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 ‘rain’ Category

a dozen days in

Posted by willkay on September 6, 2011

Will it rain? Will it get hot? Will there be thunderstorms? Will England beat Wales in the Euro 2012 Qualifier? Will celery turn out to be vascular? Will these and many other questions get answered today? Well, yes. These will. Not so sure about many others though! Some days there aren’t enough hours in the working day. Or so it feels.

We started with an hour of maths, that was the intention. Actually, the intention was to spend an hour on new stuff, as it happened we ended up spending a lot of time on fractions. I get the feeling that we might be skipping the next chapter in the maths book and moving straight on to exponents, factors, and fractions. Yoga interrupted the maths lesson. But after yoga we went straight back to mean, median, and mode before a chance to be a big sister/brother interrupted the maths lesson again.

As it was raining, there was no chance of a picnic outside. So, both sixth grades plus both first grades moved to the multi-activity room and had their picnic there. Letters were exchanged, gifts were given, pizza was eaten, drinks were drunk, fruit chews were chewed. Many of the sixth graders got into their role of big sister/brother, and when we got back to the classroom there was a lot of discussion about the children they had adopted. I managed to take some photos and they can be found here.

More maths and then recess. In theory it should have been an indoor recess, it was raining. However, the children were slow to move off the playground when the rain started and everyone got very wet. Once they were wet, Professor Rodolfo elected to continue with PE in the rain, much to the delight of some students. For other students it wasn’t as much fun, and they spent the lesson sat on benches watching the rest play dodgeball in the rain.

After science we got to see the results of the science experiment. Carefully, making sure not to get food colourant on clothes, the stalks of celery were cracked, and the flesh was peeled off the internal tubes of the celery.

Success! If you look carefully at the photo, you can see how the red colourant and the blue colourant have moved up the tubes in the celery. Proving that celery does have tubes. Proving that celery is vascular!

And then the sun finally came out. After sitting in wet clothes for an hour, the children finally got dry, just in time to go home. Oh, and the answer to the important question of the day? The very important question of the day! England won!

Posted in big sister/brother, maths, photos, rain, science | 1 Comment »

(not the best of days) Monday

Posted by willkay on November 8, 2010

It wasn’t windy. I’m sure it wasn’t windy. The students should have been well rested – a three day week, followed by the clocks going back an hour, which means that everyone’s body clock should have woken them up an hour early this morning. No, it should have been a good day. A day when lots gets done, and lots gets done successfully. However, it was as though it were a windy day. When it is windy the kids are awful. It isn’t their fault, it just happens. Their behaviour deteriorates, their attention wavers, and they become easily distracted. It wasn’t windy today, so there must be some other excuse?

I wet start to the day meant that there was no assembly. I don’t know how often they can keep cancelling 3A’s assembly, but at this rate we will still be celebrating Halloween in December. It took some time for all the kids to get into the classroom and settle down (that might have been where the rot set in). Then, after tales of popcorn throwing in the cinema (I’m glad I wasn’t invited), we set about square roots. Except, we never got past the first three minutes of the introduction to square roots. It appears that everyone had forgotten how to find the area of a square. This led to the discovery that no one knew how to calculate the area of a parallelogram, not the area of a triangle. I didn’t even toy with raising the area of a circle. This was a disaster. At the back of my mind, I have to always work towards the entrance exams for Junior High, which happen in January. This means that my teaching year becomes a little lop-sided. I tend to teach a lot of maths this side of January, pushing the English/Science/Geography to the second half of the year. Oh, don’t get me wrong, we cover everything we need to cover. I just make sure that we do as much maths as possible before January, so it is fresh in the students’ minds. In my lesson plans I hadn’t intended to actually cover basic areas until after January. However, thanks to trying to cover one topic, we have discovered a huge hole in the students’ learning. This meant that this month’s lesson plans are now thrown out of the window and we are studying geometry instead of percentage.

The English lesson also did not go the way I expected. The introduction went ok – we discussed this week’s writing assignment – but after that, he lesson just fizzled out. We discussed adjectives and adverbs, and how to use them. They then had three example sentences to work on, followed by the task of describing a dog, using as many adjectives as possible. It did not go well. Nor did the second part of the lesson where we were looking for definitions of words.

Recess. The new computer for the SMARTboard is in the school! It is out of its box and being loaded up with software. Not sure when it will make an appearance in the classroom yet, but it is in the school! Excited yet?

After recess I marked the geography homework. This was not a happy moment. Four students had managed not to do the homework/leave it at home. Also, the presentation of some students’ work was not acceptable for sixth graders. They have to come to terms with working on their own. When they are set a task, to produce the best work, that shows them in the best light. This was not a good example of their best work. While I was out of the room making books, Miss Claudia was moving students around the classroom. She too was suffering from a lack of application from the students, or as she more succinctly put it, “too much talking”.

The day finished with a geography lesson. Again the students do not listen carefully to questions. They think they know what a question is, but they don’t listen fully and will leap in with any statement they care to make. This is not a good idea.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.


  • Maths: Reteaching 8-2 Nos: 1,2,3,7,8,9 and Practice: 8-2 Nos: 1,2,3,4,9,11,14
  • English: Nine Sentences using the words discussed in the lesson
  • Writing Assignment: A Day in the Life. (for Friday)
  • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

Posted in assembly, english, geography, maths, rain, smartboard | 4 Comments »

(ohhhhh, I get it) W*dnesd*y

Posted by willkay on October 20, 2010

Teaching can be the best job ever. There are moments when you can stand at the front of the class and actually see teaching-in-action. Today I had one of those moments. One of those moments when, I finished teaching, turned from the board and just looked at the class. It wasn’t that you could see the light bulbs above their heads come on (because there aren’t actually light bulbs above their heads), but you could see the spark of recognition in their eyes. The best thing about the whole moment though is the sound. When you present something to a class, something that is difficult, there is a silence. No one wants to make a noise because it just draws attention to them, and if the subject is difficult, they don’t want attention coming their way. So students will sit in silence, hoping that they get it. And, when they do get it, they make a noise – no matter what their mother-tongue, they say: Ohhhhh. Probably the hardest thing I teach is subtraction of mixed numbers that include a decomposition (that’s subtraction-of-fractions-with-whole-numbers-that-includes-a-negative-fraction-that is bigger-than-the-positive-fraction). To actually do this operation involves two weeks of work, building each and every step along the way. It is a very logical step-by-step process, but if you fail to get one of the steps it is impossible. And, as far as I am concerned, it is the most complicated thing I will teach to the sixth grade this academic year. In fact, it wasn’t my intention to teach it today. With the exams looming, I was going to leave it to the other side of the exams, have a go, and then leave it until January, when a return to the subject might have meant a better understanding (two-times taught is more successful than first-time). But I had 15 minutes before the music lesson with nothing to do – it wasn’t worth starting a new topic – so I gave it a go.

And it was a total success.

No, seriously. Twenty out of twenty one students got the questions correct. They were so good at the topic before the music lesson that I decided to make myself a liar, and after promising them that I wouldn’t ask them any questions until next week, I hit them up with several questions today. And, BINGO. We have a bunch of mathematical wizards.

PE was spent in the classroom because of the weather. Music had some recorder playing that sounded excellent as I walked down the corridor. Maths was a total triumph. Recess was a disaster with Octavio managing to get his finger stuck in Daniel’s mouth (yes, I don’t get it either), and Gerry trying to stop Daniel from running across the playground, without realising basic physics: the force required to stop a body in motion needs to be greater if the mass of the opposing force is less. In other words: don’t get in the way of a person running at full speed if you are a lot smaller than them! Spanish was a preparation lesson for the radio broadcasts that they will be giving later. English was half a disaster as my workbook is totally different to everyone else’s workbook, and half a success as we finished the story…eventually, after Rodrigo managed to read four lines in ten minutes!

A good day over all.

And tomorrow is going to be even better! I am really looking forward to the trip, I love museums. I have been on the website and it all looks very exciting. Not too sure about the spider pavilion. I’m not very good about spiders, so I’ll probably have to stand behind some of the students and pretend to be brave. However, I’m hoping to get let loose to roam the rest of the museum. There will probably be lots of pictures, and I will try to write something. Maybe not tomorrow, because it is a long day, but over the weekend.

That said, don’t forget Reading Log numbers in on Friday!


  • Maths: Reteaching 4-3 Nos: 4,8,11,13,21  Practice 4-3 Nos: 1-7,9,11,18
  • Reading Log: Numbers
  • Homework Diary: Please get it signed.
  • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

Posted in english, maths, music, PE, rain, recess, spanish, stuff | 2 Comments »

(rain) Tuesday

Posted by willkay on October 19, 2010

It’s raining and I have exams to write:

  • 20 out of 21 homework notebooks signed
  • everyone’s homework done
  • addition and subtraction of fractions
  • art
  • geography
  • Spanish
  • 5th grade reading total was half of the 6th grade’s
  • more geography
  • what do Scotsmen wear under their kilts?
  • how did Mr. Kay’s dad spend a week one summer?
  • why are Sheffield United called “The Blades”?
  • and it rained

Do not forget your Computer Homework. No excuses will be permitted. It must be done, it must be in school.


  • Maths: Reteaching 4-2 Nos: 10-21
  • Computing: Tips for Social Networking (in on Wednesday)
  • Homework Diary: Please get it signed.
  • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

Posted in art, geography, maths, rain | 8 Comments »

(just a quick one) Monday

Posted by willkay on October 4, 2010

Can’t stop and philosophise, got to keep moving. I’ve only just got home from school and it is just after five. Worse, I’m supposed to be at a friend’s house by 5. Which means I’m late. So, bullet points:

  • fifth grade assembly on Creativity, in the rain.
  • it wasn’t really rain, it was more mizzle rather than drizzle. Yes, I’m English, we have 42 different words for rain.
  • Geography exam.
  • new writing assignment: My Favourite Book.
  • new maths topic: Exponents.
  • Professor Rene was away, I taught fifth grade maths.
  • new topic in geography: Geography.
  • for some reason I ended up talking in an Australian accent when describing the people of Alaska.
  • letter home about a trip to a museum in Los Angles.

Right, must dash.


  • Maths: Reteaching 3-1
  • Writing Assignment: My Favourite Book (due Friday )
  • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night. (That’s 20 mins homework. Not including any time you have read in the classroom.)

Posted in assembly, exams, geography, maths, rain, stories, values | 1 Comment »

(back to school) Monday

Posted by willkay on April 12, 2010

And the rain came. Yesterday, when I checked the weather forecast to see if I needed sunblock today, I saw it was predicting rain, 60% chance it said. Although I knew this, at the back of my mind I didn’t think it would happen. Too often the forecast predicts rain and nothing happened. Well this time it was correct and I was very wrong. It rained. A lot. In fact it rained so much that five people didn’t make it into school today. That’s five people in the sixth grade. I know that eight didn’t get back in the 5th grade, and there were even more absentees as you went further down the school. However, five absentees means that there were 17 present! Welcome back to all of them. It was good to see everyone fit and well (except for Camila who has her arm in a sling), and it was especially good to see something we hadn’t seen for nearly a year, Ruben’s ears!

As always with first-day-back-at-school it was time to tell stories about what people had done. Sometimes this can be a bit like pulling teeth though. The students are very forthcoming with their activities are are reluctant to share. However, I know that one went skiing, one went to Las Vegas, one went to Yosemite and saw lots of waterfalls. Many felt the earthquake, with differing levels of interest/scariness. Although, truth be told, I think I was the most scared. There was a lot of yawning and half-closed eyes, which pointed to late nights and morning lie-ins. However, everyone (except one person) was happy to be back – well, happy to be back and see friends, not totally happy to be back at school.

With so many people away I had to change all the lessons I had planned. Instead of doing Transformers: Robots-in-disguise Transformations, we went back to doing fractions. Addition and subtraction of fractions, on the first day back from holiday! Yes, but this time with an added twist, the students could use their calculators! Yipee! Except, of course, how do you use a calculator to add fractions? Well, now we know.

English was a very easy spelling list. Very easy! So, easy that we didn’t need to write them out three times. Of course, when it comes time for the spelling test there had better be a full set of tens or there is one teacher I know (name begins with a K and ends with an ay) who will not be happy. The workbook pages weren’t as easy, and there was a little bit of discussion about those. At least we got to discuss the expression: Those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it. The class were then split into groups of three or four, and read through the play: Space Cadets.

It had been my intention to set the writing task for the (next couple of) week(s). This is going to be writing a blog. However, with so many people away I felt it would be unfair to either not explain the task fully to them, or unfair to ask those who had turned up on day one to sit through the explanation twice. Anyway, the intention is to get the students to start writing their own blogs. This will (at first) just be a three week experiment. However, if it is successful, who knows, they might become full time bloggers, and who knows where that will end? [says the man who ended up in Mexico because he fell in love with a blogger]

Something New: Welcome back!

Favourite Moment Of The Day (FMOTD): Me to miss Claudia: We have a new boy in the class. Miss Claudia: R-U-B-E-N!!!!!

I picked this as my favourite moment rather than the Me to the class: Does anyone know any news about the people not here? You know, did Camila fall off her horse and break her arm? moment. Because that was more scary than funny.

Attendance: Five absent

Signed Homework Notebooks: n/a but please, please, please could we start as we mean to go on, with all homework diaries signed? Pretty please.


  • Maths: Practice 4-3  Nos: 1-6, 13-27
  • English: Spelling Workbook Pages: 75, 76
  • Reading Logs
  • Story: Two blog entries (minimum)
  • Reading: This is not an option. You should be reading 20 minutes every night.

Posted in english, maths, rain, reading log, spelling, stories, Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

(didn’t rain) Wednesday

Posted by willkay on March 10, 2010

There is a moment that all teachers dread, all teachers in England that is. It is that moment when the first snow shower of the year happens. The minute a child notices it is snowing, the news spreads immediately through the school, and from that moment onwards the teaching day is finished. I have been in situations where I can see it snowing out of the window and the children haven’t noticed. I’ve tried to keep them focused on me, or their books, desperately getting through as much work as possible, before the inevitable moment when I loose the class. It might be a noise from another classroom, a special noise that only children understand. The squeal of delight as some child sees snow. Then all eyes turn towards the window, and the class is lost for for the rest of the day. In their minds the children are making snowmen, throwing snowballs, sledging. The only information they want is: Is the snow settling? Is it the right type of snow? Will school be closed tomorrow? Have we got marshmallows for putting in hot chocolate? Obviously, when I came to Mexico there were many thing that changed, many things that were new, and many things that I thought I would never do again. I thought that I would never again have that moment when pupils stare out of the window in excitement. So, imagine my surprise today when we had a five minute break in the lesson to check out the rain.

It is time to call a halt to the maths topic. We have worked really hard on the topic of graphing algebraic expressions, with a great amount of success. However, I get the feeling that we have approached the point where it is becoming a little too confusing, and it is time to move on to a new subject. Hopefully, by tomorrow, enough students will have a scientific calculator and we can start to do some work with those. Otherwise tomorrow’s lesson will become a review lesson, with another one on Friday, before the maths exam on Tuesday.

English was a spelling quiz; a review of yesterday’s lesson; correcting the homework; writing spellings out three times; page 71 of the spelling workbook; recess. And the new price list for the store. Most of recess was taken up with discussions about the new prices, what to do, who to talk to, and how much can we eat.

Geography turned into a political discussion. Just as it is hard to talk about Russia without talking about history, it is impossible to talk about the Middle East without discussing politics.Politics and religion, most of the names of the countries we are looking at are known for those reasons: Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan. In science we went through the pH scale and how to use litmus paper.

Favourite Moment Of The Day (FMOTD): Is it fat?

Whilst discussing the reasons that the USA had for invading Iraq, I posed the question: Of what is America the world’s largest consumer? I expected the answer petroleum/oil. I was slightly taken aback with the answer: Is it fat?

Attendance: All present

Signed Homework Notebooks: 20 out of 23


  • Maths: Practice 10-4 Nos: 1-6
  • English: Spelling Workbook Page: 72
  • Story: Invention (in tomorrow)
  • Reading: This is not an option. You should be reading 20 minutes every night.

Posted in english, geography, maths, rain, science, spelling | 8 Comments »

(onwards) Thursday

Posted by willkay on March 4, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Attendance: One absent

Signed Homework Notebooks: 22 out of 22


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

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


Posted by willkay on January 22, 2010

No school today. Rain stopped play.

Attendance: 23 absent


  • Reading log
  • Learn lines for Monday’s Assembly
  • Reading

Posted in assembly, no school, rain, reading log | Leave a Comment »


Posted by willkay on January 21, 2010

No school today. Rain stopped play.

However, this was as predicted, so I had left work for the students to do in case of this eventuality.

Attendance: 23 absent


  • Maths: Reteaching 4-7   Reteaching 8-10
  • English: Write a story with the title: Lost In The Woods.
  • Geography: On the map, colour,  label, and name the countries of Central Europe and list their capitals.
  • Science: Do two experiments to separate salt from salt water. Use evaporation and freezing. Record the results.
  • Reading

Posted in english, geography, maths, no school, rain, science | Leave a Comment »

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