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 the ‘art’ Category

and everything is coming up roses coriander

Posted by willkay on September 30, 2011

The coriander (cilantro) is growing! I’m excited about this because my avocado seeds have failed me – although Castelina is trying her up most to split and grow, the other two seem to have given up totally. But, the coriander is growing!

Well, that was a week. Five days ago, I was sat here at the dining room table, staring at a bunch of maths exams, wondering where it had all gone wrong. Today, I’m sat at the same table, my mark book beside me, with a very happy grin on my face. From the ashes of the maths exam had risen the phoenix of success. The Spanish exam, the English exam, the Science exam, the History exam – in each case there were a healthy number of tens, and over half the class achieving a 9.0 or more. This is more like the sixth grade. This is more like being a sixth grade teacher. The exams have shown real effort, and a real desire to learn the facts. Today I offered not to do a Geography review, and was met with a resounding NO! These are students that want to achieve, want to do well. Monday was a blip, part of the learning curve. I know it’s silly to say it, but I’m looking forward to marking Monday’s Geography exam – but I am really looking forward to marking the maths exam. That’s the maths exam on 24th October!

The morning started with a staff meeting. We discussed the Halloween celebrations – the theme is FOOD! The teachers are all expected to turn up in costumes that depict food. Hmmmm, wondering how to make a giant taco costume now. Might have to borrow Aleksei’s piñata. We discussed the Christmas Extraordinary Assembly. Hmmm, it appears that I have to choreograph the dance. That’s going to be interesting. And then we wrote nice things about each other.

Now, it is going to be difficult to describe the rest of the day, because I didn’t see the sixth grade to teach them, until 2pm. Let me explain. We got into the classroom at 9:15. Miss Claudia didn’t want to wait until after recess, before they sat the History exam. So, I agreed to invigilate the exam. The class asked for some extra time to study, I gave them 15 minutes, and then they sat the exam. At 10am they went to art class. I visited the art class at 10:30 to take pictures.

I then left. At 11am I went back, to pick up my group to discover that they were all sat in a circle telling stories. The class asked if they could stay and continue telling their stories, and Miss Lilian (no, not that one) was happy for them to stay. And they never came back…

After recess there was a Spanish lesson. And then, well then Professor Marvin had the music lesson that the class missed on Wednesday. And so, I only got to see the class for half an hour! We managed to cover most of the Geography we have studied this month. Let’s hope enough sank in before Monday’s exam.


  • Geography: exam Monday
  • Read: bring a book into school
  • Reading Log: numbers for The Wall of Fame

Posted in art, geography | 7 Comments »


Posted by willkay on September 15, 2011

Monday – Bring in your Piñata! There will be a display of all the piñatas  – make sure yours is in school and in the display.

Posted in art | 2 Comments »

had really good day today

Posted by willkay on September 2, 2011

Recently Miss Lilian was talking to me about this blog. I was saying how it was sometimes hard to get home and write something every day, and she suggested that maybe I should just write something once a week. I thought about it for nearly a whole second and then said; No. It can be hard work, I get home tired from the day and sometimes the thought of pulling out the laptop and writing a blog post just isn’t what I want to do. Some days it is really hard – today I left school and had to go pay the bills, the cable, the phone, the mobile phones, the internet. I had to pick up my step-daughter from school and drive her home. And in thirty minutes my step kids will descend on the flat, causing maximum mayhem where ever they go. Some times I think it would be great not to write a blog, but then I realise that it is very cathartic. It gives me the chance to look back over the day, and no matter how tired I am, no matter how stressed i feel, no matter how many things might have gone wrong – there is always the possibility of finding something good in the day, writing about it, and feeling great about another day successfully dealt with. Some days it is just good because every child that came into my care left school a little wiser and in good health. Today was one of those days that went really well (really, really well).

Laptops. We started the morning using the laptops. One person had forgotten her laptop. In theory, this should have been a moment to start tearing out my hair and shouting, “told you so!” but in practice? The student just looked at me and said, “I have to learn responsibility.” Fantastic! Fan-blummin-tastic! Who would have thought that the actual act of leaving a laptop at home would be a moment when a student took responsibility for her own actions. This is why I teach sixth grade, this is why I love teaching. Marissa Cano, step forward. Your comment made my day. Thank you.

Anyhoo, we used the laptops. Still downloading stuff (it gets a bit slow when 20 students all want to download something at once – if we do this next year we’ll have to plan this better). However, some of the students got to download Google Earth. Aleksei went on a guided tour of London – and I got to explain to him the running joke maria and I have about “The Gherkin”. Enrique managed to use the internet to figure out a way to get in through the front door of the pyramids. And someone (was it Rodrigo?) found the school at street level. [Actually, don’t tell anyone this but, if you go to Google maps, and you look at my mum’s front door, turn to the left, you can see a picture of my mum crossing the road – true story.]

The art lesson was all about design. I have no idea what they were doing exactly, but the students were very excited about it all. They were arguing (which I always find a great thing – I love a good argument between students, it shows they are thinking and are passionate about a subject) and discussing their designs. In fact, Miss Lilian (no, not that Miss Lilian, the other one, the art teacher) had a difficult job getting them to leave her classroom!

The SEP books have arrived! I know, are you as excited as Miss Claudia? At last she has her Spanish, History, and Civics books. Of course, in Maths, Science, and Geography we will continue to study above and beyond what SEP asks for. I was talking to an ex-student yesterday, at the parents’ meeting, and he was telling me how the maths is easy and the geography was still learning the states and their capitals. Pretty sure they did the geography in the third grade. We definitely covered it in the sixth!

The English lesson was brilliant! On Monday i spent some time explaining what a five paragraph story should look like, and should feel like. There is always a certain amount of fear/trepidation worrying about what the students might turn up with. Some years I have had whole groups who have missed the point. Sometimes, half the group have got the idea. This time was wonderful. [Do I keep using the word wonderful?] Only three students missed the mark. As usual, I asked each student to stand in front of the class and read their story. The rest of the students have to listen to the story. Now, you might not realise this, but one of the hardest audiences in the world is a bunch of sixth grade students on a Friday afternoon. They were captivated. They listened to stories about elephants, crocodiles, dogs, snakes, monkeys, polar bears, fish, chameleons, duck billed platypus, rabbits, vicious evil rabbits, killer rabbits, and even something about an ice cream and a corn dog (I think). It was a great lesson!

Just time to run outside and practise the song one last time – it went well. [I hope the students remember to smile.] And then time to remind everyone about Monday.

  • gala uniform
  • no bracelets
  • no watches
  • red ribbons
  • no nail polish
  • Parents: no cell phones, no photography/video during honours to the flag
  • laptops (charged)

It has been an excellent week. It has been an excellent two weeks. I have taken lots of photos during the two weeks. Unfortunately I can’t afford the Flickr page any more. However, you should be able to find the pictures here on Picasa. [Click on the word here to look at the pictures.] And, of course, there are videos to watch on my youtube site which is here.

Enjoy the weekend. Come back to school on Monday with lines learnt, song memorised, and loads of bottle tops!

Posted in art, assembly, english, laptops, reading log, stories, youtube | 19 Comments »


Posted by willkay on November 27, 2010

That Was, The Week, That Was was the name of the television programme that launched Sir David Frost’s career. The title of the show was shortened to TW3.

In 1882 the Australian cricket team beat the English cricket team for the first time. The Times newspaper published an obituary talking about “the death of English cricket” and how “the body had been cremated and the ashes taken to Australia“.  The next year, when the English team travelled to Australia to play the return match, the tour was called “The Quest to Regain The Ashes“. This is how legends are made. England play Australia every two/three years over five games for a small urn of ashes. This is cricket being played at its most competitive and is a fantastic event. Each game lasts five days. Each day lasts seven hours. There are moments of great excitement, huge confrontation, amazing athleticism. However, the thing that I love most about cricket is the moment to moment. To the untrained eye it can often appear that nothing is happening but if you know the game there is always something happening. I was brought up watching cricket, and when I say watching I mean watching. From a very early age I was taught to use a scoresheet and how to keep a record of every single ball bowled, every run scored. Because I am who I am, I loved the statistical analysis of each and every ball. However, there was also the playing of the game. Cricket, although it is a team game, is very much an individual sport. Often it boils down to just one player against one player. It can become like chess, but with more physical activity. I love my football (soccer to you), I really enjoy my rugby, but the game at my core, the one that means the most to me, is cricket. And there is nothing more exciting than The Ashes series. Often people will ask me if I miss England, miss stuff. What people don’t realise is that the world is getting smaller and smaller. Two years ago I missed The Ashes series in England (where England won!). However two years later, thanks to the moving forward in technology, the speeding up of connections, I can catch every single ball bowled in The Ashes. Even better, I’m in Mexico. This means that the games are played between 4pm and midnight my time. Yes, thanks to the internet I am watching cricket. Gotta lurve progress.

However, the cricket hasn’t been the only sport this week. On Thursday the mighty Santos Laguna won 2-1 against America in the semi-finals of Clausura. The New York Jets also won on Thursday. And earlier in the week the mighty Sheffield United came back from 2-1 down to win 3-2. And while all of this has been going on: my step-daughter, Danny, has had two maths exams; my step-son has been going through exams; I took maria out for a meal to celebrate the fact it was Tuesday (as you do); people we haven’t seen for ages have turned up unexpectedly; exams have had to be written; it has started snowing back in England and my mother has had to travel (which is a certain amount of stress); and with one thing and another something in my life had to be dropped. In case you didn’t notice, the thing that got dropped was this blog. Unfortunately Monday turned into a personal disaster area, and once I’d missed one day it became very easy to miss the next and the next and the next.

Monday: Third grade assembly was a re-enactment of the Mexican Revolution, which was fantastic. I love moustaches! In maths we covered volumes of rectangular prisms and cylinders. It was time to write the first Book Report of the year. I like my book reports written in a certain way. I do not like a breakdown, page by page, of the whole book. This took sometime to explain. It also led to the introduction of the book The Twits to the class. As I write this post at the end of the week, I can report that four different students have now read the book. This is what I mean by “a good book“. It is fun, it is enjoyable, and everyone has read it in one sitting. Then moved on to another book. Later in the day we read a story about a boy who had crashed in the Canadian wilderness and learned how to make fire. I’m not so sure that this was a good idea, having watched the class playing with fire at Alexa’s party.

Tuesday: we used protractors in maths. It was all about drawing and measuring angles. Homework was a worksheet that needed accuracy to complete to the satisfaction of the person marking it (that would be the person sat next to you!). In art the students made Christmas decorations. Yep, Christmas is coming. The geography lesson was really more of a history/politics lesson. The geography of eastern Europe is difficult to do without mentioning the dramatic changes that occurred in the 1980s. The next topic, Russia, is even more about history than geography.

W*dnesd*y: And there was no Miss Claudia. I have now discovered a new work-related-injury. When I first started work, over 25 years ago, I used to suffer a lot from chalk dust. This would find it’s way into clothes, hair, lungs and was a problem. The next year I got my first whiteboard. Unfortunately, the pens the school provided me with were alcohol based. This meant that come lunchtime I would suffer with chronic headaches. This year I am now suffering from hurty-finger-syndrome.  I love the SMARTboard, don’t get me wrong, however I do a lot of my wok on the board with my forefinger, especially the tip of my forefinger. Today we did constructions. All week I have been using the ruler and protractor that come with the board and today I added the pair of compasses to the mix. By the end of the day I has all but erased my fingerprint. Even now, as I type, I have noticed that I am not using my right forefinger because it is still so sore. Also learned that there would be no Gerry in school on Thursday and Friday.

Thursday: Gerry was in school. More constructions in maths and my finger has actually gone shiny! There will be a computer exam next Thursday and I was given a study guide. Not sure what I was supposed to do with it, but I have a study guide if anyone wants to borrow i..oh, no I don’t. Miss Lilian has the study guide. Miss Claudia was in school! Hurray! The auditions for The Little Mermaid will be on Monday. Parts of scripts were given out so that lines could be learnt. Of course, it is not just important to learn the lines it is also important to understand the lines, and to act the lines. In English we came across Hieroglyphs. On the internet we found a site that let you type in your name and it would translate it into hieroglyphs. So long as your name didn’t have an x or a z in it.

Friday: normal start for me, late start for the students. There was a staff meeting in which we discussed discipline. Because of the meeting there was no yoga lesson, so it was straight into the maths review. Maths exam on Monday and this month we have covered a huge amount of ground. In fact, in the three months we have been in school we have covered nearly half of the book. This is because in January there will be the Junior High School exams and I want to cover as much ground as possible before them. Hopefully, the rest of the school year will not be as mathematically full. It’s Friday, which means that it is Reading Log day. Now, I was pretty sure that everyone knew it was Reading Log day, however nine people forgot their reading logs – oops. But this means that there are some new names on The Wall Of Fame.


  • 1015 pages: Roberto
  • 648 pages: Polette
  • 438 pages: Ninotchka
  • 311 pages: Marianna
  • 293 pages: Octavio
  • 262 pages: Daniel
  • 250 pages: David
  • So, congratulations to those new names. And boo to those who forgot their reading logs. Some people also forgot their book reports! This was not a good thing to do. They must be in on Monday or they will score a zero! In the afternoon we watched The Little Mermaid so that everyone could have a chance to see the film, and get an idea of their roles. Then it was on to Alexa’s party!!!

    English Word Letter of the Day Week: z. It is pronounced “zed” not “zee”.


    • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

    Posted in art, assembly, blog, english, exams, geography, history, maths, reading log, smartboard, the little mermaid, wall of fame | 6 Comments »

    (toast) Tuesday

    Posted by willkay on November 16, 2010

    The brain has millions and millions of pathways. Some of those paths never get signals sent down them. Some paths get signals sent down them once, but never again. So, although they were open once, they slowly wither and close. The reason we send children to school is to get as many of those paths open as possible, before old age creeps upon them and the paths start closing down due to sports injuries, alcohol intake, or just plain ordinary old age. Often children will ask, “Why do we need to study this?” (In fact today I was asked why you need to learn area – is it if you want to become an architect?) The answer to the question is: To open those pathways. The more you open the pathways, the easier it is to send signals in your brain, the easier it is to remember the important stuff (like where you parked the car). The easiest way to open as many of these pathways as possible is by reading a good book. Now, a good book is a book that you enjoy reading. A good book is a book that makes you want to turn the page and read more. A good book is the one that Gerry is reading at the moment. In lessons, he finishes his work as quickly as possible, gets it marked, and then gets back to his desk to find out what is happening. A good book is the book you carry around with you at all times, for those odd moments when you can find out what is happening to your new best friends (the people in the book). A good book fires up your imagination. It paints a picture in your mind, you know how the characters look, you can hear their voices, you become emotionally involved. A good book is a page turner. The school has a homework policy. This policy states that the students should be reading 20 minutes every night. I disagree with this policy. I think you should just be reading every night. But, more importantly, you should be reading a good book. A book that you don’t want to stop at 20 minutes. A book that you want to read the next page, the next chapter, the whole thing in one sitting. I realise that this can be expensive. Especially if your child is reading three or four books a month. However, they are all in this together. If one student reads a good book s/he should tell his/her friends, and lend them the book. I am all for keeping a classroom library, where the students can drop their books off for the year, and take them back at the end. Through all of thsi though, what I am trying to do is to encourage the children to read, to stretch their imaginations. At the moment, too much information is actually handed to them visually/aurally through television, films, computers, video games, SMARTboards. Everything is available at the flick of a switch. If you don’t understand something: ask a teacher; ask a parent; ask Google. It is only when you are reading that you are on your own. And it is at this time in their academic lives that they have the time to read. Next year they will find themselves inundated with more homework. Their lives will become full with new activities. The opportunities to read, to discover new worlds, to lose themselves in a book will disappear. The Wall Of Fame and The 200+ Club exist as a way to encourage children to read. Yes, it is possible to argue that they encourage quantity rather than quality. However, in a situation where children are reading, and reading because they enjoy it, they are bound to (eventually) read what might be considered as quality literature. All I am concerned with is improving their minds. And all you need for that is a good book!

    I’ve said it before but that won’t stop me repeating it: a weekend empties students brains. A long weekend gives their heads an extra shake so that more information can fall out. This morning started with one student having totally forgotten how to work out the area of a rectangle. However, a quick couple of mental exercises (and some questions on the board) and we were all set for the circumference of a circle. Well, we would have been if we knew what a radius, diameter, and circumference actually were. [side note: the plural of radius -> radii.] Then, and only then, could we finally meet the constant:


    Or, to give it its more formal name, π. It was formulae time: C=πd and/or C=2πr.

    The English lesson was a de-briefing on how Friday’s lesson went. How some students managed to work out the scoring system, and use it efficiently. And how some students managed to mess the whole thing up by just voting for their friends. I also launched this week’s writing assignment. Except this week it isn’t so much a writing assignment as a presentation assignment. This  week they are to invent something. I don’t mind if it is possible to make the invention, or if the technology does not yet exist. They need to come up with an idea that that they think will work, that they really like, and then have to sell that idea to the rest of the class. As an example I told the class of my love of toast, and how I would invent the perfect toaster that would satisfy my need for twenty pieces of toast in one sitting. This also led to a discussion about Marmite. Mmmmm, Marmite.

    The art lesson was followed by a shortened science lesson. (I say shortened because it started ten minutes late as it took that long to get the 6th grade from the art room back to the classroom, and settled down to work.) We dealt with the digestive system. I could go into a bit more detail about what we covered in the lesson, however I won’t because really? You don’t want/need to know.

    Recess, and this week I am working in the shop.

    Geography was Germany, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland. By the end of the day, the students were getting a bit restless – those long weekends are never good for class discipline – so the bell for home time couldn’t ring soon enough.

    English words of the day. Spelling: centre. Pronunciation: semi-circle.


    • Maths: Reteaching 8-something. It’s the six questions about circumference. Might be 8-4?
    • Writing/Presentation Assignment: Invention. (for Friday)
    • Geography: Five facts about Greece.
    • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

    Posted in art, english, geography, maths, reading log, science | 6 Comments »

    (in the groove) Tuesday

    Posted by willkay on October 26, 2010

    I like teaching sixth grade. They are still excited about learning, and they are old enough to make intuitive leaps. They can think for themselves, they have the ability to answer their own questions, they desire knowledge. School is still exciting for them, it hasn’t yet become a chore, and they still want to learn. Of course, there are still some things that make no sense – I challenge anyone to convince me that knowing the difference between a complex sentence, a compound sentence, or a compound-complex sentence is of any particular use outside of “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?“. However, being able to come up with a way to clean your body, without using water (could you use a balloon?) just shows brilliance.

    Exam week is difficult. The students’ attention is focused totally on one hour a day – the exam. The rest of the day suffers from an inability to focus (or self motivate). Also, it is a bad idea to try to teach anything new. With focus gone, targets set with the exams, new information is just confusing, and the kids are unreceptive. However, we soldier on.

    Half an hour in the morning to study for the Spanish and Civics exam, followed by maths and the return of the exams. Eight students got a 10, five got 9.0 or better. Excellent results.

    Review for the English exam. Art lesson, and making spiders? Pacman ghosts? Wooly-scary-thingies? English – reading story. After recess (and cleaning up after recess) it was time for the Spanish and Civics exam. Then a review for tomorrow’s History exam (English and History exams tomorrow). The day was rounded off with finishing the story we are reading, and a bit more of the story of Odysseus.

    Onwards and upwards.


    • English: exam on Wednesday
    • History: exam on Wednesday
    • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

    Posted in art, english, exams, grammar, history, maths, recess, spanish | Leave a Comment »

    (rain) Tuesday

    Posted by willkay on October 19, 2010

    It’s raining and I have exams to write:

    • 20 out of 21 homework notebooks signed
    • everyone’s homework done
    • addition and subtraction of fractions
    • art
    • geography
    • Spanish
    • 5th grade reading total was half of the 6th grade’s
    • more geography
    • what do Scotsmen wear under their kilts?
    • how did Mr. Kay’s dad spend a week one summer?
    • why are Sheffield United called “The Blades”?
    • and it rained

    Do not forget your Computer Homework. No excuses will be permitted. It must be done, it must be in school.


    • Maths: Reteaching 4-2 Nos: 10-21
    • Computing: Tips for Social Networking (in on Wednesday)
    • Homework Diary: Please get it signed.
    • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

    Posted in art, geography, maths, rain | 8 Comments »

    (another day older) Tuesday

    Posted by willkay on October 5, 2010

    I cannot learn things “off-by-heart”, I am just not a good rote learner. I need tricks and mnemonics to help me memorise. No, the best way for me to learn stuff is for me to understand it. And this is the way I teach, to understand. Quite often the textbook can be a frightening thing. It is big, it is heavy, it is full of information, and quite often that information can be quite confusing. I’ve had teachers who made me copy passages out of textbooks, learn to recite sections, parrot back whole paragraphs, and yet I very rarely learnt anything. The way I learnt was when the teacher made it interesting, when s/he appeared to take a whole different path to the textbook, when it appeared to be a voyage of discovery for the teacher as well as for me. I learnt better when I was teaching-the-teacher, when I had to understand what I was doing so that I could explain it to him/her. And lessons were fun. School was a place I wanted to go to, the classroom was a new adventure. The history teacher who turned over his desk to hide from the invading German troops. From behind his desk he would describe the horrors of the Eastern Front, and how it led to the Russian Revolution. Even now I remember the dates automatically and yet I struggle to remember my parents’ birthdays. The maths teacher who would give me all the answers to the questions because he didn’t care what the answer was, all he was interested in was the journey. The English teacher who wouldn’t let you read out loud if you were boring, he wanted you to understand what you were reading, fill your voice with emotion. When I decided what sort of teacher I would be, I decided to be the exciting teacher, the interesting teacher. There was no way I could sit in a classroom week-after-week, doing the same thing year-after-year, unless it was going to be interesting to me. So, that’s what I do. Of course, it can go all wrong. It can go wrong if your students are used to being spoon fed, not used to listening to an idea and understanding it. It can go wrong if they don’t understand a concept fully. Take Tijuana for example, why does it exist? Why is the population of Tijuana so large? Here’s a fact to start off with: only one set of parents’ in my classroom were born in Tijuana. That means that less then 4% of the parental pairs are native to Tijuana. Why does everyone come here? In my case, I came for love. But, in my case, my girlfriend was not born here in Tijuana, she was born in Torreón (the home of the mighty Santos). So, why did she come here? She came because Sony were here. Why were Sony here? NAFTA. The North American Free Trade Agreement is the key to understanding why we are all here in Tijuana (including me). Once you understand that, then the rest follows. Easy? Well, I’d think so but there are still some students who think that people are here because of the shopping available across the border. I try to make it interesting, I really do try.

    The geography exams went back. Eleven students got a 9.0 or above (there were five students with a perfect 10). The maths homework was checked. We moved on to Divisibility Rules. [Again, this is something that they have done before but can’t fully remember because they don’t fully understand.] The maths lesson was interrupted by the art lesson – were they making Gargoyles? There are pictures in the usual place. Back in the classroom we went through the maths quickly (yes Mr. Kay, we all understand), and then on to a Spelling Quiz. What? No mention of Secret Agent 003½? No, today we concentrated on his nemesis, the evil Dr. Evil.

    Recess. Have we talked about this weather? How weird is it?

    After recess there was just enough time to introduce the new spelling list: Difficult Spellings. Then it was onwards-and-upwards in my attempt to cover 138 pages of the Geography textbook in less than two hours. Success! We are now ready to start the Geography course…five weeks after school began! Western Europe, or my old home as I like to call it.

    Happy Birthday Polette! We had our first birthday of the year. The sixth grade is no longer a group of eleven year olds. We are now moving towards the dreaded teenager-years when everything becomes so difficult and complicated. At least we are heading in that direction with a smile on our faces.


    • Maths: Practice 3-3
    • Spelling List: each word 3 times
    • Spelling Workbook: pages: 13,14
    • Spelling Corrections: All five times
    • Writing Assignment: My Favourite Book (due Friday )
    • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night. (That’s 20 mins homework. Not including any time you have read in the classroom.)

    Posted in art, english, exams, geography, maths, spelling | 3 Comments »

    (not so smart) Tuesday

    Posted by willkay on September 21, 2010

    Five extra minutes of recess!!! The whole school got five extra minutes of recess today! “Why?” you may ask. “Because the whole school is brilliant!” I would answer. In last year’s ENLACE exams, BAI came in sixth in our district. Hurrah! And if there are any old students (when I say old I mean students who left last year) reading, take this opportunity to pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself. Also, feel free to go see your new principal and ask for an extra five minutes of recess. You never know.

    A great start to the day which, as is the way with these things, was followed by a bad start to the day. The SMARTboard wouldn’t boot up. Boo! Instead I had to use chalk and a green board. It was like I was working way, way back in time, almost as far back as…last week? However, we didn’t need a SMARTboard for the first lesson because it was Science, and we were doing an experiment! Before we started, like good scientists, we had to learnt the five steps that every scientist must take, in order to complete a successful experiment. Once we had worked that out, it was on to the actual experiment. Do vascular plants have “tubes”? This involved a certain amount of celery, fresh water, food colouring, and (of course) one control celery. By the end of the lesson, with the experiment totally set up we were ready to move on to maths. It would take a certain amount of time before we would see if our experiment was successful.

    Maths was successful. The homework was done well and everyone had a good understanding of Mean, Median, and Mode. Some need to take care when adding up the totals before dividing, and some need to remember to put the numbers in order before finding the median. Although, I’m not convinced that anyone understood Alejandro’s method of: front, back, back, front, front, front, back, back, back, front, back, top, top, bottom, bottom, bottom, top, top, something. I might have got that wrong. You should probably ask him to explain.

    Art (some pictures in the usual place) was followed by English, and the new spelling list. Unfortunately, I don’t continue the story of Secret Agent 003½ during the introduction of the spelling list. Which means that some students were desperate for the spelling quiz now! But it was not to be, and instead we went out for recess.

    Another science lesson after recess. First we had to finish off last week’s (actually two week’s ago) work on cells. This led to a discussion about “cracking bones”, which occurred just as Miss Lilian joined the lesson. Hopefully the talk of knees wearing out didn’t upset her too much – as she now has bionic knees! And then we were joined by Mr. Apac, carrying a computer under his arm. As the lesson turned to a discussion about diffusion and osmosis, he worked away on the SMARTboard. With 30 minutes of the day left, and as the lesson arrived at the point where we could check out the results of the experiment, Mr. Apac fixed the SMARTboard – Houston we have NO problem! The experiment was a total success. All the celery (except for the control) had changed colour. And it was possible, after cracking the celery, to see the lines of colour running up the “tubes”. Yes, vascular plants transfer water via tubes!

    Today I will end on an apology. Sorry. I took in the Reading Log numbers, I recorded the numbers on my chart in school, but I failed to make a note of them for when I come home. I will not be able to publish The Wall of Fame today. Sorry. Oh, and while I’m at it (apologising that is), I’d like to say sorry to Miss Marcela (Miss Tere B) for forgetting her yesterday. Miss Marcela reads every day, and comments often. Thank you.


    • Maths: Practice 1-10 Nos: 9, 10
    • Spelling: pages: 10, 11
    • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

    Posted in art, maths, reading log, recess, science, smartboard, spelling, wall of fame | 6 Comments »

    (PEMDAS) Tuesday

    Posted by willkay on September 14, 2010

    There are certain days that you never want to teach on: the day of the first snowfall; Red Nose Day; the last day of school before the holidays. I’m fairly certain that I will never have to teach through the first two ever again, and the third one never happens. You never teach on the last day before the holidays! It’s all parties, and DVDs, and fun quizzes, and games, and football matches. So, I thought I was pretty safe. You see, on those days, it is impossible to actually teach. Students thoughts are always elsewhere: the middle of a snowball fight; wondering what silly thing will happen next; determined that whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, except for M&Ms from the M&M Factory. And then President Calderon, bless his cotton socks, goes and declares a three day holiday which, thanks to the weekend, turns into a five day break. Can you concentrate a child’s mind to work after that start to the day? Well, yes you can but it is a struggle.

    Straight in to maths and Order of Operations, or as it is known in my classroom: Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. The lesson began with Rodrigo demonstrating his expertise with a calculator. Although, much to some of the class’s frustration, he seemed to be getting the wrong answer every time! How could this be? How on earth does 3 + 4 x 5 = 23 and not 35? It is all to do with the order of operations! From there we leapt into doing the Distributive Law. Ah, how I dazzle you with all these mathematical expressions.  Basically it means that when you do 4 x 32 in your head, you actually do (4 x 30) + (4 x 2). So much easier. Confused? Well, there wasn’t time to hang about, we had five days off school coming up. We needed to keep moving, onward and upward!

    There was time to squeeze in a quick spelling quiz. The adventures of Secret Agent 003½ continued at a pace. A pace that was quick enough for him to break into the evil Dr. Evil’s secret lair, however not pacey enough to actually confront the evil Dr. Evil. I know what you are thinking: Does all this Secret Agent stuff help or confuse? I think the answer lies in the results. The pile of books on the left belong to the students who scored 20 out of 20. The pile on the right, 19 out of 20. There is no third pile. Staying with English, on to last night’s homework. Slight disappointment to discover that four students hadn’t done all the homework. Even more disappointment to discover that many students still aren’t sure what a noun is. Eeeek! This is sixth grade!

    Geography was interrupted by art. It was the first lesson with paints. Nearly everyone brought in an art shirt, although it appears that a certain teacher had threatened any student without an art shirt would have to clean his car – and then, said teacher forgot to bring his car into school! So, everyone got to do some painting in the end. Pictures in the usual place. Back in Geography we spent time learning facts about South America. We now know that The Angel Falls are twice the height of The Empire State Building, and Colombia is the world’s best supplier of emeralds (true fact). While discussing the Atacama Desert in Chile, an area where most of the copper mining occurs, we discussed the 33 Chilean miners who are trapped under the earth, and will be for another 60 days. This makes fascinating reading.

    Science was supposed to be about cells. However, somehow we ended up discussing how fantastic the skin is. It is totally waterproof but still lets water (sweat) seep out. Which, of course led to a whole discussion about why we sweat – look at me, I’m on a horse! And then it was time to go home.

    Enjoy the break but READ. Please, please READ. ANd don’t forget to bring in your Reading Logs on Monday. READ!


    • Maths: Reteaching 1-9 Nos: 1-12; Practice 1-9 Nos: 1,4,5,6,7,13,14,15
    • Grammar: page:18 nos: 6-12 page:19 (all) and page:20 nos: 1-6
    • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

    Posted in art, english, geography, grammar, maths, reading log, science, spelling | Leave a Comment »

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