Michael J. Allen

Class of 2017 - 2018

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Teacher Plans

October 17th - 21st


We made a strong start to our study of Space. This work absorbed much of our available teaching time last week. The students are finding some of the material quite challenging, but also interesting, I think. The truth is that if anyone finds this material too easy then they almost certainly don't understand it!

The students did get most of their freeform poetry into the computers. Please note: when you read this work, the focus here was improving creativity in the student's writing, on making expanded vocabulary choices and writing imaginative descriptions - not so much on the technical aspects of proofreading for errors.

Having said that, we did also begin our work on the technical aspect of writing last week: all the students have set up their individual spelling dictionaries and have imported their first spelling lists into those dictionaries. I have taught the students a powerful spelling strategy: 'Look, Cover, Remember, Write, Check'. The students have not yet tested each other on their spelling words. We will be working on some simple handwriting strategies starting this week. I have completed the student's second grading cycle today.

What a pleasant experience this 'second cycle' was, just like the first cycle: once again, literally all of the students are working towards being the best they can be. What a pleasure to read their fabulous work - although I should add that the legibility issue is now 'on-deck'!

I have now given each student a personalized plan for what they each need to focus on to push their work quality up to the level of their formidable individual talents.

It's great to see all the students really 'going for it' as they are!

Keep it going students!


This week

We're going to really push deep into our Space topic this week, we're wrapping up Unit 3 in Math, and continuing our community push into reading lots of books. It's going to be a mind expanding week...


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 four phases:

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

  • Greetings

  • Activities - short, fun community enhancing activities

This week's activities may include the game Alibi, a Math game called Pico-Ferme-Nada and the popular game, Museum. We are going to try a game introduced by Coral called Mafia!

We will sing our small collection of classics this week: Radioactive, Eleanor Rigby and Stand by me.





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:

The students will highlight sections of Chapter 3 for their second reader's theater experience.

The main reading focus this week will be:

  • Preparing reading plan and filling in the 40 Book Challenge worksheet.
  • Collect data about pages read and time spent reading. Ensure that students are reading 'Just right' books - students should be reading a page in a minute if the book is about right for them. Roughly 15-25 pages for a twenty-minute long reading session.
  • Reading Non-fiction for information. We are going to read  'The Universe', by Seymour Simon - we will be reading and collecting information from the text researching for answers to topical questions.



We will be continuing the attack on the student's writing skills this week. The next branch of this will be a focus on the students developing short personal narratives through an approach called, Writing Workshop.

'Writing Workshop' is where the students develop their writing skills working on personal 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 start working on their individual projects. The students each will select one or more pieces to develop and eventually publish here on the site.



We will begin the Writing Workshop project with a lesson on generating topics to write about. We will write our first piece based on thinking of a person who matters to each student then listing clear small moments with that person.



We move onto Lesson two, generating ideas about important places in our lives.



We write our ideas about how the Universe might end.



We will read,  'The Universe', by Seymour Simon - we will be reading and collecting information from the text researching for answers to topical questions. I'll be teaching the students how to use bullet points and short notes to be able to restate author's words into the student's own words.



Finish reading,  'The Universe', by Seymour Simon - we will be finish reading and collecting information from the text researching for answers to topical questions. I'll be teaching the students how to use bullet points and short notes to be able to restate author's words into the student's own words.
If there is enough time, we will try out lesson 3 from the Writing Workshop plans, 'Writing about small moments'.




We pushed deep into Unit Three last week in Math.

The assessment at the end of the unit will allow us to reform the Math partnerships based on how the students do in the assessment.

The lessons for this week look like this:



Lesson 3.4 - Partial products Multiplication (TU * TU)

(Homework: P3.4)



Lesson 3.5 - Partial products Multiplication (HTU * TU)

(Homework: P3.5)



Lesson 3.6 - Problem solving techniques

(Homework: P3.6)



Review for End-of-unit assessment

(Homework: Practice test)



End-of-unit Math assessment

(No Math homework)

Math Homework

There will be daily practice worksheets, Monday - Thursday (this week) for Math homework.

Each worksheet will be due to be handed in the following day.

The worksheet number will be posted in the Assignment book each day as well as here in the Math section.


Math Projects

These projects are all adapted from 101 Mathematical Projects, by Brian Bolt and David Hobbs.

Choose from these or invent your own. I'll be adding more and more to this collection...

Some fiendishly tricky math puzzles for you.

Can you solve any of them?




Space - the infinite frontier!!

Over the next few weeks we will make our way through this project.

  • What is gravity? - Einstein's famous gravity demonstration! Plus, Jovian and Pluvian - artwork based on plausible, if rather fictional, gravity-distorted potential life forms!

  • How big is the Universe? - watching sections from 'The Expanding Universe', a PBS documentary.

  • Reading, 'The Universe', by Seymour Simon - reading, researching for answers to topical questions.

  • What are Stars? - gravity versus energy dance!

  • The 'Life Cycle' of Stars: How Stars are 'born', how they 'live' and how they 'die'! Nebulas, neutron stars, pulsars, black holes and more!

  • How far apart are the planets from each other? - using a NASA exercise, the students will get an idea about the relative distances of the planets from one another.

  • The moon and its phases - understanding and diagramming the phases of the moon.

  • Human exploration: investigating the Mars explorers.

  • Mars special focus:

    • Make a Mars Explorer from unusual building materials.

    • Explore Mars soil sampling using unusual materials!

  • The students will work together on developing their understanding of the Planets through a group project that may culminate in a 'Space Convention' - an alternative Science fair!

    The Class project has the following components:

    • Make a 'robot explorer' for a selected planet using Knex/ Lego.

    • Create a Weebly webpage about a selected Planets.

    • Make a PowerPoint/drama about selected planets. Entertain us by explaining why we should feel great about visiting their planet. Include the following information:

      • Ten facts

      • Distance from the sun

      • Revolution in earth days

      • Size

      • Conditions - temperature, other climate information

      • Moons

      • History of human exploration

    Other topics to briefly introduce include:


  • What are Dark Matter and Dark Energy?

  • Exploring the current most important topics in astronomy. Exoplanets? Aliens? It's all here...


Space For Thought

Here's a page of excellent links for the Space project.

Project 2

Invention Challenge 1

The first challenge is to design and build a wheeled device, using K'Nex, that rolls furthest from the top of a ramp.

We begin our first science unit on the subject of Simple Machines by taking part in this first of several Invention Challenges.

Designs are entered into a Ramp Run Challenge competition.

Students enter their vehicle into the competition. Design team-ups are mandated.
We investigate: What are the main problems each design faces?

Students generate testable hypotheses, identify independent variables, control dependent variables, conduct tests, improve designs, keep records of results.

It's a great way to introduce the students to the essence of Science in a format they all love!
In the final competition, we award Gold, Silver, Bronze, as well as Most Original, Most Unlucky, and Most Artistic awards!

Students will be:

  • Writing about vehicles - prepare for web-publish
  • Take photo of vehicle
  • Continue testing vehicles. Keep records in a chart of distances achieved.


    • Wheel size
    • Weight
    • Symmetry


Homework will be continuing on this Friday, October 21st.

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

Look for it in the student's backpack.

The students have included a plan in their assignment book for when they intend to complete each job. Please review this plan with your child and advise them on the practicality of their plan and make adjustments accordingly!

I will be doing a detailed introduction to the next project in school on 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!

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!