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 ‘computer class’ Category

now we’re cooking with gas

Posted by willkay on September 29, 2011

Wednesday’s English exam was a total success. Two students scored 10, another twelve students got more than 9.0. In other words, fourteen out of twenty students managed to score over 9.0. I would call that fairly successful. I am also in the middle of marking the Science exams. So far there have already been two scores of 10, a 9.8, and two scores of 9.6. However, the thing that is most impressive? You can see the hard work that has gone into the studying. Whereas, in the maths exam, there was a certain amount of sloppiness and careless mistakes, now I can see the effort that the students have put into this exam. The answers demonstrate a learning of the topics, and an understanding of the subject. Facts have been reproduced perfectly, and where it is an open ended question, the students have written answers that show they know (and understand) what they are writing about. This is sixth grade work. This is what the students are capable of doing. This is why I was so disappointed on Tuesday. I felt that the students had let themselves down, not performed as well as they could. Suddenly, I see students with their books in the playground before morning line up, testing each other, helping each other learn. Now I get the feeling that students are aiming high, they are trying to get 10. At one point, in today’s exam, a student walked up to my desk to hand in his exam, and as usual I asked, “Are you sure?” And then, unusually, the student replied, “No.” He took his paper back, went and sat down again, and worked for another five minutes on hos exam. This is the correct attitude. The desire to get a 10, to achieve perfection. This is what the sixth grade should be like. I am a happy man.

There was a computing lesson. There was a Science exam. We went through yesterday’s English exam. We had a maths lesson. There was a review for tomorrow’s History exam. There was a PE lesson. We read from the English book. A good day all round I’d say. Now I’ve got to get on and finish marking these Science exams – if you’ll excuse me.

  • History: exam tomorrow
  • Read: bring a book into school
  • Late Entry: school starts at 8:45am

Posted in computer class, english, exams, laptops, maths, science | 2 Comments »

(hello mum) Thursday

Posted by willkay on October 7, 2010

Hello to the first time readers. What first time readers? I hear you ask. Well, here at Mr. Kay’s Blog we are expecting a lot of first time readers, can’t you tell? Over there I’ve casually placed a plate with crunchy vegetables to dip, in that corner there is a chocolate fountain, and I’m wearing my best clothes with my shoes cleaned and polished. So, welcome. [Obviously you, my faithful readers, are always welcome.Please help yourself to a strawberry and go dip it in chocolate before you continue to read.] And if everyone is sitting comfortably, I’ll begin. Pardon? Why am I expecting new readers today? Well, if you’ll let me tell the story you might understand. So, ready? Here I go.

There was a computing exam today. Surprised? You weren’t the only one, I didn’t know the students were having an exam either. If I had known, I would have put it on the calendar up there in the right hand corner. But there is no exam mentioned there because I didn’t know. This, of course, shouldn’t have been a problem. However, unfortunately the sixth grade didn’t know either. In a total moment of madness/misunderstanding the students all thought that the exam was next Thursday – that’s the Thursday in the next week, the 14th. Have you worked out the result yet? Massive failure on the behalf of the sixth grade. Obviously there were a lot of unhappy/sad students today, wandering around the school convinced that they didn’t want to go home tonight. Why didn’t they want to go home? Well, they had just sat an exam that they hadn’t studied for, and their results were going to lead to groundings/loss of Wii privileges/never being allowed to visit a Thrifty again. The only answer, as far as I could see, was to treat this moment as an adult. Face up to the facts, admit the truth, and throw themselves on the mercy of their parents, explain to their parents what had happened. Tell them how they didn’t expect the exam until next week, how they would have studied if they knew it was today, how this will never happen again. And it won’t happen again. Having talked with the students and Professor Mauricio, this will not happen again, I will make sure of that. Next time the students will definitely know when the exam is, they will study, their results will be better. And this I told the students. More to the point, this is what I told the students to tell their parents. They needed to own up to the bad result now, but promise that the next result will be better. Promise that this won’t happen again. This would be the grown up thing to do. This would be the first step towards being a sixth grader. Of course, to an eleven year old, owning up to failing an exam is a hard thing to do. It isn’t fun admitting to your parents that you have done as well as expected. It is a scary moment. So, I offered my students a helping hand – I promised them that I would stand beside them as they explained this to their parents. And when they asked me if their son/daughter spoke the truth, I would nod agreement. However, I would add that the student promised, promised that the next exam result would be better. There was one problem with all of this, I couldn’t be in everyone’s house at the same time…or could I? Yes, I could be in everyone’s house at the same time, stood behind every student, agreeing with what s/he said because I WRITE A BLOG! All of the students could load the blog up, tell their parents, and then point them to the blog to read. And look, the wonderful maria, publishes a version in Spanish as well. So now do you understand why I am expecting a load of new readers? Because, for the first time, I am expecting my students to be encouraging their parents to read this blog. Just so that they can get their parents to see that they are telling the truth, they didn’t know there was an exam, they will do better next time. Oh, and if you are a new reader, why not bookmark this page? Drag the address down into the bookmark bar and visit every day. Or why not fill in the subscription request, there in the right hand sidebar, and get this blog sent to your email address every time I write a post. Once you’ve enjoyed the chocolate fountain, why not go to the Flickr page and check out the photos, or the youtube page and watch videos? Either way, why not hang around for a bit and read about your child’s life at school? It’s quite nice here, everyone is friendly, and no one double dips in the guacamole.

I have decided that the morning line up warm-up makes me feel old. Oddly enough, it isn’t the fact that most of the students can touch their toes, or can bounce around without their ankles collapsing underneath them. No, it is the fact that some of them can’t touch their toes, can’t bend and stretch. That is what makes me feel old. That at 11 years old, some of them are already on the road to ruin. What hope is there for me at the age of 49? On the plus side, maybe they are just not trying their hardest. Except that just makes me feel older, they could touch their toes, they just can’t be bothered! Ah, youth is wasted on the young.

Maths was all about Primes, Composites, and Eric. Obviously, Primes and Composites are the more important concepts, but it is interesting to note that one of the few things the sixth grade remembered about this topic was: 1 is not prime, it is not composite, which makes it Eric. After introducing the idea of The Sieve of Erastothenes, and making sure that everyone knew how it worked, it was time for Science. Asexual Reproduction and the four ways to occurs. One of those ways (the “chopping” method) led to a disaster for oyster fishermen. [Off topic slightly: are they oyster fishermen or oyster farmers?] It appears that if you cut the arm off a sea star (star fish), not only does the sea star grow a new arm but the old arm grows a new star fish! Don’t understand? Ask a sixth grader.

Then there was a computing exam, but I think I might have already mentioned that.

After recess I got to go to the second grade and teach Miss Alexandra’s class, as she went to pick up her papers. Grrr! Her name was correct! Stuck for something to do (I foolishly didn’t check her desk until the end of the lesson), I told the story of the Golden Apple from Greek mythology. Back in the sixth grade, we had a long talk (about the computing exam), and then suddenly it was time to go home. Outside the sun was shining brightly. I had forgotten to sunblock this morning, and didn’t take my hat outside with me. This means that I am now typing this with red cheeks. What will my new readers think? Why not tell me in the comments? Or, if someone could leave a comment in the Spanish Blog that would would be wonderful, as maria would appreciate a “hello”.


  • Maths: Sieve of Erastothenes
  • Reading Log: numbers.
  • Homework Diary: Please get it signed.
  • Writing Assignment: My Favourite Book (due Friday, tomorrow)
  • 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 computer class, exams, maths, morning line up, science | 7 Comments »

(you can’t touch this) Thursday

Posted by willkay on September 23, 2010

I spoke at morning line up about bravery. I talked about someone’s actions that, at the time, I think were very brave.

In 1939, Britain and Germany went to war. It was expected that the Germans would bomb England, specifically the industrial towns of England. Seventy years ago there was no GPS, there were no satellites. In order to avoid the RAF (the Royal Air Force), German planes flew at night. This meant that they dropped their bombs when they flew over lit targets. In England it was decided to operate a Blackout Policy. All street lights were turned off, and people were encouraged to use heavy curtains to block the light from their houses. An Air Raid Patrol was organised. ARP wardens would move around cities at night, enforcing the blackout, making sure that no lights could be seen from above. However, as there was a war on, the men were fighting, the women were working in the factories. So, the job of filling the ARP fell to the very young or the very old. One member of the ARP was a fourteen year old girl. Every night she would ride her bicycle around Sheffield, ensuring that no lights could be seen by bombers. She was only 14 years old, and while the rest of the city hid (because people slept in bomb shelters), she would ride around the city, her way lit only by the stars and the moon. Nowadays, it is difficult to contemplate a 14 year old girl cycling round a huge industrial town in the day, never mind the middle of the night. Even harder to grasp is the thought of a young child doing that job in the middle of a war. However, that is what happened. Personally, I think that girl was very brave. She left school to do that job, because she was up all night, she slept all day. And it was only after the war she went back to school to finish her studies. That girl went on to get married to a naval officer, and they had four children. I am the third of their children. That girl is my mum.

Wow! One of those days when you manage to pack so much into a day, that you wonder why school doesn’t have longer holidays! Of course, it is all swings and roundabouts. Fairly certain that soon we will have one of those days when nothing gets done, but that is one of the (many) joys of teaching. Last night’s maths homework was done very well (although one student had managed to do tonight’s homework instead – how about that for planning ahead?). And then it was into solving equations. Woo-hoo. I love algebra. It might be the maths geek inside me, but there is nothing better than algebra. And, at its most basic, what is there not to love about algebra? It has everything the enquiring mind enjoys – a puzzle and a solution. Basically, the algebra we were doing today was “find the number” – although it was presented as “find what number the letter represents“. And as Mariana pointed out, when asked to explain what she did to solve it, “I just did it.” Which describes the lesson totally – we just did it!

The geography lesson was supposed to be about Mexico. Somehow we ended up discussing global warming and (obviously) global freezing. What did cause the ice age? What did kill all the dinosaurs? All fascinating stuff, which was made even more fascinating by the SMARTboard. I don’t know if I have given the SMARTboard enough love in this blog, so I’d like to big-it-up now. The SMARTboard is the best thing to have entered my teaching world since I got my first squared whiteboard in 1986. At one point, in the geography lesson, I was able to pull up a physical map and a population map of Mexico. Not just to display them in a large enough size that everyone could see, but to be able to label and colour on the maps was fantastic. I am convinced that my students have a much better understanding of Mexico’s geography thanks to the SMARTboard. And to those previous students reading this, remember how I would colour in a small photocopy and you could really see what I was doing? No more! Plus, thanks to the “recognise text” button, my handwriting is now turned into typeface, so everyone can read it, and my drawings are brilliant still awful. However, I can now cheat by pulling up preprepared images. Whoot!

The computer lesson was the final lesson before next week’s lesson. Which is important because next week they will be doing their presentations. Professor Mauricio has set each group the task of telling the life stories of different computer icons. How the students will explain the connection from Charles Babbage to the founder of Google will be very interesting. I think that next week, if you want to find me, I’ll be in the computer room listening to the presentations.

Tomorrow is Friday, which means that the Reading Log numbers must be in! Also, don’t forget, tomorrow is an 8:45am entrance. I will be there at the usual time, but I have to attend a meeting. Don’t forget the Reading Log!!


  • Maths: Reteaching 2-2 Nos: 1-8  Practice 2-2 Nos: 5-17
  • Writing Assignment: Scared (due tomorrow)
  • Reading Log Numbers
  • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

(There is a reason this post is called “You can’t touch this“. Don’t ask why though, because “if I tell you, I have to kill you“. What happens in the sixth grade, stays in the sixth grade.)

Posted in computer class, geography, maths, morning line up, reading log, smartboard | 2 Comments »

(busy day) Thursday

Posted by willkay on April 29, 2010

Fact: DisneyWorld Orlando has four main parks: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. It also has two water parks: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. There is also Downtown Disney (which includes DisneyQuest an indoor theme park).

Fact: Driving restrictions in Mexico City:

  • Monday: no driving if license plate ends with 5 or 6.
  • Tuesday: no driving if license plate ends with 7 or 8.
  • Wednesday: no driving if license plate ends with 3 or 4.
  • Thursday: no driving if license plate ends with 1 or 2.
  • Friday: no driving if license plate ends with 9, 0 or a letter.
  • Saturday and Sunday: All vehicles may be driven.

Fact: Rabbis can marry. In fact they are encouraged to do so.

I can’t remember if there were any other questions left dangling by the end of the day, if there were, please ask them in the comments at the end.

A slow start to the day for me, as the sixth grade had computing followed by Spanish, I used that opportunity to mark three sets of books and upload the grades into the computer. However, this was to turn out to be the calm before the storm. As a group we got through a huge amount of work: maths was double bar charts/line graphs; English was grammar (double negatives and contraction) and a spelling quiz; geography turned in the history of South Africa, we’re up to 1961. At this point some of us became overwhelmed. It has been an excellent week so far. The behaviour has been good, concentration has been high. I’d like to say it was because everyone has been having breakfast. However, some of the students still haven’t quite worked out the lunch side of the equation. It will come. Also, last night seemed to a late night for some students – having left their computer homework until the last minute (you’d think we’d never talked about punctuality this year) – so there was a certain amount of tiredness creeping into the classroom by the last lesson. So I decided that we would read. Some heads fell into books, and I could see eyes struggling to stay open. It is a good job that tomorrow is what it is, followed by five days off school. A chance to catch up on sleep.

I haven’t mentioned homework notebooks this week because I’ve been holding my breath, not daring to break the spell. Monday night, all books signed. Tuesday night, all books signed. Wednesday night, I’m sorry to say that two books were not signed. Grrrrr!

Something New: Stephen Hawking says there are aliens and they are not friendly.

Favourite Moment Of The Day (FMOTD): I wasn’t really listening

Overheard this morning:

So my dad asks me what I think my life would be like in 15 years time. And I told him that I didn’t know. And so he started to talk about jobs and finances and this and that. And so I just started to listen for a bit and then think about something else and then listen a bit and then think about something else.

So what was he saying?

I don’t know. I wasn’t really listening.

Made me laugh.

Attendance: All present


  • Reading Log: Just bring in the number of pages read.
  • Story: Write a blog post. Comment on blogs
  • Reading: This is not an option. You should be reading 20 minutes every night.


  • Enter at 8:45am
  • No backpacks
  • Lunch in a paper bag (everything disposable)
  • Picked up from CECUT at 12:45pm

Posted in computer class, english, geography, history, maths, reading log, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

(sugar high) Thursday

Posted by willkay on March 25, 2010

Did anyone else think that today went really quickly up until recess? And then, did anyone else think that today went really slowly up until home time? Or was it just me?

Everyone in through the front gate and onto morning line up. My first thoughts, that today was going to be difficult from a teacher’s point of view, were confirmed in morning line up. Normally the sixth grade are quiet, settled, and attentive. However, today they were all over the place. It was Jose Manuel’s last day and the students were planning…

In computer class, Erika and Scarlatte designed a PowerPoint show. They managed to get everyone in the classroom to write something, and then produced this: A goodbye message to Jose Manuel. (Hopefully this will run when you click on it. I should remind you: It’s powerpoint.) The maths lesson suffered slightly from people having to leave the classroom to go write on a giant card that was signed by everyone. This made the maths lesson a lot more complicated than it needed to be. We were doing a calculator crossword – you know, where you do a calculation, turn the calculator upside down, and read the word – or that was the plan. It became very difficult to a draw the actual crossword, difficult from a teaching point. Did I mention that the kids were all over the place?

English and diagramming sentences. This sounds more fun than it actually is. You don’t really get to diagram anything, you have to decide what part of speech each word is. Whether it is a noun, verb, adverb, adjective, preposition, conjunction, pronoun, or interjection. Again I found myself repeating myself, time and time again. Students really weren’t listening to what was being said. At the end of the lesson, as we were going through the answers, the students became even more excited as they spotted Maria outside the classroom. We finished up, put away our books, and then posed for pictures. And that’s when the pizza arrived. The pizza, and the spaghetti, and the crisps, and the Takis, and the soda, and the lollies, and the thirty tons of sugar that was pumped into each and every students’ bloodstream.

Recess – which wasn’t long enough to run off the excess sugar. It would never have been long enough.

After recess we went to the library to fall asleep push the chair of the person in front of us fidget watch a BBC documentary called Wonders of the Solar System. This is the most fantastic series, the episode that we watched was about the sun. It included a total eclipse and shots of the Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights). We needed a break half way through, to run round the playground. Then settled in to watch the second half. I don’t know about the students but I learnt a lot!

The final lesson of the day was geography. Time to name and place some of the countries of Africa. Then it was time to say goodbye to Jose Manuel – although there might be another chance to say goodbye again tomorrow when he pops in to pick up his books.

Something New: The best excuse since “the dog ate my homework”. You may have read Heriberto’s comment yesterday (if not you can read it here), in which case you already know that he and Jose Manuel had their backpacks stolen yesterday. Of course, not just the backpacks were stolen, everything in them was also stolen. Which means that their homework, workbooks, homework notebooks were also stolen. This led to the reply to a request for homework: some hobo has got it.

Favourite Moment Of The Day (FMOTD): Best. Lunch. Ever.

It was a day full of wonderful moments. Oh, I know that I’ve mentioned it was hard work, but no one ever said teaching was going to be easy. Within all of the excess-sugar moments there was still a really feeling of friendship and bonding between the students. As some of them mentioned in the PowerPoint file, they might not have known Jose Manuel well, but they recognised him as a wonderful person. There was a feeling of unity, a feeling of friendship, and a genuine sadness to losing one of their classmates – a classmate who had only been in school for eight months! So there were plenty of FMOTDs for me. The one that I’ll write down here was the quandary that Camila faced. Today she brought lunch (as we all did), but it wasn’t any old lunch. According to Camila it was the best lunch I have ever brought to school. Unfortunately (for Camila) Jose Manuel’s dad also bought lunch…for the whole class. What should Camila do? It would be rude to turn down the party food, but she had the Best. Lunch. Ever. in her lunchbox. Isn’t that always the way?

Attendance: All present

Signed Homework Notebooks: 21 out of 21. (That means there were 2 homework notebooks missing – the hobo’s got them.)


  • Reading Log
  • Eggs
  • Construction Paper
  • Talent Show in Music
  • Reading: This is not an option. You should be reading 20 minutes every night.

Posted in computer class, english, geography, link, maths, morning line up, reading log, science, team work | 2 Comments »

(onwards) Thursday

Posted by willkay on March 4, 2010

Every other weekend I phone my mum. We talk on the phone for an hour, and I’m fairly sure that we talk about loads of different things. However, after I’ve hung up and I start to tell Maria all that we talked about, it appears that we discuss the weather. And that’s it. Very little else, just the weather. Probably because that is what English people like to discuss the most, the weather. I realise that, on the whole, I don’t discuss the weather very often on here. Well, not often enough for this to be the blog of true Englishmen. So, time for a weather report: It rained today, for exactly nineteen minutes. Señor Francisco had spent the time before 7:30, mopping the playground so that we could have morning line-up. At 7:30, just as the bell rang to let the students into school, the first drops fell. By 7:35 the rain was hammering down. By 7:40 it started to ease off. The last few drops fell as the bell rang at 7:50. All of Señor Francisco’s hard work had been to no avail, there was no morning line-up.

Computer class was followed by a visit from Miss Lilian. She came to talk to the sixth grade about how important their last remaining months at the school were so important, not just to the students but also to her, me, and the school. It has been a happy stay at the school for many of the students, and the school has enjoyed their attendance. It would be a shame to ruin all those good memories with a poor attitude for the remaining time. However, the opportunity is there for everyone to pull together, to work as a team, and to make this the best year yet!

Straight into a spelling test in English: Greek Word Parts. This was followed up with checking last night’s homework. It still surprises me that students can write a word ten times in a short space of time (three days), and yet when it comes to the spelling quiz they don’t recognise the words as I say them. I start to wonder if they actually realise that the words I am giving them are coming as part of a spelling test? One hopes they do, as we moved quickly on to the next list of words: Prefixes That Change The Meaning. In case anyone is reading this and wondering, there will be a spelling test on the twenty words we did today!

Recess. I think the message is getting through. It was nice to see the sixth grade still playing together – boys with girls, different groups scattered around the playground – and it was great to hear them encouraging each other to speak English. It was even better to hear one student thank another for reminding him to speak English. Long may this continue.

Maths lesson: after correcting the homework from two nights ago (I had already corrected last night’s homework), we set about learning how to draw a graph without having to plot the points. The first part of this process is learning how to recognise the slope (gradient) of a line. Today’s lesson was about how to calculate the slope of a line.

Geography was a two part lesson. The first part was “finishing off” Russia. Discussing the huge changes that Mikhail Gorbachev  brought to Russia with just two policies: Glasnost and Perestroika. Then it was onto a new topic: South Western Asia. Sometimes it is easy to forget that Asia stretches as far west as Turkey (Istanbul being a city in two continents). Today we found Israel, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey on the map.

Home time. Every student took home a letter to their parents. This letter had a reply slip that needs to be signed and brought back into school tomorrow, please.

My favourite youtube video, at the moment, happens to be called: This Too Shall Pass by OK Go. It is not just the title of the song that I love (although I find myself repeating the words), nor is it just the song that cheers me up (although it really does). Just watch the video and at the end wonder how many times they had to try to get it right – the clue is probably the paint that is all over their overalls. The fact is, often in life, things don’t work out right. The best thing to do though is not give up but try again, and try “better”. In the end, all the little bits and pieces, all the little things that could go wrong, don’t go wrong. In the end, everything works. This too shall pass.

Attendance: One absent

Signed Homework Notebooks: 22 out of 22


  • Maths: Reteaching 10-3 Nos: 1-3  Practice 10-3 Nos: 1-3
  • English: Spelling Workbook Page: 65. Write the spellings 3 times in notebook.
  • Story: Biography of a Superhero (in tomorrow)
  • Reading Log: Should be completed and signed.
  • Reading: This is not an option. You should be reading 20 minutes every night.

Posted in computer class, english, geography, maths, morning line up, rain, spelling, values, youtube | 9 Comments »

(it’s not his birthday) Thursday

Posted by willkay on February 25, 2010

Eeeek! In a moment of madness, yesterday I forgot to mention it was Heriberto’s birthday. Sorry. Happy (belated) Birthday.

A misty/foggy start to the day. And no, it was nothing like England! I realise that Hollywood/television would have you believe that London is a city shrouded in fog, but in reality, it isn’t. At the beginning of the 20th Century London was “foggy” because of smog. It sits in a basin, and with every house having (several) fireplaces and chimneys (see Mary Poppins for an accurate portrayal of a the life of a Cockney chimney-sweep), London was shrouded in smog rather than fog. True, London probably has more foggy days than Tijuana – the River Thames is slightly fuller than the Rio Tijuana, the air is more humid – however, there are only about 10-15 foggy days a year. Either way, morning line up was long enough to sing Happy Birthday to Miss Irene, but short enough to get everyone into classrooms quickly.

The sixth grade went to computer class and I went to the fifth grade. The sixth grade continued work on their projects about leaders, while I spent time working through percentage increase and decrease. Spanish followed by maths. Homework checked and a quick reminder how to work out if a line is vertical or horizontal. Twenty four questions, answered quickly and successfully, meant that we moved straight on to an English lesson. The homework was checked quickly, and then we worked through pronouns and antecedents. Basically this means making sure that the pronoun you are using, agrees with the noun that preceded it. Checking that the pronoun is the correct singular/plural, male/female/it when compared with the noun. This, the students assured me, was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

Recess. Not sure exactly what was happening during recess, but I did notice that at one point the sixth grade managed to fit 18 students into the “small house” on the playground.

Science: what is the difference between a mixture and a compound? How to separate a mixture of sand, salt, and iron filings.

Geography: what is communism? What was The Cold War? And how Mikhail Gorbachev changed Russia, and world politics.

Attendance: All present.

Signed Homework Notebooks: 20 out of 23

Memos signed and returned: 15 out of 21


  • Maths: Practice 10-1
  • English: Grammar Workbook Pages: 67,68
  • Story: Biography (in tomorrow)
  • Reading Log: It would be nice to get all the reading logs in.
  • Reading: This is not an option. You should be reading 20 minutes every night.

Posted in computer class, english, geography, maths, morning line up, reading log, science | Leave a Comment »

It’s ermmm, Thursday.

Posted by willkay on February 18, 2010

It’s Thursday, which means that the day starts with computer class. The class are now looking at leaders. Some interesting choices have been made: Shakira and Rosa Parks, to name two. Spanish was followed by maths. Last night’s homework was a lot more successfully done than the previous night’s. However, that success was not carried on into the lesson. For some reason, logic seemed to escape the students. Trying to follow a simple step-by-step path to arrive at a solution, became: too hard, it’s too hard Mr. Kay. Except it appeared that the difficulty was not in the understanding of the topic, more with a failure to understand the 0.5 times table. By the end of the lesson the work was: easy, it’s so easy Mr. Kay. Tomorrow we shall see how well the homework was done.

The English lesson crossed over recess. Before recess we finished with the spelling workbook, and this week’s spelling list. Tomorrow there will be a spelling quiz and we’ll discover if everyone remembers which words are compound words and which are two word expressions. The second half of the lesson was taken up with Troublesome Verbs. Verbs that have almost the same meaning but are, in fact different. Borrow and lend are two verbs that can often be used the wrong way round, and lie and lay are equally confusing. Do I lie on the couch or do I lay on the couch?

During recess the majority of the sixth grade have taken to sitting together around one table. It can be very crowded, and can get a bit messy. However, the table is normally left in a good condition, clean and tidy. And, let’s not forget that the value of the month is: Neatness. So it was a bit disappointing today when everyone got up from the table and walked away, leaving it in a very messy state. A little bit more care please. When you leave the table, look at it.If there is rubbish on it, deal with it. Even if it isn’t yours, it is your classmates’.

Geography continued our look at Russia. We are still looking at the physical features of Russia. So today we found out about the tundra, taiga, and the Russian steppes. There was just enough time left in the day to have a quick look at the periodic table in science. We are mainly concentrating on the first 20 elements. Which is still a lot to learn.

Quick note: EGGS. We have recently, as a group, done really well in the Punctuality competition and (until recess today) the Neatness competition. Quick reminder to keep making those eggs filled with confetti please. In the long run, I get the feeling that you are going to get most of the fun out of these things – and the more of them you have, the more fun you will probably have! So, don’t forget to keep filling and painting those eggs, please. Thank you.

Attendance: One absent (thanks Monica)


  • Maths: Reteaching 9-4 Nos: 1,2,3 & Practice 9-4 Nos: 13 -> 18
  • English: Grammar Workbook pages: 53 and 54 (1-8)
  • Story: An Autobiography (in tomorrow)
  • Reading Log: It would be brilliant if everyone (everyone) brought them in tomorrow.
  • Reading: This is not an option. You should be reading 20 minutes every night.

Posted in computer class, english, geography, maths, reading log, science, spelling, team work, values | 1 Comment »

Thursday – a good day

Posted by willkay on February 11, 2010

At the end of every day I go back to the classroom for my laptop, my lunchbox, and the pile of marking that needs to go home with me. Since the value of the month is neatness, and the sentence of the week is: I will keep my school clean and tidy, I have been awarding extra points to the groups whose work area is (in my opinion) clean, neat, and tidy. Yesterday I expressed my astonishment that Miss Marcella hadn’t found the sixth grade “impeccable” (to use Miss Lilian’s expression). Yesterday afternoon, I encouraged the sixth grade to take special care of the floor, their desks, and their cubbies (it was especially good to see Alejandro sorting out another pupil’s cubby). Today that extra effort was rewarded as the sixth grade classroom was selected as one of the cleanest! This means that we are now in the running for an extra five minutes of recess on Friday. An extra five minutes! Let’s hope that the classroom was left in an impeccable state today.

Professor Mauricio has added another dimension to the curriculum over the last couple of weeks. I am not a great believer in teaching IT for IT’s sake. I feel that it should be taught as an integral part of the curriculum, used in all subjects, rather than being a subject on its own. This Professor Mauricio has done. Instead of the computer lesson being a lesson about computers, he has instead picked a subject and integrated computers into that. This is, of course, the way that computers are used in real life. A computer isn’t the be all and end all in most people’s lives, it is an added aside. True, it is something that we all use, but it is a tool. In the last couple of weeks, Professor Mauricio has been working with the sixth grade, building their levels of teamwork. Last week this resulted in the lesson with “the parachute” (I published a set of pictures from the lesson here). This week’s lesson was still based on teamwork but involved computers. Working, as a team, the students had to try to keep a ball in the air, on a computer screen. Each person in the team had a key to press to help coordinate a computer image, as that image played keepie-uppie. I took some pictures of the lesson (which can be found on my Flickr page) and a video of the event:

After the computer lesson, the science exam. This ended up taking far longer than expected. So long, in fact, that it seriously dented Miss Claudia’s time. She needed the lesson to review for tomorrow’s History exam. This meant that the History lesson went on after recess. The hour that was left of the day was spent in: returning the English exams; finishing reading the story “Learning to Swim“; and practice for The Honour Guard.

I would like to add that I thought the behaviour in recess was wonderful. There had been a problem with the use of “the house” yesterday with the fifth grade. Today the sixth grade took the mature approach and altered their game so that it didn’t interfere with the fifth grade. I was very impressed with their attitude and their choice of solution to the problem. Well done!

Attendance: All present.


  • History: midterm exam tomorrow.
  • Reading Log: Needs to be brought in tomorrow
  • Music Lesson: Any equipment/instruments needed for the talent show
  • Reading

Posted in computer class, english, exams, honour guard, reading log, science, team work | Leave a Comment »


Posted by willkay on February 4, 2010

And we were doing so well with the whole Punctuality thing. So very well. So well in fact that when Miss Lilian announced that there would be another Punctuality competition this month and the prize would be no uniform, I started to plan what I would wear. Of course, that is exacty the point when two students turned up late. Ho hum. With all the students not speaking English before morning line up, followed by some not very good marching, I started to have the feeling that this was going to be a very long day. And then there was computer class.

Computer class was brilliant. Professor Mauricio continued with his theme of team building, working together. Today’s was spent in an exercise with, what can only be described as, a parachute. Much fun was had by everyone. I took lots of pictures which, after Maria has worked on them, I will upload to my Flickr page.

Before I started the Maths lesson it was time to give out team points. Yesterday I had been very remiss in my points giving, I had not been action-positive. After this morning’s bad start, I decided to be action-positive from the get go. Points for teams who had left their work area tidy, points for girls whose hair was correct (hey, if I give points for boys with their shirts tucked in I should give points for hair too), points for homework diaries that were signed, points for the groups who I didn’t have to ask to stop talking yesterday. The class really need to come together, to work with each other. This is their last year at Elementary school. This will be the year that they remember the most. It will be more fun if they are together as a team, a single group. Hopefully, my being action-positive will help enable this. Points all round!

Maths was a continuation of yesterday’s lesson: review, review, review. Fractions under the four operations, algebraic expressions, solutions to equations, prime factorisation, and percents. Recess was spent trying to help Valerio out with his blog, which was slightly unsuccessful, since the internet was intermittent.

After recess it was Science, and a chance to review the experiments that we set in motion a week ago. The evaporation from the saucer had gone fairly successfully. It would have been improved if the weather had been warmer. The “frozen” water wasn’t. There was too much salt in the water, which meant that the freezing point had been lowered, lowered to a point below the school’s freezer’s ability. Jose Manuel’s experiment had started to work, it too suffered from a lack of warmth. We decided to try these experiments again, in May, when the weather would be more helpful.

While the Honour Guard practised, the rest of the class did Geography.We discussed the different revolutions that had happened in Central Europe. Each one with the same outcome, the release of their countries’ governments from Russian control. While the lesson was happening, I noticed a wonderful thing. Three students (Valerio, Carlo Ivan, and Miroslava) had collected The Honour Guard’s geography books, and were copying the notes down, into their books. This they did with out being asked, or even the idea having been suggested. I think this was a wonderful act, and they should be congratulated on their thoughtfulness and caring. And I got the chance to finish the day action-positive: points all round!

Attendance: One Absent


  • Maths: Study and Review: Four Operations with Fractions; Algebraic Expressions; Prime Factorisation; Percents
  • Reading Log: Reading Logs should be completed and in tomorrow.
  • Reading

Posted in computer class, geography, honour guard, maths, morning line up, science, team work | 4 Comments »

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