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!
  • Wall of Fame

  • The 200+ Club

  • Stat Counter

    wordpress visitor
  • Who has visited

  • Flags of Visitors

    free counters

Archive for the ‘history’ Category

dreaming of a lazy Sunday

Posted by willkay on October 14, 2012

Last week we were talking to Nikos about how much the sixth grade at BAI read, and how impressed we were with them. [For those of you not quite up to speed on who Nikos is, he’s Mrs. Kay’s son, my step-son, and a sixth grader at Emma de la Vega.] At this point, Nikos mentioned that he would like to be on The Wall Of Fame. Obviously, this isn’t particularly possible. However, as neither of us wanted to discourage him from reading – could you imagine a world where Mr. and Mrs. Kay would actually tell someone to stop reading? Oh, hang on, I do that about seven times a day when I have to tell Andrea to put her book down and start listening to me – we told him to go for it. That was last week. One week later, this is a picture of Nikos, taken at 10:23 on a Sunday morning. Normally, by this stage, he has been on the computer, played on an iPad, watched some television, and is demanding that we do something because he is bored. However, this Sunday he is still on his bed, reading. He is desperately trying to get to the end of the book. Desperate because he wants to read book 2. You see, he’s already seen the film The Hunger Games, and he’s just discovered (in his own words) that the book is better than the film, it has more detail. Now he wants to read book 2, because he has no idea what is going to happen next. Oh, and the number of pages he has read so far, in one week? 367 (so far). This is enough to get him on The Wall Of Fame. So, if you can forgive a slight amount of parental indulgence (this is my blog after all), here’s a picture of Nikos doing his latest hobby:

Thursday seems so long ago. I remember we did some maths – changing improper fractions into mixed numbers, and changing mixed numbers into improper fractions. I know we read our Halloween stories. And I definitely know that we had a very long, very mature, very well thought out discussion about The Holocaust. Oh, and the SmartBoard in 6B exploded. I say exploded, but it was more like a rifle crack than an actual kaboom. Hopefully, Professor Victor spent Friday getting it to work, and Mrs. Kay will have something to use on Monday. Hopefully.

Friday there was no school. Actually, that’s not true. There was no school for the students, however there was school for the teachers. Eight o’clock in the morning saw us all try to squeeze into desks that were made for people a lot smaller than us.

It was a very interesting course, led by Miss Dulce. We discussed the reasons for evaluation, how to use evaluation better in the classroom, and all the new changes that are coming to the grading system. We worked in teams, we worked in pairs, we were told off a couple of times for talking, we were encouraged to participate, and we all came away better teachers for the experience. Big thanks to Miss Dulce for presenting the whole day. An even bigger thank you to Mrs. Kay who translated the whole day: as Miss Dulce spoke, Mrs. Kay typed away furiously, translating everything from Spanish to English, so that I could follow what was going on.

Saturday was spent at a volleyball tournament. However, there was a reward at the end of it all – birria tacos. And now it is Sunday, a day for chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’, all cool [and if you’re a student, and don’t know where those words come from, ask your parents. And, if they can’t receit the theme song from Fresh Prince, find it on YouTube, because really….in fact, here’s the original,

Ah, the 80s. Anyhoo, unfortunately this is not going to be a day for chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’, all cool because I have exams to write. Yes, the exam period has come around again, and I need to make sure that the exams are written, and ready for Monday, October 22nd. So, that’s my Sunday organised. Hopefully your Sunday is going better. You’ve already done your D.N.A. model, and that is ready to bring into school. Which means you can either read or try to beat my score on Subway Surfers. I’d suggest you read.



Posted in exams, geography, history, maths, reading log, science, smartboard, stuff | 4 Comments »

six birthdays!

Posted by willkay on October 9, 2012

In the six years that I have been sixth grade teacher, I have only had four birthday parties in school for students. [I should, at this point, mention that I have been fortunate enough to have had six birthday parties and one pre-wedding party for me! Thank you parents.] In fact, I haven’t had a birthday party in my classroom for so long, that I had forgotten all about “Birthday Party Tuesday”. So, last month, when we actually had a party for Alfonso, it came as a bit of a shock to the system. This morning was a bigger shock. Not only would there be a birthday party in my classroom (again!), but it would be for six students. Yes, one third of my class were born in the month of September. So, pizza and brownies for lunch today! (Oh, and tea*.)

Maths turned into yet another extended lesson. Throughout the school there has been a timetable change. Every classroom gets seven hours of maths a week, except the sixth grade. When the changes were first presented Mrs. Kay and I discussed how many hours of maths we would we need a week. Realising that the entrance exams to Junior High come in January, we were prepared to teach two thirds of the maths’ course before then. This meant that after January, we wouldn’t have a lot left to teach. So, we declined the extra maths lessons, preferring to teach more science and geography. Except, that is after January! Before January comes, we have to cram in extra hours of maths. This, in my head, I know. I know this because I’ve been doing this now for nearly seven years. However, it always comes as a surprise to me when I end up having to teach extra maths. I suppose it is because Mrs. Kay and I plan our week’s/month’s lessons very meticulously. But when we plan, we still plan a certain amount for science and geography. Of course, this only leads to a mental pressure build up when we end up teaching more maths. It will all sort itself out in the long run, this I know. However, until I get to the middle of February, there will always be this nagging worry.

Anyhoo, as I was saying, maths turned into another extended lesson. We’ve arrived at fractions. I love fractions, as all true mathematicians do. There is something fantastic about fractions. I love the fact that there are an infinite amount of ways that you can write the same fraction. I love the whole common denominator/diagonal cancelling/change the top-change the bottom symmetry of the subject. I also love the fact that when the answer is a vulgar fraction, that’s the answer. No messing about with decimals for me! However, I am in a minority of one in my classroom. Fractions seem to be every child’s worst nightmare. It is my job to convince the children that they are wrong. That fractions can be a quick and easy answer to all the problems they face. The best way of going about this? Start all the way back at the beginning. Get them to ignore everything they’ve struggled with the first time round, and this time look at fractions with the eyes of a sixth grader. Of course, this isn’t a simple task. Some children are still stuck in the nightmare of fractions that is known as the fourth grade – that moment when the concepts suddenly get more confusing and the brain isn’t really mature enough to understand what is going on. We shall see how it goes. We will be stuck with fractions for the next 3/4 weeks (depending how much time the exams take out of the maths timetable).

I did remember to take a picture of all the children who read more than 300 pages. Following Mrs. Kay’s advice (she’s a professional photographer donchu’no), I took the picture in a different place – less sun should have led to less squinting. I’m not convinced that I got the best picture ever, but at least I remembered:

Geography turned into a history lesson. Trying to study Germany is impossible without mentioning the fact that it used to be two countries. This is impossible to mention with out talking about the Second World War. WW2 cannot be mentioned without talking about the Holocaust. You can’t talk about the Holocaust without mentioning Hitler. And you can’t talk about Hitler without talking about the National Socialist Party. Of course, you can’t mention the rise of the Nazi Party without actually explaining why Germany was in such a situation. S0 (are you following this?), today’s geography lesson was all about The Great War, or World War I as it is now called. We got as far as talking about the soldiers playing football in No-Man’s Land on Christmas Day. And I was building up to my grandpa’s role in the war, when the bell rang. Another day done.

[*tea – a mid-afternoon meal. Yes, in England, everything stops for tea. There are tea breaks, there is elevenses, there is afternoon tea, there is an evening cuppa. But these are all to drink tea. As far as meals go, there are: breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, dinner, supper. Now do you realise who J.R.R. Tolkien based the Hobbits’ eating habits on?]

Posted in geography, history, maths, stuff | 1 Comment »

on a school night

Posted by willkay on October 26, 2011

It’s W*dnesd*y, which means that it is half price night at the cinema. Being the romantic person that I am, I took maria to the cinema tonight! Plus, I also took her out for a meal. Yes, I know! Going out on a school night, how daring. However, it is now 8:40pm and we are back home. So, maybe not so daring at all. But this does mean you are getting a very reduced blog post because…well, just accept it! Santos are still playing America and i don’t have time for this.

  • English exam
  • story about November 5th
  • Maths lesson – introduction to percent
  • time to study for History exam
  • History exam
  • Recess – do you know, there are some children who do not have lunch!
  • Spanish lesson
  • Music lesson
  • Science exam review

Sorry, I can’t recommend The Way Back (or Camino a la Libertad). It’s not bad, but it isn’t that good.


  • Science: exam
  • Laptops: charged
  • Read: 20 minutes each day
  • Book: to read for when you finish your exam

Posted in english, exams, history, maths, science | 7 Comments »

exams – not the best time in school

Posted by willkay on October 25, 2011

We are fully into exam week now. This is not the best of week’s for students or teachers. There is a lot of pressure on the students. The parents demand good grades, the teachers demand good grades, their peers are watching them closely. The focus of the students falls totally onto the exam. Nothing else matters. In the sixth grade, I try to juggle the timetable round so that the students sit their day’s exam as close to first thing in the morning as possible. This morning, rather than wait until 1pm when they had Miss Claudia, I set the Spanish exam in my maths lesson. This is good for the children. It is when they are at their most alert and ready – assuming they all had a good breakfast!

[Although this is probably a good time to mention breakfast! Breakfast, for a child, is the most important meal of the day. They haven’t eaten all night, they are about to go into school and work for 3/4 hours before their first break. On some days they have PE in the morning, which will burn off a lot of “fuel”. Breakfast is really important. And, while I’m here, the second most important thing in a child’s life is sleep. It is while a child sleeps that they make sense of all the information that they have been bombarded with throughout the day. A sixth grade student should be winding down by 8:30 and heading to bed by 9. The more hours sleep they get, the better they will understand the days proceedings.]

Unfortunately, once the students have sat the exam, they tend to “explode”. The pressure is off, and they need the stress relief. Their next target is tomorrow’s exam, and they have very little interest in anything else. This makes it very hard to actually teach. The children aren’t receptive to new information, all they are concerned with is, “is it in the exam?” If it isn’t, then they aren’t interested. And, of course, it isn’t in the exam. At this point in the proceedings the exams have been written, the lessons have been taught. It becomes, for the teacher, a very difficult period of time, where he has to make sure that the students still stay focused, but doesn’t over do the pressure.

Then there is the returned exam moment: the joy of a good grade, the disappointment of a bad grade. And, of course, it is how the student reacts to these two things. As a teacher you always hope that a good grade inspires the student to maintain the average, push for higher grades. But sometimes, because students are children, it can lead to over-confidence and an air of “been there, done that, let’s relax“. As a teacher you hope that a bad grade will inspire the student to greater heights. Will make them study harder, will focus their energy. However, sometimes it can cause an implosion. The student sees him/herself as a failure and gives up. And so it becomes a very fine line for the teacher to tread. Handing back exams still means you have to inspire and motivate. For some studetns you have to encourage, for others you have to keep them on track.

The exam period can be a difficult one in school.

After the students sat the Spanish exam I went through the maths exam. Ten pupils managed to score over 9.0, and four of those students managed to score 10. So, there were a lot of happy people in the classroom. Unfortunately, there were some students who did not achieve what they had set out to get, and there were some students who had made mistakes that they hadn’t foreseen. Some had failed to simplify fractions, some had done addition when the question asked for subtraction, and some had turned multiplications upside down. Often, those who had made the mistakes were the ones who had “handed their exam in early“.  It appears that no matter how often I mention that “there are no marks for finishing, check your work carefully“, there are always those students who want to wash their hands of the exam, and just move on. But, this is a school. A place to learn. Hopefully, they will learn, and it will all be alright in the end.

The rest of the day was spent in yoga, PE, history, and reviewing for the English exam. Tomorrow there will be two exams: English and History. At first, the history exam was supposed to be next Thursday. However, we thought (Miss Claudia, Miss Esther, and I) that doing a review on Monday (in costume), going on a field trip on Tuesday, having a day off on W*dnesd*y, wouldn’t be the best preparation for an exam. So, we decided that putting on tomorrow would be better. We realise that this will mean two exams in one day, however Miss Esther and I are not convinced that there is a lot of studying to be done (or *is* done) for the English exam. This means that the students’ calendar would be free to study history.


  • English: exam
  • History: exam
  • Read: 20 minutes each day
  • Book: to read for when you finish your exam

Posted in english, exams, history, maths, values | 2 Comments »

Monday (Monday)

Posted by willkay on October 10, 2011

For Francisco’s brother:

Monday means Reading Logs. Only two students failed to reach 140 pages, which is excellent! How about that for accomplishment? However, some students need to be careful how they are counting their read pages. For that reason, and that reason alone, I am discounting one person’s entry onto The Wall Of Fame. I really don’t think that if you have a guide to Assassin’s Creed, that happens to be 600 pages long, and you occasionally consult it, that counts as reading 600+ pages in a week. So, apart from that:


  • 544 pages: Maria Rita

  • 400 pages: Diego L.P.

  • 388 pages: Azereth

  • 320 pages: Francisco

  • 313 pages: Hector

  • 300 pages: Diana

Nine students also made it into The 200+ Club. Congratulations all round.

The Wall Of Accomplishment has been reset. Everything is on a 10, except for Conduct, that’s on 11. There is a promise that something might happen on Friday, if we can continue to keep high scores during the day, and we do our homework, and get homework diaries signed. Let’s hope we accomplish that!

Maths was addition of fractions. It always amazes me, when I spend 20 minutes teaching exactly how I want the work set out, that some students ignore me totally, and do their own thing. The greatest amazement is, when they get it wrong they just look at me, bewildered. There is a reason that I ask for the work to be set out in a particular way. The work we are doing now is the first lesson in a series of eight. As the lessons progress, the work will get harder. It is a good idea to have everything organised now, on the page, so that a process is in order – rather than to struggle through it with the difficulty of harder questions.

The writing assignment was set for the week. There are moments, as I explain the writing assignment, when I am reminded of Quentin Crisp, the author. He tells the story that the night before the geography exam he learnt every single fact he could about Canada. Then, when the exam came he ignored every question, and just wrote about Canada. What is the capital of Germany? It is not Ottawa which is the capital of Canada. What is the main product of Australia? Canada is one of the world’s leading suppliers of grain. As I introduce the assignment, I can see students thinking, how can I bend this to write about whatever i want to write about? Anyway, the assignment is: you start, washed up on a desert island. How do you get through the first day and (more importantly) the first night?

The Grammar lesson was all about common and proper nouns. The geography lesson was about Germany, although it ended up more as a history lesson. It is difficult to talk about Germany and not mention the war. It is doubly difficult to try and explain how a country was torn into two parts, West and East Germany. And it is even harder to explain the sense of wonderment that was caused by the events of 9th November, 1989.


  • Maths: Reteaching 4-2 Nos: 7,11,13,15,16,19 Practice 4-2 Nos: 4,6,7,8,10,12,15,16,17
  • English: Grammar workbook p.18 Nos: 6-12
  • Geography: 5 (interesting) Facts about Greece and 10 facts about other countries in Western Europe. (by Thursday)
  • Writing Assignment: Survive! (for Friday)
  • Read: 20 minutes
  • Homework Diary: signed

Posted in english, geography, history, maths, reading log, wall of fame, youtube | 3 Comments »

(urban legend) Monday

Posted by willkay on December 13, 2010

Did you hear about why Kentucky Fried Chicken changed its name to KFC? Or how about the person who bought a yucca plant and when they watered it, it hissed? There’s always the one about the hitchhiker who leaves an attaché case in the car that is full of duct tape and knives. Or even the story about leaving a tooth in a glass of coke overnight. My favourite is always the one about how tourists befriended a long-tailed, short-haired, short-legged dog that turned out to be a giant rat.

A long, long time ago, before even my mum was born, people would sit around village fires and tell stories that “happened to a friend of my friend who lives in the other village“. Then the telephone was invented and people could sit around and tell stories about what happened to “a friend of my cousin (on my mother’s side)“. Now, thanks to the internet, and the Forward button, we can pass on stories that happened to “a close family friend of my local butcher“. Don’t get me wrong, I love the internet. I love the fact that within 0.32 seconds Google can find me 47,526 hits to the question I just asked. I love the fact that the facts are instantly available. But sometimes the internet is just full of stories that “happened to my hairdresser’s best friend“. Sometimes the internet can be like a village fire, everyone sits around and tells a scary story, and the best told story (the scariest story) gets retold, and retold, and forwarded, and forwarded.

Today, I was informed by the girls in my class that drinking water from a plastic bottle that had been left in a car to heat up, causes cancer. Now, far be it from me to argue with the persuasive facts (I got an email about it) or the poof (a friend of my mum told her that she had heard about a woman who had got cancer this way), but as a teacher I feel that it is my job to calm nerves rather than set all my students into a fully-fledged panic. It doesn’t take too much thought to realise that if this was really the case, by now bottles would have been taken off the market – the ability to sue for damages is a fantastic way of making sure that companies aren’t killing/poisoning/maiming me. However, if all else fails, I turn to I type in the relevant facts of the story into the search engine: plastic water bottle cancer and hit return. I am then told that plastic water bottles do not contain the toxins that cause cancer. I am informed that some baby bottles/hard plastic bottles might have caused cancer in some animals, and some governments have banned then. But, will tell me if something is true or an urban legend. Try it, it’s fun. However, don’t blame me if you lose three hours of your life just reading through all the urban legends about Disney!

Oh, and in passing: I do believe in aliens; I don’t believe in UFO sightings; I have no opinion on Area 51; I believe that JFK was assassinated by one man – there was no one on the grassy knoll; man has walked on the moon; there was no curse on Tutankhamen’s burial site; and gang members don’t drive around with their lights switched off.

Secret Santa started today! Well, it sort of started for most people. For some people their secret friend either didn’t make it into school today, or forgot that it was starting today! However, the upside of that is: double pressies tomorrow! In the maths lesson we moved on to “logical reasoning“. This turned out to be a lot easier that it sounded, as it appeared that logical reasoning just meant a series of crosses and ticks in different boxes. I say “easy peasy“, you say, “lemon squeezy“.

The English lesson saw the end of the battle between Secret Agent 003½ and the evil Dr. Evil. Will they return now that oo3½ foiled evil Dr. Evil’s plan to assassinate the President and place his accomplice (the Vice President) in the White House? Who knows? We shall have to wait for ages to find out – well, at least until 2011!

Recess was made all the nicer thanks to brownies supplied by Polette. Oh, and have I mentioned? Today is Roberto’s birthday?

The geography lesson turned into a history lesson. However, you cannot study Russia without talking about its history. And somewhere in the history of Russia is the story of Napoleon’s invasion, the retreat from Moscow, and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture (which would could all hum). This lead to the fact that Napoleon might of died from arsenic poisoning. Which led to the fact that arsenic was found in old wallpapers. And then to water pipes that were made from lead. And then to schools that were made with asbestos. And, finally, to the fact that plastic drinking bottles might give you cancer…which they don’t!

English Word of the Day. Basketball. It is not, and never will be, referred to as “basket“. Sometimes “B-Ball“, most times basketball, never basket. Oh, and no Englishman would ever use the term soccer. It is football! And the game they play in the USofA is American Football. Right. Off to play on my bouncy castle


  • Maths: Reteaching something-something   Practice something-something no:1      
  • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

Posted in english, geography, history, maths, spelling, stuff | 7 Comments »

(time line) Thursday

Posted by willkay on December 9, 2010

At some point last week (actually, probably for the whole of last week) I was complaining that it had been a long, long week. At this moment in time I really should say that I cannot believe that it is already Thursday. I make it late Tuesday afternoon, maybe early on a W*dnesd*y morning. But there is no way that it is already the end of Thursday and there is only Friday to go. Oh, it is? Wow! There’s a week nearly over and done with, and with just one week to go before the Christmas holiday maybe it is time to start thinking about writing that letter to Father Christmas. Hmmm, one thing I can be certain about – I don’t need a new mug.

That’s it with surface areas of cylinders. I think that I actually saw brain cells start to die in class this morning as we went through last night’s homework. Some students have understood it, some students have an idea about what is going on, and the rest all understand how to find the area and the circumference of a circle. Job done, time to relax. Take it easy. I know, let’s do some problem solving! The class easily (and quickly, with no complaining nor arguing) divided up into five teams of four, and took on the challenge of problem solving. This turned out to be a lot harder than it seemed it would be. Surely four minds would be able to solve the questions as they arose? And yet, it appeared that instead of many hands making light work it was more a case of too many cooks spoil the broth! Of course, once everyone knew the answers it was a lot easier! You know, tomorrow, I might have a go at Sudoku.

In Science we have moved on to a brand new topic: Earth Science. Today we looked at the different layers that make up the planet (not forgetting the atmosphere which is also a layer). We discovered that the Mariana Trench is actually deeper than Mount Everest is tall. In fact, if you dropped Mount Everest into the Mariana Trench there would still be nearly two kilometres of water above it. What creatures live in this trench? We don’t know. There might still be many different animals that are undiscovered down there. One thing is certain though: we have mapped and know the surface of the moon better than we have mapped and know the oceans of the Earth.

In History the students are building a timeline (there is a picture of part of it at the top of the page). This timeline covers Mexico’s history. Oddly enough, the exam into Junior High asks for a certain amount of knowledge of Mexican history but the SEP syllabus for the sixth grade doesn’t actually cover Mexican history. In order to help the students, Miss Claudia has got them to make a timeline, which is slowly materialising above the SMARTboard.

In English we finished off the story: When Marian Sang.The students impressed me with a knowledge of Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King, but then unimpressed me with their knowledge of racism in early twentieth century United States.

English Word of the Day. Vapour. Again, it’s one of those words that has a random ‘u’ in it!


  • Maths: Reteaching 5-3
  • Writing Assignment: An Alien (for tomorrow)
  • Reading Log: in tomorrow
  • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

Posted in english, history, maths, science | 4 Comments »

(who is that fat man?) Monday

Posted by willkay on December 6, 2010

Can you tell that today was the last exam of the year? Can you tell that we are solidly into December and already the students can smell Christmas? Can you tell that the next two weeks are going to be very long for teachers? If you have ever wonder about what you’d most like to be empathetic about can I give you a nudge in my direction? Just think how hard the next two weeks are going to be with a classroom full of children who are already on holiday, looking at presents under the tree. Good times.

The Honour Guard was in action this morning. Well, The Honour Guard plus one extra. It appears that the second grade couldn’t muster enough individuals to make an Honour Guard, so the sixth grade were called on to do their duty. Unfortunately, Alejandro was off sick, which meant there was no “shouty-person”. What we needed was someone with a loud voice, who knew what they were doing, and could lead the Honour Guard around the playground. Step forward Polette! Thank you.

Geography exam. Oddly enough, this seemed to be the toughest of the exams as it definitely took the longest. With that over and done with, it was time to settle back down to the real business of being at school: work. However, for some students this was not to be. It was very chatty in the classroom and the students were hard to settle. This is only to be expected as they have just come through a tough set of exams and, on the whole, done very well in them. So, the rest of the day was spent doing spellings, reading, and singing.

This week’s writing assignment is to describe an inhabitant of another planet. There was a certain amount of time spent discussing my “alien” and the world of jelly (that’s jello to you) that he lived in. After that, we had a spelling quiz where the evil Dr. Evil revealed his plan to rule the world via a talking, parachuting penguin. It’s alright, the penguin didn’t speak English/Spanish, he spoke rhinoceros. And he kept all of his plans written ina brochure that he kept in antique bureau that was a family heirloom. [True story.] As you can tell, it was a morning filled with serious and contemplative thought.

After a recess where some people had waaaaaay too much sugar – in the form of peanut butter and Oreos – the students started to build a timeline for their history class. Then it was back to the world of Ancient Egypt, and the genius of The Rosetta Stone (which was found in Rosetta). To finish the day off, we learnt a song. And did a little dance. Tomorrow is another day.

English Word of the Day. Honorary. Yes, it appears that in English it is honour, with a u, but it is also honorary, without a u. 


  • Spelling Workbook
  • Writing Assignment: An Alien (for Friday)
  • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

Posted in exams, geography, history, honour guard, spelling, stuff, youtube | Leave a Comment »

(end of a long week) Friday

Posted by willkay on December 4, 2010

One of the single worst things you can ever do is: wake up on a Tuesday and think that it is Friday. I have spent most of the week thinking it was Friday, and so it seems to have taken ages to finally get here (or there, as I am writing this on Saturday morning). When I did finally arrive at Friday afternoon, I must admit that I came home and fell asleep for two hours. Yes, it was a long week!

Friday started with yoga (for the students) and then moved on to the returning of the science exam. Two students scored 10. Fourteen students scored over 9. So, it was a fairly successful science exam. The rest of the day was spent preparing for the geography exam or, as one student called it, “a tourist guide to Europe“. There was a long discussion about Le Tour de France, which is something that I really love. Maybe we should try to get Miss Lilian to enter? As for the rest of the day, there was one interruption for the history exam, one interruption for a PE lesson, and then the day was finished with a BBC documentary about the solar system.

It is Friday and as everyone knows, Friday is the day I take in the reading log numbers. Except, when I say everyone, I actually mean “only 14 students“. Unfortunately only 14 out of 21 students brought in their reading log numbers. There is still The Wall Of Fame:


  • 1150 pages: Ana Paola
  • 366 pages: Octavio
  • 337 pages: Francisco
  • 326 pages: Daniel
  • 306 pages: Jose Luis
  • However, there is no 200+ Club this week. After those five students no one scored over 200 pages. There were still some good results, don’t get me wrong. anything over 140 pages in a week is a good score.

    English Expression of the Day. Golden Duck. If you are out after scoring zero runs in a cricket match it is called “scoring a duck“. Yesterday the captin of the Australian cricket team was out on the first ball he faced. He was out for a Golden Duck.


    • Geography exam
    • Circular signed (yes I know that most of you don’t do extra lessons but it would be nice to have them all back signed).
    • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

    Posted in exams, geography, history, PE, science, wall of fame | Leave a Comment »

    (dodecahedron, icosahedron, marmite) Thursday

    Posted by willkay on December 2, 2010

    I really can recommend the HP7pt1 if you haven’t seen it. Go now. The cinema was basically empty last night (just ten people), and it was a very enjoyable experience. The film is very good too, worth a second viewing. And, let’s face it, I am not a big Harry Potter fan, so I wouldn’t normally recommend an HP film. But I have, So there.

    This morning I was met with students bearing constructions/gifts. One had made an icosahedron and a dodecahedron. The other had bought a jar of Marmite that he no longer wanted. Result! I mean, the constructions were brilliant, and took a load of hard work, but…a half eaten jar of Marmite is fantastic!

    The intention was to start the day off straight away with the science exam. Which we did, although not quite straight away. Sometimes, the questions that students ask in exams astound me. I don’t normally allow questions in exams. My feelings are, if you don’t understand the question then you don’t know the answer. I realise this might sound harsh but I have, the previous day, gone through the whole exam as a review. The students should have studied the night before. Therefore they should know what to do in the exam. If they don’t know, then they don’t know! However, there is still the odd question – which normally turns out to be strange. For example: do we need to colour the picture? Now I find this strange because they were asked to draw and label a picture of the eye. One of the things they had to label was the iris – the coloured part of the eye. Also it was the timing of the question. The (first) person to ask me, asked as they handed in the exam, after 30 minutes. There was no rush to hand it in, they had (at least) another 30 minutes. How long does it take to colour a circle smaller than a one peso coin? How much extra hard work is it? How much would it improve the presentation of the exam? And yet, it was a question. Even stranger, when I pointed out that it might be a good idea, the student took the option to just hand the exam in. It is at moments like this that I wish I did actually give marks for colouring! Oh, hang on, I do. In the geography exam!

    After the science exam, we went through the English exam. This took a lot longer than it took for some people to do the exam the first time. No matter how many times, as a teacher, you tell students to read the question carefully, many of them still choose to charge through the exam quickly. Don’t believe me? Go back and read the picture at the top of this post. What does it say? Or does it say: A walk in the the park. Anyway, considering that 25% of the English exam is a reading comprehension, some of the students do not read carefully enough (Q:Describe the four cats. A: There weren’t four cats.), nor with enough understanding (Q: What does it mean by lost when it says, “She had lost her cat after 20 years”? A: It had run away.). There was just enough time at the end of the lesson to have a quick study for the computer exam. Mind you, I’m not sure how effective that was once the students talked about the questions. Again, time will tell…actually, the results will!

    The rest of the day was spent in Egypt. Well, not literally Egypt, but discussing Egypt and all things Egyptian. [True story: I spent 20+ years living next door to a village called Egypt. But, there again, my sister lives in a village called Hope.] We went through Canopic Jars, mummification, and the weighing of the heart ceremony. Still not sure how Horus had four children: one human; one jackal; one falcon; one monkey. But I am still glad that he named his monkey-son Hapi!

    English Expression of the Day. Baker’s Dozen. How many are there in a Baker’s Dozen? Thirteen. Want to know why? Ask a sixth grader.


    • History exam
    • Circular signed (yes I know that most of you don’t do extra lessons but it would be nice to have them all back signed).
    • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

    Posted in english, exams, history, science | 6 Comments »

    %d bloggers like this: