Mr. Kay's Blog

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

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Archive for August, 2012

a sense of urgency

Posted by willkay on August 30, 2012

I don’t know if it is the heat, I’m not sure if it’s a hangover from the holidays, I’m fairly certain it isn’t that the children don’t understand, BUT there is a lack of a sense of urgency. Lessons are starting five minutes late, students are going for water and spending time at “the water cooler”, and if someone goes to the restroom – they’ve gone for hours. When work is being set, it’s not been settled to quickly. When notes are put on the board, they are being copied effectively. There is no sense of urgency. No sense of a desire to do. Normally, the sixth grade hit the ground running. We have four months to go before the entrance exams for Junior High, four months to fine tune and prepare. At the moment, it feels like we have four years – and even then, they won’t be a problem. I’m going to accept it is the heat. I’m going to assume that once it starts to cool off, or once everyone has built up some sort of resistance to the heat, then everything will be back to normal. However, they may be some harsh words spoken in class tomorrow – let’s call it a wake-up-call.

Not a great start to the morning: not ready when the second bell went for morning line up; one homework diary “lost”, one not signed; two homeworks not done, one homework was the wrong page (later there were three Spanish homeworks not done); multiplication tables not remembered. An hour’s maths lesson disappeared, and when it came time for P.E. we had only covered half of the planned lesson. The English lesson was lost entirely to doing some more maths, and then copying the geography from yesterday’s lesson – thank goodness for the SmartBoard and its ability to save all my lessons. The end of recess was a disaster. The thirty minutes that I had left to teach after recess, became 20, and so we read three paragraphs of the story “Old Yeller”. The students finished with history – in which they needed an extra five minutes because they hadn’t completed their work – and then yoga.

There are two bits of good news.

The first is that things have started growing. The picture shows some tiny radishes starting to sprout. Also, in the classrooms, the sunflowers are starting to appear – some are already a centimetre or two tall. (It is at this point that I will make two observations; (1) I did take pictures but my camera failed me, sorry; (2) my sunflowers haven’t grown at all!!) The watering cans were not totally successful, they don’t reach the last row of radishes. However, with a steady hand, they work very well in the classroom.

The second bit of good news is there has been a change of heart – I am now allowed to publish videos and photographs of all the children in the sixth grade. Yipee! So, here’s a video of the routine at morning line up. Every morning, Professor Rodolfo leads the school through a series of breathing exercises and physical exercise. This is a video I took of some of the morning’s session. I say “some” because I stopped recording before the jumping-jacks, and I missed filming the breathing exercises. I’ll try to catch them tomorrow, but I won’t make any promises.

Posted in english, geography, honour guard, maths, morning line up, planting, youtube | 3 Comments »

divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived

Posted by willkay on August 29, 2012

It’s hot! And it is even hotter in the classroom! Oh, I know what you are thinking, surely it isn’t that hot in there? But, let me assure you, it is.  First off, the windows are are closed on one side of the room. This is because there is P.E. or recess happening at some stage, which means there is noise to worry about. Secondly, there is a fan in the classroom, but it is very noisy and has the ability to blow paper all over the place. And finally, there are the students. 19 wonderful students, all exhaling and adding their own body heat to the classroom. After recess, when they all entered, hot and sweaty, I watched the thermometer rise an extra couple of degrees. It’s hot!

Great start to the morning: all the homework diaries in; everyone had done their maths homework! [We won’t mention the English homework.] Straight into addition and subtraction of decimals. The exciting news of the day? Students got to write on the SmartBoard! Yes, for the first time, some students got to walk to the front of the classroom and write on the board. AND there were stickers handed out. Actually, this wasn’t as exciting as I hoped. Oh, it was exciting for the students, less so for me. I had bought some scratch’n’sniff stickers that involved monkeys and bananas. I had assumed that they would be banana scented, and was very excited when I gave Pablo the first one. He scratched, he sniffed, “Mmmmm, gum!” GUM??? I thought they would be banana! Hey, ho.

English was a great lesson, as we charged through the work. There were some silly mistakes made at the end – students need to remember to read what they have written, to make sure it made sense. But, for once, I finished a lesson early and we were ready for Miss Claudia for the first time ever!

Geography turned into a history lesson. Did you know that I am from England, but according to my passport I am from United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Yes, I am English, I am a Briton, and I am from the UK. How did all this come about? Ask a sixth grader. However, they might have forgotten what happened to Henry VIII’s six wives. The clue is in the title.

Posted in geography, grammar, maths | 1 Comment »

Look ma, top of the school

Posted by willkay on August 28, 2012

Day two and we had our first morning line up. The picture is taken from the top balcony, looking down on the sixth grade, as they stand at the top of the playground. There may be some “blurriness” around some of the children in the photo. In this case, it has nothing to do with my photographic skills. Unfortunately, some parents have denied me permission to publish photos of their child. Now I know this, I will try to photograph around that student, and photos will appear on a more regular basis. Also, it means that the video I took of this morning’s exercise routine will have to be deleted. However, I will give it another go tomorrow, and try to get you a “permission granted” video, starring all those students who have granted me permission.

Moving on…morning line up over, Miss Monica gave everyone a bright neon coloured pencil, and then into classrooms. Wait! What’s this? On my desk? On my desk there is a pile of homework diaries. There are 19 of them. 19 diaries happens to match the exact number of children in the classroom! Success. Might call an end to the school year now. My job is complete. I have actually achieved something on the first day that I only achieved once in the whole of last year! Oh, this year is going to be good.

First maths lesson! The start of a year is always fraught with complications: children have forgotten everything they have ever learnt; Miss [insert name here] never did it this way; it’s too hot to work; and everyone is a year younger (except me). The year younger problem is the biggest. As usual, Mrs. Kay and I have planned all our lessons. Unfortunately, the students aren’t quite used to working at our pace – we’re planning for sixth graders, they are still working at fifth grade speed. Plus, it is all new and different. This isn’t a problem, in the long run. Everything will settle down, everyone will get on track, and everything will be completed. However, for the moment, we arrive at the end of each day wondering if we have actually taught anything. But, then I think back to the homework diaries, and I realise that the children are listening, they are understanding, and we are achieving! Isn’t life brilliant!

From maths we moved into Spelling. I always start each spelling list with a pop-quiz, just to see how much they already know. Happily, there was one 10 and a couple of scores of 9.5. Then it was onto copying out the list for realz! I would like to say, I warned the students, I told them that they were copying, I reminded them to pay attention, I gave them every opportunity to get the list right. Some people have extra homework tonight [sad face].

There was a chance for ten minutes of science before recess, P.E., history, and then back to science. A lively debate happened over the different adaptations that had taken place over thousands of years. Of course it is obvious to see the differences in species, but it is also possible to see the differences between individuals, and their adaptations. My fair skin, blond hair, and blue eyes were not made for Mexican summers. This led onto other adaptations we have made in our bodies – and yes, we even discussed why someone might laugh until they cry. All of this was very interesting, but we still didn’t get anything written into our books before it was time to go home.

Oh, you are probably wondering about the seeds? That project was put on hold for a day as the guy at Mercado Hidalgo, who had promised on Saturday that the watering cans would be in on Monday, failed me. So, it was down to me to do all the watering. However, my new friend came through for me today. I have just been to pick up three watering cans. The rota will be made tomorrow, via the lollysticks-of-destiny, and it will all fall into the students hands. What’s that? You don’t know what a lollystick-of-destiny is? Ask a sixth grader, they can tell you.


Posted in maths, morning line up, science, spelling | 4 Comments »

So, how was it for you?

Posted by willkay on August 28, 2012

If you rush over to Miss Lilian‘s blog, you can read how her first day back at school went.

And if you go to Rachel Velasco‘s blog, you can read how her first day in the sixth grade went.

Posted in blog | 1 Comment »

Grow, grow,

Posted by willkay on August 27, 2012

grow your boat – oh, hang on, this has nothing to do with boats.

This year, I have decided to do some planting, and some growing. Those of you who are long term readers, might remember last year’s failed attempt to grow avocados. Well, the good news is, I’m trying to grow avocados again this year. However, realising that I might fail, I have come up with a backup plan. Above you is a picture of two bags of soil. I have cut out four strips of plastic, and I have planted seeds in the soil-strips. Yes, I am trying to grow radishes! Hopefully, by the end of the month, I should have a crop of 40+ radishes, so that each child can have a radish.

Obviously my cunning plan might fail, and once again I will be proved to be a failure in the growing-department. However, do not despair! I have yet another backup plan, and this one is cunning. This time I have recruited the children in my mad scheme. EVERY sixth grade student has planted two (2) sunflower seeds. I have also convinced Mrs. Kay to plant some seeds as well. In other words, eighty (80) sunflower seeds were planted today. At least one of them must grow. Exciting? I think so.

Oh, hello to all those new readers and welcome. I realise that there are a lot of new people arriving here, wondering what is going on. Well, this is my blog, in which I record what happened at school during the day. Normally there are pictures/videos to look at – in case reading isn’t your thing – however I can’t put pictures up of the students until I have the parents’ permission. I note went home today and, depending on the outcome, I will start posting pictures tomorrow (or the next day or the day after that).

So, how was the day? It started straight away at 7:30am. Everyone turned up with their books, equipment, and an exciting new eraser that smells of strawberry. Maybe not everyone had a new eraser. Once the books were checked in, we made our 6th Grade Passports. The sixth grade is the best grade, and it is Mrs. Kay and I’s target to make it the most fun filled year. It is our intention to try to keep the sixth grade together as much as possible. Mrs. Kay spent two hours in my classroom today, and I spent two hours in hers. This way we can make sure that the children are being taught exactly the same way, and they also benefit from having two different ways of teaching a problem – in case they don’t understand one of us.

After the Passports it was on to the rules of the sixth grade, and the problems caused by me being English. New words for the day: bin; tissues; mum; colour; shed-ule; and box. (Although, to be fair, I think it is also called a box in American.) Once we had gone through how I expected the students to do the work, it was time to do some work. English. In the sixth grade we have a writing assignment every week. It is set on Monday and is expected to be in school on Friday, completed. All of this was explained to the students, and what was expected from them in the assignment.


After recess it was Values. This year I (and Mrs. Kay) will not be teaching Values. No, this year sees the return of Professor Israel (again?), who will be teaching Values to the whole school! Which is nice. Then it was a science lesson and planting. Oh, we did manage to teach one thing: MRS. GREN. Don’t know what MRS. GREN is? Ask a sixth grader.

All in all, a brilliant day! It was a good start to the year – a year that I am sure will be an excellent one. However, for now, I am very tired. I seem to have been on my feet all day. My feet hurt, my back hurts, and I am tired. I think it’ll be an early night for me, so I am up and ready for day two.

Posted in avocado, english, planting, science, values | 5 Comments »

This morning…

Posted by willkay on August 23, 2012

….as I walked into my classroom, I saw something at the back of the room, on the floor.

As I walked to my desk, to drop off the books I was carrying, I wondered if it was something that had fallen off the wall. This made me slightly worried as I was now thinking that the whole of my display was about to fall down. However, I dropped off my stuff, wandered over to the back of the classroom and, lo and behold, turned out to be a lizard.

So, I went and got my camera, took a couple of pictures of it, and called for Mrs. Kay. She got a piece of paper and a plastic cup. She carefully coaxed the lizard into the cup, and then set it free outside the school’s grounds.

Obviously, there is at least one person thing that wants the school year to start!

Posted in blog, stuff | 2 Comments »

Guess who’s back?

Posted by willkay on August 22, 2012

Hello, did you miss me? I’m back, and I’m going to give this “blogging thing” another go.

So, what is this “blogging thing”?

The point of this blog is a way to keep parents informed of what is happening in the sixth grade. It is to give them an insight of what happens in the classroom and, in some cases, the thoughts behind what happens in the classroom. It is also for the students. Many parents cannot read English, but their students can! This blog is a chance for the students to show off their English, by reading and translating this blog to their parents. [Also this would be a moment for parents to talk about the school day with their children, because we all know how communicative 6th Graders are about their day at school!]

Is it going to be the same as before?

Maybe, maybe not. Writing a blog every day can be incredibly time consuming (especially as I have no internet in my classroom at the moment, which means that all of this will have to be done at home), plus (sometimes) I do actually have a life outside of school. So, I am not promising that this will appear every single day. However, I do know the rules of blogging (I’ve been writing a blog for nearly nine years, in some form or other), and rule one states: Update regularly. So, I will promise to write [at least] three times a week.

Will Mrs. Kay be writing a blog?

No! I will try to write as much as possible about the whole sixth grade. Obviously, Mrs. Kay and I work very closely, and it is our intention to try to keep the sixth grade as one group, rather than have them as two separate entities. We will try and spend as much time as possible in each other’s classrooms, assisting each other, working together, with the intention of offering the students the chance learn from both of us. This will mean, that I will talk about both sixth grade classes, but I will view them just as a single sixth grade. Plus, Mrs. Kay is far more intelligent than I am, so there is no way she would volunteer for this job!

Will you stop again?

During Book Month we interviewed an author, Alex Pruteanu, and one of the questions was: What inspires you to write? His answer was simply, “You.” If there are readers, then I will write. I can see how many people visit this blog a day, and when the numbers drop to single figures, it becomes very hard to motivate myself to write. This is why I stopped before. If it turns out that parents/students aren’t interested in the blog, then I will stop again.

How can I get you to keep writing?

Make comments. Join in. Make comments. Keep visiting. Make comments. There, below, where it says “leave a comment”. Press it. Leave a comment. Become part of the sixth grade community.

Whoot! What happens if I have a question?

Ask away.

But it is in Spanish?

Ask away. I can (just about) read Spanish, I know how to use Google translate, and I happen to live with someone who can translate .

Will there be cake?

Probably not. Sorry.

Everybody happy now? Good. So, let’s go:


Posted in blog | 8 Comments »

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