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 March, 2013

Book Month – Day Fourteen

Posted by willkay on March 22, 2013

Photo on 2013-03-21 at 12.01Raul’s recommendation is Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Raul was drawn to this book because he really loves horses. At the moment he is learning to ride, and he enjoyed this story all about horses. The story is told from Black Beauty’s point of view, how the horse sees everything. At the beginning of the book, Black Beauty grows up with his mother and brother. However, they are soon separated and Black Beauty ends up having several adventures. The good news is (without giving away too many spoilers) that this book has a happy ending! So far, most of the animal books have had rather sad endings (although Alfonso insists that Call Of The Wild has a semi-happy ending), so it was nice to know that this had a happy ending. Raul recommends the book to everyone, because they should also learn to love horses. Oh, and galloping is a lot harder than it looks in films/on television. It is very tiring, it is hard work, and it can be scary – Raul has fallen off a couple of times!

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Book Month – Day Thirteen

Posted by willkay on March 20, 2013

Photo on 2013-03-20 at 09.57Two/Three weeks ago, the school (as were all the schools) was asked by SEP to read, for ten minutes, to the students. Obviously I do a lot of this anyway, however the school was asked to read in Spanish to the students! Fortunately (for me, for the students) Mrs. Kay had non-contact time at the exact time when the reading needed to be done, so she came and read to the students. The book she read was so enamoured by the students that they all clamoured to read it. Anafernanda won the battle-for-the-book, and so she presented, for Book Month: The Story of Mr. Sommer by Patrick Süskind. (Yes, Dra. Macias, Patrick Süskind the author of Perfume – a book that is better (way, way better) than the film – but I’m not recommending that to the students for another seven years! However, if you are older than 18, Perfume by Patrick Süskind is brilliant!) Anafernanda loved this book. It is funny, sad, and very romantic. She loved the character of the boy (he his never named in the book), and the things he got up to. She enjoyed the way that the book was told from a child’s point of view – the boy got in trouble with his piano teacher, but we saw it from the boy’s point of view, and he was in the right! But she also loved the romance – the way the boy planned a walk with a girl he liked. Anafernanda recommends this book to everyone in sixth grade and above! She does not recommend it to younger children!

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Book Month – Day Twelve

Posted by willkay on March 20, 2013

Three Photo on 2013-03-19 at 10.24students presented books on Tuesday. First up was Jorge with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. Jorge was very definite in his opinion of the film: he hasn’t seen it and, from what he’s heard of it, he doesn’t want to see it. The book is better! The book tells the story of Abraham Lincoln, the Abraham Lincoln that we all know and love. Except, it also tells the unknown story, Mr. Lincoln’s role as a vampire slayer. You might not have known this but there is a whole world of vampires out there, waiting to do whatever it is vampires do. However, it is thanks to the tireless work of people like Abraham Lincoln that we can sleep safely in our beds at night, protected by vampire slayers. Jorge talked in great depth about this book, he clearly liked it – and proceeded to reference it in a geography lesson 24 hours later. He recommends it to people who like action, history, and proper vampires (non-sparkly-type).

Next up was Osvaldo. Photo on 2013-03-19 at 10.31To fill in the last 5/10 minutes of a Friday afternoon, during the year, I tell the story that led up to, and includes, the sacking of Troy. I also then tell the story of Odysseus and his journey home (The Iliad and The Odyssey). Osvaldo found a book called, The Adventures of Ulysses by Bernard Evslin in the school library. This made him very happy because it appears that Odysseus was also called Ulysses! This is the story that Mr. Kay had already told him. However (dare I say it?) the book was far more detailed than Mr. Kay. [Phew! That was close. He might have said the book was better than Mr. Kay!] And this is why Osvaldo recommends the book – it tells you a lot more about the story. Osvaldo was especially interested in the fact that Greeks had hospitality rules, and when Ulysses arrived home, he wasn’t granted the rights of a guest!

Last,Photo on 2013-03-19 at 10.40 but not least, came Leon with his recommendation of The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. This tells the story of Todd, a 12 year old boy, who is the youngest boy on the planet. This is because he was the last child born before all the women disappeared. Todd has grown up in a world of men and a world of Noise. This Noise is the sound of everyone’s thoughts! Yes, on this planet you can hear everyone’s and every things’ thoughts. Todd runs away from his village and meets a girl. A girl with no Noise. At this point, Leon didn’t want to tell too much more because he didn’t want to spoil the story. His favourite character is not Todd, it’s Manchee – Todd’s dog. Leon liked him because he was very funny, and exceedingly loyal.


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Book Trailers

Posted by willkay on March 17, 2013

As part of Book Month, we ask the children to make a trailer for a book. We try to do this with as little guidance as possible. Obviously, as teachers we are there to help, but the idea is to get the children to work on their own, in groups. They have to make decisions, they have organise, they have to visualise, and they have to produce.

First of all, they have to divide themselves up into teams (no lollysticks of doom were used in the making of this project), making sure that no one is left out. Then, within their teams, they have to pick a book. This is the first area of contention, sometimes people in the group haven’t read the book. Thus the major plot points have to be described to everyone, and scenes have to be picked. Picking the book is the hardest part. Too often it is easy to pick a book that is already a film. However, I am happy to say that, this year the students avoided the easy targets and went off on their own, choosing books that they liked. Of course, the next problem is how to write/perform scenes on a budget of zero pesos, all locations inside school, the school day is still happening, and only one camera held by a teacher! These are problems that the students have to overcome, by using their imagination and accepting the limitations that occur. Obviously, we could have spent hours and hours, preparing, producing, and recording. In the end, we spent four/five hours preparing, and one day of shooting. One day of shooting for ALL the trailers. I know that I shot 40+ different scenes, and the last scene of the day was shot on the road outside school, at 2:31pm as children were being put into cars.

Even with all these limitations, I think that children have come up with some very good trailers. Mrs. Kay and I spent yesterday in our editing suite, trying to make them as coherent as possible. Here, in alphabetical order, are the seven trailers for books, that the children made:

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Reptile Room (Book 2) by Lemony Snicket

Back to School Mallory by Laurie B Friedman

Bunnicula by James Howe

City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

The Engineer’s Thumb by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

The Messenger by Lois Lowry


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Book Month – Day Ten (and a half)

Posted by willkay on March 17, 2013

At photothe beginning of Book Month, I asked for recommendations from you, gentle reader. Yes, you! On the very first day Miss Lilian recommended a book – but you knew that didn’t you? Because you read the comments -, Running For My Life by Lopez Lomong. Mrs. Kay and I have both read the first bit of the book to our classes, and they were enthralled. Miss Lilian has written about this book over on her blog, but you knew that didn’t you? Because you read her blog too! If you missed it you can read about Running For My Life here.

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Book Month – Day Ten

Posted by willkay on March 16, 2013

Apologies, there are no Book Reports from 6A today. Unfortunately, due to one thing and another, there was no time during the day to do our Book Recommendations. And, there is only one report from 6B because they have arrived at the end of their book reports. [Mrs. Kay, so organised!]

Here is Ana Sofia with her recommendation Emergency Room by Caroline B. Cooney:

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Book Month – Day Nine

Posted by willkay on March 16, 2013

Yes, I know, incredibly late. However, Thursday was a very, very, very busy day (filming), and Thursday night is the only night of the week that Mrs. Kay and I are both free – which means we have a rule that neither of us does any school work on a Thursday (after school, obviously). So…here are Thursday’s Book Recommendations a couple of days late.

Photo on 2013-03-14 at 11.29Paola recommends The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. She really likes this book because she became really involved with the characters. She recommends this book to everyone because she feels that it is gives you a great awareness of all the things you have in your life. She feels so much more grateful for having her family, and the life she lives now. This book really moved her, and she became very associated with the characters.

Yolitzin recommends The Photo on 2013-03-14 at 11.33 #2Girl Who Owned A City by O.T. Nelson. In this story, a deadly virus kills all the people in the world, over the age of 12. This leaves the children to fend for themselves. At first they resort to looting and stealing. However, they start to form gangs and become more organised. The book follows one gang and how they have to survive in this post-apocalyptic world. The children have to learn to plan ahead, to gather food, and to learn to manufacture certain items. Yolitzin recommends this book to everyone.

In 6B Alietai recommends The Never Ending Story by Michael Ende:

And Angela recommends Summer Of The Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker:

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Book Month – Day Eight

Posted by willkay on March 13, 2013

Photo on 2013-03-13 at 08.08Today it was 6A’s turn to do THREE book reports. Isabella led off the recommendations with The Island Of The Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. Isabella likes this book because she really relates to the characters. As she read the book she could she a reflection of her relationship with her sister. Isabella sees herself as mischievous, and always getting in to trouble. However, her older sister, Olaya, is always there to help her and protect her. Isabella recommends this book to everyone! She thinks it is a good example of how relationships work between siblings.

Elena’s recommendation is Dare To Dream: Life As One Direction. Photo on 2013-03-13 at 08.09This book takes you inside the world of One Direction: from their start on X-Factor to their conquering of the world with their music. Liam is Elena’s favourite band member because he is funny, Irish, and cute. Her favourite bit of the book is the X Factor part, when the group came together. Elena has read this book three times, however she does not recommend it to everyone. You really have to be a One Direction fan to really appreciate it.

Photo on 2013-03-13 at 08.15Alfonso recommends Call Of The Wild by Jack London. This is the story of a dog, Buck, who is stolen from his owner in California. Manuel, the gardener, takes the dog and sells him to someone else. Eventually Buck ends up being owned by a French Canadian man and pulling a sledge in the frozen North. The book is full of action and drama, and a certain amount of sadness. It sort of has a happy ending, but it isn’t a real Hollywood happy ending. There are bits in the book that include cruelty to animals – Buck mainly. Although there is some sadness in the book, Alfonso still recommends it to everyone!

Next door, in 6B, Rachel recommends Back To School Mallory by Laurie B. Friedman:

And Rafael recommends Diary Of A Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney:

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Book Month – Day Seven

Posted by willkay on March 12, 2013

Photo on 2013-03-12 at 11.16Luis Francisco likes factual books! Oh, he reads fiction and he enjoys it, but his real love is for FACTS. He’d gone to CECUT for a specific book, which they didn’t have, and he saw La Biblia De Las Criaturas Miticas by Brenda Rosen. This is now his favourite book. It is exactly what he likes: facts and mythology. Obviously there isn’t a favourite character, but he does have a favourite mythological creature: it is the Hippocampus (not to be confused with part of the brain). This creature was half horse, half fish, and pulled Neptune’s chariot. However, Luis Francisco’s least favourite mythological creature is the mermaid! He thinks they are evil. The book does not just cover creatures from Greek mythology, it also covers animals from many other countries and religions. Luis Francisco recommends this book to anyone who loves facts!

Meanwhile, in 6B there were three (THREE) book reports. Hector recommends Divergent by Veronica Roth:

Sebastian recommends The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan:

And Emilio recommends The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

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Book Month -Day Six

Posted by willkay on March 12, 2013

Photo on 2013-03-11 at 10.50We’ve moved up to two book reports in 6A, for this week. The first one came from Kristina. She recommended A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Slippery Slope by Lemony Snickett. Oddly (to me), this is book ten in the series. However, it is Kristina’s favourite. Her favourite character, throughout the series, is Violet. Kristina likes Violet because of her love for her siblings. Also because Violet is clever, and she uses her intelligence to protect her siblings from the machinations of Count Olaf. BUT, Count Olaf isn’t Kristina’s most disliked character, it is Esme Squalor. This is because Ms. Squalor is even worse than Count Olaf! Kristina recommends this book to everyone. Although the book “pretends” to be miserable, it is full of funny moments.

Andrea picked Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. One ofPhoto on 2013-03-11 at 10.55 the main reasons Andrea picked this book was because she likes history. She had heard that the French had about five revolutions. Obviously, most of us had heard about the first one, in 1789, but knew little about the others (or is that just me?). It is mainly for this reason that Andrea prefers the book to the film! The book has a lot more detail, and goes into a lot more information about the revolution. Also there are more characters in the book. However, her favourite character is still Jean Valjean. Andrea recommends this book to everyone who likes history. (Oh, and in case you didn’t know – there is no singing

In 6B, Isabel recommended Trading Faces by Jennifer Ros and Julie Devillers

And Lizeth recommended a book by the same authors: Double Feature.

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