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!
  • Wall of Fame

  • The 200+ Club

  • Stat Counter

    wordpress visitor
  • Who has visited

  • Flags of Visitors

    free counters

Archive for the ‘smartboard’ Category

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 »

and we’re back

Posted by willkay on October 4, 2011

Did you miss the blue pen? You remember the blue pen? I used to have a blue pen, to write on board with. It isn’t really a blue pen, it’s actually a piece of plastic with some blue wrapped round it. But it has its job, sitting in the blue tray, keeping the sensor switched off. So, I loved it. And then it disappeared. Oh, there were stories of people from Excel taking it. Maybe teachers from Kindergarten had converted my blue pen and had sneaked across the playground, ninja style, and released the blue pen into the wild. Or, as one rumour had it, Martin had taken the blue pen for his own nefarious reasons. Anyhoo, the long and the short of it is: Martin returned the blue pen from Kindergarten, where the Excel guys had left it! The blue pen is back! Time for a happy dance.

What’s also back is homework. Ah, a week of exams means a week off the stress of worrying if everyone has done their homework. But now we are finished with exams, we are also back to doing homework. And we are back to: one homework diary left at home; one homework diary not signed; two geography homeworks left at home; one geography homework done on the wrong country. The stress levels are starting to rise again.

Maths was changing decimals into fractions. At first site it is fairly easy, mainly because decimals are decimal fractions. However, once they are written as vulgar fractions, then they can be simplified. Two weeks after doing the rules of divisibility, some students don’t know if a number is divisible by 2, or 3, or 4, or 5, or….stress level alert!

Geography was a close look at France, Italy, and Germany. One of the fantastic things about the SmartBoard is the way you can use it with the internet. It isn’t just necessary to hope that children know what the Eiffel Tower looks like, you can show them. Even better, you can actually walk them down the Champs Elysée to L’Arc de Triomphe. They can see Notre Dame, where the hunchback hung out. And view the great glass pyramid outside Le Louvre, the home of The Mona Lisa. Well, they could if there was internet. Unfortunately, due to someone stealing all the telephone lines in the neighbourhood, we haven’t had internet (nor a phone) since Thursday. However, we managed to struggle on. I learnt some new and interesting facts about France, and some students did too. The problem is, a couple of students don’t want to listen to each other, and as the lesson progressed – no matter how many times I asked for quiet – the level of chatter increased. Stress level climbing.

It rained at recess. This gave me a chance to sit with the students and watch some rugby. It was the France v Tonga match. Tonga were the much better side, all over France, and were deserving victors. However, France still managed to qualify for the quarter finals of the World Cup, where they will meet England. In theory, this should be good news – the French looking so bad. In practice, there is nothing worse than a Frenchmen who thinks he is already beaten and on the plane home. They play with flair and adventure, they play with skill and expertise, they play as if they have nothing to lose – and that is when to fear the French. I am starting to worry about Saturday’s game. I don’t feel as confident as I did five weeks ago. Stress level climbing.

The internet is back! Yes, the internet is back! Plus, my class were out at PE. this was my chance to load up all the pages for geography. In fact, even better, I could download Google Earth and use that to “walk” around Paris. Except…except that Google Earth is blocked. And Google Maps is blocked. And the IT guy has already gone home. Why is everything still going wrong? Calm,calm, calm.

Back in the classroom, I was able to show the students the pages I had prepared. We looked at pictures of Paris (and Paris Hilton – no, not the Paris Hilton Hotel, just Paris Hilton), and then we moved on to Italy, and the Colosseum. “Why does it look like that Mr. Kay?” It was then that I discovered that my students don’t really have a good grasp on time. They aren’t really sure how long ago things were. [A later example in the day was the question if Galileo Galilei was still alive.] Original guesses put the Colosseum at about 200 years old. [The first guess at Galileo’s time period put him 100 years ago.]Trying to get some sense of proportion was difficult. Added to this was the constant chatter, people talking all the time. Random questions being shouted out, and requests to “watch some Animal Planet”. And no matter how many times I pointed out that the chatting should stop, it continued. No matter how often I pointed out that  the question showed a lack of concentration with what was going on, they still shouted out. And when I explained that we had watched some Animal Planet because it was (1) relevant to what we were doing in class and (2) because a teacher was away and I was covering the lesson, still the demands continued. Time to go home!

Tomorrow. Tomorrow all the homework diaries will be signed. All the homeworks completed. The students will be attentive. The classroom will be quiet. The internet will be working. Pages won’t be blocked. Everything will be perfect.

At least tomorrow I will have a blue pen. We might never have Paris, but we shall always have the blue pen.

  • Maths: Practice 3-9 Nos: 21 – 40
  • Writing Assignment: The Race (for Friday)
  • Art: Empty (clean) milk carton and old magazines.
  • Read: 20 minutes
  • Homework Diary: signed

Posted in geography, maths, smartboard | 5 Comments »

International Talk Like A Pirate Day

Posted by willkay on September 19, 2011

I thought it was Friday 13th. I wondered if I’d spilt salt over the weekend. Maybe I’d walked under a ladder. Perhaps I’d broken a mirror. Could it be possible that a black cat had crossed my path? Except, isn’t that lucky? However, I’m not superstitious. If things go wrong, they go wrong for a reason. And things don’t go wrong in my world! I plan, I organise, I prepare. I also risk assess, I plan for things to go wrong so that I have a back-up plan. So, what went wrong today?

The SmartBoard wasn’t working. I’m pretty sure that us where it all started, with the SmartBoard. There was a pen missing, I don’t think that had anything to do with why the board went wrong, but I do believe that if one thing is wrong, it leads to the next problem. You know, when your foot hurts, so you limp and then your back hurts because you are “walking funny”. So, the pen was missing. The board started up and didn’t like the missing pen. It then tried to install some software. It then froze. It then died. This was not something I had planned for. This was not something I had ever really envisaged. So, I was stuck without a SmartBoard – not really a problem, I’ve taught for 23 years without one, I can teach without one again.

Except, not everyone had done the homework. You know how Thursday there were no classes? So, I set a *big* homework Wednesday night, knowing that there were no classes on Thursday. For some reason, reasons I don’t fully understand, some students decided not to do all the homework (and one decided to do no homework). [True Story: When I was at school we called homework “Prep”. This was short for “preparation” because the work you did was to prepare you to move on to the next lesson.] Because not everyone had done the homework, it was impossible to move on to the next topic. So, instead, I elected to move backwards. Remembering how bad the students had been at division, I decided to go back to that topic.

Except, students can be difficult on a Monday morning. They’ve had two days off school, they can be slow to settle, slow to remember the rules of the classroom. It takes them some time to settle back into the rhythm of the who;e thing. However, in this case they hadn’t had two days off school, they had had four days off school. Settling down to work was difficult, settling down to doing division was really difficult. Eventually some work was achieved, and some of it successfully. So then it was onto English, and the Reading Logs. What could go wrong with the Reading Logs?


I know! As I asked people to get out their Reading Logs to give me the numbers, I expected to be inundated with students having forgotten them/not got them signed/they’d been eaten by the dog/my brother’s backpack was stolen and the Reading Log was in it. But none of that happened. Only one person didn’t have her Reading Log. So without further ado:


  • 421 pages: Gerry

  • 357 pages: Andrea

  • 310 pages: Diego L.P.

Well done to those three. And a big congratulations to the seven students who also made The 200+ Club. That’s ten out of twenty one students reading more than 200 pages a week! And just like that, my day got better.

Suddenly it didn’t matter that the SmartBoard didn’t work. Suddenly I didn’t worry about the missing pen. Suddenly the “non-homework” didn’t seem to matter so much. The simple fact that nineteen students read more than 140 pages in a week – twenty pages a day – made everything seem worthwhile again. I was happy.

So, I planted some coriander (cilantro to you). We did a spelling quiz – what will happen to secret agent 003½? We did some geography – finished off the whole of the UK. [Next we move on to Western Europe.] Opened car doors. And went home.

When I discovered, it is International Talk Like A Pirate Day! I knew there was something happening today! If only I’d been properly prepared. If I’d have know it was ITLAPD then I am sure that the SmartBoard would have worked, that my pen wouldn’t have gone missing, the students would have all done their homework.

Posted in english, geography, reading log, smartboard, spelling, wall of fame | 2 Comments »

(tons done) Tuesday

Posted by willkay on January 11, 2011

I love the beginnings of new terms (in England the school year is divided into three sections, called terms. There is the Autumn Term from September to December, the Easter term from January to Easter, and the Summer Term from April to July). Kids come back from vacations well rested and ready to learn. The dark days of February when the first major case of the sniffles goes round, the sluggish days of March when everyone is too tired and needs a break again, are still a month away. These are the days to get as much done as possible. Introduce new ideas, move quickly from topic to topic, don’t stop just keep moving.And that is what we are doing in the sixth grade.

Today we managed to cram two (yes, count them TWO) whole maths lessons into one. Instead of struggling along, trying to work through problems, we were on fire (not literally, obviously, but we were on fire). Ha! Take that percentages!

This carried on to the English lesson where again we managed to squeeze two hours work into an hour and a bit! By the time we got to the geography lesson we couldn’t slow down! And it is at this stage that the SMARTboard comes into its own. I will admit that I am full of useless information. As I will readily admit, I am a geek – but as I pointed out to Diego today, this is not a bad thing, geeks rule the world! I have found my ability to absorb facts (some useful, many [at first sight] useless) has helped me immensely in my teaching career. I really love learning, even if it is learning for learning’s sake rather than any  other objective. I am that teacher that you can sidetrack with one clever question. Ask me a question that interests me and I will set off on the path to discovery. And this is why I have lively classrooms, because I like lively students. I like students who want to learn, who want to ask questions, who are interested in something that might be beyond the scope of the actual planned lesson. Of course, there are moments that I don’t know the answer. In previous years I have always had a section of the board that has been left for “things Mr Kay discovered”. These were normally answers to questions that students asked and I couldn’t answer at the moment. So, I would go away and research the answer and share it with the students the next day. Now, thanks to the internet and a SMARTboard, I can answer just about any question. Did you know that the hottest recorded temperature in the Sahara Desert is 58 °C, and yet at night the temperature often drops to -5 °C? Well, you do now! Store that in your brain for when someone asks you.

So, all in all, a great day! Oh, and some very good New Year Resolutions as well. It will be interesting to see how well the students keep them up. Hopefully they will show a lot of Endurance!

English Word of the Day. The Ashes. I really don’t have enough time to go into what The Ashes mean, what they are about, and why they are so important to an Englishman. Just know, we won The Ashes, and I am very, very happy. If you really want to know, ask me and I will bore you to death for a couple of hours with the story.


  • Maths: Worksheet
  • Writing Assignment: the middle bit of a story (by Friday)
  • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

Posted in english, geography, maths, smartboard, spelling | 5 Comments »

(snow day) Tuesday

Posted by willkay on November 30, 2010

This morning, before I left for school, I checked my computer for emails/updates/news as I usually do, and noticed a comment from a friend who is working in Sheffield. She was at home. No school today for her. Snow day! Yes, there was so much snow that had fallen during the night that the schools had shut for the day. This sounds brilliant, but only works if she had been informed of the closure while still in bed. Unfortunately she wasn’t informed in bed, she was told as she entered school, two hours after setting off on a 15 minute journey to work. It took her another two hours to get home. She commented that it must be great working in hot, sunny Mexico! Well, the good news is: the wind has returned. This means that the cold area is being moved on to some other area on the map and the thermometer will start to rise the rest of this week. The bad news is: today was windy! I’ve mentioned it before, but some things bear repeating, kids on windy days are slightly uncontrollable. ‘Twas going to be a hard day at the office! Could have done with a snow day.

A quick morning line up with no morning-exercise-warm-up as it was so windy. Maths exams handed back. There were no score of 10. However, that said, there were some excellent results. Many students had obviously worked hard, studied well, and produced some good exams. However, there were signs that some students had enjoyed themselves too much in class and needed to get their heads down and work a little harder. The it was time to review for tomorrow’s English exam.

After the review it was Art, followed by a quick rehearsal of thatthingIdon’tmentionincasesomeoneisreadingthis. With ten minutes left before recess, the students had some time to study before the Spanish exam. That would be the Spanish exam that I ended up giving! Miss Claudia was called away, and although she came back, I took the exam and the lesson. After the Spanish exam we looked at letters and how often they occurred. After a certain amount of research (counting letters on a page), we discovered that ‘e’ is the most common letter. Using the results of what we had found, we then went on to look at codes. Would our knowledge of letters (and English) help us to crack a code? By this stage of the lesson, some students were very interested, while others had given up – you can tell who was in what group by looking at the picture above. While all this was going on, the auditions were taking place. Surprisingly, although on Friday there were several boys who were interested in auditioning, only one boy tried out. Several of the girls also auditioned. The results will e announced shortly. Although, I might have a word with the sixth grade and see if I can encourage some of them to have another go. [Inside information: no one has tried out for the role of the prince yet!]

English Word of the Day. Hopscotch. Which led to a discussion about that childhood fascination of never stepping on a crack in the pavement: Step on a crack, break your mum’s back.


  • English
  • Circular signed (yes I know that most of you don’t do extra lessons but it would be nice to have them all back signed).
  • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

Posted in english, exams, maths, morning line up, smartboard, spanish | 2 Comments »


Posted by willkay on November 27, 2010

That Was, The Week, That Was was the name of the television programme that launched Sir David Frost’s career. The title of the show was shortened to TW3.

In 1882 the Australian cricket team beat the English cricket team for the first time. The Times newspaper published an obituary talking about “the death of English cricket” and how “the body had been cremated and the ashes taken to Australia“.  The next year, when the English team travelled to Australia to play the return match, the tour was called “The Quest to Regain The Ashes“. This is how legends are made. England play Australia every two/three years over five games for a small urn of ashes. This is cricket being played at its most competitive and is a fantastic event. Each game lasts five days. Each day lasts seven hours. There are moments of great excitement, huge confrontation, amazing athleticism. However, the thing that I love most about cricket is the moment to moment. To the untrained eye it can often appear that nothing is happening but if you know the game there is always something happening. I was brought up watching cricket, and when I say watching I mean watching. From a very early age I was taught to use a scoresheet and how to keep a record of every single ball bowled, every run scored. Because I am who I am, I loved the statistical analysis of each and every ball. However, there was also the playing of the game. Cricket, although it is a team game, is very much an individual sport. Often it boils down to just one player against one player. It can become like chess, but with more physical activity. I love my football (soccer to you), I really enjoy my rugby, but the game at my core, the one that means the most to me, is cricket. And there is nothing more exciting than The Ashes series. Often people will ask me if I miss England, miss stuff. What people don’t realise is that the world is getting smaller and smaller. Two years ago I missed The Ashes series in England (where England won!). However two years later, thanks to the moving forward in technology, the speeding up of connections, I can catch every single ball bowled in The Ashes. Even better, I’m in Mexico. This means that the games are played between 4pm and midnight my time. Yes, thanks to the internet I am watching cricket. Gotta lurve progress.

However, the cricket hasn’t been the only sport this week. On Thursday the mighty Santos Laguna won 2-1 against America in the semi-finals of Clausura. The New York Jets also won on Thursday. And earlier in the week the mighty Sheffield United came back from 2-1 down to win 3-2. And while all of this has been going on: my step-daughter, Danny, has had two maths exams; my step-son has been going through exams; I took maria out for a meal to celebrate the fact it was Tuesday (as you do); people we haven’t seen for ages have turned up unexpectedly; exams have had to be written; it has started snowing back in England and my mother has had to travel (which is a certain amount of stress); and with one thing and another something in my life had to be dropped. In case you didn’t notice, the thing that got dropped was this blog. Unfortunately Monday turned into a personal disaster area, and once I’d missed one day it became very easy to miss the next and the next and the next.

Monday: Third grade assembly was a re-enactment of the Mexican Revolution, which was fantastic. I love moustaches! In maths we covered volumes of rectangular prisms and cylinders. It was time to write the first Book Report of the year. I like my book reports written in a certain way. I do not like a breakdown, page by page, of the whole book. This took sometime to explain. It also led to the introduction of the book The Twits to the class. As I write this post at the end of the week, I can report that four different students have now read the book. This is what I mean by “a good book“. It is fun, it is enjoyable, and everyone has read it in one sitting. Then moved on to another book. Later in the day we read a story about a boy who had crashed in the Canadian wilderness and learned how to make fire. I’m not so sure that this was a good idea, having watched the class playing with fire at Alexa’s party.

Tuesday: we used protractors in maths. It was all about drawing and measuring angles. Homework was a worksheet that needed accuracy to complete to the satisfaction of the person marking it (that would be the person sat next to you!). In art the students made Christmas decorations. Yep, Christmas is coming. The geography lesson was really more of a history/politics lesson. The geography of eastern Europe is difficult to do without mentioning the dramatic changes that occurred in the 1980s. The next topic, Russia, is even more about history than geography.

W*dnesd*y: And there was no Miss Claudia. I have now discovered a new work-related-injury. When I first started work, over 25 years ago, I used to suffer a lot from chalk dust. This would find it’s way into clothes, hair, lungs and was a problem. The next year I got my first whiteboard. Unfortunately, the pens the school provided me with were alcohol based. This meant that come lunchtime I would suffer with chronic headaches. This year I am now suffering from hurty-finger-syndrome.  I love the SMARTboard, don’t get me wrong, however I do a lot of my wok on the board with my forefinger, especially the tip of my forefinger. Today we did constructions. All week I have been using the ruler and protractor that come with the board and today I added the pair of compasses to the mix. By the end of the day I has all but erased my fingerprint. Even now, as I type, I have noticed that I am not using my right forefinger because it is still so sore. Also learned that there would be no Gerry in school on Thursday and Friday.

Thursday: Gerry was in school. More constructions in maths and my finger has actually gone shiny! There will be a computer exam next Thursday and I was given a study guide. Not sure what I was supposed to do with it, but I have a study guide if anyone wants to borrow i..oh, no I don’t. Miss Lilian has the study guide. Miss Claudia was in school! Hurray! The auditions for The Little Mermaid will be on Monday. Parts of scripts were given out so that lines could be learnt. Of course, it is not just important to learn the lines it is also important to understand the lines, and to act the lines. In English we came across Hieroglyphs. On the internet we found a site that let you type in your name and it would translate it into hieroglyphs. So long as your name didn’t have an x or a z in it.

Friday: normal start for me, late start for the students. There was a staff meeting in which we discussed discipline. Because of the meeting there was no yoga lesson, so it was straight into the maths review. Maths exam on Monday and this month we have covered a huge amount of ground. In fact, in the three months we have been in school we have covered nearly half of the book. This is because in January there will be the Junior High School exams and I want to cover as much ground as possible before them. Hopefully, the rest of the school year will not be as mathematically full. It’s Friday, which means that it is Reading Log day. Now, I was pretty sure that everyone knew it was Reading Log day, however nine people forgot their reading logs – oops. But this means that there are some new names on The Wall Of Fame.


  • 1015 pages: Roberto
  • 648 pages: Polette
  • 438 pages: Ninotchka
  • 311 pages: Marianna
  • 293 pages: Octavio
  • 262 pages: Daniel
  • 250 pages: David
  • So, congratulations to those new names. And boo to those who forgot their reading logs. Some people also forgot their book reports! This was not a good thing to do. They must be in on Monday or they will score a zero! In the afternoon we watched The Little Mermaid so that everyone could have a chance to see the film, and get an idea of their roles. Then it was on to Alexa’s party!!!

    English Word Letter of the Day Week: z. It is pronounced “zed” not “zee”.


    • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

    Posted in art, assembly, blog, english, exams, geography, history, maths, reading log, smartboard, the little mermaid, wall of fame | 6 Comments »

    (stuck at home) Saturday

    Posted by willkay on November 20, 2010

    The film, Harry Potter Part 7 Part 1, was excellent. I really enjoyed it. What I didn’t enjoy was the audience. Am I getting old? Is it now the done thing to talk all the way through films? However, although the audience were terrible, the film was very good. The two and a half hours flashed by and I am looking forward to part 7 part 2. But, enough about last night and what I got up to, you are probably here just for what happened yesterday at school. Unless you want me to tell you about the mulitas I had last night?

    Yoga, first lesson, where Silence is Golden. Ah, if only that continued throughout the day, it would be bliss. After checking the maths homework, we did art. Yes, art. I know it was a maths lesson but today’s topic was 3D solids. Which means that the lesson was spent drawing 3D solids on a 2D page. Yes, the SMARTboard was a great help to me at this point. However, as the students started to moan and complain that “it’s too difficult”, “I want a SMARTboard”, and “it’s not fair”, I had to switch off the SMARTboard’s tools and draw free hand. I know, I know, my drawing is not the best but 23 years of teaching maths means that I can draw 3D solids with a certain amount of ability.

    Science was the circulatory system, how blood gets to move around the body. After recess it was the PE lesson, and then after PE it was time for the Reading Log numbers.


  • 1015 pages: Ana Paola
  • 1011 pages: Polette
  • 773 pages: Octavio
  • 772 pages: Roberto
  • 772 pages: Jose Luis
  • 370 pages: Rodrigo
  • 342 pages: Gerry
  • 334 pages: Ninotchka
  • 322 pages: Francisco
  • Yes, you might want a little time to look at those numbers again. Nine students on The Wall Of Fame. Two of those students having read over a thousand pages. There are also seven students who have read over 200 pages, so they are in The 200+ Club (you can see their names at the top left of the page).

    After that the students presented their inventions. There were some very good presentations, and it was obvious that some students had taken a lot of time and care over their presentations. They had also thought long and hard about their inventions. Unfortunately the Q&A sessions after each presentation took so long that we didn’t manage to get to the end, and see everyone’s invention. Therefore we will be starting with the final four on Monday morning.

    English Word of the Day. Tap. It’s not a faucet, it’s a tap. You turn on the tap and you can wash your hands.


    • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

    Posted in english, maths, science, smartboard, wall of fame | 6 Comments »

    (it’s not monday) Thursday

    Posted by willkay on November 11, 2010

    We had assembly this morning. Yes, I know, it’s not Monday, it’s Thursday – what is happening? Well, due to rain and The Day of The Dead and more rain and The Revolution, the 3rd grade were going to do their pre-Halloween assembly on November 22nd, a whole month late. So, rather than wait any longer, it was decoded to have the assembly this morning. This, of course, should have caused no confusion at all. Nope, no confusion at all. I was fully prepared for Thursday. I knew exactly what I had to teach, knew exactly what I was doing, had everything planned and organised. So, there was no chance that anything could possibly go wrong. Except…some how I managed to teach Monday’s English lesson instead of Thursday’s science lesson. Oops.

    Nineteen out of twenty homework notebooks signed. I suppose that I should be really happy that I am close to perfection, but in reality that one notebook missing still irritates me. One more chance tomorrow to get 100% success. (Obviously there is the rest of the academic year, but I’d like it to happen this week, rather than waiting until May.)

    Still problems with areas of triangles. The homework was not a total success, with only three students scoring 10. There were too many scores of less than 7 for my liking. When finding the area of a triangle you must divide by 2 (or half something) at some point in the calculation. Once we had covered that, we moved on to the areas of trapeziums (that’s trapezoids to you). The area of a trapezium is calculated by: the average of the parallel sides multiplied by their perpendicular distance apart. Which is a bit of a mouthful, however it is fairly straight forward in the actual execution.Of course, you need to understand exactly what is needed. Once you understand then it should be straight forward. Should be. We also spent some time on calculating the areas of irregular shapes.

    As mentioned before, the science lesson turned into an English lesson: Schwa. No, that isn’t a typo, that is the title of the next spelling list. A Schwa word is one in which the vowel sounds like another vowel. Still confused? Take the word onion. In onion the letter o (both of them) are pronounced as though they are uuniun. In the middle of the English lesson we also managed to squeeze in a computer lesson. It was while the students were in the computer lesson that the sound system in my classroom went “funny”. Of course, just as everything was running smoothly, the system still decided to check that we all still cared. I now have no sound with my SMARTboard. It is starting to feel like the “getting-the-homework-diaries-signed” problem. It just isn’t going to happen that everything is working perfectly.

    Eventually, for the last half hour of the day, we managed to squeeze in some science. Tomorrow we will be reading our writing assignments: A Day in The Life. I am hoping to get all the class to give points to each student for: clarity of reading; understandability of story; enjoyment. So, it might be an idea to practice reading your story tonight.


    • Maths: Worksheet
    • Spelling: Workbook page: 34 and 36 (not 35)
    • Writing Assignment: A Day in the Life. (for tomorrow)
    • Reading Log
    • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

    Posted in assembly, english, maths, reading log, science, smartboard, spelling | 2 Comments »

    (math-tastically) W*dnesd*y

    Posted by willkay on November 10, 2010

    Brilliant start to the day! After yesterday’s worry that I was entering a world record all-time-low for getting homework diaries signed – success! All the homework notebooks that went home were returned signed and on my desk. Twenty out of twenty one! Slowly but surely, step by step, we’re getting there.

    During the PE lesson I got to be in my classroom, on my own. This is a rare occasion and I made the most of it – non-contact time and a chance to play with the SMARTboard. Now that everything is up and running (did I mention that I have a new computer?), I really need to get to grips with using all of the functions of the SMARTboard. This will take a little time (and a lot of hard work) but once I get really used to using it, it is going to be a brilliant teaching aid. Not that it isn’t already – today it got a full and total workout.

    Before the music lesson there was a chance to squeeze in a quick spelling test. For those loyal readers who are worried about how secret agent 003½ was going to escape the swinging-pendulum-of-doom, worry no more! He managed to dislocate his own shoulder, leap from the table, and escape! Only to discover that the evil Dr. Evil has sponsored the new Governor…dun, dun, der!!!!!! After sending the class to music I got five minutes before they returned. Miss Maria wanted to use the SMARTboard to show videos of harmonising using recorders (that’s flutes to you).

    Then it was time for maths. Much to Ariadne’s disappointment we weren’t ready to actually do areas of triangles as I still wanted to cover names of polygons – especially quadrilaterals. Again the SMARTboard came into its own, the shape-drawing function is brilliant. If there are any “old” students reading this, they will remember how I would struggle to draw…well, just about anything. Ha! Well, the times they are-a-changin’. I can now draw simple shapes, and straight lines, and perfect circles, and can drag pictures from the gallery and pretend they are mine!

    After recess, after Spanish, we did [wait for it, wait for it] maths. Hey, if Ariadne wants to do areas of triangles, who am I to stand in her way? And so she got her wish and we studied areas of triangles. I’d love to say that it was a total and complete success. I’d love to say it but no one (no one) got all ten questions correct. Only three students go nine out of ten. Humph! Let’s see how well they do with their homework.

    Anyway, it is Grades night tonight. The grades have been released on the school’s website, so there will be much rejoicing in some households, and some sadness in others – although there should be more happy homes than sad ones in the sixth grade!


    • Maths: Reteaching 8-2 Nos: 4,5,6 and Practice: 8-2 Nos: 5,6,7,8,10,13 
    • Grammar: Workbook page: 36
    • Writing Assignment: A Day in the Life. (for Friday)
    • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

    Posted in maths, smartboard, spelling | 4 Comments »

    (the eagle has landed – actually, it’s just a computer) Tuesday

    Posted by willkay on November 9, 2010

    We’ve got the kids staying with us this week. This means that the day starts a whole half an hour earlier, as we have to juggle the use of the bathroom, organise breakfasts, and make sandwiches for lunch. Also there are different times for school drop-off: Danny is 7am, I’m 7:30am, Nikos is 7:45am. It all means a lot more hard work for someone. The good news (for me) is that I drift through all this. In my world the bathroom is always empty (everyone clears out when I open the bedroom door), my lunch box is ready for me to pick up (maria makes my sandwiches), and I arrive at school on time (hey, I’m the one who earns the money, so I can’t be late). All this means though that I was ready to put the disaster of yesterday behind me, and move onwards and upwards to better things.

    There were only 14 homework diaries on my desk this morning. Actually, there were 16, but two weren’t signed. That’s 14 out of 21, not a good result – basically a 6.7 if it was a grade. So we had a talk about empathy. Although the day might look wonderful and fun and brilliant and amazing and just super-smashing-lovely, it might help to look at the day through someone else’s eyes, from their point of view. And, from my point of view, when I finished the day off asking all the students to get their homework notebooks signed, but only 14 did as asked – it is a bit of a downer. I’d like to say that all the students took this on board and today was wonderful, the rest of the week will be fantastic, the year will be a stunning success. I’d like to say it but I already know that there is one homework notebook left on a desk in the classroom, so my dream of all the notebooks signed is still that, a dream. Hey ho.

    Mathematically we seemed to have totally grasped how to do areas of parallelograms (including the person who did the wrong homework). However, before we moved on to areas of triangles we had one little problem to overcome – naming polygons. Some days it feels like: one step forward, three steps back. I know that the students have been taught this stuff, not just last year but also previous years. It just doesn’t seem to have stuck. Eek!

    As I was sat, marking books during the art lesson, Professor Humberto suddenly made an appearance in my room. He was not empty-handed. Under his arm was a computer. A computer with an Intel Core processor. Yes, a processor that can keep up with the SMARTboard. Now we can rock’n’roll. Fifteen minutes later, thanks to Google Earth, I am walking the students up Champs Élysées, under L’Arc de Triomphe, and hovering beside Le Tour Eiffel. Mais oui, mon petites, nous sommes en Paris, d’accord? Don’t you just love technology?

    The English lesson was all about the agreement between subject and verb. Weirdly, if the noun is singular you tend to add an -s or -es to the verb. Of course, this is the total opposite if it is a noun!

    Geography in the afternoon. The lesson was supposed to be about Germany, Spain, and Italy. However, we never got past Germany. Unfortunately my favourite subject is History. I love History and I wish I could teach it. However, in the sixth grade History has to be done in Spanish and my Spanish just isn’t up to doing History. But, it does mean that when I am presented with any opportunity to go off on a one hour story that involves history, I will be totally distracted! It only took an hour but I managed to cram the whole of The Great War, World War II, and The Fall of The Berlin Wall into one lesson (with a side reference to the Polish/Czech/Romanian Revolutions). Talk about abuse of power!

    Right! I need a haircut and the Wii is free (because everyone is doing their homework), so that is me sorted for the next couple of hours.


    • Maths: Reteaching 7-4 and Practice: 7-4 (all of both)
    • Grammar: Workbook page: 35
    • Writing Assignment: A Day in the Life. (for Friday)
    • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

    Posted in english, geography, history, maths, smartboard | 6 Comments »

    %d bloggers like this: