applause.


Free at Last (Reflections on Martin Luther King) by Venec Miller 6th grade

16 01 2012

“Free at last, Free at last!”

Martin Luther King Junior’s words rang out like a song jay, echoing through people’s minds, Negros and whites alike, for many years after. They rang like steel on steel, a battle call. They had the poetic flow of Poe, Frost, and many others. They showed the complexity of a wise old man, and the youthful enthusiasm of a young man living his passion.

King pointed out the harsh heat of hatred in Birmingham, Alabama, and Detroit. At the same time, however, he sowed and watered the seeds of the United States of America, the real one, not just the U.S.A. He filled the citizens with hope, and shook a stable social system from its nice concrete casing. He riveted not only the United States, but also the whole world.

These words gave thousands, millions, even billions of people hope. These words permanently changed the history of the world. These words make up one of the most influential speeches of the world.

A Musical Blessing for Teachers

5 01 2012

May you always strike a major chord with your students and the teachers in your life.

May your teaching orchestrate the lives of others and set the tone to sharpen the love of learning.

May you be the key for adding a crescendo to learning and motivation to your students.

May you never miss a beat!

May your lessons never fall flat!

May you make a noteworthy mark in the lives of your students.

May you cause many musical moments in the lives of everyone you meet!

“Music is a language that kindles the human spirit, sharpens the mind, fuels the body and fills the heart.” (Eric Jensen).

Bob Bishop

Myths and Truths about Gifted Children

5 01 2012

Myths about gifted children

  • Gifted students are a homogeneous group, all high achievers.
  • Gifted students do not need help. If they are really gifted, they can manage on their own.
  • Gifted students have fewer problems than others because their intelligence and abilities somehow exempt them from the hassles of daily life.
  • The future of a gifted student is assured: a world of opportunities lies before the student.
  • Gifted students are self-directed; they know where they are heading.
  • The social and emotional development of the gifted student is at the same level as his or her intellectual development.
  • Gifted students are nerds and social isolates.
  • The primary value of the gifted student lies in his or her brain power.
  • The gifted student’s family always prizes his or her abilities.
  • Gifted students need to serve as examples to others and they should always assume extra responsibility.
  • Gifted students make everyone else smarter.
  • Gifted students can accomplish anything they put their minds to. All they have to do is apply themselves.
  • Gifted students are naturally creative and do not need encouragement.

Gifted children are easy to raise and a welcome addition to any classroom.


Truths about gifted children

  • Gifted students are often perfectionistic and idealistic. They may equate achievement and grades with self-esteem and self-worth, which sometimes leads to fear of failure and interferes with achievement.
  • Gifted students may experience heightened sensitivity to their own expectations and those of others, resulting in guilt over achievements or grades perceived to be low.
  • Gifted students are asynchronous. Their chronological age, social, physical, emotional, and intellectual development may all be at different levels. For example, a 5-year-old may be able to read and comprehend a third-grade book but may not be able to write legibly.
  • Some gifted children are “mappers” (sequential learners), while others are “leapers” (spatial learners). Leapers may not know how they got a “right answer.” Mappers may get lost in the steps leading to the right answer.
  • Gifted students may be so far ahead of their chronological age mates that they know more than half the curriculum before the school year begins! Their boredom can result in low achievement and grades.
  • Gifted children are problem solvers. They benefit from working on open-ended, interdisciplinary problems; for example, how to solve a shortage of community resources. Gifted students often refuse to work for grades alone.
  • Gifted students often think abstractly and with such complexity that they may need help with concrete study- and test-taking skills. They may not be able to select one answer in a multiple choice question because they see how all the answers might be correct.
  • Gifted students who do well in school may define success as getting an “A” and failure as any grade less than an “A.” By early adolescence they may be unwilling to try anything where they are not certain of guaranteed success.

Adapted from College Planning for Gifted Students, 2nd edition, by Sandra Berger.

Quotes to Motivate: Passionate-Ignite Your Enthusiasm

3 01 2012

The most beautiful experience in the world is the experience of the mysterious. He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”                                              Albert Einstein

“Practice being excited.”
Bill Foster

“Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.”
George Hegel

“Your work is to discover your work, and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.”                                Buddha

“I would rather live in a world where my life is surrounded by mystery than live in a world so small that my mind could comprehend it.”
Harry Emerson Fosdick

“You only lose energy when life becomes dull in your mind. Your mind gets bored and therefore tired of doing nothing . . . . Get interested in something! Get absolutely enthralled in something! Get out of yourself! Be somebody! Do something . . The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.”
Norman Vincent Peale

“People do their best work when they are passionately engaged in what they are  doing”                                                                                Erie S. Raymond

“There is real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment.”
Norman Vincent Peale

“Wonder rather than doubt is the root of knowledge.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel

“Once you do something you love, you never have to work again.”
Willie Hill, student

“Follow your bliss. Find where it is and don’t be afraid to follow it.”
Joseph Campbell

“All thinking begins with wondering”

“I would sooner live in a cottage and wonder at everything than live in a castle and wonder at nothing!”                                                                                                                                                Joan Winmill Brown

“We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.”
Frank Tibolt, Author

“I want to be excited, thrilled, and ecstatic about all sorts of things as long as I live.”
Win Couchman, Writer and Speaker

“One thing life has taught me: If you are interested, you never have to look for new interests. They come to you. When you are genuinely interested in one thing, it will always lead to something else.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

“Wonder is what sets us apart from other life forms. No other species wonders about the meaning of existence or the complexity of the universe or themselves.”
Herbert W. Boyer

I think that nothing awakens us to the reality of life so much as a true passion.                                                  Vincent Van Gogh

I wonder. I wonder why I wonder. I wonder why I wonder why I wonder.                                                     Richard Feynman

It’s about Time (Creativity for 2012)

1 01 2012

It’s about Time

by Robert Bishop (based on an idea by Joel Barker)

Here is a story for those who have more than a passing interest in time.

About 400 years ago there was a battle over time.  You see, it was around the 1600’s when the first pocket watch was introduced.  Now people had time on their hands. But there were many who thought clocks were meant to be in towers, not in trousers. Perhaps it was because the first model was the size and shape of a lemon.  For the stylish gentleman this meant the convenience of knowing the precise time but did create a rather unsightly bulge in his trousers.

As time passed, it became the fashion to spend time designing thinner watches.  Watch designers worked around the clock and even put in overtime in this race against time to create the thinnest watch.  By the 1700’s the French and British compressed the timepiece to 1 ½ inches thick. One hundred years later they squeezed the mechanism to ¾ of an inch.  By 1850 manufacturers bottomed out at ¾ of an inch.  You could say they were pressed for time.  Surprisingly this is still the thickness of most watches today.

As thinness reached its limit, the watch industry started to rotate the crank turning the gears of price and performance; lower price, more accuracy, lower price, more accuracy.  But, like clockwork, a new battle was about to begin.  It was only a matter of time when the pendulum would swing to a new battlefront.

Allow me to explain. Before WWII the Swiss owned 90% of the watch market.  And even up to 1968 they still enveloped most of the world market share.  But time was running out for the Swiss. In ten years their corner on the market plummeted to almost nothing and they even had to release most of their workers.  This was the original time release formula of downsizing.  What happened?  What time bomb hit the Swiss?  They themselves were enveloped and wrapped up in their old way of thinking. You might say that they were stitched in time.

A new nation soon dominated the watch making industry.  In the past this nation was unknown for watches.  But now Japan led the watch industry.  How could the Swiss,who controlled watch making for the entire 20th century, known for excellence and innovation, experience such a timely demise?  Were they just killing time?  What was the key to the failure of the Swiss and the success of Japan?

The answer was profoundly simple.  The Swiss were put back to ground zero by a paradigm shift — a paradigm gear shift. Many of you are wearing this paradigm shift on your wrist right now if you took time to put them on.  The quartz movement watch is totally electronic using only one moving part. It is one thousand times more accurate, more versatile and even thinner than the mechanical watch.

Who made time to invent this wonderful idea of using Quartz crystals for time keeping? Some of you already know the answer. The Quartz crystal watch was invented by the Swiss themselves in Neuchatel at their research laboratories. But when the researchers presented this idea to their manufacturers they were closed to the idea.  Their minds were locked. How did the              engineers feel about this rejection?

I bet it really ticked them off.

I bet they really wanted to clean their clock.

They may have heard the manufacturers say these timeless killer phrases:

“It doesn’t have any gears to mesh with what we havealways done,”

“We don’t have time for this,”

“This won’t wind up anywhere,”

“What a waste of time,”

“It just doesn’t tick.”

So confident were they, so locked in their mental box– in their “parabox.” They didn’t protect their idea.

They were not watching out for the possible time change.

They must have been “half past” out.

Texas instruments of America and Seiko of Japan took one look and the rest was history.

You see, they made the time.

For them it was good time management, perfect timing.

Time was definitely on their side.

They were having the time of their lives.

They were on a Roll……ex.

But for the Swiss . . . they had no time share in this.

And now they were living on borrowed time.

Things were winding down.

Soon their time would be up.

Yes, they were out of time.

They couldn’t beat the clock.

They took a licking, and kept on ticking.

They virtually disappeared from the marketplace.  They were locked in their old way of thinking — in a box, in a time capsule.  They refused to set their clocks to one of the biggest changes in the history of timekeeping. They were trying to make time stand still.  But you can’t turn back the clock when times change.  The rules had changed.  Not even the best watchmakers of the world could stop time.  They couldn’t call time out to progress.

There is a message here for all of us for all time that will help us remember the moral of this timely parable . . . that will help us be more clockwise. Don’t let old timeworn paradigms imprison your ideas in a box like serving time in a prison cage!! We need to break through the walls to create new ideas and not be behind the times. Only then can we spring open the doors to the future and get outside of the paradigm box!!!

What have you learned??

1 01 2012

Dear parents and teachers,

As we reflect on 2011 and look ahead to 2012, let’s consider if we are instilling a desire in our students a desire for life-long learning.  It was Garrison Keillor who said “Nothing you do for childern is ever wasted.  They seem not to notice us, hovering, averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for them is never wasted.”  Here is something to reflect on in these opening days of 2012.

Please add what you have learned last year…………………….

I’ve Learned………….

I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, & tangled Christmas tree lights.

I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.

I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.”

I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.

I’ve learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others,

your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.

I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.

I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love that human touch – holding hands, a warm hug, or

just a friendly pat on the back.

I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.

Please add what you have learned last year…………………….