Mr. Kay's Blog

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

  • In The Sixth Grade We Read

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Archive for the ‘morning line up’ Category

it’s all about me!

Posted by willkay on September 29, 2013

The luvverly Mrs. Kay has been making some videos for my mum. You may have noticed some odd videos appearing on my youtube page, not odd, more “less to do with school”. This is because my niece has just got in contact with me and she lives near my mum. This means that when my mum goes round to visit her, my niece can show my mum videos of me. [Are you still following?] That explains why videos of me walking round the corner to the taco stand, the journey home by car, and other non-school related videos have been turning up on my youtube page. The reason that I am telling you this is that the luvverly Mrs. Kay has taken two videos this week, for my mum, that she thinks would be a good idea to put up on the blog.

As you know, every morning we have “morning line up”. I have already posted a video of the exercises that the children do (it’s here or scroll three posts down). However, every morning one teacher gets to talk about the value of the month. Last Friday it was my turn to talk to the school about Cooperation. I chose to talk about the “Beach Clean Up”.

The second video is of me teaching an English lesson. This year we are really concentrating on the children “reading to understand”. Using the new books, Learning Journeys, we read passages out of the book and then discuss what we have read. This week we have been reading to Compare and Contrast. Here we are reading about two different places the author has lived in, and how she writes about them.

Oh, and because there should be something about the students…here’s a bit of a PE lesson.

Posted in english, morning line up, PE, youtube | 1 Comment »

morning warm up

Posted by willkay on September 19, 2013

Every morning the whole school lines up. We listen to any notices, and a teacher talks about the value of the month. Then we do a morning warm up.

Posted in morning line up, youtube | Leave a Comment »

waiting to exhale

Posted by willkay on September 5, 2012

The sunflowers went home today. It’s a shame, because I wanted to keep them for another two weeks, but they had become too much of a distraction. At the end of the day, Mrs. Kay, Miss Claudia, and I had a meeting to discuss how we felt it was going in the sixth grade. Eight working days in, we feel that we have some sort of grasp of how things are going…and they aren’t going well. Out of every lesson, we are losing ten minutes because students aren’t settling quick enough. Then there are the constant distractions once the lesson actually starts. It is taking an hour and a half to cover an hour’s work. For Miss Claudia, this is a major difficulty as she only has hour lessons. At the moment, it is taking her two lessons to teach one lesson. I’m struggling the same way. In a 30 minute lesson this morning, it took seven minutes to get everyone sat at their desks. I then explained what they had to do, and told them they had exactly 60 seconds to do it. I then said, “MOVE!” Twenty seconds later, ten people were still sat in their desks. After the sixty seconds, only four people were ready. The rest were wandering round the classroom, chatting, checking on their flowers, asking what I had told them to do. Thank goodness I’m not a camel, because this would have been the final straw that broke my back. Instead, I breathed. In – and count. Out – and count.

The plants went home.

It will get better. We know it will get better. We’re working to get it better. The bad news is, we are now less than 100 working days away from the entrance exams into middle school. The time we have to get it better is running out. It needs to be better NOW.

Maths was an introduction to integers (positive and negative numbers). We also learnt how to multiply by 11 – if you are a parent, grab a calculator and challenge your child to a race, multiplying two digit numbers by 11. We didn’t have time for an English lesson. The geography lesson only had 23 minutes of teaching in it – but we still managed to mention kilts and bagpipes! The afternoon was computing and music, with a 30 minute 13 minute run through for assembly.

I’m going off now to practise my breathing.

Posted in english, geography, maths, morning line up, youtube | 3 Comments »

a sense of urgency

Posted by willkay on August 30, 2012

I don’t know if it is the heat, I’m not sure if it’s a hangover from the holidays, I’m fairly certain it isn’t that the children don’t understand, BUT there is a lack of a sense of urgency. Lessons are starting five minutes late, students are going for water and spending time at “the water cooler”, and if someone goes to the restroom – they’ve gone for hours. When work is being set, it’s not been settled to quickly. When notes are put on the board, they are being copied effectively. There is no sense of urgency. No sense of a desire to do. Normally, the sixth grade hit the ground running. We have four months to go before the entrance exams for Junior High, four months to fine tune and prepare. At the moment, it feels like we have four years – and even then, they won’t be a problem. I’m going to accept it is the heat. I’m going to assume that once it starts to cool off, or once everyone has built up some sort of resistance to the heat, then everything will be back to normal. However, they may be some harsh words spoken in class tomorrow – let’s call it a wake-up-call.

Not a great start to the morning: not ready when the second bell went for morning line up; one homework diary “lost”, one not signed; two homeworks not done, one homework was the wrong page (later there were three Spanish homeworks not done); multiplication tables not remembered. An hour’s maths lesson disappeared, and when it came time for P.E. we had only covered half of the planned lesson. The English lesson was lost entirely to doing some more maths, and then copying the geography from yesterday’s lesson – thank goodness for the SmartBoard and its ability to save all my lessons. The end of recess was a disaster. The thirty minutes that I had left to teach after recess, became 20, and so we read three paragraphs of the story “Old Yeller”. The students finished with history – in which they needed an extra five minutes because they hadn’t completed their work – and then yoga.

There are two bits of good news.

The first is that things have started growing. The picture shows some tiny radishes starting to sprout. Also, in the classrooms, the sunflowers are starting to appear – some are already a centimetre or two tall. (It is at this point that I will make two observations; (1) I did take pictures but my camera failed me, sorry; (2) my sunflowers haven’t grown at all!!) The watering cans were not totally successful, they don’t reach the last row of radishes. However, with a steady hand, they work very well in the classroom.

The second bit of good news is there has been a change of heart – I am now allowed to publish videos and photographs of all the children in the sixth grade. Yipee! So, here’s a video of the routine at morning line up. Every morning, Professor Rodolfo leads the school through a series of breathing exercises and physical exercise. This is a video I took of some of the morning’s session. I say “some” because I stopped recording before the jumping-jacks, and I missed filming the breathing exercises. I’ll try to catch them tomorrow, but I won’t make any promises.

Posted in english, geography, honour guard, maths, morning line up, planting, youtube | 3 Comments »

Look ma, top of the school

Posted by willkay on August 28, 2012

Day two and we had our first morning line up. The picture is taken from the top balcony, looking down on the sixth grade, as they stand at the top of the playground. There may be some “blurriness” around some of the children in the photo. In this case, it has nothing to do with my photographic skills. Unfortunately, some parents have denied me permission to publish photos of their child. Now I know this, I will try to photograph around that student, and photos will appear on a more regular basis. Also, it means that the video I took of this morning’s exercise routine will have to be deleted. However, I will give it another go tomorrow, and try to get you a “permission granted” video, starring all those students who have granted me permission.

Moving on…morning line up over, Miss Monica gave everyone a bright neon coloured pencil, and then into classrooms. Wait! What’s this? On my desk? On my desk there is a pile of homework diaries. There are 19 of them. 19 diaries happens to match the exact number of children in the classroom! Success. Might call an end to the school year now. My job is complete. I have actually achieved something on the first day that I only achieved once in the whole of last year! Oh, this year is going to be good.

First maths lesson! The start of a year is always fraught with complications: children have forgotten everything they have ever learnt; Miss [insert name here] never did it this way; it’s too hot to work; and everyone is a year younger (except me). The year younger problem is the biggest. As usual, Mrs. Kay and I have planned all our lessons. Unfortunately, the students aren’t quite used to working at our pace – we’re planning for sixth graders, they are still working at fifth grade speed. Plus, it is all new and different. This isn’t a problem, in the long run. Everything will settle down, everyone will get on track, and everything will be completed. However, for the moment, we arrive at the end of each day wondering if we have actually taught anything. But, then I think back to the homework diaries, and I realise that the children are listening, they are understanding, and we are achieving! Isn’t life brilliant!

From maths we moved into Spelling. I always start each spelling list with a pop-quiz, just to see how much they already know. Happily, there was one 10 and a couple of scores of 9.5. Then it was onto copying out the list for realz! I would like to say, I warned the students, I told them that they were copying, I reminded them to pay attention, I gave them every opportunity to get the list right. Some people have extra homework tonight [sad face].

There was a chance for ten minutes of science before recess, P.E., history, and then back to science. A lively debate happened over the different adaptations that had taken place over thousands of years. Of course it is obvious to see the differences in species, but it is also possible to see the differences between individuals, and their adaptations. My fair skin, blond hair, and blue eyes were not made for Mexican summers. This led onto other adaptations we have made in our bodies – and yes, we even discussed why someone might laugh until they cry. All of this was very interesting, but we still didn’t get anything written into our books before it was time to go home.

Oh, you are probably wondering about the seeds? That project was put on hold for a day as the guy at Mercado Hidalgo, who had promised on Saturday that the watering cans would be in on Monday, failed me. So, it was down to me to do all the watering. However, my new friend came through for me today. I have just been to pick up three watering cans. The rota will be made tomorrow, via the lollysticks-of-destiny, and it will all fall into the students hands. What’s that? You don’t know what a lollystick-of-destiny is? Ask a sixth grader, they can tell you.


Posted in maths, morning line up, science, spelling | 4 Comments »

blustery day

Posted by willkay on November 10, 2011

Twenty six years of teaching children and I can quite happily admit: If you teach anything on a windy day, call it a success. Teaching on a windy day is a nightmare. It isn’t the kids’ fault. They don’t know what is happening to them. It’s something primal. However, the wind was blowing this morning, and the kids were all over the playground. Running, jumping, and very little standing still. It was unfortunate that Professor Rodolfo wasn’t at morning line up, today would have been the perfect day to try to do 50 (fifty) star jumps! But he wasn’t there, so the students went back to the classroom, and the uphill battle began.

Fortunately (for me), the first lesson of the day was computing. This meant that the students got to bounce around the classroom for Miss Yolanda, rather than for me. By the time we started the maths lesson, they had settled some what. I say “settled some what“, by that I mean they weren’t actually swinging from the light fixtures!* We got through some maths. However it was as if the previous 14 weeks of school had never happened. People couldn’t remember factors, couldn’t remember simplifying fractions, couldn’t remember multiplications. After 87 minutes of a 60 minute lesson, I decided that enough-is-enough and we moved onto a geography lesson.

Sixty three minutes later, we had written one line in the notebooks about Russia. After PE we continued with the geography lesson. Another 37 minutes and we managed to write another four lines into the geography book. One hundred minutes of geography and we had a total of five lines to show for it. Time to go home.


  • Maths: write the following as percents:

1) 15 out of 20     2) 27 out of 50     3) 21 out of 28     4) 48 out of 80     5) 97 out of 100

6) 52 out of 52     7) 63 out of 70     8 ) 10 out of 16     9) 33 out of 40     10) 6 out of 48

  • Questionnaires: completed and returned
  • Writing Assignment: Design An Alien (for Friday)
  • Read: 20 minutes
  • Homework Diary: signed


Posted in geography, maths, morning line up, stuff | 1 Comment »

free time??

Posted by willkay on October 23, 2011

If you are a parent, please do not go watch this. Wait until the Christmas performance when it will be a lot better.

The morning started with a review for the maths exam. Actually, the morning started with me talking at morning line up. I used an expression that my mum always used to say – actually, she probably still says it, because that’s the way my mum is: If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. With the exams coming up, too often students are in a rush to finish, get the whole thing over and done with. This is not the way to go. They should spend time on their work. Put their best effort in. Check their work. Aim for that grade of 10. Often, students hand in exams where they haven’t answered every question, or even turned over the piece of paper to see if there are any other questions. They just can’t be bothered. It’s better to finish early, than to sit there, looking for extra marks. And yet, when they get their results they are all full of: What can I do to improve my grade? The answer is, do better in your exam! So, after lecturing the whole school on what they should be doing in their exams, I went into the classroom and reviewed the maths exam.

We then did science, which was all about joints. This was especially important to me, as my knee was still hurting (although, I’m glad to say, that it seems a lot better now). Enrique told us about a video he’d seen:

There was a certain amount of “eeeekkkkk” -ing going on through that!

After recess, there was no Miss Claudia, so the students didn’t get to do their radio shows. Instead, I decided to use the time to practice the Thriller presentation. We watched the video once. Went out and practised walking to our places once. Talked about how the lines were supposed to move. And then ran through the whole thing. I was so impressed I actually gave the sixth grade free time! I never give free time! We are the sixth grade, there is always a need for extra time, to do something else, there is never time for free time! But, they stunned me with their brilliance and I decided I didn’t want to ruin the moment by being picky over the one or two things that went wrong. I’d save that for another day. For now, there was free time!

We then read the stories from last week and watched a bit of Wallace and Gromit.


  • Maths: exam
  • Read: 20 minutes each day
  • Reading Log: signed
  • Book: to read for when you finish your exam

Posted in exams, maths, morning line up, science, thriller | 8 Comments »

I’ve got the sniffles!

Posted by willkay on October 18, 2011

I woke up this morning after a night full of dreams. In my dreams I was snoring, sooooooo loudly that I could not sleep. This meant that when I woke up I was not very rested. Mind you, at least I woke up! maria had not slept all night because someone was snoring soooooooo loudly that she could not sleep. At first I thought that I was snoring because my beard had grown so thick during the night that I was unable to breathe properly. This was not so. My beard wasn’t the problem. my nose was the problem. I have the sniffles. [Although, according to maria, I don’t have the sniffles. Sniffles, I am informed, are cute. I have the growling, roaring, thunderous, monsters! So, we can probably guess who didn’t get much sleep last night, and is in a grumpy-pumpy mood!]

I know what you are thinking now. You are thinking: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Not on a Tuesday! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Tuesdays are the new W*dnesd*ys! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Mr. Kay can’t go into school on a Tuesday with very little sleep. The students might kill him! He might explode! Well, it is nice of you to be so considerate and worrisome over my lack of sleep. However, (shush – don’t tell anyone – whisper quietly – but) I had the most awesome of starts to the day. The students were quiet at morning line up, they exercised, they did nothing to annoy me, they went into the classroom, and ALL the homework diaries were signed! (I know.) AND (wait for it) everyone had done their homework. Whoot! It is just like teaching a sixth grade. Be still my beating heart!

There was a good news/great news moment at morning line up. Good News: no school on October 28th. Well, no school for the students. There will be school for the teachers. Hmmm, not sure that that is good news. I’ll have to go away and think about that. Anyway, there is definitely Great News: there will be a trip to the Long Beach Aquarium on November 1st. This is very exciting and I am really looking forward to it – maybe not the six hours in the coach with 42 sixth graders, but the actual aquarium? Looking forward to that. All of this means that it is going to be a very strange couple of days at school:

  • Friday October 28th: no school
  • Monday October 31st: Halloween
  • Tuesday November 1st: Trip to the Aquarium
  • W*dnesd*y November 2nd: Day of the Dead (no school)

In totally unrelated news, maria crossed the border today to go buy a wedding dress (or at least a dress to get married in), and she managed to pick me up a costume for Halloween. And no, I’m sorry Diana, she did not go for the “Bacon and Eggs” costume!

We rushed through the maths lesson.Once again everyone seemed to understand what was going on, although some students still decided to go off on their own route when it came to doing the exercises in their books. Then it was off to yoga. For the students that appeared to be a certain amount of colouring in, for me it meant I got time to mark and correct maths, English, spelling quiz, and some geography books. In Science we finished off body systems and moved on to the make-up of bones. I also remembered a video I had seen over the weekend. It shows how a spore has adapted to reproduce (and therefore survive). This spore takes over the brain of an ant, forcing it to climb up a tree, and lock itself in there with its teeth. Then the spore grows out of the ant’s head, to reproduce and burst into thousands of other spores, hoping to take over more ant’s brains, and thus continuing the cycle. Now this is truly horrific.

After recess, while the students had PE, I spent time with Professor Richardo. We planned out the next month’s maths lessons for the fifth grade, and we discussed some of my ideas for teaching English. It is always good to get time to sit down with fellow teachers and discuss teaching methods. Just because I am a teacher it does not mean that I know everything, and I am always the first to accept that I can improve in my teaching. So, I enjoying discussing teaching, I love seeing it from different angles. The Spanish lesson seemed to take up some of my time with sorting out confrontations and accidents. Not so much fun.

And then the final lesson of the day. We started rehearsing for Thriller. It was my intention to take some photos, maybe some video. However, I think we’ll leave that for another day. At the moment I can assure you that we are fully prepared for the first ten seconds! We know the first ten seconds. We are really good at the first ten seconds! It’s the next 3 minutes 20 seconds that we aren’t too sure about. Oh, and when I say we, I mean me. However, the first ten seconds look awesome! [Don’t worry Miss Lilian, I promise you, we will produce something that will make you happy/proud. We are the sixth grade…and if there is one thing I can assure you of, we can all move like zombies! I can teach that much :^)]


  • Maths: Reteaching 4-4 Nos: 16-20 Practice 4-4 Nos: 19-24
  • Writing Assignment: Book Report
  • Read: 20 minutes
  • Homework Diary: signed
  • Permission Slip for Trip To Aquarium: signed

Posted in maths, morning line up, PE, science, stuff, thriller | 3 Comments »

guess who’s back

Posted by willkay on October 11, 2011

It’s Professor Israel. Yes, back at BAI is Professor Israel. Once again the teacher’s football team is back to strength. I was a bit worried when Professor Humberto left, but now Professor “sweet feet” Israel is back, we should be alright. In other exciting news: the official trailer for The Avengers is out. I know, I know. It has absolutely nothing to do with school, but I’m pretty definite that the blog’s title is: The day to day happenings of a 6th grade classroom teacher. Which means, I can get my geek on in my own blog.

What is it about Tuesdays? For several years now, it has always been W*dnesd*ys I haven’t got the hang of – as opposed to Arthur Dent who could never get the hang of Thursdays. [What? You’ve never read Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy? Voted the second greatest novel of the 20th Century. Go away and don’t come back until you have.] However, this year it always seems to go wrong on Tuesdays. I came in to school, this morning, determined to be upbeat and ready. I was positive and prepared. This was the Tuesday that was going to break the pattern. I even tipped the class off – told them to be on their best behaviour, just get through morning line-up without anything going  wrong and we’d be golden. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it through morning line-up. Well, we did up to the point when they all walked off, except Miss Gaby was still talking, and yet they all walked off! When I brought them back, they all stood there talking to each other and telling jokes. Then, when asked to walk off in silence, they didn’t. Tuesday morning started with me having to tell the class off, again! Grrrrr, arrrrgggghhhh.

In the maths lesson I explained my reasoning as to why I want the work set out in a particular way. I’ve taught for 25 years (ooooo, this is my silver jubilee year) and I know a thing or two about solving fraction questions. I also teach for perfection. I want all my students to get every thing correct. I want them all to score 10. Every time they sit down to do maths work, their target should be 10. Sometimes students just want to finish the questions with no thought or desire to get everything correct. [becomes grumpy old man: the problem is computer games! They give you another life. Too often children think they have another “life“, and so they don’t take enough care. In the long run, I am preparing these children to sit exams into Junior High. The school of their choice won’t give them another chance, they have to get it correct first time. :becomes happy old man] So, I teach a way of doing these questions so that it works every single time. Follow it and you get them correct all the time. And that is surely the point?

Science was all about DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid (ha! I spelt it correctly…or at least that’s what my spell checker tells me.) Have you every tried to draw a strand of DNA? It is very hard/difficult. Anyway, the task for the week is to try and construct a strand of DNA. Friday will be an interesting day.

Recess seemed to be full of hand-clapping games. And PE was full of a sort of volleyball game.

There are other videos available at my youtube page.

We finished the day off with a grammar lesson on proper and common nouns.

  • Maths: Reteaching 4-2  Practice 4-2 All the subtraction questions that you didn’t do yesterday.
  • Science: Construc a model of DNA (for Friday)
  • Geography: 5 (interesting) Facts about Greece and 10 (interesting) facts about other countries in Western Europe. (by Thursday)
  • Writing Assignment: Survive! (for Friday)
  • Read: 20 minutes
  • Homework Diary: signed

Posted in grammar, maths, morning line up, PE, science, youtube | 4 Comments »

in passing

Posted by willkay on October 6, 2011

Can’t stop and write much today, stuff to do, worlds to conquer, fish to fry. So, bullet point blog post coming up:

  • still people talking in morning line up
  • 20 out of 21 homework diaries signed
  • 20 out of 21 people did their homework
  • fractions in maths, becoming a disaster. This is “bubble” teaching. Students aren’t carrying their understanding forward. Seeing each lesson as a “bubble” and not connected to the previous lesson.
  • Spellings in English. One group of girls decided to talk in Spanish – in the middle of an English lesson! Right!
  • extended PE lesson. (Not really – Professor Rodolfo goes home at 1:45, I let the class stay out for 15 minutes.)
  • looked at the school I used to teach in on Google Earth
  • Enrique showed some minerals to the class
  • got visited by four “old” students who told us about life in Junior High. Exams every week. No homework means a zero. No date/name/title on work it means a zero. 41/42 students in class.


  • Maths: Reteaching 3-9
  • Spelling: Workbook pages: 23, 24
  • Writing Assignment: The Race – in tomorrow!
  • Art: Empty (clean) milk carton and old magazines – needed tomorrow!
  • Read: 20 minutes
  • Homework Diary: signed

Posted in english, maths, morning line up, PE | 4 Comments »

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