Mr. Kay's Blog

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

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(toast) Tuesday

Posted by willkay on November 16, 2010

The brain has millions and millions of pathways. Some of those paths never get signals sent down them. Some paths get signals sent down them once, but never again. So, although they were open once, they slowly wither and close. The reason we send children to school is to get as many of those paths open as possible, before old age creeps upon them and the paths start closing down due to sports injuries, alcohol intake, or just plain ordinary old age. Often children will ask, “Why do we need to study this?” (In fact today I was asked why you need to learn area – is it if you want to become an architect?) The answer to the question is: To open those pathways. The more you open the pathways, the easier it is to send signals in your brain, the easier it is to remember the important stuff (like where you parked the car). The easiest way to open as many of these pathways as possible is by reading a good book. Now, a good book is a book that you enjoy reading. A good book is a book that makes you want to turn the page and read more. A good book is the one that Gerry is reading at the moment. In lessons, he finishes his work as quickly as possible, gets it marked, and then gets back to his desk to find out what is happening. A good book is the book you carry around with you at all times, for those odd moments when you can find out what is happening to your new best friends (the people in the book). A good book fires up your imagination. It paints a picture in your mind, you know how the characters look, you can hear their voices, you become emotionally involved. A good book is a page turner. The school has a homework policy. This policy states that the students should be reading 20 minutes every night. I disagree with this policy. I think you should just be reading every night. But, more importantly, you should be reading a good book. A book that you don’t want to stop at 20 minutes. A book that you want to read the next page, the next chapter, the whole thing in one sitting. I realise that this can be expensive. Especially if your child is reading three or four books a month. However, they are all in this together. If one student reads a good book s/he should tell his/her friends, and lend them the book. I am all for keeping a classroom library, where the students can drop their books off for the year, and take them back at the end. Through all of thsi though, what I am trying to do is to encourage the children to read, to stretch their imaginations. At the moment, too much information is actually handed to them visually/aurally through television, films, computers, video games, SMARTboards. Everything is available at the flick of a switch. If you don’t understand something: ask a teacher; ask a parent; ask Google. It is only when you are reading that you are on your own. And it is at this time in their academic lives that they have the time to read. Next year they will find themselves inundated with more homework. Their lives will become full with new activities. The opportunities to read, to discover new worlds, to lose themselves in a book will disappear. The Wall Of Fame and The 200+ Club exist as a way to encourage children to read. Yes, it is possible to argue that they encourage quantity rather than quality. However, in a situation where children are reading, and reading because they enjoy it, they are bound to (eventually) read what might be considered as quality literature. All I am concerned with is improving their minds. And all you need for that is a good book!

I’ve said it before but that won’t stop me repeating it: a weekend empties students brains. A long weekend gives their heads an extra shake so that more information can fall out. This morning started with one student having totally forgotten how to work out the area of a rectangle. However, a quick couple of mental exercises (and some questions on the board) and we were all set for the circumference of a circle. Well, we would have been if we knew what a radius, diameter, and circumference actually were. [side note: the plural of radius -> radii.] Then, and only then, could we finally meet the constant:


Or, to give it its more formal name, π. It was formulae time: C=πd and/or C=2πr.

The English lesson was a de-briefing on how Friday’s lesson went. How some students managed to work out the scoring system, and use it efficiently. And how some students managed to mess the whole thing up by just voting for their friends. I also launched this week’s writing assignment. Except this week it isn’t so much a writing assignment as a presentation assignment. This  week they are to invent something. I don’t mind if it is possible to make the invention, or if the technology does not yet exist. They need to come up with an idea that that they think will work, that they really like, and then have to sell that idea to the rest of the class. As an example I told the class of my love of toast, and how I would invent the perfect toaster that would satisfy my need for twenty pieces of toast in one sitting. This also led to a discussion about Marmite. Mmmmm, Marmite.

The art lesson was followed by a shortened science lesson. (I say shortened because it started ten minutes late as it took that long to get the 6th grade from the art room back to the classroom, and settled down to work.) We dealt with the digestive system. I could go into a bit more detail about what we covered in the lesson, however I won’t because really? You don’t want/need to know.

Recess, and this week I am working in the shop.

Geography was Germany, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland. By the end of the day, the students were getting a bit restless – those long weekends are never good for class discipline – so the bell for home time couldn’t ring soon enough.

English words of the day. Spelling: centre. Pronunciation: semi-circle.


  • Maths: Reteaching 8-something. It’s the six questions about circumference. Might be 8-4?
  • Writing/Presentation Assignment: Invention. (for Friday)
  • Geography: Five facts about Greece.
  • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

6 Responses to “(toast) Tuesday”

  1. Gerry said

    Haha, so true! The book I’m reading is awesome in fact before playing plants vs zombies I carried on with reading. I already own all the Artemis Fowl collection so I have plenty to read. I think I will read more than 20 minutes. By the way will yup bring the marmite tomorrow?

    • Gerry said

      I meant you

      • willkay said

        I’m sorry. I have some bad news. Well, bad news for you and it is actually terrible news for me. It appears that my last “toast-loop” involved a lot of Marmite and there isn’t very much left in the jar. In fact, there is probably only enough for three more pieces of toast! Arrrgh!! So, it will have to wait until I cross the border and buy some more Marmite. Then, once my stocks have been replenished, I will bring some Marmite into school.

  2. Gerry said

    All right, well enjoy your last three marmite toast loops. I will look forward to that day.

  3. Hi Mr. Kay hope you remember me I’m Alejandro. I agree with you, all the stuff you wrote about how many pathways there are, that slowly close. And you have to read a good book. Oh and the marmite too you ither like it or not so thank you for being a good teacher with us last year.

    • willkay said

      Yes, of course I remember you. In fact, earlier this year the school visited The Natural History Museum in Los Angeles. While we were sat at the border, in our bus, who should drive by in the Sentri lane? It was you! Hope you are having a good time at your new school. Do you still keep in touch with friends? Scarlatte is still writing her blog.

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