Michael J. Allen

Class of 2018 - 2019

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Teacher Plans

August 28th - 30th


Welcome to the 'Teacher Plans' page.

You will be using this page frequently during our time together if you want to find out about the exciting and thrilling events in the class.

It is usually to be found crisp, fresh and new each Sunday afternoon, laden with the ambitions, plans and follies of the following week!

The structure of the page is usually something like:

So, without further ado, let's get started:


Getting Started


What an enjoyable summer vacation – I had a brilliant summer moving house, working on my fitness and general health and visiting family and old friends on the smoky West Coast. Lots of biking, hiking socialising and reading! Perfect!

I hope you feel like you had a brilliant summer too!

This school year is going to be filled with all the challenges associated with the times: With the new Superintendant, new Fifth Grade teacher, new Science curricula, new teacher assessment scenarios, things are going to be different! Some things won't have really changed much: the fabulous and amazing group of bright-eyed angels about to nervously pile into room 411 expecting a miraculous educational journey beginning on Tuesday and also my boundless enthusiasm and excitement for the job.

My early role as ringmaster and artist/entertainer is to attempt to drag our collective mind slowly but sadly away from the glories of summer into the fabulous and fascinating journey we're about to embark upon together.

Its a thrilling time!

The key to the start of school for me is community building.

I want the students to feel mostly relaxed as they get ready to get to work.

Of course, we won't get much done in the first few days: it's all about building community for these opening weeks, but we will aim to establish three very important words at the top of the list: Kindness, gentleness, relaxation! These will be the guiding principles of our community building phase.

See you back here next week to see how the first partial week went!



Along with all of my colleagues, I'm trying to base my early encounters with the class around the concepts and structures outlined in, 'The First Six Weeks of School', by Paula Denton and Roxann Kriete. This approach, called the Responsive Classroom approach to teaching and learning, stresses the importance of building and maintaining a classroom climate of warmth and safety. Here are seven of the guiding principles of the approach:

  1. The Social Curriculum is as important as the Academic Curriculum.

  2. How children learn is as important as what they learn.

  3. The greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.

  4. Children need a set of social skills in order to be successful academically and socially.

  5. Knowing the children we teach is as important as knowing the content we teach.

  6. Knowing the parents of the children we teach is as important as knowing the children.

  7. Teachers need to model the social and academic skills which they wish to teach to their students.

Many of the opening activities and games which will feature in the opening weeks of school are directly addressing these goals.

Alongside these goals are the standard curriculum goals.

As my journey begins with these students, my primary goals for September in Language are all about learning. My learning!

I need to collect information about each student's abilities. Specifically, I'm going to try to hear each student read a little by the end of the week, collect in more writing samples, and make an early assessment of each student's broad linguistic skills.

The students will be working in small groups next week discussing and sharing their ideas for class rules. By the end of next week, I hope to be able to have thoroughly explored and voted on a small, but well thought out, collection of rules for our community. Learning how to be effective and efficient in small teams is the secondary but equally vital role of these exercises.

The student's will be writing about themselves focusing on their, 'Hopes and Dreams' for this year and for their lives. This short piece will help to frame the work on rules: How can we help everyone achieve their dreams for the year?

I am reading a collection of short stories to the group written by Neal Shusterman, (www.storyman.com using those stories as launch pads for various writing and art pieces:

'Pacific Rim' -  an exciting fantasy short story.

'Midnight Michaelangelo' - can the students make predictions about this story? After reading this story, can the students select passages they like and explain their choices?

'Opabinia' - discuss paradox, time travel, the distant past.

There are also language goals to be found lurking in the heart of the project described below:



Future World.


My primary goal for the start of the year is to give the students plenty of opportunity for catching up with each other, as well as getting to know new people, as we all start to learn about each other.

Together we are going to build a kind, respectful, and empathic place for us all to live and work. I would like re-entry into school to continue be as gentle and stress-free as possible for us all!

I think the opening project will be an excellent vehicle for all of the above.

The opening project is called 'Future' World?'

We will ask the question: 'What will our Future World be like?'

The students will work in collaborative teams of three or four for this project.

Their challenge will be to create a shared vision of a 'Future World' that they would like to live in.

Fantastic aspects will be encouraged.


This primarily relaxed and creative project takes just over two weeks.

The opening project is designed to set the background for many of the group's future explorations in Grade 5.


Each aspect of the project will be 'graded' using the rubric system.

I've published the main rubric on the Rubric Home Page.

The students will be provided with the rubric while they work.

There is an emphasis on points awarded for team-work, effort and team-spirit.

The project grades are not as important to me, however, as starting to find out how the students work with each other.

I'll be publishing their work to the site, so keep checking back to the ‘News' page for updates!

On the Rubric page also is the rubric I will use to ascertain teamwork scores for each individual in the group.

Tune back in here next Sunday for the second thrilling full plan!!



Homework will be 'kicking off' at the end of next week.

Students will receive their homework jobs for the whole week each Friday. Look for it in the student's backpack. Students should complete one homework job each day for five days.

I will be doing a detailed introduction to the project in school each Friday.

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!