Michael J. Allen

Class of 2017 - 2018

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Teacher Plans

November 14th - 18th


The Planets project presentations were shown off on Friday. While there was still a lot of work that could have been done by the teams with more time available, the work was a broadly pleasing development fron the earlier presentations by the group at the end of the Perfect World project.

I have to say that the group has settled down finally, and that I'm really enjoying my time with them. They are a really heart-warming and fun group. The dynamics between the students are good. They are ALL motivated to do well in school. Every day is a pleasure! Let's hope I'm not jinxing myself!

Here's a little map for you to help with planning your time between now and the end of December:

November 14th - 18th

Social studies focus. No Homework – Thanksgiving break.


November 21st - December 2nd

Wrap up Social studies project. First term grades close.


December 5th - 9th

Start work on two-week Project Period – Wednesday, December 7th. Project period week 1. Reports out Monday, December 5th. Report Conferences week (Schedule and appointments available now). Last Homework project of term.


December 12th - 22nd

Project Period week 2. Performances for parents at 6:00pm and 7:30pm on Wednesday, December 21st. Tickets and information will be available soon! Optional Homework – staying late at school to work on the show till 4:00pm.  Friday December 23rd –  crash the room. School's out at 12:00pm.


This week

This week we will be moving into new areas of study. We will spend the next few weeks setting the stage for the story of America by asking the question, 'Why are some countries rich and others poor?'

The students will investigate where the world's wealth is (and is not) by looking at GDP information and correlating the information to World Maps. After finding out where the money is, the students will then begin to investigate why the pattern is that way. I will be basing the analysis on Jared Diamond's epic, 'Guns, Germs and Steel'. The students will think and talk about life in 20,000 BP. They also will be thinking, talking and debating, comparing nomadic to settled lifestyles that came about as a result of the Agrarian Revolution.

Some of the work in this area will be constructing and drawing 'Mind-Maps', a technique combining art, diagramming and note-taking principles. This includes a Mind Map comparing Nomad and Settler lifestyles and a Mind Map to summarize, 'The Race for The Riches'.


Morning meeting

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

The meeting is structured into various phases:

  • Message - topic of the day, often with academic angle. This week, we're back to proofreading  practice.

  • Greetings

  • Activities - short, fun community-enhancing activities

We will sing our small collection of classics this week: My Generation, Radioactive, Eleanor Rigby, Pompeii and Stand by me. We will be adding student instrumentalists to our menu this week!



This week, we have three main Language goals:

Reading assessments:

I will be conducting reading assessments of the students using the Fountas and Pinnell assessment system used at the Brooks.

The results of these assessments will be shared with you at our upcoming parent conferences.

The assessments will make it challenging for me to check the Assignment books each day. I'll do my best!


Personal Narratives:

The students will be finishing their personal narratives in preparation for publication. We will be concluding our writing workshop lessons with some work on paragraph elaboration.


MCAS 2:0 Practice assessment:

The Administration has provided us with some practice materials for this year's new MCAS test. This week, all students in Medford, K-5, will be conducting a practice assessment. The exercise in Grade 5 involves rewriting a story from a different character's point-of-view.


We are going to continue reading The Eyes of Kid Midas, written by award winning author Neal Shusterman, (www.storyman.com)  using this story as a launch pad for various Journey's based lessons.

I will be reading chapters of the book to the students. The students will be rereading the chapters themselves then taking part in various activities including topical discussions, Reader's Theater and analysis of the text.




We will be continuing Writing Workshop this week.

'Writing Workshop' is where the students develop their writing skills through working on personal writing projects of their own choosing.

I've posted a special page of the rough lesson plans for this project for those of you who are interested and are willing to dig through my slightly obtuse notes. Page references are all from the source I'm sticking closely to for this project; 'Launching the Writing Workshop,' by Lucy Calkins and Marjorie Martinelli.

This week, the students finish working on their personal narrative project. The students will publish the results here on the site.




Ask about grouping ideas into chunks. Group ideas eg timeline dots. Each could be a paragraph.

Give out an example of text that needs to be paragraphed. Partners ask why does she need a paragraph. Write reason by choice. Put a box around the content that is related.

  • Is it that time has moved forward?

  • Is there a new subtopic?

  • Is someone new talking?

  • Has the story turned a corner?



Elaboration 2

Writers work on their seed stories applying the lessons on elaboration, paragraphing and good quality writing. The students begin typing their personal narratyives in preparation for publication.

Writer's skills poster

  • Writers focus on small incidents

  • Writer's envision then storytell rather than summarize

  • Writer's write with specifics

  • Writer's include exact speech

  • Writer's spell basic words correctly

  • Writer's punctuate as we write

  • Writer's write with paragraphs

  • Writer's sometimes pretend to be strangers to make sure the story makes sense

  • Writer's sometimes recruit readers to help us find confusing places in our story

  • Writer's try to solve their own problems

  • Writer's begin their stories with sinteresting leads

  • Writer's stretch out the important sections of a story



Students rewrite a section of the Kid Midas story from a different character's point-of-view. A section originally narrated by Kevin will now be told from Bertram or Josh's point-of-view.



Practice MCAS 2:0 assessment. Students conduct a 60 minute long practice assessment. the students read a story told from paul Bunyan's point of view then rewrite it from Johnny Appleseed's point-of-view.



Wrap up personal narratives ready for publication. Share the work!

Writing Workshop





The lessons for this week look like this:



The Movie Theater project - conclusion



Lesson 4.7 - problem solving




Unit 4 review  Dividing by 1-digit divisors

(practice assessment)



Unit 4 assessment

(no homework)



Math puzzles and extension activities

(no homework)




The World the Way it is!

We spend this week and next looking at the World the way it is today.

We focus on poverty and wealth.

The first guiding questions we explore are:

  • What is the status of the World with regard to wealth?

  • Why are some countries rich, while other countries are poor?

  • Why did Europeans invade the Americas, not the other way around?

The students visit websites to explore basic facts about modern countries and their wealth, by comparing each countries' G.D.P.

Here are the links to the primary data we use:

Poverty and wealth data

Happiness around the World? Read these graphs and diagrams and see what scientists have found about the state of our World...

The students will then have a basic overview of the state of the planet with regard to wealth.

Working in partnerships, the students compare their lives to the lives of children in other countries. They try to put themselves into the 'non-shoes' of a poor child through a drama exercise.

Having established where the World's wealth is concentrated, we begin our journey to understand why this pattern exists.


Our journey to answer that question begins back through time, 20,000 years. We will try to deduce what life must have been like at that time.

The specific activities are:

  • Write diary entries. The first entry asks, 'What would a typical day look like in 20,000bp?'

  • 'Time travel' back to 20,000bp. Make a poster of a village from 20,000bp. Meet the citizens of 'the Village'. Find out more about them.

  • Domestication of Plants and Animals. Find out about the emergence of farming in the near east. Create a drama and 'mind-map' comparing and contrasting the nomad and farmer lifestyles.

  • Make a drama called 'Race to the Riches' showing the changes that the new lifestyle engendered. Find out about why Iraq and China dropped out of the fifteenth Century 'Race for the Riches'.

  • Find out about the critical importance of Ghengis Khan and the Mongol empire - design a 'talk show' to explain the points that led to Europeans setting sail for the Conquest of the Americas!

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


Thanksgiving Break

Next week there will be no project due to Thanksgiving.

Other than potentially some Math, it will be reading work, as ever!

Happy Thanksgiving!

See you back here after Thanksgiving!

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!