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 December, 2011

2011 in review

Posted by willkay on December 31, 2011

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

breeze driftin’ on by, you know how I feel

Posted by willkay on December 16, 2011

Last day! Despite all my encouragement (:grin:) seven students turned up! And then, later in the day, Andrea turned up too. The Magnificent Eight! With only twelve people in 6B, Mrs. Kay and I decided to combine the two sixth grades for the day. We read through Hatchet in Reading Street. We had a PE lesson. We had a Spanish lesson. We had computing. We went home.

Have a great holiday. Read. Read lots. Speak English. Speak English as much as you can. And rest. When you get back to school, we will be working hard. So be prepared.

And, if you have been following my post titles for the last week, this will come as no surprise to you. Enjoy:

Posted in special event, stuff | 10 Comments »

sun in the sky, you know how I feel

Posted by willkay on December 14, 2011

Well, that went well. Except for the last ten minutes!

The whole sixth grade gathered in the 6A’s classroom. We moved all the desks back and sat on the floor in a circle – it was present giving time:

There were some lovely gifts, that showed a lot of thought had gone into them. The highlight was probably Marissa’s gift to Sergio C.. She had spent a lot of time, and put in a lot of thought, with the wrapping. It was a huuuuuuge box, that had a smaller box inside, that appeared to be full of popcorn but in fact contained another box. And when Sergio finally reached his present, he was very happy. I also liked Enrique’s gift of liquid paper to Diego L.P. – it’s an in-joke-type-thing. If you want to see pictures of the exchange/opening you can see them here. [You might notice that I have had to remove some photos from the sidebar. Unfortunately the place I store photos on the internet is full and, as much as I like you, dear students, I don’t like you enough to start paying to store pictures of your aliens and DNA models. So, go see the pictures now, while they are still there!]

Some watched Flushed Away while others played Monopoly. Even though I had mentioned that it might be a good idea to bring something in to do, most people decided that the best thing to do was just eat sugar and then try and sit still for a whole day. It didn’t work. After Flushed Away we moved on to A Christmas Story – the highlight being the moment one of the characters got his tongue stuck to the metal flag pole. While that was playing, the food arrived. At first I thought it was going to be enough pizza to feed both sixth grades. However, it appears that some members of 6A have the ability to eat their way through anything – oh, and drink! I know that one girl had nine Capri Suns and another had seven! Mind you, all the effort that went into eating the pizza meant that when it came to the twisty-donuts most people were full!

Recess, and a chance to run off all that sugar.

After recess there was a card exchange in Spanish, and then Professor Marvin took the music lesson in the classroom. I was hopeful that the end of the day would see everyone settled and calm. I gave out my presents to the students, and left them to go put people in cars. Another day got through!

Tomorrow is a normal day in school. You will be expected to wear PE uniform. There will be lessons. I can honestly say that I will not be teaching anything that will appear in an exam. I realise that some of you might not be in school tomorrow because your parents have made that decision for you. Do not worry. You will miss nothing. And, on the plus side, I have already filled in the grades on the computer – which means that I have also filled in the days missed. So, if you miss tomorrow you won’t be marked as absent. Result! If you do come in to school, expect to have lessons. There will be no point moaning and whining and demanding something else. It will be a normal day.

Mrs. Kay’s Interesting Fact Of The Day: If you place the two different sides of a precision scale so that one of the sides is left in shadow and on the other you allow for light to land on, the one with the light falling on it will slowly sink. Light has “weight”. It is calculated that the pressure light exherts on the surface of the earth is about 350 grams per square kilometer.

  • Something to do
  • Laptops: charged
  • Read: 20 minutes

Posted in special event, stuff, youtube | 2 Comments »

birds flying high, you know how I feel

Posted by willkay on December 13, 2011

That was a strange day. It never really got going from the start. Because of the rain, there was no standing outside, opening car doors – today the children came to us. Most remembered to bring their small gift for day two. In a moment of total niceness, Rodrigo’s secret friend made up for forgetting yesterday, with a huuuuuuge present today. Tomorrow is the big present. Yes, tomorrow is going to be Sharing Day. This means that everyone is allowed to come in in normal clothes…unless you are a teacher, which means you can’t wear jeans! Also, it means that you can bring in games to play. Do not bring in cameras or electronic games.

Anyway, strange day. The first lesson never got going. We were waiting for the late comers to arrive and [shock/horror] Hector never made it in to school! How ill must he be? It was interesting to see the total lack of belief that he hadn’t made it in. The first lesson was spent conversing in English! it was then time for yoga. This gave me a chance to sort out my mark book and start working out the grades. Except I was pulled out of my classroom to go take a video of:

No, I’m not sure exactly what it was I was supposed to be videoing – especially as they immediately started as soon as I walked in the door (hence the fact that there is a countdown and I only caught the end of it in the video). But, they seemed very excited about what they had done, so here’s the video.

Maths in 6B, and I did my origami lesson. I taught them all to make a box. Oh, sorry. If you are a parent reading this, pretend you didn’t see this bit – just in case, for Christmas, when you are handed a box and open it, expecting something inside...the box is the present! Your child made a box!! Whoot!!!

PE was in the library. Spanish was making Christmas cards. And then it was home time.

Mrs. Kay has just discovered that I have spent 89 pesos of her birthday present on Plants v Zombies (I bought her a 300 peso iTunes card and then used it to buy the game…sometimes I’m not a brilliant husband). Fortunately (because Mrs. Kay is a brilliant wife), instead of telling me off and banning me from playing on her iPad, she is demanding that I get full value from my purchase, and play the game! So, I’m off to save my garden. Don’t forget, tomorrow bring in your big gift for your secret friend. Bring in a game to play with friends. Do not wear uniform!

Mrs. Kay’s Interesting Fact Of The Day: Cézanne was rejected by the École des Beaux-Arts when he applied for enrollment.

  • BIG Gift for Secret Friend
  • Game to play
  • Stuff to share
  • No Backpack: unless your name begins with rod and ends in go :^)
  • Laptops: charged
  • Read: 20 minutes

Posted in maths, PE, yoga | 3 Comments »

confused? I’m all over the place

Posted by willkay on December 12, 2011

You’ve all been to the school’s website? Of course you have. So this doesn’t come as a total surprise then? The Christmas Presentation has been put back until January.

As a teacher, there are tough times in the classroom: the days when it is windy; the days when it rains; exam week; the last week before the holidays. A classroom needs to be organised, otherwise it is no longer a classroom, it becomes a day-care centre. Unfortunately, we are smack-bang-in-the-middle of an exam/rain/end of week. It isn’t a lot of fun at the chalkface. The kids are tired, they need a break. They have been through a week and half of rehearsals, that has disrupted their lessons. They’ve had to sit through exams. We’ve had days off school cancelled. We’ve had nights at school cancelled. We are now at the point where it is impossible to teach anything new in the classroom. Students are in a “non-learning” mode, anything taught to them now will be instantly forgotten. There is no way that they will remember, in January, anything done in class today. In other words, as a teacher, it becomes a task to fill the time as successfully as possible.

  • secret friend gift exchange
  • geography exam
  • reading log numbers
  • Santa Claus is fat!
  • professor Brian Cox and the rings around Saturn

Mrs. Kay took in the reading log numbers and you need to look closely as there are some new names on The Wall Of Fame!!


  • 800 pages: Dionisio

  •  653 pages: Rogelio

  • 602 pages: Aleksei

  • 520 pages: Gerry

  • 367 pages: Mariana

  • 356 pages: Diana

  • 322 pages: Azereth

  • 320 pages: Montserrat

  • 312 pages: Rodrigo

There are also fourteen names in The 200+ Club. Well done Mrs. Kay for keeping them all reading. And well done to the students for rising to the challenge. It’s nice to see three names from 6B on The Wall Of Fame, and half of the members in The 200+ Club are also from 6B. Next January is going to be exciting!

On Friday night we had the Admin/Teacher’s Christmas Party. A great time was had by one and all. There was food. There was drink. There were party games. At the end of the evening there was one last party game to be played. It was a complicated affair, that involved rolling a die, trying to tear into a parcel, and a lot of running round-and-round in a circle. The game ended when the final envelop was opened, to reveal a big sign that read, “WINNER!!!” As the picture shows, it was Mrs. Kay who won the piece of paper. Except, it wasn’t just a piece of paper. It appears that the winner also got to unwrap one other present. Yes, Mrs. Kay won an iPad. This means that I need to finish marking my geography exams, because I have just downloaded Plants v Zombies on to Mrs. Kay’s iPad – and I need to get playing before she notices I’ve stolen it from her.

Mrs. Kay’s Interesting Fact Of The Day: The largest art gallery in the world is the Winter Palace and the neighbouring Hermitage in St. Petersburg. One has to walk 24 kilometers to visit each one of the 322 halls which house nearly 3,000,000 works of art and archeological remains.

  • Gift for Secret Friend
  • Laptops: charged
  • Read: 20 minutes

Posted in exams, geography, science, wall of fame | 7 Comments »

I’ve broken my little finger

Posted by willkay on December 8, 2011

“Worst. Birthday present. Ever.”

Three years ago, playing football with the sixth grade, I broke a bone in my right foot. Two years ago, putting kids in a car outside school, I fell over and broke a bone in my left foot. Mrs. Kay (or maria as she was known then) was not a happy person. She loves me, and likes me whole and in one piece. I promised to take more care of myself. I stopped playing football at recess and limited my participation to one game a year, at the end of the school year. I’ve also stopped doing most physical activity, unless eating tacos can be considered a sport. And, totally against the general wisdom about this, I haven’t missed a day off school in two years, and I’ve not had to see a doctor in two years.

This has been fairly hard on me because I like my sport. I played football, rugby, cricket, and hockey through school. Rugby and hockey at university. As a teacher I taught all four sports and even taught PE for four years. And I would play six-a-side football every Monday night. I enjoy getting involved. But, let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger. Maybe Mrs. Kay was correct, maybe I should avoid any physical activity at all.

And then I took a PE lesson today.

The students missed some of their PE lesson at the start because Miss Claudia needed to complete a review for the history exam. The students missed the last fifteen minutes of their PE lesson because Professor Rodolfo left. Last week I let them play in the playground. Unfortunately, one student took a nose dive off the swings. So, today I decided to drag a PE lesson out of mothballs, and taught PE. Because I wasn’t prepared to teach the lesson, there came a moment when I needed to go to the staff room to get more equipment. Caught up in the moment, suddenly involved in physical activity, not really thinking, totally forgetting that i am now 50 years old, I jumped over the fence that surrounds the playground. Half way over, I suddenly realised that this could all go terribly wrong, and if it did all go horribly wrong then Mrs. Kay would kill me. Good news, it didn’t go wrong. I landed safely, took off into the staff room, grabbed the stuff I needed, turned quickly, and jammed my little finger on my left hand.

I’ve broken my little finger, on my left hand.

Mrs. Kay is not happy. “Worst. Birthday present. Ever.”

Ah well, perhaps a meal out at a Japanese restaurant will cheer her up – and I will only have to use chopsticks! So, that’s me out of here:

  • science exam
  • computer lesson
  • rehearsal
  • English/maths lesson
  • history lesson
  • PE lesson with Professor Rodolfo
  • PE lesson with me

Mrs. Kay’s Interesting Fact Of The Day: Claude Monet would work on 5 paintings at a time in the grassy fields of the Etretat cliffs. As the hour changed he would switch paintings.


  • Exam: History
  • Something to read: when the exam finishes, what else are you going to do?
  • Maths: Pair of compasses, ruler, and protractor
  • Voluntary Writing Assignment: Best Christmas (for Friday)
  • Laptops: charged
  • Read: 20 minutes

Posted in exams, PE, thriller | 4 Comments »

it’s her birthday tomorrow

Posted by willkay on December 7, 2011

Major difference between Mexicans and me? Birthdays. I just don’t get birthdays. They are not ma thang. However, it appears that birthdays are definitely Mexicans thang. This I have had to learn – as if the one scene in Independence Day that included Mexico, also included a birthday party and a piñata, wasn’t enough information. So, tomorrow is Mrs. Kay’s birthday. Which means that we have to start celebrating today! If you haven’t worked it out yet, that means we are going out to celebrate. Therefore you get a bullet point post today (and probably tomorrow as well. In fact, Friday night is the school’s Christmas party for the teachers and the admin, so don’t hold your breath waiting for a post then either. Ah, it is all fun and frolics in the life of a teacher!).

  • English exam
  • Review for science
  • rehearsal for the Christmas assembly
  • Spanish
  • History
  • music
  • basketball tournament – if Hector, Azereth, Francisco, or Richardo is reading this – how did the tournament go?
  • secret friend

Yes, it’s that time of year again, when we pull the names out from the sticks of destiny (yes, the sticks of destiny Mrs. Kay, not the sticks of death), and you find a new friend. This year, we have decided to do the secret friend between the two sixth grades. The rules are the same, a small present on Monday and Wednesday. A big present (about $10) on Thursday. The idea of a secret friend is not to be giving a present to your friend, it is giving a present to a new friend, a secret friend. Of course, the nice thing is that you get a present from someone else, someone you don’t know.

Mrs. Kay’s Interesting Fact Of The Day: Charles Wilson Peale, a portrait painter who painted George Washington 7 times, was also the man who made his dentures: Elk teeth mounted on a lead base. (Dentures, for those of you who are not sure, are false teeth!)


  • Exam: Spanish
  • Something to read: when the exam finishes, what else are you going to do?
  • Maths: Pair of compasses, ruler and protractor
  • Voluntary Writing Assignment: Best Christmas (for Friday)
  • Laptops: charged
  • Read: 20 minutes

Posted in english, exams, laptops, science, thriller | 3 Comments »

it’s snowing in Scotland

Posted by willkay on December 6, 2011

Somewhere in the frozen wasteland between Newtonmore and Dalwhinnie, Inverness-shire by Donna Green

This picture was taken yesterday, in Scotland (the exact place is here) by my friend Donna Green. The metal pole, on the right-hand side of the picture is a snow pole. These poles are placed along the side of the road, and normally have reflectors on the top. This is so that when it really, really, REALLY snows, the snow poles show where the road should be. This one, though, seems to have been hit by a car and damaged.

It’s cold, but I don’t have to tell you that. It is probably cold wherever you are. That said, it is probably cold outside but warm inside, wherever you are. If you were to ask me what the biggest difference between England and Mexico is, I’d say insulation. That said, I am loving the new windows in the classroom, they are brilliant!

Just a short blog post today, we are crossing the border after school. It is now well over two weeks since we got married, however, we still haven’t picked up our official wedding certificate. We have been so busy the last couple of weeks that there has been no chance to spend two hours queueing to cross the border – and here’s hoping that it is only two hours, otherwise we will never get to the court house before it shuts! Either way, once we are across the border, we will also take a chance to spend a little more of our wedding present (thank you so much!) and cash in on some gift cards that we received (thank you very much!). All that means that we won’t be back until quite late. So, I’m writing this blog post early, during school time. At the moment 6A are sitting their Spanish exam. I am invigilating. Making sure that they are working hard, and concentrating carefully on their exam. I am also not answering questions – mainly because I am not very good at Spanish.

Yesterday was a bit of a mess, some children stayed off school, some were late and the gate was shut. This means that not everyone got to hand in their reading log numbers. So, there is a late addition to The Wall Of Fame:


  • 528 pages: Montserrat

There is also another addition to The 200+ Club.

Ok, I’ve made it to the end of the school day. We’ve:

  • done a Spanish exam
  • drawn straight lines to make an arc
  • drawn circles and made flowers
  • had yoga
  • had PE
  • reviewed for the English exam

I’m off to buy Mrs. Kay’s birthday present.

Mrs. Kay’s Interesting Fact Of The Day: The Canal du Midi, also known as the Canal de Languedoc, which goes through central France and connects the Atlantic and the Mediterranean seas, was built by a public functionary and self taught engineer, who financed the Canal with his own money, when he was not granted public funds. This man was the Baron Riquet de Bonrepas. He died of overwork in 1680 while he supervised the final works. The Canal was inaugurated the next year and has been in use since then. The Encyclopaedia Britannica calls it “The largest civil engineering project in Europe since modern times until the XIX century”.


  • Exam: English
  • Maths: Pair of compasses
  • Voluntary Writing Assignment: Best Christmas (for Friday)
  • Laptops: charged
  • Read: 20 minutes

Posted in exams, maths | 2 Comments »

Owen Israel

Posted by willkay on December 5, 2011

Born 5th December. Mum and baby are doing fine! Congratulations!!!

Posted in stuff | 6 Comments »

school today

Posted by willkay on December 5, 2011

We had school today. Yes, I know that that seems a redundant sentence but up until last Thursday, I was planning a day in my pyjamas. So, it was a double shock to the system when the alarm clock went off this morning – it was Monday and I had to get up! Actually, it was a triple shock to the system, as Mrs. Kay had changed the CD in the alarm clock. Instead of waking up to REM, it was Hellogoodbye with the album Zombies Aliens Vampires Dinosaurs.

Most of us made it into school, although three girls didn’t. The excitement over three girls not being in was strange, considering that last Tuesday there were three boys missing and no one said anything! The sixth grade made up The Honour Guard, as we saluted the flag and sang the national anthem, and then it was into lessons.

Time to return the maths exams and see what happened. For most it was good news. For some there was the usual “nooooooooooooooooo!!!” moment, when they discovered a mistake they should not have made. The students are always too quick to finish, and too quick to move on. Often they are unwilling to check their work thoroughly, being far too happy to just hand it in. Today, I was asked (as usual) if someone could, “do the exam again?” The answer (as usual) was, “No. Part of doing an exam is doing it correct the first time!” Once we had gone through the exam, we moved on to drawing a curve using straight lines. There was also a chance to look at some optical illusions.

This morning we also had another rehearsal for the Christmas Assembly. It’s odd, but last Monday when we practised, I thought the students didn’t perform very well. Whether it was because it was a Monday, or because they were in gala uniform, or they just weren’t up for it, I couldn’t work out. However, this morning’s practice wasn’t the best. I’m not worried because I know they can do the dance really well, and I suppose it is very difficult to be enthusiastic every time. However, Miss Lilian was happy with the whole school – and we benefited from that, with an extra five minutes recess.

Mrs. Kay took in the reading log numbers. Eight (EIGHT) readers on The Wall Of Fame!!


  • 507 pages: Gerry

  • 505 pages: Aleksei

  • 400 pages: Diego L.P.

  • 366 pages: Manuel

  • 365 pages: Rogelio

  • 337 pages: Diana

  • 312 pages: Azereth

  • 300 pages: Rodrigo

There are also five people in The 200+ Club. Well done 6A! Glad to see that you are keeping up the tradition. You will also notice that they have been joined by two people from 6B. Congratulations.

We also had a chance to finish Russia…except we didn’t! Once again we ended up side-tracked with a long conversation about The Cold War. However, I am sure that we will finish it tomorrow! One can but hope :^)

Mrs. Kay’s Interesting Fact Of The Day: The first act of Queen Victoria, as Queen of England, was to move her bed out of her mother’s bedroom.


  • Exam: Spanish
  • Maths: Pair of compasses
  • Voluntary Writing Assignment: Best Christmas (for Friday)
  • Laptops: charged
  • Read: 20 minutes

Posted in exams, geography, maths, reading log, wall of fame | Leave a Comment »

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