Michael J. Allen

Class of 2017 - 2018

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

Teacher Plans

April 24th - 28th


Everything went pretty much according to plan. We wrapped up the Tavern project on Tuesday and moved to new groups after the closing ceremony for the Taverns! We also finished the Wind vehicle challenge on Thursday with the exciting final races. Perfect weather, perfect wind - at least for the vehicles who did well.

We completed our ELA MCAS preparations with two more essay examples. There is one more practice waiting for the students on the first day after the vacation before the first test hits on Tuesday. Hopefully, the students will feel adequately prepared to face these tests. With the dizzying sequence of changes imposed by the State as well as the rapidly and constantly moving goalposts, we're just going to keep our fingers crossed, do our best and not worry about the whole thing.

Despite all of my best efforts, some of the students are feeling very 'stressed out' by these upcoming tests and may need you to give some calming and balancing words during the vacation.

Good luck with that!

Our double-up lessons in Math went well with apparently confident students swanning through the practice sessions with aplomb. Let's hope they maintain their swagger through the Math MCAS when it unfurls!


This Week

This week, the Language MCAS tests happen on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Everything else will be slid in around these demanding tests.

With the Tavern project completed and the students moved into new groups, we immerse ourselves this week into the new project: Life on Earth! The students will be reading and writing about zoos, as detailed below.

They will be watching the amazing David Attenborough documentary about the 'Private Life of Plants' and completing activities after each piece of the story. They will also be starting a new invention challenge - the egg-drop challenge!

It's going to be another action-packed week!


Morning meeting

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

Our meeting is now usually structured into three phases:

  • Morning work

  • Greetings

  • Activities - short, fun community building activities

Due to the PARCC tests, we will mostly be using the meeting time for Math lessons this week.



This week, sandwiched between the MCAS Language tests, Math and Specialist classes, we will start with the new project on the subject of 'Life on Earth'.

The students will be considering the treatment and fate of chickens and pondering the pros and cons of Zoos.

They will read Tony Stead's student-composed book about zoos, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of these august institutions. They will form debate teams and battle it out after completing the reading, as well as, eventually, composing posters, dramas and Podcast presentations.

The focus for much of the work this week will be developing and exploring personal opinions through persuasive techniques and approaches in writing and in debate. We will be using multiple techniques and strategies, including drama, debate, artwork and persuasive writing to explore the following questions.

  • Should there be Zoos?

  • How should we treat the animals that we eat? Is the factory model for growing our food the correct model? Are the rights of hungry people to have access to cheap food more important than the rights of chickens and other food animals?

They will watch  selections from the PBS documentary, 'The Natural History of the Chicken', and write a fictional story called, 'The Cages' based on the life of chickens living in factory farms.

In the upcoming weeks, we will also be reading and completing activities from the Science text, Populations and Ecosystems, detailed below:

Part 1: Ecosystems

  • What is an ecosystem? P8-11

Activity: Owl pellets - understanding the diets of owls through exploring their ejected matter!


Part 2: Relationships

What's to eat? P16 -20

  • Understand the following terms and concepts:
  • Producer, consumer, decomposer
  • Herbivore, Carnivore, Omnivore


  • Parasitism
  • Commensalism
  • Mutualism

Activity: apply these concepts to a student-designed sea creature ecosystem.



The book I'm reading to the class is the stunning, 'You Don't Know Me', by David Klass.

This week, poor John prepares to tackle 'Fateful Tuesday'!






We will complete Unit 10 this week on adding and subtracting mixed number fractions.

Due to the MCAS ELA this week, I will be teaching the class and we will not be switching classes.
Ms. O'Donnell will be back next week!

The lessons for this week look like this:

Monday, April 24th:

Unit 10-1 estimating sums and differences with mixed numbers

(Math Homework - P10-1)


Tuesday, April 25th:

Unit 10-3  Adding mixed numbers

(Math Homework - P10-3)


Wednesday, April 26th:

Unit 10-4 - Subtracting mixed numbers

(Math Homework - P10-4)


Thursday, April 27th:

Unit 10-5 - More adding and subtracting mixed numbers

(Math Homework - P10-5)


Friday, April 28th:

Unit 10-6 - Problem solving and extension activities

(Math Homework - None)




Life on Earth

This is a three or four week plan. It is broken into these primary areas:

Moral and ethical issues concerning life on Earth- to what extent do other animals feel what we do? How should animals and plants be treated? What rights do they have? What rights should they have?

The Organization of life - What are the habitats of the Earth? How are creatures adapted to their environments? What are the relationships between living things in these habitats?

The Mechanics of life - How does D.N.A work? What are cells? What are genes?


Activities for Moral and ethical issues concerning life on Earth:

  • Zoos - Read, 'Zoos' by Tony Stead. Debate the subject in debate teams with PowerPoint support. Present the debate to a Fifth grade class.

  • The Private Life of Plants - gain an understanding of the sophistication and complexity of some of Life's underrated denizens.



Activities for The Organization of life:

Reading and activities/discussion from science text, Populations and Ecosystems:

Part 1: Ecosystems

  • What is an ecosystem? P8-11

Activity: Owl pellets - understanding the diets of owls through exploring their ejected matter!


Part 2: Relationships

What's to eat? P16 -20

  • Understand the following terms and concepts:
  • Producer, consumer, decomposer
  • Herbivore, Carnivore, Omnivore


  • Parasitism
  • Commensalism
  • Mutualism

Activity: apply these concepts to a student-designed ecosystem.


Part 3: Food Chains

  • Cycle of food: food chains p27 -29

Activity: Watch the 'Blue Planet' – identify the food webs based around the Herring spawn in the American North West and the sardine Spawn off the coast of South Africa.


Part 4: Cycles

  • Cycles effecting living things: p 32- 35

    • Water cycle

    • Carbon dioxide/oxygen cycle

Activity: Make labelled diagrams of the cycles


Part 5: The Big Picture

  • Biodiversity p56 – 59

  • Changes in living things over time. Mutation and the history of life on Earth.


Life Of Mammals

Find out about the history and life of mammals focusing on what the characteristics mammals have to have, as well as the individual species adaptations that make them fit their particular environments.

We will be watching and discussing David Attenborough's amazing, Life of Mammals for this work.

Starting from the earliest Mammals, the platypus and echidna, we will make a journey through this most splendid kingdom of life on Earth!

There is also another aspect to the whole project - a focus on the most remarkable and most unheralded lynchpins of the amazing world of living things:


The Private Life of Plants

  • How plants disperse their seeds.

  • How plants compete and grow.

  • What is photosynthesis?

  • How do plants defend themselves?

  • How plants reproduce.

After watching relevant sections from the series we will be:

  • Taking local walks and making observational sketches

  • Making posters and designing our own plants using biologically accurate systems.


Life - ecosystems and living-things links

Technology Challenge


The Eggdrop Challenge

Prevent your egg from perishing when cruel Mr. Allen chucks it off the roof of the school!

Design, test and make a device to save your egg!

Follow the link to see the Eggdrop challenge from a few years ago!


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!

There will be no switching of classes this week due to the ELA MCAS.



Overview for the rest of the year!


Life on Earth (April)


MCAS  Test dates for Grade 5 (April and May)

Language tests 

Tuesday, April 25th,  Thursday, April 27th, Friday, April 28th

Math tests

Tuesday, May 16th, Thursday, May 18th

Science tests

Tuesday, May 23rd, Thursday, May 25th

Tests are untimed - but we expect to allow roughly from 9:00 am until 12:15pm each day.


Final Show (June)