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.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Monday, April 21, 2008


Joe Rao Skywatching Columnist
Fri Apr 18, 7:01 AM ET

The planet Mercury is often cited as the most difficult of the five brightest naked-eye planets to see. Because it's the planet closest to the Sun, it never strays too far from the Sun's vicinity in our sky. It is often referred to as "the elusive planet." And there's even a rumor that Copernicus, never saw it, yet it's not really hard to see. You simply must know when and where to look, and find a clear horizon. And for those living in the Northern Hemisphere, a great "window of opportunity" for viewing Mercury in the evening sky is about to open up.


Mercury is called an "inferior planet" because its orbit is nearer to the Sun than the Earth's. Therefore, it always appears from our vantage point to be in the same general direction as the Sun. In the pre-Christian era, this planet actually had two names, as it was not realized it could alternately appear on one side of the Sun and then the other.

Mercury was called Mercury when in the evening sky, but was known as Apollo when it appeared in the morning. It is said that Pythagoras, about the fifth century B.C., pointed out that they were one and the same.

A bright evening "star"

Mercury just passed superior conjunction on April 16, but in the days to come it will bolt out to become easily visible low in the west-northwest at dusk. On Wednesday evening, April 23, Mercury should be visible within about 30 minutes after sunset if your sky is quite clear. Mercury will be shining at magnitude �1.6, slightly brighter than Sirius (the brightest of all stars). In fact, at that particular hour of the day, Mercury will be the brightest object in the sky!

So, if your sky is free of any horizon haze and there are no tall obstructions to your view (like trees or buildings) you should have no trouble in seeing it as a very bright "star" shining with just a trace of a yellowish-orange tinge. By April 30, Mercury will be setting as late as 85 minutes after the Sun. That evening, binoculars may show the Pleiades star cluster 4 degrees directly above it. (Your clenched fist held at arm's length measures about 10 degrees in width.)

In the evenings that follow, Mercury will slowly diminish in brightness, but it will also slowly gain altitude as it gradually moves away from the vicinity of the Sun. This is just the start of Mercury's best apparition of the year for mid-northern viewers. On the evening of May 6, be sure to look for a delicately thin sliver of a 1.5-day old crescent Moon sitting just a couple of degrees above and slightly to Mercury's right.

Pinnacle: May 14

Mercury, like Venus, appears to go through phases like the Moon. Right now, Mercury is a nearly full disk, which is why it starts off appearing so bright. Mercury reaches its greatest elongation, 22 degrees to the east of the Sun, on May 14. Shining at magnitude +0.4 (as bright as the star Procyon in Canis Minor), it will set nearly two hours after the Sun. By the time it arrives at its greatest elongation, it will appear roughly half-illuminated and the amount of its surface illuminated by the Sun will continue to decrease in the days to come. So when it begins to turn back toward the Sun's vicinity after May 14, it will fade at a rather rapid pace.

In fact, on the evening of May 22, Mercury's brightness will have dropped to magnitude +1.7; only 1/20 as bright as it was on April 23. In telescopes it will appear as a narrowing crescent phase. This, in all likelihood will be your last view of it, for the combination of its lowering altitude, plus its descent into the brighter sunset glow will finally render Mercury invisible by the final week of May.

Orbital peregrinations

In old Roman legends, Mercury was the swift-footed messenger of the gods. The planet is well named for it is the closest planet to the Sun (at an average distance of 36 million miles) and the swiftest of the Sun's family, averaging about 30 miles per second; making its yearly journey in only 88 Earth days. Interestingly, the time it takes Mercury to rotate once on its axis is 59 days, so that all parts of its surface experiences periods of intense heat and extreme cold. But we cannot say that a solar day on Mercury lasts 59 days because its highly eccentric orbit causes an effect known as a 3:2 spin�orbit resonance. As a consequence, because Mercury rotates three times for every two times it revolves around the Sun, the time it takes from one sunrise to the next is equal to about 176 days.

So for 88 days, the Sun is constantly above the horizon and surface temperatures soar to nearly 900 degrees F (482-degrees C). Daytime temperatures are high enough to melt zinc and tin. Then comes 88 days of darkness, with surface temperatures plummeting to -300 degrees F (-184 degrees C) — the greatest range of temperatures of any planet.

In fact, on some parts of Mercury's surface, it is even possible to see the Sun briefly reverse its course in the sky. This happens around the time that Mercury arrives at that part of its orbit which places it closest to the Sun (called perihelion), where it's orbital speed can briefly exceed its rotational speed.

At sunrise, this strange effect would cause the Sun to appear to rise above the horizon ... then slow to a halt ... then reverse direction and drop back below the horizon. At sunset, the Sun would drop below the horizon, then pop back up into view before resuming its normal course, ultimately setting again for a second time within a week.

Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York's Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for The New York Times and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester, New York.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Spelling & Vocab Words 4 Week of





Monday, April 14, 2008

Never Lose Hope

I've had to remove all student pictures and videos. I'm sorry.

If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, the quality that helps you to go on in spite of all. And so today I still have a dream.

Martin Luther King, Jr

*Dedicated to Taneicea

VIDEOS ~ Show Me You Understand What You Read (vids 1, 2 & 3)

After failing a test on a book he read, the teacher goes over with the student the missed questions. When the student was asked why he missed questions such as the difference between Mercury's orbit and Neptune's, he didn't know why he couldn't recall that information for the test.

When the student was asked to show the difference between the two planets' orbits, he did it easily.

Kinesthetic, or active, learners can't always get up during a written test, but they can be taught how to see movement in their mind.

This is what Miguel did during the next book he read, and scored a 100%! He began the year basically reading at a 3rd grade level, and as the video shows, is now capable of achieving perfection at the 5th grade level.

The lady in holding "the sun" is Ms. Ammal, who comes in to help Miguel read....and also teach us Arabic!

I've had to remove all student pictures and videos. I'm sorry.

Show Me You Understand What You Read – 2

Show Me You Understand What You Read – 3

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Video ~ Meaningful Spelling Tests, Active Learning & Mutual Respect

While preparing for the final classroom speech contest, we used the misspelled words students were using, to use as the spelling words for that week. I've found that by using the words they are using, but misspelling, for spelling tests, spelling tests have much more meaning to them.

And I really enjoy seeing all the meaningful, purposeful activity in the room. They are engaged, active and excited. And if they aren't, I'll go sit by their desk (or on it as with Hunter), and bring them into the learning. His smile told me I had found something that worked for him.

I am listening to "Hey Jude" on Katie's Ipod. She had asked me if I wanted to listen to something, wanting to share something she liked. By finding a way to accept this invitation to enter her world, while still doing my job (one ear to listen to the song, one to the students) I let her know that what was important to her was also important to me.

In return, when I ask her to stop reading and work on her math or science, she quickly does. A relationship based on mutual respect has been created (in the beginning of the year I had to take her books from her, leaving her with arms crossed and a stubborn frown for several minutes)

I've had to remove all student pictures and videos. I'm sorry.

VIDEO - Spelling Words, Active Learning & Mutual Respect

I've had to remove all student pictures and videos. I'm sorry.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Importance of School?

Thought you guys might like this:

I just asked Brosden and Bella to help me with something, Bella said she was training her internet Webkinz to go to school.

"Yeah, Dad. You always say how important school is." - Brosden

"That's just something we say to get you guys to show up. Now, come upstairs."

And they did. They both laughed, stopped what they were doing, and did what I asked. I think having a sense of humor goes a long way in parenting.

Both mothers will call me up and say, "Talk to your kid. They're not listening."

The bond that is created between two people laughing is at the very least, strong enough to allow me to ask them to listen to their mothers out of simple respect for her. And they will.

Maybe this has less to do with who I am, as oppossed to how I am. Instead of forcing obedience, let it flow from laughter. Instead of demanding respect, let it flow from a respectful heart.

(found these old pictures of Cristina and Sofia having a "no utensils allowed" dinner. When they told me how cool I was, I told them I was just trying to find a way not to have to wash the dishes.)

VIDEOS ~ 1st video on new camera - Late December 2007

I've had to remove all student pictures and videos. I'm sorry.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Turning Criticism Into Feedback

Our little spies, in their exhuberance to "sneak" down the hall to see if the computer lab was open, were a little too sneaky. I got an email from a teacher kindly and appropriately letting me know that you were not too stealth and a little too distracting.

This was a great opportunity for us to talk about how easy it is to turn criticism, constructive or destructive, into fuel for personal growth. All we have to do when we receive criticism is to see it as receiving feedback on our performance.

The amazing things we can accomplish in this world when we see this world as trying to benefit us.

Bring on the Bad ~ We're Bringing the Good

As I write this I again realize how very proud and equally impressed with every member of this class I am. The teacher is only half of the solution, the students are the other. Without you, everything I do is just good intention. You guys turn that into reality....and what a good reality it is :-)

Katie Crying ~ Bring On The Bad cuz We're Bringing the Good!

The video was accidentally cut short, but long enough when I saw it to remind me what it was about. Katie thought she heard others saying they DIDN'T want her to represent the class in the speech contest, and was hurt.

They actually said they most definitely DID want her. But instead of telling her "not to be so sensitive", we talked about the power of feeling so deeply, and developing the inner strength to guide those deep feelings to control yourself and overcome ANY obstacle, including the ones they'll all face in middle school where someone might not want them to do well.

I don't allow negativity or ill thoughts in the classroom, it is a very safe and protective environment. However, in order to prevent this from weakening them from preparation for the real world, I also build their self-esteem so much that another's, or even many others, criticisms and doubts WILL NOT STOP THEM from continuing to DREAM and DO BIG.

The neat trick we're playing on this sometimes ugly and cruel world they're heading into, is that not only will they not be stopped by it, but they WILL OVERCOME it, and..........HELP others conquer it too!

Go ahead, bring on the bad. Just know we're bringing the good, and believe me, it's very strong and the good is very "bad"!

School bullies are a real problem. I just saw on the news how six girls lured another girl to a "friend's" home and beat her up while two boys stood guard outside.

This is an extreme case. I don't want to scare you and it IS NOT likely to happen to you. But I don't care if it rarely happens. It shouldn't happen at all! And YOU all have great power in stopping it.

What if we turned this problem inside-out, and started sending kids away from us feeling so good about themselves that they weren't lacking so much that they felt they had to take it away from others via emotional, psychological and physical abuse?


Well we are!!!!!! Everyone in Room 208 IS doing this. You are TOO STRONG to worry about fitting in, being liked or disliked by the popular groups, or being harassed or bullied. And for the rest of your life, you can always turn to your parents and your 5th grade teacher when you need to.

Now, can you imagine being so strong in this area you could help the bullies feel better about themselves so they didn't have to take it away from others who are not as strong as you? No one wants to hurt someone who makes them feel good about themselves.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Reflections on Today's Speech

Congratulations to all the speakers in today's contest, especially our own Courtney, Katie and Kristen. Everyone did very well, and as I took notes on something I could learn from each one, I became inspired by their courage. Many adults would not have continued on after stumbling, or, as in Kristen's case, even gone up to speak right after someone spoke on the very same topic!!!!

I am impressed and inspired.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Go Team....Go Me! ~ Can You Imagine?

These are pictures and video from yesterday (yes - there's no sound on the video)

But just a quick thought. Kansas has won the College National Basketball Championship, with thousands of fans rooting for them, going crazy for them, pulling for them, and cheering them on to victory.

Can you imagine believing in yourself as much as thousands of people believe in their favorite team? Can you imagine what you would accomplish if you gave yourself this much energy? This much confidence? This much hope?

Can you imagine what your life would be like? Can you imagine the skills and talents you would UNDOUBTEDLY develop? Can you imagine what that would look like? Feel like? Sound like?

if you became one of the best in the world at something you LOVED to do? worked UNTIL you dev? Can you imagine???????

Spelling & Vocab for Week of April 7th

Thank you for this Easter e-card Sandria. I am behind in my emails but nonetheless it really touched my heart (click here)

Remember to read your AR books and study your new spelling and vocab words, which are:




cognizant (When you clean around the printer you need to be cognizant of not pulling out the cable.) *Congrats to Luis for figuring out it means, "to be aware".)

Edgar Allen Poe

William Shakespeare

Jerry Lewis

Gary Cooper

Dean Martin

Frank Sinatra

Count Basie

Put these two sentences into one coherent sentence:


***Good luck tomorrow on the speech contest, Kristen, Katie and Courtney!!!! We're proud of you and what you've already done.

I also really appreciated getting an email from Ryan, "The Light of Ryan", from last year.

hey Mr.Stuart, its Ryan G! Just saying Hi, and to show you this song that made me think of you and your teachings, Live to Win by Paul Stanley that link will take you right to the song =)

Don't worry, I'll never for get to:
Dream Big,

Do Big,

Be Big.
eXTReMe Tracker
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket