Michael J. Allen

Class of 2017 - 2018

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Teacher Plans

October 24th - 28th


When I look back at my reviews from previous years I frequently find a deja-vu like pattern in the experiences I am writing about and having with the students. For example, typically at this time of the year I am to be found whining here about my plans being a bit too ambitious for the available time I have. Lo and behold, here I am again complaining about the same thing!

Enough whining!

The students are really starting to realize what they're on board of now. Their attention to and for lessons is expanding. The topics we are covering are clearly interesting to the majority and they're enjoying going into the deeper water into which we are navigating. Serious topics bring out the deeper and more serious side of the group. Challenging material is bringing out the best in them too: the students are realizing that they will not be able to just coast through the year merely surfing along on their natural wits and intelligence. Most of the students seem to be hungry for the deep!

The more observant among you will notice that some of the lessons that were to be covered last week are to found freshly cut-and-pasted into this week's plan. That's not a case of deja vu, I'm afraid. Indeed various lessons got clipped last week as the activities expanded and bloated across the days absorbing time like a collection of vampiric sponges. Squeezed into this week's plan you'll see the reading of 'The Universe', by Seymour Simon, all but one of the Writing Workshop lessons and the writing about their Invention Challenge vehicles. It's not that we didn't do anything - we did lots of fascinating and powerful work - but it all took longer than the paultry time allocation I allowed in the plan. Especially time-consuming were the experiments we did using the student's vehicles. Another time-hog was the end of unit Math assessment, the results of which will be wending their way back home to you early next week.

Please sign the assessment and return it to school after your review. We need to keep the assessments for evidence for adding grades when the first term report card appears.


This week

This week we wrap up Invention Challenge 1 on Friday, actually get the Writing Workshop project going and delve ever deeper into the Space project. We enter the next Math unit on the thorny subject of division. We will be doing our first major non-fiction reading of the year as well as finding as many opportunities to read as humanly possible!


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 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: My Generation, 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 main reading focus this week will be:

  • 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.
  • The students will be completing a Journeys lesson considering Cause and Effect using Kid Midas, Chapter 5.



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 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 places that matter to each student then listing clear 'small moments' that happened in that place.

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.



Write about 'small moments' that lasted twenty minutes or three minutes! 'Zoom in' on a small moment and tell the parts of the story that matter - leave out sections that don't. Write a 'seed' story not a whole 'watermelon'.

Retell the sequence of events in a step-by-step way.

  • Practice telling watermelons from seeds. Whole group – can you tell – use hand signals to distinguish. My trip to Disney. Fun times with my dog, my best friend, the day I met my cat for the first time.

  • Go to your lists and decide with partner whether ideas are seeds or watermelons.

  • Watermelons can be listed and all the seeds inside them separately listed!

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.



The students will be completing a Journeys lesson considering Cause and Effect using Kid Midas, Chapter 5. The students will make a chart listing character actions and the consequences of each of these actions.



Writing sequences of events with chronology.

Make a 'mind movie' of the small moment. Tell the events in the order they happened. Go to the start of the memory: What happened first? Then next. Then after that.

Do an example with the whole group - 'Boots the chemist shopping' story

Tell the story to your partner. Use fingers to count the events, if you want. Make sure your stories are sequential from now on. Blow by blow.

Mid lesson:

Use the Word wall to make sure high-frequency words are spelled accurately. Also use your personal dictionaries to check for basic spelling.



Share your story with a different partner.

Go back and spell check three entries



Students will be:

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


Writing Workshop

The students have published their first poems for you.

Most students had the same amount of time to type, edit and proofread their work.

Please note: I have not done any proofreading correction for this work!

We will continue proofreading and editing the student's work together as the future unfolds.

These pages/workspaces will continue to grow and develop into an on-line portfolio of the student's writing throughout our time together.





We enter Unit 4, this week, on the subject of Division.

The lessons for this week look like this:


Review and analyze Unit 3 assessment.

(Homework: P3.6)



Lesson 4.1 - Division terminology, dividing using 10's and 100's

(Homework: P4.1)



Lesson 4.2 - Estimating Quotients using rounding, compatible numbers and multiplication.

(Homework: P4.2)



Lesson 4.3 - Dealing with remainders - checking for reasonableness in the answers.

(Homework: P4.3 or R4.3)



Math Project and games - various open-ended Math Challenges. Students have chosen partners and projects. This week we continue to focus on the record keeping format and data collection. Groups will report on their progress so far. 

(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 student's 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.

  • 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 complete this first of several Invention Challenges this week.

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 this week, 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.

This week is the final week for the challenge.
The competition happens on Friday afternoon!



The students receive their first Homework Break  on this Friday, October 28th.

They will still receive daily Math worksheets.

The students can focus on doing tons of reading this week!


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!