Michael J. Allen

Class of 2017 - 2018

Home | Teacher Plans | News | Calendar | Information | Homework | Projects | Contact | Archive

Teacher Plans

January 17th - 20th


We had a strong week academically. We reached the end of the Rock detective activity with a broad level of success for most groups. We also nearly completed the Math unit as planned with one more lesson left before preparing for and taking the assessment. We got to the end of Act 2 of the book, 'Witness'. We also completed a lot of reading and online research about the types of rock and their formation. The students did a lot of work on their understanding of writing essays. There was also some progress made on the Invention challenge project. In other words, as usual, everything in the class was relatively hunky dory!

Many of the students performed in one role or another at the fantastic Open-Mic event on Friday. For me, this was the best Open-Mic event so far: it was well attended, there was a variety of acts previewed and many members of our class were up there 'tripping the light fantastic'.

Great job by Conor, Andre, Sam, (the MCs for the event) Sarah, Sophie, Coral, Dakota, Vann, Nathan and Theo ( performers). Thanks to all of you who showed up to support our performance-arts forum at the Brooks.

Since we are approximately half way through our time together I thought it relevant to give you a sort of 'mid-year report' on where we are, where we should be and where we're going to try to go.

So how are we doing? If we go subject by subject you should see that we're in pretty good shape:

Our work in Language has been strong. We have read and analyzed a number of books including turning one of them into our end of term play, The Eyes of Kid Midas. We have shifted towards realistic and historical fiction this term focusing on the book Witness. I have been incorporating plenty of the Journeys program into the projects as I found ways to integrate the best of that program with the best of what I already have on the table! Our Writing program has been pretty comprehensive: we have completed units on Poetry, and Personal Narratives. We are going to be focused on Essay writing and Report Writing in the coming months.

We are broadly on course for the Math Curriculum. We have completed units on place value, multiplying whole numbers, dividing by 1 and 2-digit divisors, and measurement conversion.

Meanwhile, in Science, we're coming to end of the Rocks unit. We have covered Space and Simple Machines - but we need to do some more experimental exploration in this area (I had thought that changes to the Science Curriculum included dropping this subject - but subsequently found out that it's still there for this year). Next up is our unit on Light and Sound that runs parallel with our recording project in February. In April, we wrap up the required Science topics with our thrilling unit on Life on Earth.

In Social Studies, we have completed our Primer on World History and our work on European Explorers. Next up is the unit on the Colonies and The American Revolution that will absorb the month of March.

We will be stepping up our Reading comprehension practice exercises during the next period of time as the new MCAS 2.0 tests in the subject starts to approach. This includes a city-wide fifth grade 'Mock' MCAS next week. (The test actually happens in April.)

The surviving Science MCAS and Math 2.0 tests lands in the middle of May. We will be spending the first two weeks of May working intensively on reviewing fourth and fifth grade material in time for this test.

During June we will be working on our final special event for you, as well as taking part in all the end-of-year events, such as Field Day, Junior Olympics and 'Moving On'!

So there you have it: broadly speaking we are perfectly 'on course'.


Morning meeting

As part of the whole-school philosophy each class begins each day with a thirty-minute long class meeting.

The meeting is structured into four phases:

  • Message - topic of the day, often with academic angle.

  • Greetings

  • Sharing - short news items from members of the class

  • Activities - short, fun community building activities



Writing Workshop

In addition to the Journeys program lessons, I will be using lessons based on, 'Breathing Life into Essays' by Lucy Calkins for this phase of our year.

The main lessons are to be found here. Pardon my obtuse simplifications Ms. Calkins!

Essay core structures and elaboration tools


Tuesday, January 17th:

Practice essay - Basic essay plus!


Wednesday, January 18th:

'Mock' MCAS 2.0 ELA writing assignment - mandated city-wide practice test.


Thursday, January 19th:

Examining an essay to identify important and necessary structural elements.


Friday, January 20th:

Finding a thesis - defining a thesis idea - finding and collecting stories that support thesis from internal and external sources.



Move into Act 3 of the amazing read-aloud/Reader's Theater book, 'Witness' by Karen Hesse.

We're going to be reading and analyzing the spectacular, 'Witness' by Karen Hesse. This is a shift into a new genre for us: realistic/historical fiction. The book is truly original, powerful and a fantastic reading experience for the class. The book is arranged into five Acts. Each Act is a series of monologues from a sample of the characters resident in Burlington, Vermont in 1924.

This week, we will be rereading and analyzing Act 2 of the story with an emphasis on talking and writing about different character's points-of-view, with a focus on comparing and contrasting.

This is an important aspect of the upcoming MCAS 2.0 tests that the students are going to have to take.


Reading Research Guidelines:

Research by Dick Allington suggests:

  • Students should read about 15 pages in 20 minutes, as a rough guideline, when reading a 'just right' book (a book the student can read with 96% accuracy or better).
  • Students reading rate should be somewhere between 100 and 200 words per minute.
  • Examples:
    • Hatchet - Gary Paulson 192 pages - level R - should take between four and eight hours to read.
    • Stone Fox - level P - 82 pages should take one and a half hours to read.



We will finish 'Unit 13: Measurement' on Tuesday.

The lessons for the week look like this:


Tuesday, January 17th:

Unit 13.7 Measurement: conversion - finish Unit.



Wednesday, January 18th:

Review for assessment

(Prep for assessment)


Thursday, January 19th:

Unit 13 assessment

(No Homework)





Rocks, minerals and fossils

This week, we will find out about the structure of the Earth:

We will also find out about and make diagrams of the 'rock cycle'.

Rock cycle 2

Some of the students need to finish taking notes on quartz and diamonds.

We will visit the UCMP ( University of California Museum of Paleontology) website for a tour of geologic time and some classic cheesy animations on how fossils form and how we date rocks and fossils.


Rocks and Minerals Links



Technology Challenge 2

Wind Vehicle Challenge

Design a vehicle to enter a road race powered only by the wind. The top five race winners will enter into a 'crash-derby' competition. The top five will be reduced to last vehicle rolling by a series of head-on crashes!
Can you design the winner - not only one of the fastest, but also the strongest vehicle?

This week we will continue making our vehicles. We will make decisions about sails, size, materials and shape.



The studernts will receive this next full homework project on Friday, January 20th.

Students will usually receive their homework jobs for the whole week each Friday. Look for it in the student's backpack. I am helping the students to plan when they will complete each homework job. You should review the homework plan with the students and help them stick to the final plan as you agree on it as a family!

Good luck!

Each project will be up on the 'Homework' page here at the site each Friday evening.

Check out the 'News’ page for the 'Parent's Guide to Homework', as well as other delicious treats for the start of the year!

See you back here next week!


Science-class teacher plan

This is the route to the 'Specialist Class' page.

This page is for the students and parents of Ms. O'Donnell to find out about what happens during the Science class!