On Friday, while most of the school had the day off, some of us were working! Some of 6A came into school and performed: Little Red Riding Hood .
And I ran around the playground, shouting a lot:
Posted by willkay on February 18, 2013
On Friday, while most of the school had the day off, some of us were working! Some of 6A came into school and performed: Little Red Riding Hood .
And I ran around the playground, shouting a lot:
Posted by willkay on September 15, 2012
I’m not sure that I can remember very much from yesterday, my brain gave up working just past 3pm, and I haven’t been able to contact it since. The heat is terrible. How terrible? Well, my laptop seems to suffering terribly…I hope it’s the heat. However, I think I can remember:
No school until Tuesday! Remember to bring in READING LOGS!
Posted by willkay on September 8, 2012
Up early this morning, so early that Sheffield United hadn’t even kicked off. This meant that I got to follow the game via text from the BBC. This was not fun! Two players sent off in the first half, and then we conceded a goal early on in the second half. Fortunately, we managed to equalise, and it finished 1-1. I think I’ll have a lie-in next week and just check on the final score. It did mean that I was up-and-about when my mum phoned. She’d just been to (one of) her granddaughter’s (my niece’s) wedding, where she had been dancing! This might not sound like much to you, but my mum is 84, and she doesn’t dance that often. And now, I’m waiting to watch the Australia v South Africa rugby match, followed by the penultimate stage of La Vuelta. So, I thought there would be enough time to sit down and write a blog post – last night was pizza+film night with our kids, so there wasn’t that much time.
Odd start to Friday, because there hadn’t been that much homework 12 people decided not to get their homework diaries signed. However, the brilliant news, we were settled down and ready for maths very quickly. We are doing addition/subtraction of integers – positive and negative numbers. This can get very complicated, very quickly. So, it is necessary to listen carefully and try to follow what is happening. Thankfully the new-and-improved sixth grade are all about listening carefully! This still doesn’t make the subject any easier, however we will return to it again on Monday and hopefully it will not be as complicated, after a weekend’s break.
Geography was all about Ireland, and how it became Northern Ireland and Eire. Also, why we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at BAI. I’m still not sure why we do, and why we don’t celebrate St. George’s Day (or St. Andrew’s or St. David’s) as well. Then, while my class had Spanish and Art, I went off to teach the fifth grade some maths. I like teaching other classes, because it gives me a better perspective of my own class. Sometimes 6A have to suffer comparisons with previous sixth grades that I have taught. So, it’s good to go teach a fifth grade because then I can remind themselves that this is where my students came from. With that in my mind, I can use that to springboard them off to where they are going. It makes sense to me.
After recess we read our writing assignments. This week we were writing stories from an animal’s point of view. There were some stories that really got the idea of the assignment. Unfortunately, some stories were more like stories from cartoon animals – a chicken wearing a blindfold? However, it did give us a chance to see a video of the mimic octopus:
After the stories, we quickly squeezed in a final rehearsal for Monday’s Assembly. It was the end of the week, it was late Friday afternoon. Everyone was tired. It will be a lot better.
Back in the classroom there was just enough time to mention the Channel Tunnel. We’ve spent two weeks studying United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Next week it is Europe. Hmmm, might be time to tell the story of my dad’s plan to “do Europe and film a re-make of Sound of Music in ten days“.
MONDAY: don’t forget your READING LOG, signed. Don’t forget your MOUSTACHE.
Posted by willkay on September 6, 2012
What a brilliant day! Not perfect, but so much better. And this is why I like teaching. Every day is different. You can have good days, you can have bad, but one day is not like the next, they are all different. I realise that the last couple of posts might have been a bit grumpy, but that is because Mrs Kay, Miss Claudia, and I all want the best for the children and from the children. We know what they are capable of, and when we see it going wrong (or off track) then we worry. I get to express my worries on here – which is nice for me. But today was a good day!
It started with a talk, and then into an English lesson. Today we did grammar, Subjects and Predicates. We settled quickly, and got on with efficiently. And, hopefully, we learnt to listen. Not just to listen to the teacher, but also to listen to our classmates – those that listened to Luis Francisco’s where-the-verb-is theory, discovered that finding the verb was easy!
P.E. included a chance for the Honour Guard to practise. That was followed by Spanish, and then it was time to really work on the song we will be singing for our assembly. This was really good fun! Everyone worked together, coming up with ideas, and helping each other. What has often been a fairly frustrating experience for me (my choreography skills are not my best), went really, really well. It was TeamWork in Action!
In geography we talked about Scotland, how they like to wear kilts and
strangle cats until they cry play the bagpipes. I also got to tell a story about my dad, which always makes me happy. My dad was a brilliant, fantastic man who (occasionally) had weird and wonderful ideas. I have already told the students about his “two-year-plan-to-walk-the-Pennines“, and the holiday we spent walking along Hadrian’s Wall. But his “week of Nessie spotting” was today’s story. My dad was convinced that The Loch Ness Monster exists. (I say convinced, but honestly I just think we wanted it to be true.) So, we spent a week, sat beside Loch Ness, monster hunting. Actually, that’s a lie: my dad spent a week monster hunting, we (my mum, sister, and brothers) spent the week sat in a caravan playing cards, as the rain fell. Five days in, my dad got very excited, as he announced that he had seen Nessie. Not only was he convinced that he had seen the monster, he had also managed to capture the image on Super8. Later, when we got home and saw the film, we were all convinced that it was just a seagull, swimming along, making the ripples in the water. Not my dad! My dad had his proof. And who am I to argue with him.
There was just time, at the end of the day, to run through the whole assembly one more time. And, not that I want to jinx it or anything, it went really well. True, it is hard for some people to sing-and-dance at the same time. And some of us aren’t as fit as we think we are – out of breath in the first verse???? But it was a really good end, to a much better day. Time for an empanada!
Posted by willkay on September 1, 2012
Sorry, did you all come visit yesterday and there was nothing new here? For those of you who are new to reading my blog, I need to point out that sometimes my life gets in the way of writing. I very rarely write on Fridays, I put it off until Saturday/Sunday – mainly because that life-stuff gets in the way. And yesterday was full of life-stuff. I don’t know about you, but that was a very busy week and a very hot week. So, once I got home, it was straight into shorts (yes, I do have a pair of shorts, no, I don’t wear them out of the flat), 16 JellyBelly ice pops, and four days of cycle racing in La Vuelta on the laptop. Yes, I know, it doesn’t sound exciting, but if you follow cycling, Los Fantasticos are putting on a fantastic performance around Spain. Edge of the seat stuff.
Disappointingly, we started the Friday the way we had finished Thursday. It took ages for everyone to settle down, there were only ten homework diaries on the desk, two students hadn’t done the homework, and one student had done the wrong homework. It was time for THE TALK.
Sixth grade is fun. It’s supposed to be. However, it is hard work. The Junior High exams are coming up in January (four months away), and we have a lot of ground to cover before then. Sixth grade is also a rehearsal for Junior High: with great power comes great responsibility. At this point, parents should not be chasing up students to do their work/homework. Parents shouldn’t be helping students get dressed. Parents shouldn’t be doing the students’ homework. At this point, a sixth grader should be taking on the responsibility of his/her life. Signing a homework diary is not a parental chore, it is part of the students’ homework to get it signed. The homework diary is a record of what the student needs to do, it is not a list for parents to use to force the student to work. The sixth grade is where the student starts to take responsibility. If work is not done – it is their responsibility. If things are forgotten – it is their responsibility. If a student decides to leave the classroom – for water, for the restroom – the lesson is not going to stop for them. Topics will be covered, ideas will be discussed, work will be done. It is their responsibility to choose a time to leave the room, and their responsibility to find out what they have missed.
The good news is, the rest of the day went fairly well. Started off with an Assessment Test and then moved on to maths. Still had two students who decided that they were going to do the maths their way rather than mine, but after seeing their results, they might change their minds. Geography was all about England. And there was time to worry about global warming and the effect it might have on my mum’s home. We also managed to discover some geographical facts that are going to turn up every time we study a new country. So, we’ll get to see how much people were paying attention. Then we read the Writing Assignments. The (most) excellent news was that everyone had completed the assignment and brought it into school! [Update: one person in 6B left it on a table at home.] So, the afternoon was spent listening to how everyone’s holidays went. The idea of reading the stories out is that: (1) all the students get to read in public; (b) everyone gets to hear the best/worst, which helps them when it comes to writing the next story.
And then it was home time. The sunflowers are blooming (for some), the radishes need thinning down, and my avocados are failing miserably. I have to write and prepare an assembly for Monday 10th. Oh, and have you seen the profiles for the next stages of La Vuelta? It’s going to be a great weekend for cycling enthusiasts…that’s just me and Mrs. Kay then?
[LATE UPDATE: Sheffield United won 5-3. I know! Exciting isn’t it?]
Posted by willkay on October 12, 2011
For those of you who have missed his happy smiling face:
Strange day today. After yesterday’s “Tuesday has become the new Wednesday” problem, I have spent the whole day thinking that today is Thursday. Three times, three times I wrote the date on the board, and three times I wrote, “Thursday October 13th 2011“. Confusion has totally settled in. If I don’t turn up for work on Friday, it will probably be because I am still in bed, thinking it is Saturday.
The maths is going really well. The slow-and-steady approach to fractions seems to be really working. There are still some students who get confused, but everyone is getting some of the questions correct, and a lot are getting all of the questions correct. I am looking forward to Friday’s Pop Quiz. After the success of last week’s one, I’m hoping for some more excellent results. Of course, I realise that pride comes before a fall, and I know that I should not be over-confident. But a man can dream can’t he?
In the English lesson we had a spelling quiz. The evil Dr. Evil explained his plan to assassinate the President with the use of a peony, cauliflower, and tarantula. Will secret agent 003½ be able to escape his evil clutches and save the President? Who knows. We shall find out in next week’s spelling quiz. (I bet we don’t. I bet this story goes on and on forever.) We then managed to charge all the way through the Grammar workbook and Regular/Irregular Plurals. How fast did we go through it? Fast enough that we managed to cram in an extra 30 minutes of science. With som mush extra time, we did get on to discussing other interesting facts. Jose Manuel showed us a way of rubbing your nose to make it feel like you had two noses. I demonstrated how you could stab yourself with two pencils, and yet it only felt like one. And we all found out why Mr. Kay cried at the beginning of Up – and it wasn’t because he had something in his eye.
Recess and I went to ask Miss Monica a question. Simple question: As the new principal, had the school’s policy on facial hair changed? She said: Yes. This means that I will not be shaving for the next five weeks. maria likes me with a beard. As readers of this blog know, I will be getting married in five weeks time (FIVE WEEKS!), and so it is my intention to appear in any wedding photographs with a beard. It will make maria happy, which will make me happy, which will increase the overall happiness of the day. Therefore, take a last look at my clean shaven face, and be prepared the next to see me to be wearing designer stubble. Let’s hope that I can actually grow this thing in five weeks, else it is going to look a bit silly.
After recess I had a meeting with Miss Irene to discuss the maths in the fourth grade, and I didn’t have a meeting with Professor Richardo to discuss the fifth grade maths – that will have to wait until tomorrow. Back to the classroom to finish off the science lesson. We are discussing the operations and systems of the body.
Posted by willkay on September 9, 2011
You might not have noticed it, but early this morning (about 1am) The Rugby World Cup kicked off. The hosts, New Zealand, played Tonga in the opening match. Tomorrow, Saturday there are several matches taking place. Two of those matches have a little bit of importance to the sixth grade teachers. Ireland will be taking on USA, which means that Miss Esther will be following that match. And England will be playing Argentina, so that’s me sorted then. My problem is, the England match kicks off at 1am, which makes it a bit difficult to follow live. Anyway, I hope you are as excited as I am. England have a good chance of going all the way to the semi-finals, and maybe achieving a place in the final itself. Having watched many of the warm up games though, I believe the winners will be either New Zealand or Australia. Oh, you came here to find out about my day at school? Well, here we go with a picture of a piñata. A piñata made to look like a taco. Could you imagine a taco that size? Yum!
After yesterday’s long talk about homework and responsibility, I was looking forward to signed homework diaries and completed assignments. Dream on. Yesterday’s power cut meant that many students failed to produce their stories. Having left them until the last minute they were unable to use computers or printers. Of course, the obvious solution would have been to write (by hand) the story, but that didn’t occur to them. Never mind, the maths homework didn’t need electricity. Surely everyone did the maths homework? No. Four people failed to do the set homework. What about the homework diaries, signing couldn’t have been difficult could it? Five homework diaries not signed. In theory, baldness doesn’t happen in my family. In theory, I will keep a full head of hair. In practice, I might just pull it all out in frustration!
The maths lesson was a strange on for me. I don’t normally write a lot of information on the board in a maths lesson. I don’t believe in that rote learning is the way to go. I think that an understanding is far more important. However, today it was the rules for divisibility, and when it comes to rules you can’t just make it up. Mind you, even with the rules and a promise of understanding, there were still some students who thought that 625 was divisible by 2 and 10.
English and two people hadn’t done the homework for that either. Today we studied subjects, simple subjects, predicates, and simple predicates. Of course, the simple subject is a noun, a simple predicate is a verb – but it really does help if you can recognise a noun and a verb! The English lesson was interrupted by an art lesson. The students are making piñatas and it looked very messy, but good fun.
I spent an enjoyable recess discuss video games with the sixth grade, and then after Spanish it was time to listen to their stories. As previously mentioned, nine students failed to produce a story, however the remaining twelve stories made up for that. Most years it is a struggle to get the students to write more than twenty sentences, this year I think it is going to be a struggle to confine some of them to two pages! The theme was “The Time Machine” and there were some very interesting stories, and clever ideas. With ten minutes of the day left, there was just enough time to remind everyone to bring in their Reading Logs on Monday! Also, I finally managed to fill out the Birthday Chart. Three weeks into school and it has taken me until now to find ten minutes free.
Posted by willkay on September 2, 2011
Recently Miss Lilian was talking to me about this blog. I was saying how it was sometimes hard to get home and write something every day, and she suggested that maybe I should just write something once a week. I thought about it for nearly a whole second and then said; No. It can be hard work, I get home tired from the day and sometimes the thought of pulling out the laptop and writing a blog post just isn’t what I want to do. Some days it is really hard – today I left school and had to go pay the bills, the cable, the phone, the mobile phones, the internet. I had to pick up my step-daughter from school and drive her home. And in thirty minutes my step kids will descend on the flat, causing maximum mayhem where ever they go. Some times I think it would be great not to write a blog, but then I realise that it is very cathartic. It gives me the chance to look back over the day, and no matter how tired I am, no matter how stressed i feel, no matter how many things might have gone wrong – there is always the possibility of finding something good in the day, writing about it, and feeling great about another day successfully dealt with. Some days it is just good because every child that came into my care left school a little wiser and in good health. Today was one of those days that went really well (really, really well).
Laptops. We started the morning using the laptops. One person had forgotten her laptop. In theory, this should have been a moment to start tearing out my hair and shouting, “told you so!” but in practice? The student just looked at me and said, “I have to learn responsibility.” Fantastic! Fan-blummin-tastic! Who would have thought that the actual act of leaving a laptop at home would be a moment when a student took responsibility for her own actions. This is why I teach sixth grade, this is why I love teaching. Marissa Cano, step forward. Your comment made my day. Thank you.
Anyhoo, we used the laptops. Still downloading stuff (it gets a bit slow when 20 students all want to download something at once – if we do this next year we’ll have to plan this better). However, some of the students got to download Google Earth. Aleksei went on a guided tour of London – and I got to explain to him the running joke maria and I have about “The Gherkin”. Enrique managed to use the internet to figure out a way to get in through the front door of the pyramids. And someone (was it Rodrigo?) found the school at street level. [Actually, don’t tell anyone this but, if you go to Google maps, and you look at my mum’s front door, turn to the left, you can see a picture of my mum crossing the road – true story.]
The art lesson was all about design. I have no idea what they were doing exactly, but the students were very excited about it all. They were arguing (which I always find a great thing – I love a good argument between students, it shows they are thinking and are passionate about a subject) and discussing their designs. In fact, Miss Lilian (no, not that Miss Lilian, the other one, the art teacher) had a difficult job getting them to leave her classroom!
The SEP books have arrived! I know, are you as excited as Miss Claudia? At last she has her Spanish, History, and Civics books. Of course, in Maths, Science, and Geography we will continue to study above and beyond what SEP asks for. I was talking to an ex-student yesterday, at the parents’ meeting, and he was telling me how the maths is easy and the geography was still learning the states and their capitals. Pretty sure they did the geography in the third grade. We definitely covered it in the sixth!
The English lesson was brilliant! On Monday i spent some time explaining what a five paragraph story should look like, and should feel like. There is always a certain amount of fear/trepidation worrying about what the students might turn up with. Some years I have had whole groups who have missed the point. Sometimes, half the group have got the idea. This time was wonderful. [Do I keep using the word wonderful?] Only three students missed the mark. As usual, I asked each student to stand in front of the class and read their story. The rest of the students have to listen to the story. Now, you might not realise this, but one of the hardest audiences in the world is a bunch of sixth grade students on a Friday afternoon. They were captivated. They listened to stories about elephants, crocodiles, dogs, snakes, monkeys, polar bears, fish, chameleons, duck billed platypus, rabbits, vicious evil rabbits, killer rabbits, and even something about an ice cream and a corn dog (I think). It was a great lesson!
Just time to run outside and practise the song one last time – it went well. [I hope the students remember to smile.] And then time to remind everyone about Monday.
It has been an excellent week. It has been an excellent two weeks. I have taken lots of photos during the two weeks. Unfortunately I can’t afford the Flickr page any more. However, you should be able to find the pictures here on Picasa. [Click on the word here to look at the pictures.] And, of course, there are videos to watch on my youtube site which is here.
Enjoy the weekend. Come back to school on Monday with lines learnt, song memorised, and loads of bottle tops!
Posted by willkay on August 29, 2011
Not a full on assembly this Monday, but we did honour the flag and sing the National Anthem. It also was a moment for last year’s (fifth grade’s) honour guard to renew their function. Next Monday is our assembly. There will be a different honour guard, and this time there will be a presentation – including song! Well, that’s the plan. I spent most of Sunday preparing it, now we have a week to practise it. Unfortunately, my plan to start the day off with maths, then go on to rehearsing for the assembly, went out the window. SEP had asked the school to do a diagnostic test, which meant that the first one and a half hours were spent sitting an exam. Not exactly what I had planned.
We only had thirty minutes of the morning left (before History), which meant that I had to squeeze a maths lesson in under pressure. Positive and negative numbers was the topic of the day. We worked quickly and the class assured me that it was “easy peasy, lemon squeezy“. With ten minutes of the lesson left, I set them 34 questions. The good news: most of the questions were answered, most people did over 28 questions! The bad news: it wasn’t as easy as it was thought to be.
Spanish, recess, history, and back to maths for ten minutes as I corrected some misunderstandings. Then English. The reading logs were handed out today. This is the first time I have handed out reading logs this year, so we had to make sure that everyone understood the rules. Then I explained how to write a five paragraph story. In the sixth grade we write a story most weeks, also we read it out to the class on Friday. As this will be the first writing assignment of the year it took some time to explain all my expectations. Oh, if there are any parents/brothers/sisters/hamsters of sixth grade students reading this, you can help, please. All the best stories should be read, and the sixth grade should learn to read their own stories. Too often, they write down a story and yet never read it! If you are a mum/dad/brother/sister ask them to read the story to you. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand English, they should read with feeling and enthusiasm. Thank you. With all of this happening, it meant that it wasn’t until late on in the day that I got to introducing the assembly – the theme, the script, and the song. With not much time to practise, we didn’t even get to read through the script. However, we did get to sing the song twice (maybe thrice). Ah well, there is always tomorrow…or the next day.
Posted by willkay on January 15, 2011
Hummph! Maybe I shouldn’t have watched the cricket yesterday. England lost on the last ball of the game. I suppose, in all fairness, it makes up for England winning on the last ball of the game in the previous match. But I don’t really want fairness in my sporting results, I want victory! I didn’t get to play on the Wii either! However, I did get to talk to mum, and wish her a happy birthday. It was still her birthday, here in Mexico, when we spoke, although it was already the morning after for her.
Friday started with the sad news that there will be no The Little Mermaid this year. It appears that Miss Monica did offer the sixth grade the chance to come back next year and join in with the fun, but not many of them seemed that keen. At this moment, when all their energy and effort is directed towards graduating, the idea of coming back is not one that they readily accept.
In maths we are still studying percents, as I desperately try to cover every single possibility that might occur in the Junior High exam on Tuesday. However, the actual maths needed to work out percents (or turn numbers into percents) is good mental exercise. It’s always interesting when you spend ten minutes staring at two number and don’t recognise them as having a common factor of 7. (In case you are wondering, it isn’t interesting it is very worrying!)
When I arrived here, in Mexico, I had never experienced an earthquake drill. I had no idea, no knowledge of earthquakes. The whole concept made very little sense to me. I lived for 40 odd years in a country that just didn’t experience such things. I’m fairly certain that I’ve told the story of my first earthquake drill at BAI, way back in 2005 (and I’ve definitely written about going through the last year’s earthquake), so the section in the science book, about earthquakes, fascinated me the first time. Of course, to students who live with the constant threat of earthquakes, have lived through earthquakes, and were born knowing the drill, today’s lesson was mainly things that they already knew.
We have only been back four days, however that is still four days of homework, where reading is an integral part. I expected that there would be some very low numbers, panic is setting in with some students about Tuesday’s exam, and some parents are enforcing strict study time. Yet I was pleasantly surprised. Every single student read more than 80 pages in the four days – which means that they all read over 20 pages a day. Congratulations to them all. All I ask is that they read a certain amount a week. Of course, there are those who really go to town with their reading and for them, there is The Wall Of Fame:
THE WALL OF FAME
950 pages: Ana Paola
435 pages: Diego
214 pages: Octavio
204 pages: Ariadne
199 pages: Ninotchka
172 pages: Jose Luis
There is no 200+ Club this week. In a short week it is a bit difficult to get that many students above 200.
The writing assignment for this week was to write “the middle bit of a story”. At the moment, the students are getting to the point when some of them can write very long, complex stories. Unfortunately, students being students, when set a writing assignment some of them take the easiest way out. They write a beginning/middle/end story in twenty lines, missing out a lot of detail. This was a chance to pick a single moment in a story and write about it. The best example of this was done by Rodrigo, who’s story was all about the difficulty of catching a fish. It was one instance in the middle of a much more complex story, but he got the idea of the assignment and executed it perfectly.
Right, I have friends coming over for a meal – they want to watch me cook a curry – so I should go and start preparing spices. Have a good weekend.
English Word of the Day. Curry. If you were to try to name a quintessential English meal, you would probably have to go for either Fish and Chips or Roast Beef and Yorkshire Puddings. However, the most popular dish in England is a curry, a meal that has its origins in India. Ask any Englishman what he misses most about his country, and in his top five will be a curry.
English Expression of the Day. Golden Duck. If you are out after scoring zero runs in a cricket match it is called “scoring a duck“. Yesterday the captin of the Australian cricket team was out on the first ball he faced. He was out for a Golden Duck.