Michael J. Allen

Class of 2017 - 2018

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Teacher Plans

January 3rd - 6th

This week

I hope everyone had a peaceful and rewarding vacation!

Now it's time to get back to work!

Welcome back everyone - and a Happy New Year to you all!

This term is a vital term for the students really doing the ground-work that will prepare them for Middle School and beyond: things like; working hard, being persistent in their efforts, challenging themselves to improve and working to high standards, across the board.

We will be starting a new science topic. We begin this week by reading and conducting inquiries about rocks and minerals. By the end of the week, the students will have read about various minerals. They will have conducted various inquiry-based explorations of rock and mineral samples, including a really fun activity where the students, after examining samples, use a key or chart to establish the identity of mysterious mineral or rock samples.We will also be starting a new Technology challenge - the wind vehicle challenge.

We will be launching a new writing workshop project this week. We shift from writing personal narratives to writing persuasive/opinion essays. More about that in the language section below.

We will pick up on our Math program by going back over the Measurement unit focusing on conversion.

Hopefully we will have a lovely smooth re-entry into schoolwork and school life!


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:

  • Greetings

  • Sharing - short news items from members of the class

  • Activities - short, fun community building activities

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

This week our greetings will be Favorite book character greetings, stuffed-animal greetings, and compliment greetings. We will model and practice the type of sharing that fits the meeting, along with the sort of questions and comments that are appropriate for the context of the meeting. We have the following team activities for this week: Categories game, Caught red-handed  and Fizz buzz, a math game. We will review and sing our collection of songs.



Writing Workshop

I will be using lessons based on, 'Breathing Life into Essays' by Lucy Calkins for this phase of our year, blending them into the appropriate Journeys lessons structures.

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

The focus of this unit is developing the ability to powerfully and effectively write an persuasive/opinion essay.

In the introductory phase, I will approached tackle this by using the following basic structural plan:

  • The rule of threes – always have three strong reasons for the choice.

  • List using bullet points: for example:

    • Favorite animal - falcon

      • Elegant and Beautiful

      • Fastest creature on Earth

      • Great predator

  • Introduction – use style and descriptive vocabulary. 1-3 sentences.

  • Transition 1: 'The first reason I chose the falcon was....'

Use 'Fact, detail, detail'! (The students need to add two extra thoughts to the basic fact expressed.)

  • Transition 2: ' The second reason for choosing the falcon was...'

          Use 'Fact, detail, detail'!

  • Transition 3: ' The final reason I decided to write about the falcon was...'

          Use 'Fact, detail, detail'!

  • Conclusion – the mirror image of the intro. The main points raised are restated in a summary sentence.

Most of the students will complete between one and three of these pieces of writing during this week.

We will be doing much more of this sort of structured writing throughout this phase of the year as we work on reports and persuasive writing. I'm hoping for some excellent results across the class during this next week as the majority of the students understand and adopt the structure in their writing.

Eventually the students will select one or more of these pieces to post to their Writing Workshop page.



Read Act 1 of the amazing new 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 introduced to the main characters and the town. In Act 2 we start into the heart of the story.


Assignment books

The students will be 'rebooting' their Assignment books this week.

The students will be bringing in their Assignment books every day, and they should be bringing them back home each afternoon.

We're also continuing with the reading record in the book, where the students keep a record of all the things they read for the week.  


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 focus on Unit 13: Measurement. The main focus of the Measurement Unit is converting between the various units in both Customary and Metric systems. As is seemingly typical of the Envisions program, there is little practical or real 'hands-on' work, even in a subject area as rife with potential as Measurement.

Go figure!

The lessons for the week look like this:


Tuesday, January 3rd:

Welcome back/review


Wednesday, January 4th:

Unit 13 Measurement: conversion - introduction - converting customary units of length

(Homework: TBD)


Thursday, January 5th:

Unit 13 Measurement: conversion - converting customary units of capacity

(Homework: TBD)


Friday, January 6th:

Unit 13 Measurement: conversion - converting customary units of weight

(Homework: TBD)





Rocks, minerals and fossils

We start this new science unit this week. We will begin by choosing three favorite rocks then observing, classifying, sketching and writing about them.

We will conduct a series of tests of twelve mineral samples in an attempt to identify them by using their observed and tested properties and a key.

The students will read about minerals and ores. They will focus on iron and steel, diamonds and quartz. They will visit a PBS site showing the uses of minerals in our everyday lives.

The students will answer questions about minerals from their reading.

After this, we will be reading about the three types of rocks: igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. We will examine, classify and investigate mystery rock samples. After examining samples, the students will use a key or chart to establish the identity of the mysterious rock samples.

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

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

  • Core, mantle and crust.

  • Plate tectonics

  • Earthquakes

  • Volcanoes

  • Fault lines

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 start to design our vehicles. We will sketch ideas and make decisions about sails size, materials and shape.



They will receive their next full homework project on Friday, January 6th.

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!