Michael J. Allen

Class of 2017 - 2018

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Teacher Plans

October 31st - November 4th


I did cover many of the planned lessons - though, once again, this was at the expense of the Writing Workshop personal narrative project. The informational reading and writing work took longer than anticipated. In addition, I didn't get as far into the Space project as intended but remain comfortable with the progress we're making there.

The 'Science dances' (TM) designed to show how stars are born, how they live and how they die, were powerful in terms of  helping the students to absorb and process some complex information in novel ways. The quality of the dance choreography clearly left plenty of room for improvement!

We had the exciting finale to the Invention Challenge 1 on Friday afternoon. As usual, favorites fell, unexpected vehicles emerged, bathed in triumph. From my point of view, the competition element is not significant; the Science has already been done, and I have garnered what I was looking for already. This event is the 'cherry on the cake' for the students. The only truly significant aspect for me was how well the students responded to the inevitable victories and defeats they were bound to experience. I carefully structured this aspect in advance and am pleased to report that the students dealt with the event with grace and maturity. Defeat was greeted with a handshake and a welcome onto a surviving vehicle's team. The students really impressed me with their elegance in the center of what were emotionally challenging circumstances for them.


This week

The T-shirt making Fifth grade event will take Monday afternoon. It should be a pleasant opportunity for the students to be sitting together working in one large group and having a nice time together right before the Halloween mayhem explodes across the balmy streets of Medford.

This week, we will also have our first DARE class on Tuesday afternoon.

The student's will be starting their small-group Planet project on Thursday.

We also have our excellent Windmills Workshop, presented by the Museum of Science as an in-house field trip, on Thursday.

Should be a great 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 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 and Stand by me. We will be adding the song Pompeii to our collection.





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:

  • Daily reading including non-fiction for information for the Planets project that kicks off this week. Students are going to read about specific planets. They will be reading and collecting information from the texts searching for answers to topical questions.
  • The students will be completing a Journeys lesson after reading  'Hannah's trip to Space'
  • Continue to discuss theme and cause and effect in Kid Midas Chapter 6. Share written opinions and the evidence provided to back up opinions.




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.



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!



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 your personal dictionaries to check for basic spelling.



Share your story with a different partner.



Choosing a seed idea. P60

Choose one entry to turn into a published piece – reread and find one that matters to us. Writing allows us to slow down and find treasure in the everyday.

Reread carefully -model think aloud to find the one that matters to me most.

Mid lesson:

Tell your story out long to a partner. Tell it to give partner goosebumps.

Tell your story again – to yourself this time. Story tell onto paper.


Read authors starts in the sort of writing you want to try. Retell your story to the partner as if it were a book in the library.

Writers should ask 'what do I want my readers to feel?'



Strong Leads. P70

Share a students story that has grown.

Writers improve leads by studying authors and applying techniques.

Demonstrate using a favorite start:

Add to Qualities of good writing poster: Strong lead – settings, action, dialogue to create a mood.

Model piece of writing on the chosen lead – class demo.

Use prepared pack.

Show setting in a way to create a mood.

Choose a student piece to read. Ask students to revise the lead out loud with partners using an action or setting.

Partners try drafting a lead for the story.



Read, 'Hannah's trip to Space' - Journeys pages 166-168.
Answer four embedded questions. 

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 finish Unit 4, this week, on the subject of Division.

The lessons for this week look like this:



Lesson 4.4 - Dividing by 1-digit divisors

Stop and practice - review multiplication from Unit 3.

(No Math homework)



Lesson 4.5 - Zeros in the quotient.

(Math homework: P4-4)



Lesson 4.5 - Zeros in the quotient.

(Math homework: P4-5)



Windmills workshop - Museum of Science in-house field trip.



Unit four Math extension activities.

(No Math homework)


Math Homework

There will be daily practice worksheets,Tuesday and Wednesday 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.




Space - the infinite frontier!!

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

  • 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.

  • 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.



Homework will be continuing on this Friday, November 4th.

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

Look for it in the student's backpack.

The students will 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!