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 ‘thriller’ Category

I’ve broken my little finger

Posted by willkay on December 8, 2011

“Worst. Birthday present. Ever.”

Three years ago, playing football with the sixth grade, I broke a bone in my right foot. Two years ago, putting kids in a car outside school, I fell over and broke a bone in my left foot. Mrs. Kay (or maria as she was known then) was not a happy person. She loves me, and likes me whole and in one piece. I promised to take more care of myself. I stopped playing football at recess and limited my participation to one game a year, at the end of the school year. I’ve also stopped doing most physical activity, unless eating tacos can be considered a sport. And, totally against the general wisdom about this, I haven’t missed a day off school in two years, and I’ve not had to see a doctor in two years.

This has been fairly hard on me because I like my sport. I played football, rugby, cricket, and hockey through school. Rugby and hockey at university. As a teacher I taught all four sports and even taught PE for four years. And I would play six-a-side football every Monday night. I enjoy getting involved. But, let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger. Maybe Mrs. Kay was correct, maybe I should avoid any physical activity at all.

And then I took a PE lesson today.

The students missed some of their PE lesson at the start because Miss Claudia needed to complete a review for the history exam. The students missed the last fifteen minutes of their PE lesson because Professor Rodolfo left. Last week I let them play in the playground. Unfortunately, one student took a nose dive off the swings. So, today I decided to drag a PE lesson out of mothballs, and taught PE. Because I wasn’t prepared to teach the lesson, there came a moment when I needed to go to the staff room to get more equipment. Caught up in the moment, suddenly involved in physical activity, not really thinking, totally forgetting that i am now 50 years old, I jumped over the fence that surrounds the playground. Half way over, I suddenly realised that this could all go terribly wrong, and if it did all go horribly wrong then Mrs. Kay would kill me. Good news, it didn’t go wrong. I landed safely, took off into the staff room, grabbed the stuff I needed, turned quickly, and jammed my little finger on my left hand.

I’ve broken my little finger, on my left hand.

Mrs. Kay is not happy. “Worst. Birthday present. Ever.”

Ah well, perhaps a meal out at a Japanese restaurant will cheer her up – and I will only have to use chopsticks! So, that’s me out of here:

  • science exam
  • computer lesson
  • rehearsal
  • English/maths lesson
  • history lesson
  • PE lesson with Professor Rodolfo
  • PE lesson with me

Mrs. Kay’s Interesting Fact Of The Day: Claude Monet would work on 5 paintings at a time in the grassy fields of the Etretat cliffs. As the hour changed he would switch paintings.


  • Exam: History
  • Something to read: when the exam finishes, what else are you going to do?
  • Maths: Pair of compasses, ruler, and protractor
  • Voluntary Writing Assignment: Best Christmas (for Friday)
  • Laptops: charged
  • Read: 20 minutes

Posted in exams, PE, thriller | 4 Comments »

it’s her birthday tomorrow

Posted by willkay on December 7, 2011

Major difference between Mexicans and me? Birthdays. I just don’t get birthdays. They are not ma thang. However, it appears that birthdays are definitely Mexicans thang. This I have had to learn – as if the one scene in Independence Day that included Mexico, also included a birthday party and a piñata, wasn’t enough information. So, tomorrow is Mrs. Kay’s birthday. Which means that we have to start celebrating today! If you haven’t worked it out yet, that means we are going out to celebrate. Therefore you get a bullet point post today (and probably tomorrow as well. In fact, Friday night is the school’s Christmas party for the teachers and the admin, so don’t hold your breath waiting for a post then either. Ah, it is all fun and frolics in the life of a teacher!).

  • English exam
  • Review for science
  • rehearsal for the Christmas assembly
  • Spanish
  • History
  • music
  • basketball tournament – if Hector, Azereth, Francisco, or Richardo is reading this – how did the tournament go?
  • secret friend

Yes, it’s that time of year again, when we pull the names out from the sticks of destiny (yes, the sticks of destiny Mrs. Kay, not the sticks of death), and you find a new friend. This year, we have decided to do the secret friend between the two sixth grades. The rules are the same, a small present on Monday and Wednesday. A big present (about $10) on Thursday. The idea of a secret friend is not to be giving a present to your friend, it is giving a present to a new friend, a secret friend. Of course, the nice thing is that you get a present from someone else, someone you don’t know.

Mrs. Kay’s Interesting Fact Of The Day: Charles Wilson Peale, a portrait painter who painted George Washington 7 times, was also the man who made his dentures: Elk teeth mounted on a lead base. (Dentures, for those of you who are not sure, are false teeth!)


  • Exam: Spanish
  • Something to read: when the exam finishes, what else are you going to do?
  • Maths: Pair of compasses, ruler and protractor
  • Voluntary Writing Assignment: Best Christmas (for Friday)
  • Laptops: charged
  • Read: 20 minutes

Posted in english, exams, laptops, science, thriller | 3 Comments »

maths, maths, and a little bit more maths

Posted by willkay on December 1, 2011

First lesson of the day: 6A maths

Second lesson of the day: Computer Class 6A maths

Third lesson of the day: 6B maths (one and a half hours)


Fourth lesson of the day: Non-Contact Time 6B maths

Fifth lesson of the day: Non-Contact Time. Worked on photos taken during rehearsal.

Sixth lesson of the day: 6A maths and a bit of geography

Exciting day for me! Over the month of November I have been taking part in a photography exercise. Those of you who follow me on Google+ will have seen some of my efforts. I started really badly, with little idea of where I was going. However, thanks to the help of the person organising the course, and then a lot of help from Mrs. Kay, I have got a bit better. It has been fascinating. I’ve always been a bit afraid of taking photos because Mrs. Kay is a professional, people pay her for her photos, and I’ve always felt a little scared of not being very good. However, I’ve been on a course. I started the month taking photos with my phone. Three days in, and I moved to taking photos with my camera – a little point and shoot thing. Eventually, Mrs. Kay trusted me enough with her camera. Today, as it was the end of the month, she let me bring her camera into school. This was very exciting for me. I had to mess around with aperture speed, ISO, and manual focus – all at the same time. I got to take some photos of the rehearsal. And I managed to take some photos of 6B – Mrs. Kay has already been in 6A and taken photos of them, so I thought I’d try to get a couple in of 6B. I’ve just spent the last hour processing the photos, and then I will load them up. As usual, this takes a little time. However, the photos will eventually be up in my album and available as 9. Assembly Rehearsal and 6B.


  • Maths: Study for that exam!
  • Protractor: for measuring angles.
  • Writing Assignment: 6A Book Report (TOMORROW)
  • Writing Assignment: 6B The Best Christmas Ever. (TOMORROW)
  • Laptops: charged
  • Read: 20 minutes
  • Homework Diary: signed

Posted in exams, geography, maths, photos, thriller | Leave a Comment »

we’re free!!!

Posted by willkay on November 29, 2011

I know this is unbelievable but, since last Tuesday, when Miss Monica asked Mrs. Kay to think about taking the job, we haven’t had any free time. The last week has been a whirlwind of planning, dealing with kids (our own), planning, dealing with kids (private students), planning, and a bit of planning. Knowing what is coming the rest of the week – we have students in our flat, after school on W*dnesd*y and Thursday, then we have our own kids on Friday – we had targeted tonight as our “free time”. We managed to share some non-contact time at school, where we planned tomorrow’s lessons. This means that we actually have some time to ourselves between now and tomorrow morning, where we don’t have to do any work for school.

So, I’m cooking a curry. We’ll watch some cooking shows from England, while I prepare onion bhajiis, chicken tikka masala, chicken jalfrezi, and some pilau rice. YUM! Then I think we might open a bottle of wine (on a school night), settle down, and eat ourselves into fatness! At that point, we will probably fall asleep in front of the computer screen, watching Forbrydelsen (extra points if you know what I’m talking about).

That said, I don’t have much time to write a blog post – at the moment I’m pre-soaking the rice in iced water, Jose Manuel knows what I’m doing – so this will be a quick sprint through everything that happened today. Bullet point post ahead:

  • maths with 6A. Names of quadrilaterals and a quick revision of area.
  • maths with 6B. Back through square roots and approximation of square roots. Then a quick revision of area.
  • dress rehearsal for the Christmas Assembly. I thought that 6A were very good and I was really happy with their efforts. And 6B rocked! Riverdance was never going to be easy, but I thought that they gave it a very good attempt. It was the first time I have seen it and I really liked it. Well done 6B. Keep it up! We’ll have the best sixth grade presentation yet!
  • meeting with Miss Christina (you remember Miss Christina? The computer teacher from waaaay back). There is some talk of putting homeworks on the computer. I’m not totally sure how this is going to work but, this was a preliminary meeting.
  • Alberto was in today and his Reading Log total means that he gets in to The 200+ Club. Yay!
  • The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time. Mrs Kay has initiated a “class reader”, a book that everyone reads in the class. She has put this on everyone’s laptop, and they have started to read it in class. This is a brilliant idea. It means that all the students get to experience a book together. She has picked a book that no one has read, so no one knows what is going to happen, or what it is about. And now, the sixth grade are reading altogether. It sounds very exciting, and I must admit, I have dusted off my copy of the book and am now reading it again, so I can join in too.
  • geography. Catherine the Great, Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great. Not very original in their thinking those Russians with their nicknames and stuff.

Right, food to cook.


  • Maths: Reteaching 8-2
  • Writing Assignment:  6A Book Report (for Friday. Remember there is a maths exam Friday, therefore get the report written NOW!)
  • Writing Assignment:  6B The Best Christmas Ever. (for Friday. Remember there is a maths exam Friday, therefore get it written NOW!)
  • Read: 20 minutes
  • Homework Diary: signed

Posted in book club, geography, laptops, maths, thriller | 18 Comments »

nkotb – ask your mum

Posted by willkay on November 28, 2011

It is always a difficult job to start teaching a class. They have to get used to you, you have to get used them. All teachers have their own rules, their own way of teaching. They have different expectations, they have different desires in their end results. I’ve learnt, over the years, that the best way to start teaching a class is to start with the words: I am Mr. Kay. I am not Mr. X nor am I Miss Y. Please listen very carefully to what I say, because this is the way I want things done. And from that point we move forward. Normally, of course, this conversation happens at the beginning of the year, after a six week holiday, when the students have forgotten Mr. X and Miss Y. Oh, it still pops up in the general day-to-day moments: Mr. X used to let us do this. OR Miss Y told us that. Very rarely does it happen that you take over after a weekend.

Today I started with a new class. Today, while Mrs. Kay went into my classroom to teach 6A, I popped next door to teach maths to 6B. I was scared and nervous – what if they didn’t like me, what if they are expecting me to teach a certain way, what if it all goes wrong? You know, the usual fears a teacher gets when faced with a classroom full of kids they don’t know. And, guess what – it went well. Or at least it seemed to go well. I did hear, later in the day, that there had been some sort of conversation that included the words: Mr. Kay is very scary AND I didn’t understand a word he said. Both of these comments confused me as: (1) I don’t see myself as very scary and (2) they’re comparing me to Miss Esther whose accent I have difficulty understanding. But, hey ho! Perhaps I need to add a little “scary” to my reputation!

So, this morning started with “double maths”. First I taught one lesson in 6A, then I went straight in to 6B and taught the same lesson. Mind you, I say “went straight in to”, when I actually meant, I left the playground in the middle of a Thriller rehearsal. This rehearsal didn’t go well. I don’t know if it was Monday-morning-itis. I don’t know if it was the strange weather. All I know is that there was a real lack of “oomph” to the whole thing. This was slightly upsetting because we have been really good at the rehearsals so far, each time showing an improvement, but today we went backwards. Good job there are still two weeks to go. Eeeek! Only two weeks? Better start practising with a little more “oomph”. Anyway, double maths. We did square roots. Hopefully, in the last couple of days, we have managed to cover all the topics that might come up in the entrance exam to Cumbres.

As I no longer teach the English, I no longer take in the Reading Log numbers. That task has fallen to Mrs. Kay. However, as we still talk, she has passed on the numbers to me and I will still be publishing The Wall Of Fame! Of course, as she teaches both sixth grades, this gives the students in 6B the chance to also appear on The Wall Of Fame, or to become members of The 200+ Club.


  • 651 pages: Gerry

  • 434 pages: Diego L.P.

  • 339 pages: Manuel

  • 335 pages: Diana

  • 300 pages: Rodrigo

At the moment there are no members of 6B on The Wall Of Fame, but I am sure that Mrs. Kay will turn that all around within a couple of weeks, and I look forward to entering more names onto The Wall. If you look carefully at The 200+ Club you will notice 5 (FIVE) new names, all from 6B! Hurray! And welcome to The Club.

After recess I got to go back to my class and we did some science. Not a lot of science. Actually, we did do an hour and a half of science, but we didn’t do a full 90 minutes on the subject we were supposed to be studying. We were supposed to be looking at the immune system, but ended up discussing: mushrooms -> truffles -> caviare -> lobsters -> eating “eye tacos” -> the size of the tuna fish -> international whaling agreements -> making candles out of blubber. All because Diana asked if all fungi were bad.

  • Maths: Practice 8-5  Nos: 1-16 and 35-42
  • Writing Assignment: Book Report (for Friday. Remember there is a maths exam Friday, therefore get the report written NOW!)
  • Read: 20 minutes
  • Homework Diary: signed

Posted in maths, reading log, science, thriller, wall of fame | 9 Comments »

waiting to exhale

Posted by willkay on November 14, 2011

I am *not* closing the blog down, but I am giving you fair warning: there might not be a lot of posting on here this week. My visa expires today. Now, as a UK citizen I have a whole different method of renewing a visa – I just have to try and cross the border. As everyone should know by now, I’m getting married on Thursday, and I’m getting married in San Diego. I need a visa for this, and I don’t intend to leave it until the Thursday to sort it out. So, tomorrow I will be crossing the border after school. This means that there might not be a post tomorrow. On Wednesday, it will be the day before the wedding. At this point in my life, I am convinced that everything is in order. However, there is a chance that something might need doing, something might need attending to do, something might stop me from writing a post. On Thursday, I’m getting married. Don’t expect a post. Friday I will be back in school, but after school I will be celebrating with maria’s children and with friends. There will not be a written post on Friday. I will (if I have any) publish a photo – so you can all go’ “Ahhhhhh!”. So, this could well be the last blog post this week. Enjoy. Oh, and here’s the last BeardWatch picture. I’ve also had my pre wedding haircut as well.

Strange day today. The students were very restless. They wouldn’t settle at morning line up, the were fidgeting through assembly, they were talking throughout the day. We started the day off by finishing Friday’s English lesson. The students have designed their own aliens. Some of them chose to draw their creations, some chose to make their creations. We sill had five students who hadn’t demonstrated and explained their aliens. This was how the first fifteen minutes of the day was spent. We then started to go through last Friday’s maths quiz.

Our review was interrupted by a rehearsal for “Thriller“. Three weeks ago we were really improving at this. Today we took a step backwards. It was as if the kids’ hearts weren’t into the task. This is a shame because they have learnt this dance on their own. Although I’ve been around to help, most of what they have learnt they have taught themselves. It would be terrible to present something which didn’t reflect the hard work and effort they have put into learning the dance. And, let’s be honest, is there anything cooler than learning to dance to Thriller? I know that it is hard to believe it when you are only 11/12, but when you are 20+ and you can dance to Thriller, your street cred goes through the roof! I explained this to the class, they took the information on board, and the second time we danced, we produced something we could be proud of showing to the school. As the saying goes: Practice makes perfect. And my other favourite phrase? Failure to prepare, is preparing to fail.

Back in the classroom, I continued to go through every.single.question. in the maths exam. After each question, I checked three times that everyone said they understood what I had just explained. And then? Then I gave them the test to redo. Homework tonight is to redo the exam. Everyone (EVERYONE) should get a 10. Otherwise, I have to ask, what were you doing in the lesson? It was then time to take in the new Reading Log numbers for the pages read last week. Six (SIX) people failed to produce a reading log. This astounds me. Fourteen weeks in and people are still forgetting to bring in their reading logs. Plus, there are still some students reading under 100 pages a week. However, there is (as always) some good news:


  • 562 pages: Gerry

  • 456 pages: Diego L.P.

  • 361 pages: Arturo

  • 355 pages: Diana

  • 319 pages: Azereth

  • 313 pages: Maria Rita

There are also six students who have read more than 200 pages and they are in The 200+ Club. Then it was onto a new spelling list: Schwa. This is when a vowel sounds like a different vowel. For example, the second e in different sounds like a u. This can be a little bit complicated. It becomes incredible more complicated when, as an Englishman, I pronounce the words differently to how an American pronounces them: vitamin anyone?

There was just enough time at the end of the day to study some geography, and to learn a little more about Russia. Here’s hoping that tomorrow is a better day. The students will be more settled, and less chatty.

  • Maths: Redo maths test from Friday
  • Spelling: Spelling Workbook page:34
  • Writing Assignment: Day in the life of your Alien
  • Read: 20 minutes
  • Homework Diary: signed

Posted in beardwatch, english, geography, maths, spelling, thriller, wall of fame | 7 Comments »

busy, busy, busy

Posted by willkay on October 27, 2011

This has been a really hard week. I seem to have had things to do, places to go, people to meet, and exams to teach. All this on top of the usual school week. I am desperately trying to claw back some “me time“. Actually, I am desperately trying to claw back some “us time“. In other words, all you are getting today is another bullet point post.

  • computer lesson
  • dance rehearsal for Thriller
  • science exam
  • return the English exam
  • maths lesson
  • Spanish lesson
  • PE
  • Wallace and Gromit

I took some photos during the PE Lesson, which you can find here. And a video, which looks like:

No classes tomorrow. I, though, will be in school tomorrow – a whole half hour earlier!! Yes, the teachers have to be in school at 7am tomorrow for a meeting, and then we are off on our course. Don’t forget your costumes for Monday (hopefully food related). There will be a parade at 8am to which the parent’s are invited to come watch.


  • Costume: food related
  • Reading Log: signed
  • Read: 20 minutes each day

Posted in english, exams, laptops, maths, science, thriller | 6 Comments »

free time??

Posted by willkay on October 23, 2011

If you are a parent, please do not go watch this. Wait until the Christmas performance when it will be a lot better.

The morning started with a review for the maths exam. Actually, the morning started with me talking at morning line up. I used an expression that my mum always used to say – actually, she probably still says it, because that’s the way my mum is: If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. With the exams coming up, too often students are in a rush to finish, get the whole thing over and done with. This is not the way to go. They should spend time on their work. Put their best effort in. Check their work. Aim for that grade of 10. Often, students hand in exams where they haven’t answered every question, or even turned over the piece of paper to see if there are any other questions. They just can’t be bothered. It’s better to finish early, than to sit there, looking for extra marks. And yet, when they get their results they are all full of: What can I do to improve my grade? The answer is, do better in your exam! So, after lecturing the whole school on what they should be doing in their exams, I went into the classroom and reviewed the maths exam.

We then did science, which was all about joints. This was especially important to me, as my knee was still hurting (although, I’m glad to say, that it seems a lot better now). Enrique told us about a video he’d seen:

There was a certain amount of “eeeekkkkk” -ing going on through that!

After recess, there was no Miss Claudia, so the students didn’t get to do their radio shows. Instead, I decided to use the time to practice the Thriller presentation. We watched the video once. Went out and practised walking to our places once. Talked about how the lines were supposed to move. And then ran through the whole thing. I was so impressed I actually gave the sixth grade free time! I never give free time! We are the sixth grade, there is always a need for extra time, to do something else, there is never time for free time! But, they stunned me with their brilliance and I decided I didn’t want to ruin the moment by being picky over the one or two things that went wrong. I’d save that for another day. For now, there was free time!

We then read the stories from last week and watched a bit of Wallace and Gromit.


  • Maths: exam
  • Read: 20 minutes each day
  • Reading Log: signed
  • Book: to read for when you finish your exam

Posted in exams, maths, morning line up, science, thriller | 8 Comments »

quick in and out

Posted by willkay on October 20, 2011

Hi there, it’s me, Mr. Kay. Just passing through.

  • We did the Thriller dance. We practised for forty minutes in the classroom, and then we took it outside and on to the top playground. WE WERE AWESOME!
  • I twisted my knee! I was not awesome. Must remember I am 50 years old and I cannot teach Rogelio how to wibble/wobble/shimmy/shimmy.
  • Taught division of mixed numbers.
  • Marked 84 books.
  • Had two meetings.
  • Took a 15 minute PE lesson (with a bad knee).
  • Read about life in the 1800s.

Tomorrow (Friday) is the last day to get your note in about the visit to the aquarium.


  • Maths: Practice 4-5 Nos: 6-10, 23-31
  • Writing Assignment: Book Report
  • Read: 20 minutes
  • Homework Diary: signed
  • Stories from last week: to read

Posted in english, maths, thriller | 5 Comments »

chickens – hatch – never – before – count – they – your

Posted by willkay on October 19, 2011

I’ve got my ticket to the Noche Lounge thingy. maria has got her ticket. We shall be at the Noche Lounge thingy on Friday night!

Twenty out of twenty one homework diaries signed. Nineteen out of twenty one homeworks completed. I should have said absolutely nothing yesterday. I should have kept quiet, not made a fuss, and let the week progress as it progresses. However, I did say something, and now I have to live with the high from yesterday, and the dip down today.

I spent most of last night, after writing the blog, working on the presentation for Christmas. 6A are doing Thriller. So, I decided to re-record the song (just in case Quincey Jones didn’t get it right the first time). From there, I spent the next couple of hours watching every single video on youtube, that offered instructions on how to dance to the song. Eventually, I found the one I liked the most. It wasn’t the easiest, but it definitely wasn’t the hardest. It was the most effective one, and one I could teach. maria downloaded it and dumped it onto my phone, so I can now stand in the middle of the playground and watch it. I’m not saying that the song has totally taken over my life, but I did find myself counting out the steps in the shower last night!

It was with some trepidation that I introduced the video to the students. I knew that we had spent 30 minutes yesterday, trying to learn the first ten seconds, and here was I, trashing all their work and starting over again. They were brilliant. The people who made this video:


Also made six other videos, breaking the dance into six parts. I showed the parts, one at a time. We watched them, and then did them, and then did them, and then did them. At the end of the 30 minutes we put them all together and danced through the whole routine twice! Oh, I’m not saying that we are anywhere ready to go out on to the playground just yet – I think we still need the comfort of the SmartBoard – but when you consider how happy I was yesterday with just 10 seconds prepared, this is brilliant! The whole routine lasts just over a minute, which means we repeat it three times. That gives me a chance to make sure that everyone, is at some stage, at the front – I reckon three rows of seven, four boys, three girls – and we just move them around!

In other news, we also did some maths: division of fractions. Except, you cannot divide by a fraction. You change the sign and turn the second fraction upside down (you multiply by the reciprocal). In English we looked at Grammar, and studied possessive nouns.

At going home time, we stayed in the classroom instead of coming out when we were called. I say we in these moments because I am part of 6A, however I should point out I was the person waiting on the pavement for students to turn up! Good news for Naomi, if you are reading this, there is no Grammar homework. However, if you get the chance, watch the video, learn the steps, get well soon, and prepare to dance to Thriller!


  • Maths: Reteaching 4-5 Nos: 1-4, 12-15 Practice 4-5 Nos: 1-5, 11-22
  • Writing Assignment: Book Report
  • Read: 20 minutes
  • Homework Diary: signed
  • Laptops: charged

Posted in english, grammar, laptops, maths, special event, thriller | 1 Comment »

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