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 ‘graduation’ Category

Generation 2012

Posted by willkay on June 29, 2012

The slideshow.

Posted in graduation, youtube | 4 Comments »

the day after the day before

Posted by willkay on October 15, 2011

I’m not going to apologise again this week, but yet again I failed to post yesterday – you probably noticed. I had everything ready, I was full of good intentions, and then it turned out that Daniela was at a book fair at UABC. We went to pick her her, one thing led to another, and here I am writing again on a Saturday. Hey, ho.

And on the fourteenth day (of the tenth month which is named after the number eight), the back notice board finally gets something put on it.

The laptops are slowing down. This is because they are not laptops, they are notebooks. They don’t have the processing power of a laptop, and nowhere near the power of a desktop computer. As far as I can tell, most students have taken to downloading as much stuff as possible on to their notebooks. When they open them, they open all of these programmes and the computers freeze. They are not designed for this. Also, with multiple downloads comes multiple risks. So, a bit of time was spent this morning discussing notebook care. I still believe that the one thing everyone should download is AdAware from Lavasoft. It will clear out a lot of rubbish that computers pick up. Also, when you uninstall a programme, you cannot just “put it in the trash“, you have to run remove programme from the control panel.

From there is was on to the DNA models. Everyone got to stand at the front of the class and show off their models. I have uploaded the pictures to here, and you can see them all – or you can click on the link in the sidebar. If you just want to see the models without having to look at the pictures of all the students:

Then it was time for the maths pop quiz. Hurray! Two students achieved a 10, well done them. A couple of students managed to score a 9.7, and five students picked up a 9.2. The annoying thing? The mistakes were fairly simple mistakes. Too often answers weren’t simplified, too often addition was done instead of subtraction. Most of the students can do these questions, most of them, with a little more concentration, could be getting a 10. What I have to instil into these students is a desire to achieve their best. They should be producing work which is a true representation of their abilities.

After art we showed our DNA models to 6B and they showed their models to us, 6A. We then had a discussion about the graduation party. Yes, we are already having discussions about the graduation party! This got a little bit heated, as some students really don’t want one of the options. I understand that sometimes the majority choice wins, however it seems a shame to choose something that will eventually lead to students not having the best memories of their graduation party. And, to be honest, it is all about the students. It is their graduation.

After recess, in the Spanish lesson, the students started to write/prepare/rehearse their radio programme. Normally I get invited to the final presentation – which is nice – if it happens I promise there will be some pictures and maybe a video or two. It was then time for The Wall Of Accomplishment treat. We haven’t really had any fun activity in the sixth grade this year. I am asked by the administration, every week, to do something fun. As I tend to feel that most of my lessons are fun (hahahahaha), I tend to feel that I have that covered. Also, as the Junior High exams loom large on the horizon, I try to get through as much stuff as possible. But, I had promised. So, to celebrate our achievement, we watched Babe. The story of a pig who was won at a fair and was destined to be eaten by Christmas. However, he wanted more. He wanted to achieve a lot more. So he became a sheep-pig!

Right, I have to go watch the Rugby World Cup semi-finals (and dream that England are playing in them). And then I have to mentally prepare myself for The Steel City Derby on Sunday. Yes, tomorrow my beloved Sheffield United (The Mighty Blades) take on that other team from Sheffield, Sheffield W*dnesd*y. Now, if that goes wrong, I might not be in on Monday! Back to growing a beard!


  • Reading Log: signed
  • Read: 20 minutes

Posted in graduation, laptops, maths, photos, spanish, values, youtube | Leave a Comment »

the graduating class of 2011

Posted by willkay on June 25, 2011

Posted in graduation, youtube | 7 Comments »

Thursday – The Disney Trip

Posted by willkay on May 7, 2011

3:00am: Wake up, worried that I’ve slept through the alarm.

3:30am: Wake up,worried that I’ve slept through the alarm.

4:10am: Wake up, worried that I’ve slept through the alarm. This time I decide to stay awake until the alarm goes off

4:57am: Fall asleep and start this really terrible dream.

5:00am: Alarm goes off and I am dragged awake. Everything goes into action. Clothes were laid out last night, backs were packed, everything was ready. Just need to apply layers of sunblock, brush teeth, get dressed, and get out of the door.

5:25am: We set off for the meet point. We park the car a short distance from school, in a lit area where people will notice if the alarm goes off, and set off walking towards school. There are already people there when we arrive. Whoot! I’m not the first!

5:55am: Five minutes early, we set off. This is a good sign. We are already ahead of the schedule. If we can keep this going we could have a successful day.

6:54am: We are across the border, and climbing into the coach to take us north, to Disneyland. It’s time to eat. Everyone pulls out a weird assortment of food. Really, who brings a whole box of Oreos? Amazingly, the journey passes very quickly, and there is little traffic on the road. We only get held up a couple of times. However, the journey is still long enough that some brave, intrepid travellers need to use “the loo“. I say “brave, intrepid” but I actually mean “strong”. The door is so firmly closed that it needs three people at a time to open it.

9:07am: We get our first sight of Space Mountain. Excitement builds. Normally it takes another hour to get into Disney but the coach driver decides not to park in the actual lot (thus avoiding queueing there) and we are dropped off in a MacDonalds car park. A ten minute walk gets us in front of the Park, a five minute wait for the tickets to be bought, a three minute queue through the gates, We are in Disney before 9:30am.

9:30am: We’d left all our unnecessary luggage on the coach, so there was no need to rent lockers, so it was a quick dash, straight up Main Street, avoiding been run over by the horse-drawn-carriage, and getting to Walt’s statue. This would be the place to go to if you got lost. This is our meeting point. Of course, no one has ever got lost and no one will get lost. But it always helps to prepare yourself for any eventuality. Also, it’s a good place to take pictures with the castle/statue in the background. From there, it was a right turn into Tomorrow Land, and Space Mountain. There was a ten minute queue. I’ll say that again: There was a ten minute queue for Space Mountain. I always like to start the Disney Trip with Space Mountain, it gets the adrenaline flowing, shakes out the coach trip, and pumps out the endorphins. By the time we climbed off the ride, everyone was happy and smiling and ready for more.

1: Space Mountain

Once we’d finished looking at our pictures (and laughing at the faces that some of us were pulling when the cameras went off), it was time to exit Space Mountain and head for Buzz Lightyear. Again, there was no queue. At this point, I left everyone in maria’s charge, while I set off across the park to Fastpass Indiana Jones. The bad news of the day was that Splash Mountain was closed. This meant that we would not be able to do “the big five”. I was slightly worried that it would mean that the queues for the other four would be huge, but this was not to be. Once I’d got the Fastpasses, it was back to Buzz Lightyear, where the kids were emailing their pictures back home.

2: Buzz Lightyear

We headed across the park, towards Indiana Jones. On the way we passed The Enchanted Tiki Room. We paused and held a quick vote: Who wants to go to The Enchanted Tiki Room? A resounding NO, meant we moved on. However, we were too early to use the Fastpass at the Indiana Jones ride, so we decided to go on The Jungle Cruise while we had time. It was here that Marco made a new friend. I say “new” but he was old, very old. He informed us that he had first been on The Jungle Cruise in 1955 and he then did something that would change the whole day: he recommended Captain Eo. This would turn out to be a big mistake! However, we all went on the cruise (at this point I should mention that when I say “we all went on [something]”, maria did not go on a single ride all day), and we all recognised the difference between African and Indian elephants – it’s the ears! Never let it be said that as a teacher I ever miss the opportunity to drag learning into the moment!

3: Jungle Cruise.

Onto Indiana Jones. This year, instead of their being a big argument about who was going to drive the car, the conversation was all about who wasn’t going to sit on the right-hand side of the car. I hate those darn snakes! Rodrigo drove, and made a fairly good job of it, avoiding this huge rolling boulder. Everyone survived and was full of stories of adventure and excitement.

4; Indiana Jones

At that point it was time to hydrate! Frozen lemonades, cherry flavoured drinks, ice creams, plain water. All were purchased because I was convinced (yes, convinced) that the queue for Thunder Mountain (the brown mountain) would be long enough for us to eat/drink. It wasn’t. Again, there was no queue. It was straight on. That said, there was enough time for Francisco to tell us all how four people had died on this ride.

5: Thunder Mountain

I was now of the opinion that we could do all four of the “big five” rides before lunch. On previous trips, which had been on Fridays and later in the year, the queues had meant that at this stage it was normally time to eat. But, because we’d set off on time, because we’d made good time on the crossing, because…because…because…it wasn’t 12pm yet, and we’d already done five rides. I could sense a new world (BAI) record in the making. Instead of lunch, we headed to The Matterhorn (that’s the white mountain to you). Again, a ten minute wait, and we were on board, and ready to go!

6: The Matterhorn

A quick vote on how hungry everyone was – no one – led to a decision to do It’s A Small World. I will add at this point, for any future sixth graders who might be reading, that we always, always, always have to do It’s A Small World. This is because, at some point during the school year, the second grade sing It’s A Small World at an assembly. As my classroom is next to the 2nd grade (or it used to be above them), the sound of them practising will drift in through my open windows/door. Without realising it, sixth graders (who were once second graders) will start to hum/sing along. This drives me mad! If there is one thing I dislike intensely it’s the It’s A Small World song. However, on the Disney trip we do everything together. There will always be something that someone doesn’t want to do, so we all have to suffer at some point. With that in mind, it seems only right that I should suffer as well. Therefore we always, always, always do It’s A Small World. It was hell :^)

7: It’s A Small World

That was done so quickly that I decided to try to squeeze one more ride in before lunch – no one was hungry! So it was off to Autopia. Once again I left the children in maria’s care while I ran off and got Fastpasses for Space Mountain. This ride took the longest. It didn’t seem to take the longest because the queueing was in the open air, and the kids were still very excited (and tiredness hadn’t crept in). However, great fun was had and I picked up tips with which parents I don’t want to ever travel with. Yes, if there are any parents reading this, your children do copy your actions. As one student crashed into the back on another, he/she screamed: ¡quitate, ya voy tarde a mi trabajo!

8: Autopia

Pizza, Pasta, Salad. It was time to eat! David managed to control himself and stick to just one piece of pizza! While everyone ate, I set off again to the other side of the park to get Fastpasses for Indiana Jones. Food in stomachs, obviously the best time to ride Space Mountain again! Oh, quick tip for those of you who are ever going to go on a ride with Ariadne: don’t sit in the same car. That girl can scream!!

9: Space Mountain

And then we went to watch Captain Eo. At this point I would like to tell you a little story. I am a Sheffield United supporter. Not just a supporter, not just a fan, not just a follower. If you cut me I will bleed red and white stripes. I am a “Blade Until I Die.” Oddly enough “Blade Until I Die”is the tattoo that the actor Sean Bean has. So, imagine my delight when Sean Bean made a film about Sheffield United. I was really looking forward to it. However, When Saturday Comes is the Let me emphasise how bad it is [I am going to give spoiler now]: at the end of the film when Sean Bean, playing for Sheffield United, steps up to take a penalty against Manchester United, to win the game – I screamed “MISS!!!!!!!!” The film was so bad, I wanted my beloved team to lose!?!?! So, whenever anyone asks me what the worst film I’ve ever seen is, I always answer: When Saturday Comes. Until today. Captain Eo is the worst film I have ever seen. No ifs, no buts, no maybes. Hands down it is the single worst film ever. Just thought I’d mention it. [This was, in fact, the only ride/show that maria did actually partake in. It wasn’t a great day for her :^(] The one great thing that did come from it was we all had a bonding moment. Oh, and we also got to play with the big ball that rolls in the water – friction-free-fun!

10: Captain Eo

Onwards and upwards. Across the park again [Anyone want to enter The Enchanted Tiki Room? NO!] and onto Indiana Jones. Someone, somewhere broke the ride! We assume they broke the ride because I find it hard to believe that you can actually get lost on it.

11: Indiana Jones.

I need to mention that that the lyrics to the song are: Yo, HO, Yo, HO, A pirate’s life for me. Not “Yo, yo” which actually sounds like the beginning of a Kayne West song. Yes, we did The Pirates of The Caribbean. No, we did not buy 21 swords and try to bring them back across the border.

12: Pirates of The Caribbean

Out of Pirates and straight into The Haunted House.Well, not straight into as there was time to have a quick break to hydrate and top up the sugar levels: It’s Churro Time! As everyone was so thirsty all drinks were drunk in one (or they were bought in bottles with caps), so the fact that there was no queue for the Haunted House didn’t cause us any problems this time.

13; The Haunted House

By now, everyone was starting to feel the effects of having got up at 5am and being on their feet for over six hours, walking/queueing round Disney. It was time for a quick adrenaline burst. Unfortunately, Thunder Mountain was closed. They shut the ride just as we got there. The good news is, we didn’t queue and then have them shut the ride before we got on. The other good news? No matter what certain people said, it wasn’t shut because someone had died on the ride! So it was off into Fantasyland. I was slightly worried that the queues would be long here. It was a Thursday, it was a school day, and the other parts of the Park had been empty (ish). However, this was the area that could be full of younger children. But, success! There was no real queue for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

14. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

Then it was straight out of there, and straight into Snow White, where there was, again, no queue.

15. Snow White’s Scary Ride.

It was at this point that my own personal tiredness kicked in, and I became over confident. Ninotchka had asked if we could go on the Roger Rabbit ride, and others had also said they wanted to go. I’d noticed that it could be Fastpassed and I should have, at that point, left the kids and gone and done the whole Fastpass thing. However, having seen the queues in the other parts of the park, and not remembering my own worries about Fantasyland/Toontown, I took the option to enjoy the rides and face the queue. This turned out to be a disaster. The queue was only 35 minutes long, but it was the longest 35 minutes of the day. Trapped inside a twisty-turny queueing system with 19 tired children was probably the lowest point of the day. I think I said “don’t” more times in that 35 mins than I normally say in a week. However, Francisco managed to convince yet more people about the number of deaths in the park. So, it wasn’t a total failure!

16. Roger Rabbit’s Car-Toon Spin

Did I get a broken car? Or is everyone’s wheel that hard to turn? As if my legs weren’t aching enough, my arms were now tired after trying to turn the car round and round and round. And then it was time to charge around like “wild and crazy people” in ToonTown. As we walked under the bridge to exit ToonTown, it became obvious that we were fast approaching the end of a very long, successful day. Miguel had started to develop a slight limp, although he smiled all the way through – his rosy-red, sunburnt cheeks not withstanding. Others were starting to complain about aches and pains. So it was time for a quick “churro-stop” and a chance to buy graduation hats. Then, with maria heading off to claim Fastpasses for Space Mountain, we headed for The Matterhorn.

17. The Matterhorn

Once again, we managed to break a ride. Although this time it was a failure to read the sign “keep all hands and FEET inside the car.” If only we had a teacher who encouraged the students to read…oh! Yes, it appears that if you stick your feet out of the car, the ride stops! maria returned with Fastpasses which meant that we had time for one last ride before our final ascent of Space Mountain. It was a hard decision to make: The Enchanted Tiki Room; Captain Eo; Buzz Lightyear. Oh, who am I kidding.

18. Buzz Lightyear

And then it was time for the final ride. Being the person that I am, I like the symmetry of starting and ending the same way. And, in my opinion, Space Mountain is the best ride in Disney. So, it was all aboard for one last ride, and one last scream!

19: Space Mountain

Alexa lost her voice, Roberto didn’t lose his hat and sweatshirt. And that was that. A new world (BAI) record set: 19 rides in one visit. With the park closing around us, it was time to head out to DownTown Disney and do some shopping. This, for me, is the hardest part of an exceptionally hard day. At this point I have to let lose 19 kids and trust them to do the right thing. It is impossible to “shop together” and so they are allowed to wander off on their own. True, I have them corralled into one big shop, but that shop is huge and there are four exits. They know, and understand, that they are allowed nowhere else, except in the shop, and once they have purchased their stuff – they need to come sit on the wall outside with me. And then I let them loose. It is the one half hour (plus) I get to myself in the whole day. However, it is fraught with worry. maria and I sat on the wall, waiting, eating kettle-corn. Thirty seven minutes and the first student returned. Then, within the next 25 minutes, they all slowly returned, laden down with bags and gifts, but very much lighter in the pocket region. All of them returned before the deadline I had set them, which was brilliant. The only way a trip like this works is if everyone is cooperative and works as a team. We keep an eye out for each other, we respect others wishes, we understand each others needs, and we follow instructions. This year’s sixth grade showed themselves to be responsible, mature students. They listened carefully, followed all directions, and a brilliant time was had by everyone.

A last visit to “the loo”, and it was time to set out for the coach. Tired aching feet carried us the twenty minutes to the coach. A short pause while the mums visited MacDonalds. Then off we set, ten minutes early! Some slept on the coach, some watched a horror film, some talked about the day we had just had, and others just stared into space. A super fast coach journey saw us crossing the border and back at school before midnight! Passports returned, children handed back to parents, it was time to head home. A quick stop at the taco stand for “tacos to go”, and we were home. After eating tacos and drinking a well deserved (and needed) can of beer, it was bed time. Sure, we needed a shower, but the thought of standing was just too horrible to contemplate.

1:27am Turned the light out and went to sleep.

Posted in disney, graduation, special event, trip | 8 Comments »

(here we go again) Monday

Posted by willkay on January 10, 2011

I don’t want to go to school! The kids are all horrible to me, and all the teachers pick on me! Plus *cough* *cough* I think I’m ill! Please don’t make me go!

You have to. You’re the sixth grade teacher!

It seems like ages (at least a year) since I last put finger to keyboard, but here I am again. Back to school. It isn’t the getting up in the morning that is the hardest part, it is the going to bed the night before. After several weeks of staying up late, and getting up later, it is incredibly difficult to go go to bed early and try to fall asleep. However, the first alarm went off, the second alarm followed, and by the time the third alarm went off I was out of bed, and (almost) ready for work.

All present and correct! Everyone was back, with stories to tell about adventures that had happened. Most of the students seem to have had a good time, although the biggest point of conversation was yesterday’s (Sunday) study group meeting. Yes, the life of a 6th grader can be fun, wonderful, and brilliant, and at the end of it is Graduation. However, before you graduate, you have to make sure that you have another school to graduate to, and next Tuesday (18th) it is the entrance exams for Instituto México. This means that the next week will be full of worried, panicking students who will slowly forget everything they have ever been taught. This means that over the next seven working days, we have to cover as many topics as possible, reminding everyone of what they can actually do! Which means that, as much fun as it would be to stand around talking about the holidays, we need to get down to work straight away.

Straight into a maths lesson and percentages. In theory, percents are easy. Percent means “out of 100”, so all you have to do is make sure the denominator is 100. Of course, the trick is being able to get a denominator of 100. One of the advantages of teaching sixth grade is that their mental arithmetic is normally good. This is imperative for percents. So, this’ll be easy or this’ll be hard. Just depends on their knowledge.

The one thing every teacher does is force New Year’s Resolutions on to their students, and I’m no different. Although, I’m not mad keen on resolutions, I prefer to call them targets. I like the idea of using a New Year as a chance to set targets that are attainable, and targets that are thoughtful. Personally I have set myself a target – to read 24 books this year. I’m not saying that I will read 2 books a month, but I’d like to get through 24 books this year. As this is the sixth grade’s last year in BAI (and it is now down to 6 months) I think that it would be sensible to pick targets that are relevant. Reading more is a good target. There is a chance that once they leave BAI they might not read as much – once they escape from me and my determination to get them to read! Also, for most of them, this will be the last time they will be in an English speaking environment until they apply for a job. They should take advantage of that by setting the target of trying to speak as much English as possible. However, they are my suggestions and it all comes down to the individual in what targets they set.

After recess I got to go spend time with the fifth grade. An enjoyable lesson where we discussed “dinosaur killers”, “streets paved with gold”, and what a rhino’s horn is made of.

Back in the sixth grade we started a new topic in geography, Africa.

And then, seven and a half hours later, it was time to pack up and go home. My legs ached from all the standing. My throat was sore from all the talking. However, I’ll still be back tomorrow, happy and smiling.

English Word of the Day. Sherbet. In the USofA sherbet is a frozen dessert, something like a sorbet. However, in England it is a fizzy powder that kids (and adults) eat as a sweet (candy).


  • Maths: Reteaching 6-1. Practice 6-1  Nos: 1-14
  • Resolutions/Targets: written and neatly presented on an index card
  • Writing Assignment: the middle bit of a story (by Friday)
  • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

Posted in english, exams, geography, graduation, maths | 1 Comment »

(banned in Germany) Slideshow

Posted by willkay on June 30, 2010

The slideshow from the Graduation party is now up on YouTube. However, you might want to go see it NOW. Also, if you want to tell friends/relations/the cat that it is up NOW, that might also be an idea. The video has backing music (from Coldplay) and their lawyers have already banned the video in Germany – which means Scarlatte’s dad can’t see it [sorry]. I have no idea how long they will let it stay up in other countries, so if you want to watch it with the music in the background, go watch it NOW. If it does get banned, I will upload it without the musical backing…o maybe I’ll just load it up with “It’s a Small World” as the backing track, on constant loop! [Although, Disney’s lawyers are more litigious than Sony’s, so that might be a bad idea. Anyhoo, watch it NOW:

Posted in graduation, youtube | 1 Comment »

(disney) Friday

Posted by willkay on June 26, 2010

4:55am the first alarm goes off. I slowly wake to the sounds of The Postal Service, roll over and go back to sleep. 5:00am the second alarm goes off. Song 2 by Blur! 5:01am out of bed and start applying copious amounts of sunblock. It’s going to be a long, long day.

Space Mountain.

Buzz Lightyear.

Splash Mountain.

Indiana Jones.

Thunder Mountain.

Pirates of the Carribean.

Haunted House.

Matterhorn (White Mountain).

It’s A Small World.


Star Tours.

Thunder Mountain.

Space Mountain.



12:51am nineteen hours after we set off, we arrived back at school.

You can find 90 pictures of the day at the usual place. I need to go back to sleep.

Posted in disney, graduation, special event, trip | 2 Comments »

(last day in school) Thursday

Posted by willkay on June 24, 2010

All present. All correct. Last morning line up.

And then it was time for a series of lasts and one first. The one first was the chance to recycle. Outside the school, a huge recycling container had arrived, and the school set about the task of trying to fill it.

They got nowhere near. However it was good to see all the paper going to a good home, rather than to a landfill. Next year the school will take more steps to becoming paperless, which will be wonderful. Which reminds me – you might have noticed that the annual school survey didn’t come home this year. That is because it is on the website. If you have any comments to make or feedback on how you think the year went, please visit the website, and fill out the survey. And it is paperless!

The rest of the day was spent saying goodbye, signing shirts, practising for the graduation ceremony, practising shaking hands, taking pictures, planning tomorrow, saying goodbye.

Tomorrow we head for Disney. Meet outside school at 5:30am. School will not be open, and it will have closed before we get back. That is it for Generation 2010. There is just the Graduation ceremony, on Tuesday, to go.

Posted in graduation | 3 Comments »

(last day) Thursday (be in school)

Posted by willkay on June 23, 2010

Be in School!

Thursday is the last full day for the sixth grade, at British American Institute.

Be in School!

Normal uniform (normal for a Thursday). Bring a shirt for people to sign. If you bring a camera, I (nor the school) is responsible for it. You are responsible for your property. But

Be in School!

There will be a practice for graduation. Ivan is writing the farewell speech. If you want him to mention something in particular, tell him NOW.

Be in School!

Phone everyone in the sixth grade. IM everyone in the sixth grade. Tell everyone in the sixth grade:

Be in School!

It is the last day in school.

Be in School!

Posted in graduation | 3 Comments »

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