Mr. Kay's Blog

The day to day happenings of a 6th grade classroom teacher

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    Every week I take in how many pages each student has read. Below is the "Wall Of Fame", the top readers for the week, and "The 200+ Club", all the students who have read more than 200 pages in a week. Congratulations to all those mentioned!
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Archive for January, 2010


Posted by willkay on January 29, 2010

An early start for me, I had to be in school, in a meeting,  by 7:15am. Caught up with Professor Rene’s news: The Dark Knights (the school’s chess team) did very well in their competition. Thanks to victories by Alejandra and Guillermo (and other members of the team), they came second overall! Congratulations.

The meeting was about teamwork, how we should all work together as a team so that we can achieve our goals. Ha! A meeting that the sixth grade could have taken, and told all the teachers about how well they were working together in class. We also discussed celebrating differences, how we should appreciate the fact that everyone is different. Then it was time to leave school, and go on the course at the CECUT.

I didn’t go.

Unfortunately the whole weekend is in Spanish, which means that I wouldn’t have been able to partake. This is slightly disappointing because I have been on courses like this in England, and they are very informative, helpful, and exceedingly useful in the classroom situation. I will look forward to discussing the course with my colleagues when they return. No, instead of interesting discussions, group meetings, a chance to improve my teaching ability, I was stuck in school with a desk full of marking. There were exams to check, lessons for February to plan, and monthly grades to calculate. There might have been no children in school, but there was still a full day’s work done.

I also moved the Science experiments outside, put them on the wall, in the sun. Hopefully this will speed up the evaporation process and there will be something to actually see on Tuesday when we all get back to class. One can but hope because it is very, very cold in the classroom when there are no students in there. Believe me. I spent the day wearing a hat and gloves, wishing I had brought a thicker coat and a scarf!

Attendance: 23 absent.


  • Reading: Please, please, read.

Posted in chess, no school, science, team work | Leave a Comment »

Eeeeeek! Need help, please.

Posted by willkay on January 29, 2010

Have come into school to discover that the wonderful cleaning staff have cleaned the classroom. Which is brilliant. Except they have also cleaned the board.

This means that all the team scores have been erased. I know that UG had 430 points at the end of Thursday, but I cannot remember what the other teams had. Could someone please add the scores for Vips, Juicy, AAJL, and M&Ms? Just write a comment it would be very helpful.

Thank you!

Posted in team work | 6 Comments »


Posted by willkay on January 28, 2010

Another three students late this morning. Any chance we had of winning the “Punctuality” competition has gone. Which is a pity because up until Monday we had the whole thing won. Anyway, onwards and upwards.

A strange start to the day for the sixth grade and for me. I had to teach the fifth grade because Professor Rene wasn’t in. He had taken The Dark Knights (the school’s chess team) to a tournament, and I had to cover his maths lesson. I had a lot of fun. And while I was away the sixth grade also had a lot of fun. As part of their Computer lesson Professor Mauricio was helping their teamwork with some team building exercises. These turned out to be a great amount of fun. Or I assume so, considering the noise coming from the IT room, plus the fact that the students were full of stories.

In celebration of their new-found understanding of team work, I decided to continue with a maths lesson where they worked in teams. Success! One team managed (much to their and everyone else’s surprise) to get every single question correct. They worked together, talked through the problems, discovered that four heads are better than one, and scored a perfect ten. Well done team AAJL!

After recess we went straight into a spelling quiz. Normally I tell a story about secret agent 008½ and his battle against the evil Dr. Evil. As I tell the story I manage (somehow) to force the words from the spelling list into the action. However, today was a bit of a rush so the students had to make do with a story about secret agent 003½ who had taken a ride in a time machine. From the spelling quiz on to Geography. Yesterday we discovered that Central Europe was full of countries – 18 and a bit to be exact (the bit being a bit of Russia). Today we decided to concentrate on just a few countries. Drawing a line down from the Baltic Sea, through Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and into the Dead Sea.

The Science lesson was all about experiments. We set up three different experiments, which we will have to wait until next week to see the results. Unfortunately none of the students brought in any material to help complete the experiments, but fortunately I managed to provide everything – even if the bowl with a glass inside was actually a CD tower lid with a fabric softener measurer in it. Just chance to take down the new Reading Log totals (Scarlatte moved into the 3000+ page category), before it was time to go home. Although it wasn’t home time for everyone. The Honour Guard were staying until 3pm so that they could practise for the competition.

No school tomorrow, Friday, for the students. No school on Monday. A long, long weekend. I have to be in school tomorrow (Friday) bright and early – earlier than usual.

Attendance: 2 absent (well, not really absent because Guillermo and Alejandra are playing in the chess tournament).


  • Maths: Practice 7-6 No: 2,4,6,8
  • Geography: Why is The Black Sea called The Black Sea?
  • Reading: With a long, long weekend ahead, most students should be able to get in four hours of reading!

Posted in chess, computer class, geography, honour guard, maths, reading log, science, spelling, team work | 2 Comments »


Posted by willkay on January 27, 2010

They say that pride comes before a fall. I’d like to think that what I showed yesterday wasn’t pride, it was excitement. Excitement and hope. I was hopeful that we (as a group) could win the “we’re more punctual than any other grade” competition. Unfortunately, just as we were in sight of the prize it all went wrong. To add to yesterday’s three latecomers, you can add another three today, giving the sixth grade a grand total of 8. Which puts us in third place and out of contention.

Happy Birthday Monica.

Great start to the morning, 22 out of 23 homework diaries signed and on my desk. The maths homework turned out to be difficult, and several students struggled with the problems. However, once they were given a clue the difficulties seemed to dematerialise. With this in mind the class worked through the maths problems in groups. Great success was achieved when they worked together. Understanding was gained, and it was wonderful to sit and listen to students explaining to each other how to solve problems. At the end of an hour session, with ten very difficult questions (plus a bonus question), one group managed a ten. Two groups achieved nines. It was a very successful maths lesson.

I decided to take the idea of working in groups into the Geography lesson. Last week, during the “rain days”, the class should have labeled a map of central Europe. Now was a chance to see how many of the 18 countries they could remember. Then, once they had all the names, how many they could place on the map in the correct position. It was a lot harder than it sounds. Although one group did exceptionally well. When recess arrived we all needed a break and some fresh air.

In the Science lesson we discussed the results of the experiments the students should have done over the “rain days”. Unfortunately some didn’t do them, some didn’t give the experiments enough time, and the three sets of results we did have were all different. In order to get a set of results that we can all agree on, we decided to conduct the experiments again: this time in the classroom. We shall set them  up tomorrow and leave them until Tuesday. No school on Friday or Monday make this an ideal time. (I wonder if anyone will remember to bring in the equipment we need to reproduce Jose Manuel’s experiment?) The English lesson was disrupted by another practice for the Honour Guard, and a practice for the Chess club – big tournament tomorrow and Guillermo and Alejandra are both taking part. The remaining students read through to the end of the story Hatchet.

Attendance: All present


  • Maths: Reteaching 7-6 (Thanks to Scarlatte for pointing out the homework was wrong.)
  • Reading Log: This needs to be brought in tomorrow as we won’t be in school on Friday
  • Reading: With no English homework, this is a chance to do a good hour of reading!

Posted in english, geography, honour guard, maths, reading log, science, team work | 3 Comments »


Posted by willkay on January 26, 2010

A great start to the day. Every morning the bell rings at 7:50. This is the signal for all the children to line up. At 7:52am a second bell rings. This is the signal to be silent. This morning, as the second bell rang, the sixth grade were stood in silence, ready. And they stayed silent without me having to say anything. This is a good way to start the day. It means that I can reward everyone (points all round) and stay positive. It is no fun having to start the day off by asking people to be quiet, stand still, stand straight, tuck that shirt in. A great start to the day. Except the value of the month is: Punctuality. All through this month a record has been kept of how many students are late, in each grade. Up until today, the sixth grade were winning by having the least number of tardy-notes this month, just two! Unfortunately three students were late today, raising our total to five – exactly the same number as 4B. We are now in a tie for first place. With just two days left to go in the month, it is fingers crossed that everyone is on time and we can hold first place.

The first lesson of the day was a mixture of things. First we had to collate the number of pages, recorded in individual reading logs, that had been read last week. Each student keeps a running total of the pages they have read so far. Some students read over 200 pages in a week, others manage 100+. Unfortunately there are still some students who are not reading for 20 minutes a day, every day. This is obvious in the fact that they have read under 70 pages in a week. As is the norm, Scarlatte has read the most, but Valerio and Ana Elena are not too far behind. After the totaling, the students who hadn’t read their story yesterday, got to read them today.

Maths and we corrected the homework. This was not a great success. Everyone seems happy using the formula h2 = a2 + b2, the Pythagorean Theorem. It just seems to get too confusing when you have to use h2 = a2 + b2 to calculate one of the sides that is not the hypotenuse. Rather than continue the confusion, I decided to move on and attempt some Trial and Improvement questions. These are questions where the student has to try an answer and then improve it, to get to the final correct answer.

The Spanish lesson was followed by an English lesson. Yesterday, when the students wrote out the spelling list (each word three times) only 12 of the class managed to copy the words correctly. This means that there will be some students with a lot of spelling corrections to do tonight. We then marked the spelling homework, and completed the next two pages in the Spelling Workbook, finishing the topic. Then onto the Grammar Workbooks where we studied the principal parts of irregular verbs. It had been a long morning, with a lot of successful work achieved. Thus is was good when the bell for recess rang, everyone needed a break.

After recess it was History followed by PE. A chance for the Honour Guard to get in another practice.

Attendance: All present


  • Maths: Practice 4-7 No: 1,2,3,4,7
  • English: Spelling corrections; Grammar Workbook pages: 46, 48
  • Reading

Posted in english, maths, morning line up, PE, reading log, spelling, stories | 3 Comments »


Posted by willkay on January 25, 2010

Back to school in sunshine, although it was still cold at the start of the day. Began with assembly. Mass panic as two students, who should have been in the Honour Guard, weren’t available – one missing, one without the correct uniform – plus the reserve couldn’t march! However, Paulina R. and Monica quickly jumped in and filled the gaps. It has been ten days since we had last rehearsed the poem. It showed. The students recited it correctly but quietly – they were worried that they might make mistakes. However, it was a successful assembly, and everyone was happy with the final result.

Started the day with art class and then on to a maths lesson. We had a lot of work to check, Wednesday’s homework and the extra work that had been left for the “rain days”. Then on to finding the missing length of the side of a right angled triangle. The side that isn’t the hypotenuse. This needed some juggling of the original Pythagorean Theorem.

Spanish was followed by an English spelling quiz. Only three students (Ivan, Ruben, Paulina A.) managed to get full marks. We then prepared the next spelling list, Multisyllabic Words 2. Recess was outside, for the first time in over a week. The sun was out and it was very hot in the direct sunshine. After recess, we continued with the spelling list, writing each word out three times, using the “write, cover, write, check” method. Some of the students then read out their stories, Lost In The Woods.

The final lesson of the day was history. While this happened, the Honour Guard had a practice with Professor Dandy. The competition is getting closer and closer.

Memo to go home. The teachers will all be on a course on Friday and Saturday. This means that there will be no school on Friday – for the students. For the teachers it means “back to school”.

Attendance: All present


  • Maths: Reteaching 8-6 No: 3,6  Practice 8-6 No: 3,4,6
  • English: Spelling corrections; Spelling Workbook pages 45, 46
  • Reading Log (these need to be brought in for the running totals)
  • Haiti Envelope (most students have returned these, some might have forgotten. It is voluntary.)
  • Reading

Posted in assembly, english, honour guard, maths, reading log, spelling, stories | 1 Comment »


Posted by willkay on January 22, 2010

No school today. Rain stopped play.

Attendance: 23 absent


  • Reading log
  • Learn lines for Monday’s Assembly
  • Reading

Posted in assembly, no school, rain, reading log | Leave a Comment »


Posted by willkay on January 21, 2010

No school today. Rain stopped play.

However, this was as predicted, so I had left work for the students to do in case of this eventuality.

Attendance: 23 absent


  • Maths: Reteaching 4-7   Reteaching 8-10
  • English: Write a story with the title: Lost In The Woods.
  • Geography: On the map, colour,  label, and name the countries of Central Europe and list their capitals.
  • Science: Do two experiments to separate salt from salt water. Use evaporation and freezing. Record the results.
  • Reading

Posted in english, geography, maths, no school, rain, science | Leave a Comment »


Posted by willkay on January 20, 2010

sitting in class

Although the weather forecast had predicted rain, we entered school in the sunshine. Straight into classrooms though, with no morning line-up.

The class started the day with Spanish. This was then followed by an English lesson. We started the lesson talking about the earthquakes in Haiti. We also talked about the word empathy and what it means. The students read out their essays, What Makes A Good Person, and we discussed them as a group. The students then had to think about their classmates and come up with one good quality for each person. This was to get them to think about each other in a positive way. I then asked them to think about all the qualities we had discussed earlier, and to pick one of those qualities for themselves. This they would try to improve. I picked being positive. Instead of having to tell people off for not speaking English, or not tucking their shirts in, or not being ready for the next lesson, or not having a title, date, value, and sentence on each page, I decided to reward those who did the correct things. We divided the class into groups. They picked a group name and a captain (for the week). I then spent the rest of the day awarding points to teams that had succeeded in achieving goals. It was a good day for me. I felt very positive at the end of it, and the students were very keen and enthusiastic about getting points. They worked well together as a team.

Maths was an introduction to the Pythagorean Theorem. The target for the lesson was to be able to find the length of the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle, given the lengths of the other two sides.

The Science lesson was about Physical and Chemical Changes. Miss Lilian appeared in the lesson for fifteen minutes and joined in with the discussion about how to extract the salt from salt water. Jose Manuel told the class about an experiment that he had done in his school last year. Many of the students were interested in his explanation and it will be interesting to see if any of them follow it up and try the experiment at home.

Because the weather forecast is for torrential rain tomorrow, there is a chance that school will be cancelled. Therefore I did another English lesson, reading the story Hatchet from the text book. This is a story about a boy who’s plane crashes deep in the woods, and he has to learn to survive.

Homework diaries were filled with work to do at home tomorrow, in case school was cancelled.

Attendance: All present.


Maths: Reteaching 8-6 No: 2,4   Practice 8-6 No: 1,2,13,14


Posted in english, maths, science, team work | 1 Comment »


Posted by willkay on January 19, 2010

No school today. Rain stopped play.

Attendance: 23 absent


  • English: Finish essay: What Makes A Person Good
  • Reading

Posted in no school, rain | 1 Comment »

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