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 October, 2012

Making Butter

Posted by willkay on October 30, 2012

So, we were reading a story in the English book about life in the 1800s. And somewhere in the story they mentioned that everyone had to make their own butter. This sparked off a conversation, which led to another conversation, which led to…well it led to making butter in the classroom. Yes, today in 6A and in 6B we made butter. In fact, to be more precise, the students made butter in the classroom. I’d love to show you pictures of the students making the butter, but I can’t. Sorry. However, Raul took a video of the beginning of the lesson. Which means you actually get to see me teach! Is this a good thing? Anyhoo, here are two videos:

After having passed the container around the classroom, with everyone getting two good shakes and a small shake, I finally got to open the container (thanks for the scissors Pedro) and revealed the contents:

At the end everyone got a sip of the buttermilk. We took the butter home, and Mrs. Kay squeezed as much of the buttermilk out of the butter. Tomorrow we will take the butter into school and send each child home with a small piece of butter that they helped make.

So, that’s your warning – get some fresh bread in for tomorrow’s lunch!

Posted in stuff, youtube | 2 Comments »

Three thousand, nineteen

Posted by willkay on October 29, 2012

Three thousand, nineteen. Let me say that again: Three thousand, nineteen. 3019. Three thousand, nineteen pages. Ana Sofia read 3019 pages this week. Yes, in a week. Seven days. She read 3019 pages in a week. That’s, on average, 431 pages a day.

Just sayin’

Posted in reading log | 3 Comments »

Radio Shows: Part Two

Posted by willkay on October 29, 2012

And here are the 6B Radio Shows. Enjoy:

Group One:

Group Two:

Group Three:

Group Four:

Posted in spanish, youtube | 2 Comments »

Radio Shows

Posted by willkay on October 27, 2012

On Thursday, as part of their Spanish lesson, 6A had to write and present a radio show. Here are four of the five radio shows. I’d like to apologise to the fourth group. Miss Claudia has always invited me to the lesson, to watch the children’s presentations, and I normally video them. However, in most years I have managed to fit all the radio shows on my camera. This year the radio shows went on for over five minutes each, and I discovered, twenty seconds into group four’s presentation, that my memory card was full. So, there is no copy of their radio show. Sorry.

Group One:

Group Two:

Group Three:

Group Five:

Posted in spanish, youtube | Leave a Comment »

The Wall Of Fame

Posted by willkay on October 23, 2012

I might not be writing my blog, but that doesn’t mean that the students have stopped reading:

THE WALL OF FAME

  • 2150 pages: Andrea

  • 1785 pages: Roberto

  • 1072 pages: Paola

  • 866 pages: Arath

  • 709 pages: Kristina

  • 500 pages: Osvaldo

  • 440 pages: Luis Francisco

  • 399 pages: Jorge

  • 364 pages: Alexa

  • 350 pages: Pedro

  • 335 pages: Ana Sophia

  • 315 pages: Paulina

  • 300 pages: Jose Antonio

  • 300 pages: Sebastian

Posted in wall of fame | 1 Comment »

sorry, can’t do this

Posted by willkay on October 15, 2012

[UPDATE: Before you make a comment on this post, please make sure that you have read Miss Tere B’s comment.]

Unfortunately circumstances have changed, and my job has caught up with me. At this time I have found myself struggling to do my job properly and to keep this blog going. I simply do not have the time. Therefore I am going to have to suspend writing the blog. I know, I know. I toyed with giving up the job, but realised that then I would have nothing to blog about.

Please go easy on me in the comments. I feel badly enough about this decision, however I seriously cannot cope at the moment, and something has to go. If I get any time tomorrow I will try to update The Wall Of Fame – but I can make no promises.

To give you something to do until I return (oh, I am intending to return – let me assure you, these circumstances cannot remain this way because if they do, I’ll give up the job and return to the blog) here is a load of pictures I took of the DNA projects the students brought into school.
And here are two videos:

and

Posted in science, youtube | 10 Comments »

dreaming of a lazy Sunday

Posted by willkay on October 14, 2012

Last week we were talking to Nikos about how much the sixth grade at BAI read, and how impressed we were with them. [For those of you not quite up to speed on who Nikos is, he’s Mrs. Kay’s son, my step-son, and a sixth grader at Emma de la Vega.] At this point, Nikos mentioned that he would like to be on The Wall Of Fame. Obviously, this isn’t particularly possible. However, as neither of us wanted to discourage him from reading – could you imagine a world where Mr. and Mrs. Kay would actually tell someone to stop reading? Oh, hang on, I do that about seven times a day when I have to tell Andrea to put her book down and start listening to me – we told him to go for it. That was last week. One week later, this is a picture of Nikos, taken at 10:23 on a Sunday morning. Normally, by this stage, he has been on the computer, played on an iPad, watched some television, and is demanding that we do something because he is bored. However, this Sunday he is still on his bed, reading. He is desperately trying to get to the end of the book. Desperate because he wants to read book 2. You see, he’s already seen the film The Hunger Games, and he’s just discovered (in his own words) that the book is better than the film, it has more detail. Now he wants to read book 2, because he has no idea what is going to happen next. Oh, and the number of pages he has read so far, in one week? 367 (so far). This is enough to get him on The Wall Of Fame. So, if you can forgive a slight amount of parental indulgence (this is my blog after all), here’s a picture of Nikos doing his latest hobby:

Thursday seems so long ago. I remember we did some maths – changing improper fractions into mixed numbers, and changing mixed numbers into improper fractions. I know we read our Halloween stories. And I definitely know that we had a very long, very mature, very well thought out discussion about The Holocaust. Oh, and the SmartBoard in 6B exploded. I say exploded, but it was more like a rifle crack than an actual kaboom. Hopefully, Professor Victor spent Friday getting it to work, and Mrs. Kay will have something to use on Monday. Hopefully.

Friday there was no school. Actually, that’s not true. There was no school for the students, however there was school for the teachers. Eight o’clock in the morning saw us all try to squeeze into desks that were made for people a lot smaller than us.

It was a very interesting course, led by Miss Dulce. We discussed the reasons for evaluation, how to use evaluation better in the classroom, and all the new changes that are coming to the grading system. We worked in teams, we worked in pairs, we were told off a couple of times for talking, we were encouraged to participate, and we all came away better teachers for the experience. Big thanks to Miss Dulce for presenting the whole day. An even bigger thank you to Mrs. Kay who translated the whole day: as Miss Dulce spoke, Mrs. Kay typed away furiously, translating everything from Spanish to English, so that I could follow what was going on.

Saturday was spent at a volleyball tournament. However, there was a reward at the end of it all – birria tacos. And now it is Sunday, a day for chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’, all cool [and if you’re a student, and don’t know where those words come from, ask your parents. And, if they can’t receit the theme song from Fresh Prince, find it on YouTube, because really….in fact, here’s the original,

Ah, the 80s. Anyhoo, unfortunately this is not going to be a day for chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’, all cool because I have exams to write. Yes, the exam period has come around again, and I need to make sure that the exams are written, and ready for Monday, October 22nd. So, that’s my Sunday organised. Hopefully your Sunday is going better. You’ve already done your D.N.A. model, and that is ready to bring into school. Which means you can either read or try to beat my score on Subway Surfers. I’d suggest you read.

 

 

Posted in exams, geography, history, maths, reading log, science, smartboard, stuff | 4 Comments »

loads of stuff

Posted by willkay on October 10, 2012

Pablo was up early this morning to watch an attempt on the world freefall record. Unfortunately (for him) for the second day running the attempt was cancelled. The next attempt will be on Sunday. That’s good news for Pablo, he can go back to bed afterwards!

The Homeless World Cup is being held in Mexico City. Seventy-six countries are competing. You can catch up with all the details here.

Next Sunday (that’s the Sunday after this Sunday, this Sunday being the Sunday coming up, which means that next Sunday is actually the Sunday after the next Sunday…confused yet?) it’s The Mini Olympics. Yes, I know it is a Sunday. Yes, I know that it is early. However, this is an event not to be missed. This is the sixth grade, this is the students’ final year at BAI. As each day passes, they are slowly ticking off things they will never do again. This will be their final Mini Olympics. Many of the students will not compete again at sport for the rest of their academic career. None of the students will ever compete again at a BAI Mini Olympics. As each event rolls round, the students should embrace them, partake in them, and store the memories. True, at the moment they might not feel like wanting the memories. However, one day, they will look back on their time at school, and all they will have is memories. And, let’s face it, no one remembers the day they sat at home doing nothing, and thinks of it as a day well spent. However, this might be the year that Mr. Kay actually wins a race! And it would be a terrible moment if it was missed. [Please note: Mr. Kay will not be entering any races, so he won’t be winning any. But, who knows what he gets to say this year…I hope they have the theme tune from Rocky, I love that song!]

Maths was comparing fractions. English was regular and irregular plurals. Geography was WW2. The students also squeezed in a computer lesson, a Spanish lesson, and a music lesson. At some point I made Paola cry. With laughter. And there were a couple of other students laughing as well. So, that was a good thing. Oh, at another point the bell rang for recess, and no one wanted to go outside because they all wanted to stay in and listen to the lesson. So, that was a good thing. And Roberto has just become my friend on Game Center [sic].  (Center shows up as a spelling mistake on my computer, because centre should be spelt centre!) This should be a good thing. However, I can now see his scores on Temple Run (over 13 million), PvZ, and Where’s My Water. Suffice to say, all of his scores are better than mine. Plus, he finds time to read over 2000 pages a week! I need to go and practise a bit more. And read a bit more too.

Posted in english, geography, grammar, maths, olympics, stuff | 3 Comments »

six birthdays!

Posted by willkay on October 9, 2012

In the six years that I have been sixth grade teacher, I have only had four birthday parties in school for students. [I should, at this point, mention that I have been fortunate enough to have had six birthday parties and one pre-wedding party for me! Thank you parents.] In fact, I haven’t had a birthday party in my classroom for so long, that I had forgotten all about “Birthday Party Tuesday”. So, last month, when we actually had a party for Alfonso, it came as a bit of a shock to the system. This morning was a bigger shock. Not only would there be a birthday party in my classroom (again!), but it would be for six students. Yes, one third of my class were born in the month of September. So, pizza and brownies for lunch today! (Oh, and tea*.)

Maths turned into yet another extended lesson. Throughout the school there has been a timetable change. Every classroom gets seven hours of maths a week, except the sixth grade. When the changes were first presented Mrs. Kay and I discussed how many hours of maths we would we need a week. Realising that the entrance exams to Junior High come in January, we were prepared to teach two thirds of the maths’ course before then. This meant that after January, we wouldn’t have a lot left to teach. So, we declined the extra maths lessons, preferring to teach more science and geography. Except, that is after January! Before January comes, we have to cram in extra hours of maths. This, in my head, I know. I know this because I’ve been doing this now for nearly seven years. However, it always comes as a surprise to me when I end up having to teach extra maths. I suppose it is because Mrs. Kay and I plan our week’s/month’s lessons very meticulously. But when we plan, we still plan a certain amount for science and geography. Of course, this only leads to a mental pressure build up when we end up teaching more maths. It will all sort itself out in the long run, this I know. However, until I get to the middle of February, there will always be this nagging worry.

Anyhoo, as I was saying, maths turned into another extended lesson. We’ve arrived at fractions. I love fractions, as all true mathematicians do. There is something fantastic about fractions. I love the fact that there are an infinite amount of ways that you can write the same fraction. I love the whole common denominator/diagonal cancelling/change the top-change the bottom symmetry of the subject. I also love the fact that when the answer is a vulgar fraction, that’s the answer. No messing about with decimals for me! However, I am in a minority of one in my classroom. Fractions seem to be every child’s worst nightmare. It is my job to convince the children that they are wrong. That fractions can be a quick and easy answer to all the problems they face. The best way of going about this? Start all the way back at the beginning. Get them to ignore everything they’ve struggled with the first time round, and this time look at fractions with the eyes of a sixth grader. Of course, this isn’t a simple task. Some children are still stuck in the nightmare of fractions that is known as the fourth grade – that moment when the concepts suddenly get more confusing and the brain isn’t really mature enough to understand what is going on. We shall see how it goes. We will be stuck with fractions for the next 3/4 weeks (depending how much time the exams take out of the maths timetable).

I did remember to take a picture of all the children who read more than 300 pages. Following Mrs. Kay’s advice (she’s a professional photographer donchu’no), I took the picture in a different place – less sun should have led to less squinting. I’m not convinced that I got the best picture ever, but at least I remembered:

Geography turned into a history lesson. Trying to study Germany is impossible without mentioning the fact that it used to be two countries. This is impossible to mention with out talking about the Second World War. WW2 cannot be mentioned without talking about the Holocaust. You can’t talk about the Holocaust without mentioning Hitler. And you can’t talk about Hitler without talking about the National Socialist Party. Of course, you can’t mention the rise of the Nazi Party without actually explaining why Germany was in such a situation. S0 (are you following this?), today’s geography lesson was all about The Great War, or World War I as it is now called. We got as far as talking about the soldiers playing football in No-Man’s Land on Christmas Day. And I was building up to my grandpa’s role in the war, when the bell rang. Another day done.

[*tea – a mid-afternoon meal. Yes, in England, everything stops for tea. There are tea breaks, there is elevenses, there is afternoon tea, there is an evening cuppa. But these are all to drink tea. As far as meals go, there are: breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, dinner, supper. Now do you realise who J.R.R. Tolkien based the Hobbits’ eating habits on?]

Posted in geography, history, maths, stuff | 1 Comment »

since when has there only been 60 minutes in an hour?

Posted by willkay on October 8, 2012

No photo.

Sorry, there’s no photo today of the readers of the week. This is not because there are no readers of the week, there are – and there are lots. However, someone (and I’m looking at me) didn’t get round to taking a photo. It all went wrong for me today. Not seriously wrong, don’t start to panic, but I seemed to be ten minutes out all day.

Instead of a one hour maths lesson, we ended up having a two hour maths lesson. This, in and of itself, was not a bad thing. Whilst trying to tell Raul what he had missed due to his four day illness, I discovered that many of the class had failed to pick up some basic concepts along the way. Therefore it became a review lesson. We went through the terms: factor; prime; composite; prime factors; common factors; greatest common factor; multiple; common multiple; lowest common multiple. These were terms (and concepts) that I thought the class knew and understood. Oops. However, two hours later, most of the class seemed to understand what was going on (and had been going on for the previous four lessons), so it wasn’t wasted time. It did mean though, that I was criminally behind for the rest of the day. Desperately trying to make up for lost time.

Eventually we got round to collecting in the reading numbers. WOW! and indeed WOW! again. It is important to note that my target (my unofficial target) is 140 pages a week. That’s all I ask for. However, I believe that reading is important. The reader has to understand what he is reading, he has to make mental pictures. All of this stimulates the mind. Also, reading involves sitting still for a period of time, concentrating. This, I also believe, is a good quality to practice. I am a firm believer that reading, and the activity of reading, makes you a better student. Plus, it can be jolly good fun. I always, always advocate reading a book that you enjoy. If you are not enjoying the book, stop reading it. Read something else. Out there, in the world, there are millions and millions of books – way too many for one person to read in one lifetime. And definitely too many to waste any time on a book that is not enjoyable. Read a book, read a book that you enjoy. You can’t go wrong.

And these people didn’t go wrong this week:

THE WALL OF FAME

  • 2456 pages: Roberto

  • 2138 pages: Andrea

  • 1176 pages: Ana Sophia

  • 708 pages: Manuel

  • 634 pages: Julien

  • 540 pages: Kristina

  • 504 pages: Carlos

  • 477 pages: Luis Francisco

  • 457 pages: Juan Fernando

  • 450 pages: Osvaldo

  • 382 pages: Yolitzin

  • 326 pages: Anafernanda

  • 315 pages: Paola

  • 3o8 pages: Alexa

  • 300 pages: Pedro

Fifteen out of 39 students read over 300 pages. PLUS, look at Ana Sophia, joining the 1000+ Pages Club. I am really impressed with the amount of reading that is going on. Added to these numbers is the fact that another nine students read over 200+ pages. Well done to everyone!

The writing assignment is a horror/ghost story (if the student wants to write one). Otherwise, it is just a story about an old abandoned building at the end of the street. It’s been empty now for nearly 60 years. I wonder what happened there? I wonder what happened to the last people who lived there? I wonder? Of course, with there being no school on Friday (for some – not the teachers) the writing assignment is now in on Thursday!

The spelling list was all about multisyllabic words. The hardest word being peony. Notice I said it was the hardest word, not the word with the most syllables. And then it was onto science and a multisyllabic word that I always, always, always fail to pronounce/say properly: Deoxyribonucleic acid. Every year we study this. Every year I practise saying it. And every year I fail miserably when it comes round to saying out loud! So, in science we studied D.N.A. – that I can say. I left the students with a project that they can do on Friday, while they aren’t a school, making a model of D.N.A.. These need to be brought into school next Monday!

And then the bell went for the end of school. I hadn’t taken a picture. I hadn’t even visited 6B to see their Reading Log scores. Aaarrrgggghhhh! Bad teacher that I am. Hey ho! Tomorrow is another day. I’ll go visit 6B. Congratulate them on their scores. And I should get round to taking a picture and posting on here. Right, the New York Jets are losing to Houston. This could be because I’m not watching them, and cheering them on. So, I need to go and shout at Mark Sanchez! Or, if this continues, Tim Tebow.

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

 
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