Mr. Kay's Blog

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

  • In The Sixth Grade We Read

    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 November, 2011

going for ten

Posted by willkay on November 30, 2011

I’m a great believer in targets. I believe that you should always set yourself targets, and those targets should be attainable. Oh, I don’t mean you should aim low. No, you should always aim high. However, you shouldn’t aim beyond your reach, because you are already setting yourself up to fail. This leads to, maybe, not trying your hardest because you don’t believe in yourself. No, set yourself a target, set yourself a good target, and then achieve that target.

The exams are coming up again, and this is a moment to set yourself a target, a target that is possible. I know this sounds scary, but the target you set should always be ten. Don’t settle for less. Aim for a ten! I write the exams, and I promise you, I want you to all get tens. I don’t write “trick questions”, I don’t try to ‘catch you out”, I write an exam that sets out to question you on everything we have studied this year. I realise that, because I don’t teach both groups, it has been difficult to make sure that everything I have covered, has been covered by 6B. But this time, I’m in 6B. A ten, in maths, should be achievable. A ten, in maths, should be the target. Aim for perfection!

Of course, it’s been a very packed session. We’ve had six weeks work, and the exam at Cumbres to prepare for. This means that the exam will be a “biggy”. But I realise that, I know that. Thanks to Mrs. Kay, I’ve already spent some extra time in 6B, preparing for the exam. I thought that 6A would miss me, however they didn’t want me to come back :^(. I did come back, and we also studied for the maths exam! Tomorrow, we shall finish off doing the review – in both classrooms.

There was just enough time to squeeze in some geography. I’m enjoying the geography at the moment because we are studying Russia. The great thing about Russia is that you can’t really understand it, without knowing the history. Which means we get to do my favourite subject, history! And, as a heads-up to 6A, if you thought Ivan the Terrible was terrible, you thought that The Retreat from Moscow was horrible. You haven’t heard about Rasputin yet!


  • Maths: Study for that exam!
  • Protractor: for measuring angles.
  • Writing Assignment: 6A Book Report (for Friday. Remember there is a maths exam Friday, therefore get the report written NOW!)
  • Writing Assignment: 6B The Best Christmas Ever. (for Friday. Remember there is a maths exam Friday, therefore get it written NOW!)
  • Laptops: charged
  • Read: 20 minutes
  • Homework Diary: signed

Posted in exams, geography, laptops, maths | Leave a Comment »

we’re free!!!

Posted by willkay on November 29, 2011

I know this is unbelievable but, since last Tuesday, when Miss Monica asked Mrs. Kay to think about taking the job, we haven’t had any free time. The last week has been a whirlwind of planning, dealing with kids (our own), planning, dealing with kids (private students), planning, and a bit of planning. Knowing what is coming the rest of the week – we have students in our flat, after school on W*dnesd*y and Thursday, then we have our own kids on Friday – we had targeted tonight as our “free time”. We managed to share some non-contact time at school, where we planned tomorrow’s lessons. This means that we actually have some time to ourselves between now and tomorrow morning, where we don’t have to do any work for school.

So, I’m cooking a curry. We’ll watch some cooking shows from England, while I prepare onion bhajiis, chicken tikka masala, chicken jalfrezi, and some pilau rice. YUM! Then I think we might open a bottle of wine (on a school night), settle down, and eat ourselves into fatness! At that point, we will probably fall asleep in front of the computer screen, watching Forbrydelsen (extra points if you know what I’m talking about).

That said, I don’t have much time to write a blog post – at the moment I’m pre-soaking the rice in iced water, Jose Manuel knows what I’m doing – so this will be a quick sprint through everything that happened today. Bullet point post ahead:

  • maths with 6A. Names of quadrilaterals and a quick revision of area.
  • maths with 6B. Back through square roots and approximation of square roots. Then a quick revision of area.
  • dress rehearsal for the Christmas Assembly. I thought that 6A were very good and I was really happy with their efforts. And 6B rocked! Riverdance was never going to be easy, but I thought that they gave it a very good attempt. It was the first time I have seen it and I really liked it. Well done 6B. Keep it up! We’ll have the best sixth grade presentation yet!
  • meeting with Miss Christina (you remember Miss Christina? The computer teacher from waaaay back). There is some talk of putting homeworks on the computer. I’m not totally sure how this is going to work but, this was a preliminary meeting.
  • Alberto was in today and his Reading Log total means that he gets in to The 200+ Club. Yay!
  • The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time. Mrs Kay has initiated a “class reader”, a book that everyone reads in the class. She has put this on everyone’s laptop, and they have started to read it in class. This is a brilliant idea. It means that all the students get to experience a book together. She has picked a book that no one has read, so no one knows what is going to happen, or what it is about. And now, the sixth grade are reading altogether. It sounds very exciting, and I must admit, I have dusted off my copy of the book and am now reading it again, so I can join in too.
  • geography. Catherine the Great, Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great. Not very original in their thinking those Russians with their nicknames and stuff.

Right, food to cook.


  • Maths: Reteaching 8-2
  • Writing Assignment:  6A Book Report (for Friday. Remember there is a maths exam Friday, therefore get the report written NOW!)
  • Writing Assignment:  6B The Best Christmas Ever. (for Friday. Remember there is a maths exam Friday, therefore get it written NOW!)
  • Read: 20 minutes
  • Homework Diary: signed

Posted in book club, geography, laptops, maths, thriller | 18 Comments »

nkotb – ask your mum

Posted by willkay on November 28, 2011

It is always a difficult job to start teaching a class. They have to get used to you, you have to get used them. All teachers have their own rules, their own way of teaching. They have different expectations, they have different desires in their end results. I’ve learnt, over the years, that the best way to start teaching a class is to start with the words: I am Mr. Kay. I am not Mr. X nor am I Miss Y. Please listen very carefully to what I say, because this is the way I want things done. And from that point we move forward. Normally, of course, this conversation happens at the beginning of the year, after a six week holiday, when the students have forgotten Mr. X and Miss Y. Oh, it still pops up in the general day-to-day moments: Mr. X used to let us do this. OR Miss Y told us that. Very rarely does it happen that you take over after a weekend.

Today I started with a new class. Today, while Mrs. Kay went into my classroom to teach 6A, I popped next door to teach maths to 6B. I was scared and nervous – what if they didn’t like me, what if they are expecting me to teach a certain way, what if it all goes wrong? You know, the usual fears a teacher gets when faced with a classroom full of kids they don’t know. And, guess what – it went well. Or at least it seemed to go well. I did hear, later in the day, that there had been some sort of conversation that included the words: Mr. Kay is very scary AND I didn’t understand a word he said. Both of these comments confused me as: (1) I don’t see myself as very scary and (2) they’re comparing me to Miss Esther whose accent I have difficulty understanding. But, hey ho! Perhaps I need to add a little “scary” to my reputation!

So, this morning started with “double maths”. First I taught one lesson in 6A, then I went straight in to 6B and taught the same lesson. Mind you, I say “went straight in to”, when I actually meant, I left the playground in the middle of a Thriller rehearsal. This rehearsal didn’t go well. I don’t know if it was Monday-morning-itis. I don’t know if it was the strange weather. All I know is that there was a real lack of “oomph” to the whole thing. This was slightly upsetting because we have been really good at the rehearsals so far, each time showing an improvement, but today we went backwards. Good job there are still two weeks to go. Eeeek! Only two weeks? Better start practising with a little more “oomph”. Anyway, double maths. We did square roots. Hopefully, in the last couple of days, we have managed to cover all the topics that might come up in the entrance exam to Cumbres.

As I no longer teach the English, I no longer take in the Reading Log numbers. That task has fallen to Mrs. Kay. However, as we still talk, she has passed on the numbers to me and I will still be publishing The Wall Of Fame! Of course, as she teaches both sixth grades, this gives the students in 6B the chance to also appear on The Wall Of Fame, or to become members of The 200+ Club.


  • 651 pages: Gerry

  • 434 pages: Diego L.P.

  • 339 pages: Manuel

  • 335 pages: Diana

  • 300 pages: Rodrigo

At the moment there are no members of 6B on The Wall Of Fame, but I am sure that Mrs. Kay will turn that all around within a couple of weeks, and I look forward to entering more names onto The Wall. If you look carefully at The 200+ Club you will notice 5 (FIVE) new names, all from 6B! Hurray! And welcome to The Club.

After recess I got to go back to my class and we did some science. Not a lot of science. Actually, we did do an hour and a half of science, but we didn’t do a full 90 minutes on the subject we were supposed to be studying. We were supposed to be looking at the immune system, but ended up discussing: mushrooms -> truffles -> caviare -> lobsters -> eating “eye tacos” -> the size of the tuna fish -> international whaling agreements -> making candles out of blubber. All because Diana asked if all fungi were bad.

  • Maths: Practice 8-5  Nos: 1-16 and 35-42
  • Writing Assignment: Book Report (for Friday. Remember there is a maths exam Friday, therefore get the report written NOW!)
  • Read: 20 minutes
  • Homework Diary: signed

Posted in maths, reading log, science, thriller, wall of fame | 9 Comments »

learning curve

Posted by willkay on November 24, 2011

Last night was spent trying to find the proper uniform for Mrs. Kay. When we got home, I discovered that we didn’t have a house elf. All those times I have come back to the flat to find all the dishes done, the flat clean, and my clothes washed, ironed and put away. However, the house elf no longer visits! Slamming the door, running away from the mess, we went out to eat. Have you ever eaten in Jaggers? Do *not* order the triple burger. Seriously. They warned me off it, and I settled for the double – it was still too much! When we arrived back home, the house elf still hadn’t been. It appears that we have to do everything!

Meanwhile, back at school, we continue to try to cram a whole year’s maths into one week. With the exam to Cumbres next Tuesday, I am trying to cover as much ground as possible. Just in case the exam throws up something that we haven’t seen. Today we charged through Polygons. We also [whisper this] spoke Spanish in the maths lesson! Lo and behold, it appears that maths isn’t in English, nor is it in Spanish, maths is actually in Greek!

There was time for some English as well, and we managed to finish off the work on this week’s spelling list. The good news is, with any luck I might be able to squeeze in a spelling quiz tomorrow. This means that we might hear the end of The Adventures of Secret Agent double oh something, before Mrs. Kay takes over the English teaching for the next three months. Hmmmmm, I wonder what she has planned?

Good news! I finally got to bring home the new Reading Log numbers. There are only five names on The Wall Of Fame:



  • 416 pages: Diego L.P.

  • 350 pages: Diana

  • 340 pages: Rodrigo

  • 324 pages: Azereth

  • 319 pages: Maria Rita

However, there are nine (NINE) names in The 200+ Club. That’s 14 students reading more than 200 pages in a week. When you factor in that there are only 20 students in the class and four of them have “lost their reading logs”. That means 14 out of 16 are reading above and beyond! Well done to them. It is really exciting to see kids reading this much!

I am a very happy teacher!

Now, I have to dash. It appears that dishes need to be put away, food needs to be cooked, and maths lessons have to be planned.


  • Maths: Reteaching: 7-4 All of it Practice 7-4 Nos: 1-6
  • Laptops: charged
  • Read: 20 minutes
  • Homework Diary: signed

Posted in english, maths, reading log, spelling, wall of fame | 4 Comments »

who’s that girl?

Posted by willkay on November 23, 2011

Ok, short post today because life is rather hectic here at chez willandmaria. For those of you not quite up to speed let me bullet point this for you:

  • Miss Esther is pregnant
  • Miss Esther leaves school on Friday on maternity leave
  • I married maria last Thursday
  • we had a five day honeymoon
  • I came back to school on Tuesday
  • Miss Monica asked maria to come into school for a chat
  • maria agreed
  • Miss Monica called me into Miss Gaby’s office for a chat
  • last night there was a long discussion here at chez willandmaria
  • I went into work this morning
  • maria went into work this morning
  • maria will now be referred to as Mrs. Kay for the next three months

Got it? Mrs Kay will now be teaching at BAI. She will be teaching 6B. She will also be teaching 6A – just the English, while I nip next door to teach 6B maths. As you can imagine, everything is a bit fraught here. There are lessons to plan, exams to prepare for, and uniform to be acquired. In amongst all this, I took in the Reading Log numbers, but I left them at school. I *promise* to publish The Wall Of Fame some time tomorrow. For now, here is your homework:


  • Maths: Reteaching: 7-2 All of it  Practice 7-2 Nos: 1-7
  • Laptops: charged
  • Read: 20 minutes
  • Homework Diary: signed

Posted in stuff | 5 Comments »

climbing back into the saddle

Posted by willkay on November 22, 2011

Guess who’s back? Did you miss me? Some of the students did. It was nice to be greeted in the playground by happy smiling faces. Of course, there were problems, that my two days of absence might have caused, to be sorted out. However, most of that seemed to have been covered successfully by my colleagues. Although, I could really have done without the, “Mr. Kay always lets us have free time on Friday afternoon. And he lets us play with our laptops as well.” Let me say, right here, right now. Mr. Kay never lets anyone have any free time, ever. It’s not how I roll. Mind you, I also ask the students to speak English all the time, I ask the to line up quietly, I ask them to get ready for the next lesson quickly, I ask them to listen to each other, I ask them not to sit with their heads on their desks. Unfortunately, some of the students seemed to have forgotten all this. Five days. Five days and I’d already been forgotten.

Maths to start the day. And it is going to be maths for pretty much the whole of the week. The entrance exams to Cumbres are next Tuesday, and this has come as a bit of a surprise. Normally I aim to get everything covered by January, so that everyone is prepared for the Junior High exams. However, we now have to be ready by November 29th!! This means that we will be studying maths for the rest of the week. And when I say studying, I mean that we will be doing 2/3 hours a day. Of course, this means that we will probably not do much else in class. We will, however, make up for that next week, when we will probably study no maths at all! Today we finished off percents by looking at commission. It always amazes me how, after a break of only 5 days, students can forget even the most basic operations…calculating 10% mentally? So, it took fifteen minutes to get back into the swing of things. And then it was onward and upward.

Science was the digestive system. yes, I know that we looked at it on W*dnesd*y, but that was interrupted by a party and CAKE! Everything stops for CAKE! It also appears that someone taught it on Friday. But the students had already forgotten what the teacher said, or didn’t really pay attention.

Yes, I did remember the Reading Logs. No, I didn’t take the numbers in. We ended up very short for time. Tomorrow. Hopefully tomorrow I will take in the Reading Log numbers, and we shall have a new The Wall Of Fame.


  • Maths: Reteaching: 6-7 Nos: 7-10  Practice 6-7 Nos: 11-16
  • PROTRACTOR: for measuring and drawing angles
  • Reading Logs: signed
  • Read: 20 minutes
  • Homework Diary: signed

Posted in exams, maths, reading log, science, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Thank You

Posted by willkay on November 19, 2011

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our wedding.

On Wednesday my students threw me a surprise party. There was pizza, there were drinks, there were balloons, there was a card, there was a present and there was a cake! Thank you very much to everyone who contributed. It was much appreciated, and a great surprise. It was a wonderful way to celebrate and I managed not to cry.

At the end of the day I was called to Miss Lilian’s office. There I discovered another surprise party! There was food, there were drinks, I was wearing a balloon, there was a card, there were presents, and maria was there! Again, it was very much appreciated, and it was a fantastic end to the day. And I managed not to cry.

On Thursday we got married, 4:27pm 17th November, 2011. And I cried but I got to kiss the bride.

From there we went out for a meal and spent some time in San Diego. It was a brilliant evening. maria spent her time announcing to everyone that, “We’ve just got married!” Everyone was really kind. By the time we got home, it was past midnight. I realised at that point that I had been running on just my nerves for three days, and I was totally exhausted. Miss Monica had demanded that I took Friday off school, maria had asked me to take the day off, and my body decided that I needed to take the day off. That’s why I didn’t come in. Instead I spent the day with my new wife. I will be back in school on Tuesday!

Again, thank you to everyone who made this day so very special for maria and I. It is very much appreciated.

Posted in special event | 2 Comments »

Mr. and Mrs Kay

Posted by willkay on November 17, 2011

Thank you to everyone for their kind wishes and thoughts.We are now married. I arrived in Mexico on 17th November 2005, exactly six years ago. Today, 17th November 2011, maria and I got married. And yes, I cried!


Posted in special event | 7 Comments »

waiting to exhale

Posted by willkay on November 14, 2011

I am *not* closing the blog down, but I am giving you fair warning: there might not be a lot of posting on here this week. My visa expires today. Now, as a UK citizen I have a whole different method of renewing a visa – I just have to try and cross the border. As everyone should know by now, I’m getting married on Thursday, and I’m getting married in San Diego. I need a visa for this, and I don’t intend to leave it until the Thursday to sort it out. So, tomorrow I will be crossing the border after school. This means that there might not be a post tomorrow. On Wednesday, it will be the day before the wedding. At this point in my life, I am convinced that everything is in order. However, there is a chance that something might need doing, something might need attending to do, something might stop me from writing a post. On Thursday, I’m getting married. Don’t expect a post. Friday I will be back in school, but after school I will be celebrating with maria’s children and with friends. There will not be a written post on Friday. I will (if I have any) publish a photo – so you can all go’ “Ahhhhhh!”. So, this could well be the last blog post this week. Enjoy. Oh, and here’s the last BeardWatch picture. I’ve also had my pre wedding haircut as well.

Strange day today. The students were very restless. They wouldn’t settle at morning line up, the were fidgeting through assembly, they were talking throughout the day. We started the day off by finishing Friday’s English lesson. The students have designed their own aliens. Some of them chose to draw their creations, some chose to make their creations. We sill had five students who hadn’t demonstrated and explained their aliens. This was how the first fifteen minutes of the day was spent. We then started to go through last Friday’s maths quiz.

Our review was interrupted by a rehearsal for “Thriller“. Three weeks ago we were really improving at this. Today we took a step backwards. It was as if the kids’ hearts weren’t into the task. This is a shame because they have learnt this dance on their own. Although I’ve been around to help, most of what they have learnt they have taught themselves. It would be terrible to present something which didn’t reflect the hard work and effort they have put into learning the dance. And, let’s be honest, is there anything cooler than learning to dance to Thriller? I know that it is hard to believe it when you are only 11/12, but when you are 20+ and you can dance to Thriller, your street cred goes through the roof! I explained this to the class, they took the information on board, and the second time we danced, we produced something we could be proud of showing to the school. As the saying goes: Practice makes perfect. And my other favourite phrase? Failure to prepare, is preparing to fail.

Back in the classroom, I continued to go through every.single.question. in the maths exam. After each question, I checked three times that everyone said they understood what I had just explained. And then? Then I gave them the test to redo. Homework tonight is to redo the exam. Everyone (EVERYONE) should get a 10. Otherwise, I have to ask, what were you doing in the lesson? It was then time to take in the new Reading Log numbers for the pages read last week. Six (SIX) people failed to produce a reading log. This astounds me. Fourteen weeks in and people are still forgetting to bring in their reading logs. Plus, there are still some students reading under 100 pages a week. However, there is (as always) some good news:


  • 562 pages: Gerry

  • 456 pages: Diego L.P.

  • 361 pages: Arturo

  • 355 pages: Diana

  • 319 pages: Azereth

  • 313 pages: Maria Rita

There are also six students who have read more than 200 pages and they are in The 200+ Club. Then it was onto a new spelling list: Schwa. This is when a vowel sounds like a different vowel. For example, the second e in different sounds like a u. This can be a little bit complicated. It becomes incredible more complicated when, as an Englishman, I pronounce the words differently to how an American pronounces them: vitamin anyone?

There was just enough time at the end of the day to study some geography, and to learn a little more about Russia. Here’s hoping that tomorrow is a better day. The students will be more settled, and less chatty.

  • Maths: Redo maths test from Friday
  • Spelling: Spelling Workbook page:34
  • Writing Assignment: Day in the life of your Alien
  • Read: 20 minutes
  • Homework Diary: signed

Posted in beardwatch, english, geography, maths, spelling, thriller, wall of fame | 7 Comments »

blustery day

Posted by willkay on November 10, 2011

Twenty six years of teaching children and I can quite happily admit: If you teach anything on a windy day, call it a success. Teaching on a windy day is a nightmare. It isn’t the kids’ fault. They don’t know what is happening to them. It’s something primal. However, the wind was blowing this morning, and the kids were all over the playground. Running, jumping, and very little standing still. It was unfortunate that Professor Rodolfo wasn’t at morning line up, today would have been the perfect day to try to do 50 (fifty) star jumps! But he wasn’t there, so the students went back to the classroom, and the uphill battle began.

Fortunately (for me), the first lesson of the day was computing. This meant that the students got to bounce around the classroom for Miss Yolanda, rather than for me. By the time we started the maths lesson, they had settled some what. I say “settled some what“, by that I mean they weren’t actually swinging from the light fixtures!* We got through some maths. However it was as if the previous 14 weeks of school had never happened. People couldn’t remember factors, couldn’t remember simplifying fractions, couldn’t remember multiplications. After 87 minutes of a 60 minute lesson, I decided that enough-is-enough and we moved onto a geography lesson.

Sixty three minutes later, we had written one line in the notebooks about Russia. After PE we continued with the geography lesson. Another 37 minutes and we managed to write another four lines into the geography book. One hundred minutes of geography and we had a total of five lines to show for it. Time to go home.


  • Maths: write the following as percents:

1) 15 out of 20     2) 27 out of 50     3) 21 out of 28     4) 48 out of 80     5) 97 out of 100

6) 52 out of 52     7) 63 out of 70     8 ) 10 out of 16     9) 33 out of 40     10) 6 out of 48

  • Questionnaires: completed and returned
  • Writing Assignment: Design An Alien (for Friday)
  • Read: 20 minutes
  • Homework Diary: signed


Posted in geography, maths, morning line up, stuff | 1 Comment »

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