Mr. Kay's Blog

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

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Archive for the ‘avocado’ Category

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 »

A, B, and C : back in black water

Posted by willkay on September 14, 2011

Wow! That was a busy day. Somehow we managed to cram two days work (nearly three) into the one day. At the moment we are looking good to arrive at the end of the month exams, having covered everything we needed to. Yay Us!

The day started with the bottle tops being taken up to Miss Tere Rochin’s classroom. I did warn her that it would be better to leave them in mine, and then move them from there to her car, but she said no. I think she is going to need a lot of help tomorrow, moving them from her classroom to the car. Well done everyone who collected bottle tops! It was a fantastic effort and I was very proud of you all. And very impressed with the result. Double Yay Us!!

In the maths lesson we checked out homework. There were still a couple of students who were unsure of how to find Prime Factors. But, you know that magic moment, the moment when Mr. Kay stands in the same room as you, and everything turns out alright? We had a couple of those. Confident that we now fully get the idea, there was time to go back three lessons and check if we remembered how do write Scientific Notation. Miss Esther has hit a bit of a brick wall with the other sixth grade over this topic, and I needed to check that we understood it. We did! Hurray again. There was still time to work on H. G.F.C.s. I’m not convinced that we totally understood the concept – there is sometimes too much, “ahhhhh, we did that last year, we don’t need to do it again“. This can lead to an attitude of not listening fully. But, hey ho – we covered the ground and we are ready for the exams!

English. I’m not saying that we did a lot of work but we did manage to cover what the book calls “two weeks” worth of work. We crashed through the Spelling week, and then took on a week and a half’s worth of Grammar. By the time I finished the English lesson, I was glad that I didn’t have to do much more teaching today. Of course, just because I had “non-contact” time, didn’t mean that I got to sit around. There were maths books, science books, geography books, and writing assignments that needed marking. There was also the usual amount of paperwork to catch up with. I spent a productive amount of time with miss Esther, when we agreed what topics would appear in the exams. And then I worked with the new fifth grade teacher, helping him find a route through the maths books.

There was just enough time, at the end of the day, to get some of the story read in Reading Street. Everyone went home with a little extra homework Oh, I understand that Friday is a national Holiday, but tomorrow isn’t, and so a little extra work wouldn’t harm anyone. Also, a day off school should give everyone the chance to read a bit more, so I am looking forward to seeing the Reading Log numbers next week! Finally, as the week was up, I put Algernon, Beetlebum, and Castelina back in their pots. I am hoping that there time out in the air has dried them out enough to start the growing process. At home, in my flat, I am having some great success with coriander (cilantro). I say “I”, when I should say “maria”. I think that on Monday I might bring some seeds into school and see how that goes. Or maybe a lemon tree? I’ve tried before to grow a lemon tree and it worked (for a bit), but then it got too cold. Might be too late in the year to start. [Can you tell I like trying to grow things?] Anyway, the competition is back on. I wonder which one will grow the most.

[Footnote: I will be writing a blog post tomorrow. I promised some of the class that I would find out if they had to bring their piñatas into school on Monday. I will ask tomorrow and post the response. Note: I will be in school tomorrow, working!]



Posted in avocado, english, exams, grammar, maths, spelling | 3 Comments »

“what a mistake-a to make-a”

Posted by willkay on September 7, 2011

[No prize to the first person who finds out what (very) old British television programme today’s title (a quote) comes from.]

Algernon, Beetlebum, and Castalina are no longer in their water pots. They are taking a breath of air for a week.

My friend, the one who advised me about growing avocados, left out one piece of advice. Now I have grown avocados from seeds before, so I should have remembered how I did it, but I forgot one important thing. You are supposed to dry the seeds for a week before you plant them. This I had failed to do. Which is why, three weeks later, nothing has happened in the growing competition! What a mistake-a to make-a. So, the seeds have been taken out of their hydroponic growing pots (plastic bottles), and are now drying out. If the weather continues like it has been for the last couple of days, they should be ready to put back into their pots by Monday.

Brilliant start to the morning. I have emphasised (because this is the way I teach) the fact that we are sixth grade. We are the top of the school. We should be able to discipline ourselves. The students needn’t be told the same thing, time and time again. They should take responsibility for their actions. they should realise what is happening around them. They should react accordingly. They are young adults, they should behave like young adults. This morning, at line up, the second bell rang, and the sixth grade fell silent. Miss Monica waited for the rest of the school to stop talking. The sixth grade stayed silent. It took two minutes for the other teachers to settle their classes down. Miss Esther and I did not have to say a word. The sixth grade stayed silent. Well done. It is moments like that that make me happy. I can see the progress already made in two and a half weeks. On top of that, I’ve just realised, I haven’t had to remind people to speak English much either! Well done the sixth grade! I can see this is going to be a really good year!

the thermometer reads 27°C at 8am

Have I mentioned the heat yet? It’s hot.Not the best weather for teaching in – but the only weather we have got.

the thermometer reads 31°C at 1pm

Even though the thermometer was already climbing above 27°C at 8am (that’s just over 80°F), we started work. Maths. Exponents. I thought it would be quick and easy, and so it should have been. However, if it was weather induced or just general confusion, it didn’t go as well as planned. Also the fan was on. Since moving to Mexico I have learnt that a fan on, in the background, is a normal thing. However, it still confuses me! No, no, no – the fan doesn’t confuse me, the noise of the fan confuses me. It is white noise. Noise that fills my head and makes me easily lose concentration. If it affects me i am sure that it affects the students too. Plus, out on the playground, there was “water fun” happening. Of course you know what “water fun ” is, because you visit the school’s website every day, don’t you?

Hooray! All the English workbooks are in! Well, all of them are somewhere but, out of 21 students, I now have 20 students with workbooks. We can finally start learning some English. In one lesson we managed to fit a week’s worth of Spelling and a week’s worth of Grammar. Although that was enough for some students, tomorrow we shall aim to try and cram another week’s work of both into one lesson. Ha! Take that hot weather! We in the sixth grade will still manage to work!

After recess Miss Claudia struggled through a Spanish lesson and Professor Marvin took them through a music lesson. There was just time, at the end of the day, to go through a little bit of maths and do some reading. We finished “Old Yeller“.

Tomorrow the sixth grade are going to have “water fun”. This means that they can bring in water pistols. I also suggest they bring in sandals. Their PE uniform will dry out very quickly – I know this to be true because I have seen the other year groups – however, the one problem might be footwear. They can wear their trainers (tennis shoes) all day and change into sandals just for the “water fun”. Hopefully there will be pictures of the event – I say hopefully, but it depends on how the children react to my presence. I will *not* be joining in but I will take photos, until someone decides that I should be joining in. At that point I will vacate the area.

Posted in avocado, english, maths, special event | 3 Comments »

Algernon, Beetlebum, Castalina

Posted by willkay on August 25, 2011

Thursday, and “The Strange Mystery of The Disappearing Trainers” has been solved. Yes, I know, you’ve been losing sleep worrying over them. Well, worry no more. As they say in the south east of England, “Sorted!” In theory, today was supposed to start with the first computer lesson of the year. In practice, it didn’t. The new computer teacher is, at the moment, teaching the fifth grade – so we will have to wait until next week before we finally get to open our laptops and get down to business! Instead of computing though we had double maths. This was really useful time though, since we got needed the extra time to study division. Yesterday’s homework went well, and it looks like everyone has got a godd hang of multiplication – but division was a whole new prospect. And, just to make it even harder, I decided to introduce a brand new method of doing single digit division – a method I like to call “short division”. Of course, there was always time to drift slightly off the subject, and you should be able to ask any member of 6A to multiply a two digit number by eleven. They should be able to give you the answer automatically. I say “should” because I have taught them a method of multiplying by eleven that they can do in their heads. Try it. Find a member of 6A and ask them.

After maths I read the class a story. Part of understanding English is to be able to listen to the beginning of a story and then predict what might happen in the end. In this case, the end result was predicted, but the conclusion was not arrived at by the expected way. We then went on to read a bit of “Old Yeller” from Reading Street. As is the way of these things, we did end up trying to go on to youtube to watch a video of a lizard that squirts blood out of its eyes – yes, that is exactly what we tried to do. Fortunately, the school has installed a new system of blocking certain sites. Well done the school! This meant that we couldn’t watch it. However, that doesn’t stop me posting a link to the site here and you can, in the comfort of your own home, watch a lizard as it squirts blood from its eyes. This is what the internet was made for!

Spanish and PE were followed by Geography. The idea was to take a quick sprint round the world, reinforcing things we all (supposedly) knew already. This took a little bit longer than expected, as some of us knew some things and others were stunned to find that Madagascar really is a place! [Mind you, a knowledge of films turned out to be useful as a certain character from Night At The Museum also played a starring role in the conversation about Panama.]

Tomorrow the students need to have written up about their favourite animal and what adaptations it has made to survive and reproduce. They also need to be ready to present a talk about their favourite book.

Oh, before I forget: Algernon, Beetlebum, and Castalina are the names of the three new members of 6A. They are avocado seeds. This morning I “planted” them in the classroom, and we are going to see which one grows the fastest. Algernon is the one on the left of the picture. It is big and fat, a muddy brown colour with an odd shaped bottom. In the middle is Beetlebum. Beetlebum is wonderful. It is good looking, a lovely nutty, brown colour, and perfectly shaped. Castalina is the small, pale one on the left. Now is the time to choose. Which one do you think will be better grower? Will it be the one with a huge amount of stored energy? The perfect one? Or the small fighter? Choose one and start sending positive feelings its way.

Posted in avocado, english, geography, maths, youtube | 9 Comments »

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