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 ‘reading log’ Category

In Sixth Grade We Read

Posted by willkay on September 19, 2017

This is a link to The Sixth Grade Library’s Wish List. We are trying to build a library in the sixth grade, and for that to succeed, we need books. Please take the time to look at the list. And please buy a book for the sixth grade!


Posted in book club, reading log | 1 Comment »

Three thousand, forty-seven

Posted by willkay on November 7, 2012

Three thousand, forty-seven. THREE THOUSAND, FORTY-SEVEN. How many pages did you read last week? Roberto read 3047 pages. I told you that ther would be a backlash to Ana Sofia’s Reading Log. The really worrying thing? Andrea was off school last week for two days. I know she was ill, but I also know that probably won’t stop her reading. As she hasn’t been in school this week (she is very ill), I don’t know what her total will be – nor what it will be for this week.

However, this post is supposed to be all about Roberto. Three thousand, forty-seven pages. WELL DONE!

Posted in reading log | 1 Comment »

Three thousand, nineteen

Posted by willkay on October 29, 2012

Three thousand, nineteen. Let me say that again: Three thousand, nineteen. 3019. Three thousand, nineteen pages. Ana Sofia read 3019 pages this week. Yes, in a week. Seven days. She read 3019 pages in a week. That’s, on average, 431 pages a day.

Just sayin’

Posted in reading log | 3 Comments »

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 »

since when has there only been 60 minutes in an hour?

Posted by willkay on October 8, 2012

No photo.

Sorry, there’s no photo today of the readers of the week. This is not because there are no readers of the week, there are – and there are lots. However, someone (and I’m looking at me) didn’t get round to taking a photo. It all went wrong for me today. Not seriously wrong, don’t start to panic, but I seemed to be ten minutes out all day.

Instead of a one hour maths lesson, we ended up having a two hour maths lesson. This, in and of itself, was not a bad thing. Whilst trying to tell Raul what he had missed due to his four day illness, I discovered that many of the class had failed to pick up some basic concepts along the way. Therefore it became a review lesson. We went through the terms: factor; prime; composite; prime factors; common factors; greatest common factor; multiple; common multiple; lowest common multiple. These were terms (and concepts) that I thought the class knew and understood. Oops. However, two hours later, most of the class seemed to understand what was going on (and had been going on for the previous four lessons), so it wasn’t wasted time. It did mean though, that I was criminally behind for the rest of the day. Desperately trying to make up for lost time.

Eventually we got round to collecting in the reading numbers. WOW! and indeed WOW! again. It is important to note that my target (my unofficial target) is 140 pages a week. That’s all I ask for. However, I believe that reading is important. The reader has to understand what he is reading, he has to make mental pictures. All of this stimulates the mind. Also, reading involves sitting still for a period of time, concentrating. This, I also believe, is a good quality to practice. I am a firm believer that reading, and the activity of reading, makes you a better student. Plus, it can be jolly good fun. I always, always advocate reading a book that you enjoy. If you are not enjoying the book, stop reading it. Read something else. Out there, in the world, there are millions and millions of books – way too many for one person to read in one lifetime. And definitely too many to waste any time on a book that is not enjoyable. Read a book, read a book that you enjoy. You can’t go wrong.

And these people didn’t go wrong this week:


  • 2456 pages: Roberto

  • 2138 pages: Andrea

  • 1176 pages: Ana Sophia

  • 708 pages: Manuel

  • 634 pages: Julien

  • 540 pages: Kristina

  • 504 pages: Carlos

  • 477 pages: Luis Francisco

  • 457 pages: Juan Fernando

  • 450 pages: Osvaldo

  • 382 pages: Yolitzin

  • 326 pages: Anafernanda

  • 315 pages: Paola

  • 3o8 pages: Alexa

  • 300 pages: Pedro

Fifteen out of 39 students read over 300 pages. PLUS, look at Ana Sophia, joining the 1000+ Pages Club. I am really impressed with the amount of reading that is going on. Added to these numbers is the fact that another nine students read over 200+ pages. Well done to everyone!

The writing assignment is a horror/ghost story (if the student wants to write one). Otherwise, it is just a story about an old abandoned building at the end of the street. It’s been empty now for nearly 60 years. I wonder what happened there? I wonder what happened to the last people who lived there? I wonder? Of course, with there being no school on Friday (for some – not the teachers) the writing assignment is now in on Thursday!

The spelling list was all about multisyllabic words. The hardest word being peony. Notice I said it was the hardest word, not the word with the most syllables. And then it was onto science and a multisyllabic word that I always, always, always fail to pronounce/say properly: Deoxyribonucleic acid. Every year we study this. Every year I practise saying it. And every year I fail miserably when it comes round to saying out loud! So, in science we studied D.N.A. – that I can say. I left the students with a project that they can do on Friday, while they aren’t a school, making a model of D.N.A.. These need to be brought into school next Monday!

And then the bell went for the end of school. I hadn’t taken a picture. I hadn’t even visited 6B to see their Reading Log scores. Aaarrrgggghhhh! Bad teacher that I am. Hey ho! Tomorrow is another day. I’ll go visit 6B. Congratulate them on their scores. And I should get round to taking a picture and posting on here. Right, the New York Jets are losing to Houston. This could be because I’m not watching them, and cheering them on. So, I need to go and shout at Mark Sanchez! Or, if this continues, Tim Tebow.

Posted in english, maths, reading log, science, spelling, wall of fame | 4 Comments »

STOP! Hammer Time!

Posted by willkay on October 1, 2012

Last week, when Roberto announced that he had read 1033 pages there was an audible gasp in the classroom. However, if you listened very, very carefully, there was also a grumble. Andrea wasn’t happy! Andrea did not like the fact that Roberto had read more pages then her. At that moment, Andrea picked up her book and started reading. As the week progressed I watched her read at every possible moment. Recess – she read. Waiting to go home – she read. In between lessons – she read. After she had finished her exams – she read. There was no possible way that Roberto was going to read more than her,

In the classroom, on the wall, each student has their name. As they finish a book, they ask me for a small picture of a book, and the write the title of the book and (they are supposed to write also) the author of the book they have read. As the week progressed, Andrea has been sticking more and more books around her name. Of course, so has Roberto, but Andrea kept on reading. She’d read the most books. She would read more pages than Roberto.

And then came the moment for the Reading Log numbers. Because Roberto is before Andrea in the alphabet (yes, I know, but I use their surnames when I put the numbers in my mark book), I asked him first:


The classroom went quiet. I asked him to say the number again: 2738 pages! What a fantastic amount of reading! What an excellent result! But, at that moment, I was torn as a teacher. I knew I had to celebrate Roberto’s excellent achievement. I knew I had to congratulate him. I knew that I could not ignore such a fantastic moment. However, what should I do about Andrea? As a teacher I realised that this could go one of two ways. It could mean that she took on this new challenge, rose to the target that Roberto had set OR she could just give up.















There was a third option. One that I hadn’t really contemplated. I quietly turned to Andrea and asked her how many pages she had read:


She had beaten Roberto by 17 pages.

Of course, there aren’t just two students in the sixth grade who are reading. As the numbers came in, both Mrs. Kay and I were really proud of what the other students had achieved. Andrea’s brother, Julien, had managed to read nearly 900 pages (it must have been very quiet this week in their house). Anafernanda and Kristina both read over 500 pages, while Ana Sophia and Luis Francisco read over 400 pages. Arantza, Paulina, and Carlos made The Wall Of Fame by reading over 300 pages. And there were 13 students who read over 200 pages, which puts them into The 200+ Club. What a fantastic day for reading. Congratulations to everyone, and congratulations to the sixth grade as a whole.


  • 2800 pages: Andrea

  • 2783 pages: Roberto

  • 897 pages: Julien

  • 568 pages: Anafernanda

  • 508 pages: Kristina

  • 480 pages: Luis Francisco

  • 461 pages: Ana Sophia

  • 356 pages: Arantza

  • 311 pages: Paulina

  • 305 pages: Vianette

  • 302 pages: Carlos

Simply Brilliant!

Geography exam in the morning. After that, I set the writing assignment for the week. This week’s assignment involves some investigation and some reporting. The students have to ask their parents what it was like when they (the parents) were in the sixth grade. Then they have to write a story about their mum (or dad) and their time in the sixth grade. Hopefully there will be some differences, and there will be some similarities. However, the idea is to get the children to listen to a story from their parents, and then report it in the third person. Maths was all about scientific notation, and science was all about mitosis. And everything was about the weather. Hot isn’t it? Do you know what would be nice? Sitting in the shade, sipping on a Sprite, reading a book. Go on, read a book!

Posted in exams, geography, maths, reading log, wall of fame | 5 Comments »

and so it begins…

Posted by willkay on September 24, 2012

I don’t have much time to write today: I’ve got a set of exams to mark; I’ve got my student coming round; and I’ve got a new iPad to play with. Oh, did I mention the new iPad? The luvverly Mrs. Kay won an iPad, a year ago, at a school event (for the teachers). From that moment on, she promised to get me my own iPad. She nearly managed to get one for my birthday, but she ended up getting me a rowing machine instead. However, yesterday, when we left the icebreaker, we went to the Apple store and I got….

It’s not really that big. It’s just me, I’m that tiny. The iPad could turn out to be a the bestest thing ever. My poor old laptop has been struggling over the past few months. And I don’t want to talk ill of a faithful war-horse, but I was starting to get mildly frustrated with it. Now I have a super new iPad, I can get on with everything else, while my MacBook pretends it is a PC. So, onwards and upwards….

It was 6B’s turn to present the assembly this morning, and what a jolly good presentation it was too! All of the children spoke loudly and clearly, but the best bit was the song/dance. Although Mrs. Kay had tested the CD several times during the week, this morning the school’s PA system did not want to know. The only way forward was to play the CD in an other player, put a microphone next to the player, and hope. Unfortunately, it didn’t work very well. However, the children were wonderful, and made up for the failings of the PA system. Instead of going quieter, they went LOUDER. They sang very well, and danced brilliantly. A great start to the morning.

From assembly we straight into the classroom and sat the maths exam. Oh, there was still time to talk about yesterday: the time spent sitting in the shade; the time spent throwing-Mrs-Kay-to-the-floor; the fact that Roberto brought a fridge/freezer; and the most important thing – I got an iPad [have I mentioned that yet?]. But then it was into the exam. I can’t tell you what the results were, because I haven’t marked them yet.

After the maths exam, it was time for the Reading Logs. Are you ready for this? I suggest you sit down to read this. Here it comes…


  • 1033 pages: Roberto

  • 812 pages: Andrea

  • 670 pages: Kristina

  • 370 pages: Luis Francisco

  • 350 pages: Jorge

  • 340 pages: Pedro

  • 310 pages: Pablo

  • 306 pages: Hector

  • 301 pages: Anafernanda

WOW!! Do you see those numbers? Oh, quick request – does anyone have a copy of the third book in the Twilight series? It’s not for me, it’s for Kristina. She has read the first book three times, I’ve managed to get hold of the second book for her, but we can’t get the third one. She desperately needs it if she is to stay up there with Roberto and Andrea. As usual, congratulations to all those students on The Wall Of Fame, and a big “WHOOT!” to all of those who got into The 200+ Club too.

The rest of the day was spent studying Science. We still have ground to cover before we are ready for the science exam – which is on Thursday! Eek. Anyhoo, that’s me finished, world’s to conquer, work to do.

Posted in assembly, exams, maths, reading log, science, wall of fame | 5 Comments »

looking for the hook

Posted by willkay on September 18, 2012

Teaching maths is great, mainly because you get loads of “aaahhhhhhh” moments. In other subjects the “aaahhhhhh” moments can be few and far between. Let me tell you, no one ever goes “aaaahhhhhh” when you explain the difference between a vascular and a non-vascular plant. But maths lessons can be full of those moments – some days it can be like standing on Main Street at Disney, watching a fireworks display. Of course, the art of teaching is trying to get those “aaaahhhh” moments, those moments when everything clicks into place, everything becomes understandable, everything makes sense, and the student finally “gets it“.  And it is when your lesson is full of those moments that you know you’ve taught a good lesson. Of course, you can have a good lesson without those moments, but it is the most obvious moment that learning is “getting done“. Unfortunately, trying to capture those moments is like trying to capture lightening in a bottle. What works for one group of students, does not necessarily work for another group. And often, what works is never tangible. I talk to a lot of teachers, and eventually we all get round to telling a story about a lesson that was perfect – but the reason we tell the story, is we are hoping the other teachers will be able to point out what we did right. Often, I can have brilliant lessons, and I have no idea how or why – they just happen. However, the key to good teaching is experience. Everyone (EVERYONE) has one good lesson in them, most people have two or maybe three. What makes a teacher different to everyone is that they have 1000 good lessons a year. A teacher has the ability to teach one good lesson after another. A teacher can keep a group of children interested, excited, controlled, and awake lesson after lesson. That takes experience, an ability, and hard work. And so, it is with a heavy heart that I say, in all honesty, I had a really bad day today. Except, I admit this to the world with no regrets because, I did some real teaching today. It’s odd, because I don’t know how it happened, but I had a disaster of a maths lesson. It all seemed to go well, I taught the stuff, students answered question, on the surface it was successful. But when I saw the books at the end of the lesson, it was as if I had been speaking a foreign language.

I tried again in the English lesson. I thought I’d go slow, start with a spelling quiz which would settle me into my rhythm, but even a spelling quiz seemed beyond me. At that point I reached for my safety blanket – The Reading Logs.


  • 770 pages: Andrea

  • 720 pages: Roberto

  • 555 pages: Raquel

  • 382 pages: Luis Francisco

  • 300 pages: Osvaldo

You see, somewhere, somehow, no matter how bad things seem, there is always a ray of light. SEVEN HUNDRED + PAGES! FIVE HUNDRED +PAGES! How cool is that? And along with these five students, seventeen (SEVENTEEN) other students read over 200 pages. WOW! Aren’t kids brilliant!

And that is the point. Even though I can have a bad day, the real art to teaching, is making sure that your students don’t have a bad day. So long as everything is working correctly, so long as everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing, then even if one person is having a bad day, the rest of the class will carry them through. And there’s the hook! TEAMWORK. Thanks to teamwork, hardly anyone noticed how bad my day was going. Oh, there were a couple of blips and bumps and bruises, and there were a couple of times that students asked what was wrong, but in the end, everything turned out well.

Now, does anyone know how to pronounce Lieutenant? Listen carefully to what the Oxford Dictionary says here.

Posted in english, maths, reading log, spelling, team work, wall of fame | 9 Comments »

Next time, let’s be LOUDER!!

Posted by willkay on September 10, 2012

So, the assembly was fun. EXCEPT, all week Mrs. Kay and 6B were complaining how LOUD we were in the classroom. When we hit the playground on Thursday and Friday, I got complaints from teachers that we were too LOUD. And then the assembly came along and…well, we weren’t very loud. You only get these opportunities once. You will never get to sing Firework in front of the whole school ever again. However, school is a learning experience, and (hopefully) we have learnt. Next time, and there will be a next time AND a next time, we will be louder. But, the dancing was brilliant!! Well done.

Maths was back to addition and subtraction of integers (positive and negative numbers). The cunning plan that Mrs. Kay and I had devised, to teach it once on Friday and then again on Monday, seemed to work. Instantly, most students immediately remembered what they were doing and how to do it. This should have led to ultimate success! Unfortunately, some studetns took it to mean that they didn’t have to think too hard, and when it came to the exercises there were some mistakes.

In English the Reading Log numbers were taken in. At the side of the blog (up there, on the left), you can see how well everyone did. It was then time to explain how a Book Report is written in the sixth grade. Rather than a synopsis of the story, we like the students to write about their favourite character. We feel that this gives them a chance to express an understanding of what they are reading. Also they get to tell their feelings about a book, which makes it a lot more interesting (for the writer AND the person having to mark it). We then moved on to the next spelling list, after a spelling test.

In science we studied the differences between vertebrates and invertebrates, and divided the vertebrates into five different groups. Although we talked about mammals that lay eggs (duck-billed platypus) and birds that can’t fly (go on, you know you can name three), we didn’t have enough time to talk about the fish that lives on land. So, here’s a short video:

There was enough time to squeeze in the different ways we can classify plants (vascular/non-vascular), before it was time to go home. Although, in 6B there was singing at the end of the day. Me thinks that they are now practising for their assembly. Let’s home that they sing LOUDLY.

Posted in assembly, english, maths, reading log, science, spelling | 5 Comments »

The Wall Of Fame

Posted by willkay on September 10, 2012

And so it begins. Reading is very important. True, you can pick up some information from a teacher, or a parent, or that person stood at the corner of the street. But, in order to get information from other resources, you need to read. The information might be in a book, an encyclopaedia, on the internet, or written on a billboard – but, to get the information you must be able to read. And you need to be able to understand what you read, and you need to read quickly. Every night, I expect each student to read for a minimum of 20 minutes. This means that they should be reading for 140 minutes a week, minimum. Their target should be 140 pages a week, minimum. However, some students read for more than 20 minutes a day, and I like to celebrate their achievement. So, I set up The 200+ Club. Anyone who reads more than 200 pages in a week, gets to be in The 200+ Club.

The absolute, fantastic news is that some students read more than 300 pages a week. These students make: The Wall Of Fame. Welcome to the first The Wall Of Fame for the year 2012-2013:


  • 620 pages: Roberto

  • 570 pages: Andrea

  • 330 pages: Luis Francisco

  • 310 pages: Juan Fernando


Posted in reading log, wall of fame | 2 Comments »

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