Michael J. Allen

Class of 2018 - 2019

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Teacher Plans

October 2nd - 6th


This week was the best week in class for the students by a wide margin:

Firstly, with the exception of thirty minutes on Thursday afternoon, the students stayed relatively focused during all lessons with me and started to show some energy and drive to work on their skills in their main challenge area, writing.

The second element was focused on the students working with all the other teachers. One of the systems I have in place is designed to assist my co-teachers. The Specialist teachers including Ms. O'Donnell, report a grade to me for the class at the end of each of their lessons. In the system, a '4' is the top grade. The 'carrot' on offer to the group is that if they get an unbroken sequence of '4's' in every Math class and every Specialist class during a week then they will receive a 'bonus' recess.

I am pleased and encouraged to report that the group earned their first bonus recess this week.

Well done students!

Both of these developments are pleasing and bode well for the future as we begin the process of aggressively attacking the academic and motivational challenges I mentioned on Curriculum night. The journey to attempt to help these students become the 'great students' I mentioned repeatedly at Curriculum Night is truly underway.

We're at the point now where I have a pretty solid idea about the challenges for the group and the challenges for each of the individuals in it. Now it's just a matter of trying to balance the need for forward momentum with the complex demands of curricula alongside the urgent need to focus on basic skills such as handwriting, spelling, and team-work!

In the important area of writing, I think the freedom of free-form poetry has so far allowed the students to relax more and focus on making their writing flowing, descriptive, authentic and more creative: as soon as the students can make their words 'dance' across the page, then interest and even love of writing isn’t usually far behind! Of course, the technical aspects of writing can loom like dark clouds for some, but I'm hoping that the students will be ready and willing to work on that area too – as indeed they will be again during this upcoming week!

In Math, we are about half way through Unit 2. We will be wrapping up the Unit and completing the end-of unit assessment this week. The results from the Unit 1 assessment were excellent across the whole class. Another extremely encouraging development.

We also continued our introductory Science work last week with the popular Invention Challenge 1, described below. The students are very excited about this Invention Challenge. In some ways, this is some of the best Science we do all year: the students are testing and hypothesizing wildly and powerfully with intelligence and  passion. They don't even realize that they are doing a slightly wild version of science – until they open their science journals and start keeping better records of their activity this week!


This week

This week features changing to new groups on Tuesday, the closing of the Future World project after the students make their presentations on Wednesday, 'Photo day', also on Wednesday, and a local walk on Thursday to write descriptive poetry.

The Invention Challenge will be gathering steam this week, and we will be completing Unit 2 in Math. The students will be focusing on editing and proofreading this week in their writing, as we prepare to publish our Writing workshop pages to the website.



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 Spelling and handwriting practice.

  • Greetings

  • Activities - short, fun community enhancing activities

This week's activities may include the game Fizz-buzz, a Math game called Pico-Ferme-Nada and the popular game, Alibi.





We are going to begin reading a new read-aloud using this story as a launch pad for various Journey's based lessons. I am currently making up my mind as to which book to read. It's going to be from the 2017 Newbury awards list: either the winner The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill, or one of the honorable mentions, Orphan Island, Wolf Hollow, The Inquisitor's Tale or Beyond the Bright Sea. Amazon man is delivering them to me tomorrow...

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 Journeys focus lesson this week is on theme in stories.

Students will discuss what are the main themes the writer is exploring in the novel so far. We will be looking more deeply into Chapter 1, again, for this discussion.

We will also review and discuss the previous lessons:

  • Students will list the main events of Chapter 1 and 2 of the book.
  • Character problems and resolutions - using T charts
  • Compare and contrast main characters - using Venn diagrams

The students will highlight sections of Chapter 1 for their second reader's theater experience.



One focus this week will be writing descriptive poetry based on sensual experience: firstly, related to sounds we hear, then things we smell, then finally utilizing all of the senses on a local walk to a park. Another focus this week will be work on typing, editing and proofreading selected rough draft poems and descriptions to be included on the upcoming Writing Workshop web pages launch.

The final focus will be writing about our reading using the Journeys lessons as described below.



Sound poetry - listen to atmospheric music and write descriptive poetry. Introduce similies.

Type, proofread and edit with partner favorite free-form poems.



Smell poetry - smell various substances and write descriptive poetry. Use similies.



Discuss theme from Chapter one and two of the book.

Future World presentations.



Descriptive writing: Take a local walk to a park by the Mystic river. Write descriptive poetry.



Spelling dictionaries, Look-cover-remember-write-check spelling strategy, Spelling lists and partner tests.

Type, proofread and edit with partner favorite free-form poems - part 2

Discuss list events from Chapter one and two of book.




We completed Unit one last week in Math. The assessment at the end of the unit allowed us to check the Math groups, based on how the students did in the assessment.

The lessons for this week look like this:



Lesson 2.4 - Modelling adding and Subtracting Decimals

(Homework: P2.4)



Lesson 2.5 and 2.6 - Adding and Subtracting Decimals

(Homework: P2.5 and P2.6)



Lesson 2.7 - problem solving

(Homework: Practice assessment)



End of unit test preparation.

(Homework: Study for assessment)



End of unit assessment.

(No Math homework)


There will be daily practice worksheets Monday - Thursday 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.




Future World


The opening project is called 'Future World?'

It's still not quite done yet!

The students have almost finished designing their own PowerPoints to 'sell' their Future Worlds to an audience. The part that I want to spend a bit more time on this week is scaffolding the design of group drama skits, incorporating dance, music and speeches to go along with their presentations.

We're going to work on it a bit on Monday. If possible, we will wrap it up on Wednesday afternoon.


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

On the Rubric page is the rubric I will use to ascertain teamwork scores for each group. This is the heart of this particular project.

I've also published the subject rubric on the Rubric Home Page.

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

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


Homework will be continuing on this Friday, October 6th.

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!