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 ‘recess’ Category

(in the groove) Tuesday

Posted by willkay on October 26, 2010

I like teaching sixth grade. They are still excited about learning, and they are old enough to make intuitive leaps. They can think for themselves, they have the ability to answer their own questions, they desire knowledge. School is still exciting for them, it hasn’t yet become a chore, and they still want to learn. Of course, there are still some things that make no sense – I challenge anyone to convince me that knowing the difference between a complex sentence, a compound sentence, or a compound-complex sentence is of any particular use outside of “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?“. However, being able to come up with a way to clean your body, without using water (could you use a balloon?) just shows brilliance.

Exam week is difficult. The students’ attention is focused totally on one hour a day – the exam. The rest of the day suffers from an inability to focus (or self motivate). Also, it is a bad idea to try to teach anything new. With focus gone, targets set with the exams, new information is just confusing, and the kids are unreceptive. However, we soldier on.

Half an hour in the morning to study for the Spanish and Civics exam, followed by maths and the return of the exams. Eight students got a 10, five got 9.0 or better. Excellent results.

Review for the English exam. Art lesson, and making spiders? Pacman ghosts? Wooly-scary-thingies? English – reading story. After recess (and cleaning up after recess) it was time for the Spanish and Civics exam. Then a review for tomorrow’s History exam (English and History exams tomorrow). The day was rounded off with finishing the story we are reading, and a bit more of the story of Odysseus.

Onwards and upwards.


  • English: exam on Wednesday
  • History: exam on Wednesday
  • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

Posted in art, english, exams, grammar, history, maths, recess, spanish | Leave a Comment »

(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 »

(home alone) W*dnesd*y

Posted by willkay on October 6, 2010

My girlfriend has gone out. She’s headed off across the border to help friends get registered for the Sentri. This means that I am Home Alone. What to do? What to do? Over the weekend we visited (the same) friends’ house, and at the moment I have a stack (a stack) of Wii games in front of me. Most of the Mario collection, a couple of Lego adventures, Scrabble, and several other games. I also have to cook. This I don’t mind doing, in fact I enjoy cooking, but tonight I am cooking chicken marinaded in my secret mixture of herbs/spices/Lea&Perrins. This means that it has to sit in the fridge marinading for an hour or so – or until maria gets back. I’ve got one rugby game and a cricket match sat on my hard drive waiting to be watched. As far as school work goes, I’ve marked all the exams, calculated all the grades, put them into the school’s system, and written all my lesson plans for the month. What to do? What to do? Oh, I know. I’ll write a blog post.

At school we are Home Alone. What do I mean? Well, obviously you check the school’s website regularly (and by regularly, I mean twice a day), so you already know that Miss Lilian, Miss Monica, and Miss Marcela are away from school, because you read this. Of course, this does not mean that we are left with the choice of playing with the Wii, cooking, watching sport. No, school will (and does) carry on as normal. We started the day with exercises at morning line up. The sixth grade then went on to do PE.

PE was followed by Mr. Kay being grumpy for five minutes. One of the things I like about teaching older children is that the mundane tasks shouldn’t be a problem. We know that every day we have to get our Homework Diaries signed, Reading Logs are in every two weeks, Circulars need to be returned, and homework has to be done. However, this morning I only received 13 Homework Diaries, two students didn’t do their homework, five students did the wrong homework, I am still missing 7 Reading Logs, and have only received 13 replies about the trip to the museum. I think I was allowed my five minutes of grumpiness.

The music room is back up and running, so for the first time this year music happened in the music room, Yay! This gave me a chance to upload my grades, so those will be available online very soon (Friday I think). In the maths lesson we studied Scientific Notation. Although thee was a certain amount of panic as some students seemed to have bad memories of trying to learn it before, all went well and everyone was happy by the time recess came around. And that is when Octavio got stung by a bee. I say stung now, at the time I said bit (as in was bitten). I have been stung by a wasp, and it hurt. It hurt in a way that you cannot describe, with a pain that was very acute. But it hurt immediately, instantly. Octavio said he wasn’t hurt, and so I assumed that it was more of a bite than a sting. Except Bee stings are different to wasp stings, as I now know. Bee stings build up the pain. As time passes, it gets worse. Octavio went home.

English was all about Grammar today. Subjects and Predicates – simple and full. Followed by Sentences – Simple, Compound, Complex, and Compound-Complex. You know, on paper that looks very, very boring, and yet, in the classroom it was fun. Or I assume it was fun because a lot of students spent quite a lot of the lesson laughing.

Then it was home time, and this weird and wonderful weather had one last trick up its sleeve. No, not rain. Nor heat. This time the thermometer crashed out, and it was suddenly very cold stood on the pavement opening car doors. Right, time to hit Publish and get on with the rest of the day. Although, during the writing of this I went to the kitchen to get something, only to discover a line of ants. So, that’s decided what I’m doing for the next hour: trying to find out where they are coming from and try to change their minds.


  • Maths: Practice 3-2
  • Spelling Workbook: pages: 15,16
  • Homework Diary: Please get it signed.
  • 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 english, grammar, maths, music, recess | 6 Comments »

(not so smart) Tuesday

Posted by willkay on September 21, 2010

Five extra minutes of recess!!! The whole school got five extra minutes of recess today! “Why?” you may ask. “Because the whole school is brilliant!” I would answer. In last year’s ENLACE exams, BAI came in sixth in our district. Hurrah! And if there are any old students (when I say old I mean students who left last year) reading, take this opportunity to pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself. Also, feel free to go see your new principal and ask for an extra five minutes of recess. You never know.

A great start to the day which, as is the way with these things, was followed by a bad start to the day. The SMARTboard wouldn’t boot up. Boo! Instead I had to use chalk and a green board. It was like I was working way, way back in time, almost as far back as…last week? However, we didn’t need a SMARTboard for the first lesson because it was Science, and we were doing an experiment! Before we started, like good scientists, we had to learnt the five steps that every scientist must take, in order to complete a successful experiment. Once we had worked that out, it was on to the actual experiment. Do vascular plants have “tubes”? This involved a certain amount of celery, fresh water, food colouring, and (of course) one control celery. By the end of the lesson, with the experiment totally set up we were ready to move on to maths. It would take a certain amount of time before we would see if our experiment was successful.

Maths was successful. The homework was done well and everyone had a good understanding of Mean, Median, and Mode. Some need to take care when adding up the totals before dividing, and some need to remember to put the numbers in order before finding the median. Although, I’m not convinced that anyone understood Alejandro’s method of: front, back, back, front, front, front, back, back, back, front, back, top, top, bottom, bottom, bottom, top, top, something. I might have got that wrong. You should probably ask him to explain.

Art (some pictures in the usual place) was followed by English, and the new spelling list. Unfortunately, I don’t continue the story of Secret Agent 003½ during the introduction of the spelling list. Which means that some students were desperate for the spelling quiz now! But it was not to be, and instead we went out for recess.

Another science lesson after recess. First we had to finish off last week’s (actually two week’s ago) work on cells. This led to a discussion about “cracking bones”, which occurred just as Miss Lilian joined the lesson. Hopefully the talk of knees wearing out didn’t upset her too much – as she now has bionic knees! And then we were joined by Mr. Apac, carrying a computer under his arm. As the lesson turned to a discussion about diffusion and osmosis, he worked away on the SMARTboard. With 30 minutes of the day left, and as the lesson arrived at the point where we could check out the results of the experiment, Mr. Apac fixed the SMARTboard – Houston we have NO problem! The experiment was a total success. All the celery (except for the control) had changed colour. And it was possible, after cracking the celery, to see the lines of colour running up the “tubes”. Yes, vascular plants transfer water via tubes!

Today I will end on an apology. Sorry. I took in the Reading Log numbers, I recorded the numbers on my chart in school, but I failed to make a note of them for when I come home. I will not be able to publish The Wall of Fame today. Sorry. Oh, and while I’m at it (apologising that is), I’d like to say sorry to Miss Marcela (Miss Tere B) for forgetting her yesterday. Miss Marcela reads every day, and comments often. Thank you.


  • Maths: Practice 1-10 Nos: 9, 10
  • Spelling: pages: 10, 11
  • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

Posted in art, maths, reading log, recess, science, smartboard, spelling, wall of fame | 6 Comments »

video time

Posted by willkay on September 3, 2010

Morning line up exercises:

Playing at recess:

Still playing:

And now skipping:

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

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