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 ‘science’ Category

The Scale of The Universe

Posted by willkay on August 23, 2014

Sorry, one day late, but here it is Isabela:

The Scale of The Universe

Enjoy!

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Posted in science | 1 Comment »

AWESOME

Posted by willkay on February 27, 2013

I read an interview with Ian Chappell yesterday, and he was asked what one thing annoys him the most. He replied that it was the misuse of the word “awesome“. His complaint was that too often people use the word for something mundane, for example: That was an awesome sandwich!  His feelings on the matter was that “awesome” should only be used when referring to something that actually causes AWE.

With that in mind, can I offer you the chance to view this video. It was discovered by Pablo (one of my students), and he sent the link to Mrs. Kay. She immediately showed me the video. I was in awe. This is AWESOME!

Posted in science, stuff, youtube | 3 Comments »

sorry, can’t do this

Posted by willkay on October 15, 2012

[UPDATE: Before you make a comment on this post, please make sure that you have read Miss Tere B’s comment.]

Unfortunately circumstances have changed, and my job has caught up with me. At this time I have found myself struggling to do my job properly and to keep this blog going. I simply do not have the time. Therefore I am going to have to suspend writing the blog. I know, I know. I toyed with giving up the job, but realised that then I would have nothing to blog about.

Please go easy on me in the comments. I feel badly enough about this decision, however I seriously cannot cope at the moment, and something has to go. If I get any time tomorrow I will try to update The Wall Of Fame – but I can make no promises.

To give you something to do until I return (oh, I am intending to return – let me assure you, these circumstances cannot remain this way because if they do, I’ll give up the job and return to the blog) here is a load of pictures I took of the DNA projects the students brought into school.
And here are two videos:

and

Posted in science, youtube | 10 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:

THE WALL OF FAME

  • 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 »

Easter Island

Posted by willkay on September 27, 2012

Exams. Let’s just think about all the ways that exams cause stress. First there are the exams themselves. Imagine you are an eleven year old, faced with a set of exams. Just that should be enough to make most people freak out – six exams, testing you on everything you’ve done in a month. Then there are the teachers. The teachers who encourage, cajole, demand that the students study/review/get everything correct. And finally there are the parents. True there are some parents who do not put any pressure on their children, however that doesn’t stop the child applying their own personal pressure – a desire to achieve the best so that they can make their parents proud of them. And those are just the obvious pressures and stresses facing the students in the 6th grade (and throughout the school), without dragging in peer pressure, grandparent pressure, and pressure from the world in general. Now, in sport, when a race is run, a game is played, something is achieved, there is a huge release of pressure. Sportsmen get to run around, shouting and screaming and celebrating. Students? Well, when the exam is finished, they just get to sit in a desk and learn more stuff. It becomes a very difficult balancing act for the teacher. How much more pressure do you put on your students? How much new stuff do you cover?

Personally, I look at finished exams, I look at results. If the results are good, if the exams are being completed correctly, if students are achieving their full potential, then I feel that they are being stretched, they are learning, and there is no point piling on more (added) pressure, by introducing new concepts. The students are mentally straitjacketed. All they are concerned with is “the results of today’s exam” and “tomorrow’s exam“. They have no interest (or space in their brains) for new concepts – concepts that could be crucial to their understanding of the whole of the next month’s topics.

With me so far?

This is why today was Easter Island Day in 6A. We did the science exam in the morning. There was a P.E. lesson, a Spanish lesson, a quick run through yesterday’s English exam, a review for tomorrow’s History exam, and the rest of the day was devoted to Easter Island. The true story of Easter Island is one that I think is worth hearing and understanding. It is the story of an island paradise, that was so wonderful that when 20 Polynesians washed up on the island 1400 years ago, they were able to create a society that numbered over 12,000 in one thousand years. Of course, the fascinating thing is that within the next 100 years, that society crumbled. When the Dutch discovered the island (on Easter Day – hence the name) there were less than 100 people living there. They had descended into war and cannibalism. Why? Because they didn’t Reduce/Reuse/Recycle. As simple as that. I believe that the story of Easter Island is a warning to us all. So, I took the chance today to tell 6A all about it. We watched:

and the other three parts of this documentary. We talked about how it happened, why it happened, and could it happen again? True, they might never get asked about Easter Island in an exam, but I like to think that they have learnt something interesting about the world today. Oh, and I didn’t have to spend the whole day demanding that they “sit down and listen“, so that was a bonus!

Tomorrow is late entry! But not as late as it used to be!! Gates open at 8:30am. History exam will be first thing. It never ends…until Monday, when the Geography exam will be the last one. [Until the next one.]

Posted in english, exams, science, stuff | 1 Comment »

empanadas

Posted by willkay on September 26, 2012

I’m trying this for the first time, writing a post on my new iPad. [have I mentioned I have a new iPad? Can’t remember if I mentioned it – Mrs. Kay got me a new iPad. An iPad3 if you’re interested.] Anyhoo, I’m writing this post on it now, we’ll see how it goes.

The day started with the English exam. I’m not going to spoil tomorrow’s surprise, but let’s assume that it went incredibly well! The exam was followed with a review for tomorrow’s Science exam. A slightly different way to review Science (and geography), than the way I review maths and English. It is very much a “class activity“, so participation is very much the key to getting the most out of the lesson. It also helps if you have your book open, so you can check that you have all the necessary notes. Tomorrow will be the real test of how much attention students were paying.

After Spanish we read from Reading Street, Mother Fletcher’s Gift. It’ll be interesting to see if tomorrow, when Miss Gaby asks how everyone is, the students reply with:

I’m not cutting a rug, but I’m not lying on one either.

Instead of the usual “Fine, thank you. And you?

Once we had finished the story, there was time to wonder about how scary Father Christmas is – he breaks into every house in the world, and creeps into children’s bedrooms, while they are sleeping -, before Computing followed by music. Then home. No paella today ( yesterday’s was horrible!), instead we are having empanadas. Not the Argentinian ones as recommended by Miss Tere (which are wonderful), but ones from Soriana. Oh, and it appears I can’t do everything with the iPad, I’m going to have to fine tune this post on the laptop. Hey, ho.

Posted in english, exams, science | 4 Comments »

paella

Posted by willkay on September 25, 2012

We’ve been driving past this paella place (on Las Palmas) four/five times a week. Every time we go past, we mention that we should really try the place out. Last night, for reasons that are far too complicated to go into, we ended up not eating until very late – I had a bowl of cereal and Mrs. Kay had a tin of lentil soup. Today, on the way home, we stopped for paella.

Up to speed on my personal life? Cool. Right:

  • returned maths exams. Only one 10 and eight other students got a 9 or better. It’s a mindset. It’ll come with time, but the students need to aim for perfection. Most of them now realise that with a little more care, concentration, and effort, they could have score another 5 marks, which would have raised their grade a whole point. But, schools are for learning, so we’ll just chalk that down to a learning curve.
  • review for English exam
  • meetings all day about the maths books. Throughout the school (except in the 6th grade) we have a new set of maths books. It is part of my job to oversee the maths taught through the school, so I spent a lot of time in meetings/conversations today.
  • osmosis – the last topic before Thursday’s science exam.

Hopefully you’re up to date now with my professional life. So, I’m off to share a romantic paella for two with Mrs. Kay.

Posted in english, exams, maths, science, stuff | 1 Comment »

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…

THE WALL OF FAME

  • 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 »

how much did we cram into one day?

Posted by willkay on September 11, 2012

Hello. Can’t stop, as The Red Hot Chili Peppers would say. An incredibly busy day has been extended, and I have loads of stuff to do. So, you get the first bullet point blog post of the year:

  • Three people absent!
  • Science – experiment to see if celery is vacular
  • Maths – addition and subtraction of integers
  • Spanish – they “sang” their way through it
  • 5th Grade – I went and sat in on Miss Julie’s lesson
  • Maths – multiplication and division of integers
  • Spelling – vowel sounds with r
  • Reading – still haven’t finished Old Yeller
  • P-A-R-T-Y – happy birthday Alfonso
  • Recess – Mrs. Kay came to the rescue because Mr. Kay is scared of spiders! And it was HUGE.
  • P.E. – Anafernanda scored a goal, Andrea got hit twice with the ball and an elbow, and Marcella had fun
  • History – Playdoh? Playdoh?? They were using Playdoh to make ancient tools
  • Science – it appears celery IS vascular
  • Home time – 6B girls are choreographing a dance for their assembly
  • WAIT!?! WHAT!!??!! Three people absent? Don’t they know this is the sixth grade? We don’t do absence!

Have I mentioned that La Vuelta has finished? Have I mentioned that The Tour of Britain has started? They went near my mum’s house. Anyway, I haven’t got time to discuss cycling, I’ve got stuff to do, bills to pay, and a cake from Mrs. De La Torre to eat. CAKE!!!

Posted in english, maths, science, spelling | 6 Comments »

 
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