Michael J. Allen

Class of 2017 - 2018

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Teacher Plans

May 7th - 18th - part 2

This Week

This week will be absorbed comprehensively by the Science MCAS tests.

We will finish our revision for the Science MCAS. This week is the test week for the Science.

Revision teams of two or three will continue reviewing the subjects we have covered, including taking MCAS practice tests together.

In addition, I will be conducting compressed reviews with the whole class. We will continue writing model Science Open response answers for next week's tests.

For creative breaks, the students will watch and explore in different activities more of the Life Of Mammals, and a few final sections from The Private Life of Plants.

This MCAS 'project' lasts until Friday, May 18th.

After the MCAS ends, we will begin creating and working on our extravagant end of year show, for your pleasure and entertainment.

Teacher planning for that project needs to be a much more organic affair than standard curriculum projects. I won't be able to give you anything but the broadest plans.

What that means is that this note may well be your last full 'teacher planning update' of the year! I know – both of you who read these missives are feeling sad!


There may be other plans to put up here, but if not, I would like to say, thanks for reading, and I hope you found the plans useful and informative.



Specialist Class

See you all back here next Sunday!





We continue our process of review for the upcoming Science and Math MCAS tests. The students will be working in partnerships going over released practice tests from 2003 to the present. They will be working on common Open-Response questions (as a whole-class). Finally they will be reviewing the seven texts covering the material from fourth and fifth grade that will potentially turn up on the tests. There will be whole class reviews as well as self-selected mini-workshops for interested students!

The subjects for review are:

Fourth Grade Subjects:

Fifth Grade Subjects:


Summary of Science Curriculum for  MCAS

Follow this link for a comprehensive summary of all the main subject areas you need to be prepared for to succeed in the Science MCAS. If you can answer questions in all these areas you should be fine - notwithstanding the inevitable curveballs so beloved of the MCAS team!!!



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

This week, the story reaches its dramatic denouement, whatever that means. John is suspended. The man who is not his father is arriving at the school having promised to treat John with 'a firm hand'. Meanwhile, John's mom is still away. Can John escape this dire situation? Find out this week...






Follow the links to find out about what are students are doing in Math this week...




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

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?


Activities for Moral and ethical issues concerning life on Earth:


Activities for The Mechanics of life:

Design a skeleton.

Using 3 types of Knex pieces plus connectors, design the skeleton of a simple creature.

·     Name the creature and draw an artist’s impression of the real living thing.

·     Make instructions for someone else to follow on how to build one of the creatures.

·     Working only from a different groups instructions, build the creature. Compare to the original. How good were the instructions?


Find out more about your creature.

Design the food chain relationships. How does the creature choose a mate? What is its life cycle?

·     Watch Blue PlanetOcean World. Opening sections up to and including the Sardine Caravan, the night ecosystems, and the herring food chain. Draw a diagram to show as much of the food chain as possible. Is there a cycle?


Genetic engineers?

         Reading from Usborne's Genes and DNA – Understanding Genes (pages 6 – 13), then debating whether we should as a species 'play' with genes.

         Genetic traits: reading (pages 14-15 and 20-21). Who has dangling ear-lobes? Who can roll their tongue?

         Is Genetic engineering a good idea? Research one of the following in a group:

Each group will make presentations after completing the reading.

The presentations should express: the pros and cons of the subject, the opinions of the group and any questions they still have.

The presentations should include one of the following: Poster, Drama, Podcast, PowerPoint, Musical composition.


Activities for The Organization of life:

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

Part 1: Ecosystems

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


Part 2: Relationships

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


Part 3: Food Chains

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

Activity: Make labelled diagrams of the cycles


Part 5: The Big Picture


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

After watching relevant sections from the series we will be:




On Monday 14th and Tuesday 15th the students will have one open-response question for each night, due in the next day, or they can choose to use the on-line review section here on the website.

There will be no homework on Wednesday or Thursday, due to the Science MCAS.

The final homework project of the year will be announced on Friday, May 18th.

It will be due in on Monday, May 21st. It will be presenting ideas for our end-of-year show!

Students will normally receive their homework jobs for the whole week each Friday.

Look for the 'hard-copy' in the student's backpack.

As you know, 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!

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



Overview for the rest of the year!


MCAS Prep:

Preparation and tests (May)


Final Show (June)