Michael J. Allen

Class of 2017 - 2018

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Teacher Plans

October 3rd - 7th



I had another good week with the students last week. The artwork the students did for their Future Cities project was generally good, particularly the work they did on Thursday and Friday as the deadline approached.

The highlights of the week for me were associated with music: working on the various City 'Anthems' with the groups, and when both classes sang together at our meeting on Thursday. Definitely a few chills as we sang Eleanor Rigby then wrapped up with a rousing Born to be Wild.

We also had our first thrilling recess soccer games of the season!

We're getting the writing curriculum going writing descriptive scenes set in their future cities. The students have written about the loveliest, and ugliest parts of their city. They have written about a celebration in their city and about a storm that hit the city. Not all of the students have completed all of the prompts. The celebration piece was particularly curtailed due to time constraints. Nevertheless, the students have generated enough work for me to have a pretty clear idea about the challenges and opportunities we are facing in literacy this year.

We opened up our discussion about handwriting, basic editing and spelling. These subjects will be revisited this week as the students are asked to revise, edit and redraft their favorite piece of Future City writing for display. Of course, another focus is creativity: developing descriptions and expanding vocabulary choices. This week we will be asking the students to focus in on small moments inside their writing for further detail and exploration.

At the same time, the students are being asked to keep better written notes on their scientific explorations of their vehicles, and to improve the detail and presentation in this work too.

The students love testing their vehicles on the ramp. They will be concluding their experiments on whether making their vehicles heavier or lighter improves their performance during this week. I'll be trying to convince them of the importance of keeping good records of the tests they've tried!

On Thursday, we will have the first round of our competition to see which vehicle will win this year's challenge!

As I mentioned earlier, all of the groups did succeed in meeting the deadline for their maps on Friday. By 2:15pm on Friday all of the groups had their work on the walls. Two groups had not really coordinated their efforts: one had generated way too much artwork for the space they were allocated, and, like the other group in a similar position, did not stick to their initial group plan. As a result, their work, while containing individually interesting pieces, had no real coherent design. Hopefully, these groups will learn from the experience in time for future projects. Three groups did create more coherent designs, but only one group succeeded in creating a modular design.

Congratulations are in order to all the groups for actually making the deadline!

Well done students!

I've decided that it is unnecessary to have a separate page for the 'Specialist class'.

The plans expressed here are intended for both groups of students: this is what both groups of students are doing, have been doing, and will be doing.

We're all in this together, my friends!

I'm loving it so far, and I hope you all are too!


See you all back here next Sunday!



The students will be finishing their descriptions set in their Future City this week, following the successful writing experiences last week.

This week my students will be selecting one of the pieces to take to the next phases of the writing process:

  • Revising/Editing/sharing/re-writing

  • Print/display/final versions

Each writing period will be preceded by a mini lesson activity. The focus for the mini lessons this week will be:

  • Adding detail to important 'small moments'.

  • Punctuation and spelling/creating a 'Word Wall' for common incorrectly spelled words.

  • Handwriting concepts: even letter size, clear 'necks and tails' and consistent slant.

The students are also finishing writing the lyrics for their 'City anthems' and singing them into the recording studio. You will be able to hear the results here on the website.

As the students finish their redrafted work, they will start work writing their 'memory of the month' for their portfolios. As well as writing this piece, they will be collecting and preparing other work from September to include in the portfolio.

The students are also being asked to improve their record keeping regarding the Invention Challenge detailed below. It's possible that the horse is already out of the field for this project, but I'm going to dig in a little before moving on!

I am reading, 'The Eyes of Kid Midas' by Neal Shusterman, (www.storyman.com)  using this imaginative and epic story as a launch pad for various writing and art pieces: This week, the story really starts when Kevin Midas, the shortest and least popular kid in the seventh grade, responds to be being bullied by taking a momentous but dangerous decision!

The students will continue keeping their Reading Journals. They will be bringing in their journals for me on an assigned day.

Please note, this assigned day will be changing next week as the students seating arrangements are altered at the end of the Future City project (it ends this coming Friday).




Follow the links to find out about what are students are doing in Math this week...



Future World?


The opening project is called 'Future World?'

This week, in the final phase, the students will work on presentations, dramas, dance etc.

The songs will soon be posted here for your listening pleasure. Photos of their lovely wall displays will soon be available!



The remaining activities in the project are  partly subsumed in the language goals.

The students will also be working on making a group presentation. Using PowerPoint, speeches, drama and dance as well as special lighting effects, the students will try to convince us to come and visit their City!

On Friday, the students will make their final presentations trying to demonstrate why their City is so amazing!

These presentations will focus on:

  • Creative use of PowerPoint.
  • Dance
  • Drama skits
  • Live musical performance of City Anthems.

The City Project will close on Friday after the presentations and a period of team reflection about the group.

Next week, the students change to new teams:  New projects, new partners, new learning...



Each aspect of the project will be 'graded' using the rubric system. I've published the main rubric on the Rubric Home Page.

The students will be provided with the rubric while they work.

There is an emphasis on points awarded for team-work, effort and team-spirit.

The project grades are not as important to me, however, as starting to find out how the students work with each other.

I'll be publishing their work to the site, so keep checking back to the ‘News' page for updates!

On the rubric page also is the rubric I will use to ascertain teamwork scores for each individual in the group.


Invention Challenge 1: The Ramp Run - build a wheeled device, using K'Nex, that rolls furthest from the top of a ramp.

Designs are entered into a Ramp Run Challenge competition.

Students enter as many vehicles as they like into the competition. Design team-ups are encouraged.
We investigate: What are the main problems each design faces?

Students generate testable hypotheses, conduct tests, improve designs.
In the final competition, we award Gold, Silver, Bronze, as well as Most Original, Most Unlucky, and Most Artistic awards!

Most entrants have set an 'Official distance' for their vehicle and are continuing to experiment with ideas to make the devices roll even further. The key question the designers will wrap up this week is: Should the devices be heavy or light?

On Thursday, Round 1 of the competion begins!!

Tune back in here next Sunday for the next jaw-dropping plan!!


Homework will be continue this Friday, October 7th. I will be doing a detailed introduction to the project in school on Friday after lunch.

Students will receive their homework jobs for the whole week each Friday. Look for it in the student's backpack.

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!