Michael J. Allen

Class of 2018 - 2019

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Teacher Plans

September 10th - 14th

Welcome to the 'Teacher Plans' page.

You will be using this page frequently during our time together if you want to find out about the exciting and thrilling events in the class.

It is usually to be found crisp, fresh and new each Sunday afternoon, laden with the ambitions, plans and follies of the following week!

The structure of the page is usually something like:

  • Review of the previous week - what went as planned and what didn't!
  • Language plans - Reading and Writing.
  • Math
  • Project: Usually Science and Social Studies appear under this category.
  • Homework.
  • Science-class link for Mrs.Tuttle's class.

So, without further ado, let's get started:

 

Review

I had a solid almost-full week with the group.

I did not achieve all of my standard curriculum goals as outlined in the plan last week! However, we made good progress and did lots of community building work that will, hopefully,  pay dividends.

We have started work on our class contract. By the end of this week, we will have written, voted on and signed-up for a small collection of rules that we have designed together and that we will use to help govern our time together. We will have trimmed this 'contract' down into the shortest, most easily digestible form we could!

We have started work on our first major small-team project. The students started well, with excellent team spirit. I have designed the early project to have a primary goal of learning and practicing skills of working together: things like turn taking, fair decision making, listening to each other, being inclusive, participating, using positive language and using positive non-verbal skills These skills are being directly modeled and taught. This week, we will add more team skills, as outlined below.

I am relatively happy so far with our performance. The students are showing great willingness to really practice the skills that lead to excellent small-team performance. Of course, one lesson does not create learning. We will need to be patient and persistent in practicing our team skills in the real world of our project work!

None of my writing goals for last week were achieved: I certainly need to collect writing and reading data this week. I'm going to give them some creative freeform writing tasks this weeks without much structure to see what they can do. Next week the writing program will 'kick-off' in earnest!

I also need to start to get a sense about the reading in the group this week. The Reader's Theater activity  will help. This activity is a fast way for me to get to hear a lot of students read.

All the team building activities and discussions sucked up time like little black holes bursting through the fabric of my plans. All of these discussions and activities are impossibly vital, rewarding and deeply valuable! I fully expect my ambitious curricula agenda for this week to be similarly curtailed and disrupted - though I will get closer and closer to curricula objectives as the new community continues to forge its social foundations.

We still have some group dynamic issues to work on especially regarding focus:  We will work on how to make student's focus more efficiently this week. Some of our routines also will still need more work: the clean-up routine, lining up routine, locker and desk organization, etc. These time consuming items will still slow down curricula progress for this week: You may find items from one week's plan appearing in the next week's plan!

The students asked lots of questions about the first Homework project on Friday. Hopefully, we covered most of the ground, but students are always nervous about the first two or three projects. Now is a good time for you parents to re-read 'Parent's Guide to Homework' to better understand my perspective and to better understand how to help your children. The key phrase is: Parents are the boss of homework!

We did begin our journey into the wonderful and magical world of Mathematics, however we did not stick exactly to the plan.

Conclusion: I had an excellent four-day week with the class. I am inspired by their warm spirit, curiosity and enthusiastic willingness to start a new journey with me! They seem like a bright and multi-talented group, eager to please and sensitive to each others varied and complex needs and differences. If the students can aspire to the focus and ambition we need to achieve excellence, we could be in for a spectacular year!

 

This week

This week, we will be doing a lot of work on the students Future World project. I'll be training them on Power Point software on Wednesday, and I will be seeing many of you for Curriculum night on Thursday, where everything you could ever want to know about the class will be explained.

 

Morning meeting

As part of the new whole-school philosophy each class begins each day with a thirty-minute long class meeting.

The meeting is structured into four phases:

  • Message - topic of the day, often with academic angle.

  • Greetings

  • Sharing - short news items from members of the class

  • Activities - short, fun community building activities

This week's activities include the game Zoom, the game, Alibi, and two math games; one called Pico Ferme Nada, the other, Fizz buzz. Ask your child to explain the activities!

The messages this week will include sharing news with friends, talking about the weekend, and learning another classic song to sit alongside Stand by me in our small but expanding collection!

 

Language

Our school continues to work with a social philosophy this year.

This approach, called 'the Responsive Classroom approach to teaching and learning', stresses the importance of building and maintaining a classroom climate of warmth and safety. Here are seven of the guiding principles of the approach:

  1. The Social Curriculum is as important as the Academic Curriculum.

  2. How children learn is as important as what they learn.

  3. The greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.

  4. Children need a set of social skills in order to be successful academically and socially.

  5. Knowing the children we teach is as important as knowing the content we teach.

  6. Knowing the parents of the children we teach is as important as knowing the children.

  7. Teachers need to model the social and academic skills which they wish to teach to their students.

We've been trying to base our early encounters with students and each other around these ideas for a number of years; concepts and structures outlined in, for example, 'The First Six Weeks of School', by Paula Denton and Roxann Kriete. 

I'm excited that these ideas are School-wide principles!

Many of the opening activities and games which will feature in the opening weeks of school are directly addressing these goals.

 

Group Contract

Someone will be making the final Class Contract chart, after we work on it during the week.  We will sign it in a whole-class ceremony, probably on Friday.

The contract will be posted in the class for the entire school year! I'll post it here as soon as possible.

 

Writing

Future World Writing

The students will be writing about incidents from their 'Future World'  (see project below for details). 

They will be choosing from options such as:

  • Greatest day ever in Future World.

  • Describe what makes Future World so perfect!

  • Day in the life on Future World.

  • How Future World was founded.

  • Top 3 special items in Future World - and why they were chosen.

This writing is intended to be fantasy writing. It will help me find out more about the creativity in the group. They will have two writing sessions on this piece.

 

Reading

I am reading a collection of short stories to the group written by Neal Shusterman, (www.storyman.com)  using those stories as launch pads for various Journey's based lessons:

'Midnight Michaelangelo' - we will conduct a Reader's Theater event using this story as a script. The students select a section of the story to perform that highlights their favorite part of the story.

The focus of Lesson 1 of the Journeys Reading program is making Story maps and analyzing character problems and their solutions in the story. I will use another story from the collection, 'Opabinia', for this lesson.

 

Math

We got started last week in Math with some introductory Math exercises:

The lessons for the week look like this:

Monday: Finish placement assessment and review  - continued from Friday.

Tuesday: Introduction to Place Value Relationships

Wednesday: Tenths and Hundredths

Thursday: Thousandths

Friday: Decimal Place Value

There will be daily practice worksheets for 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 - once our assignment books finally arrive (my class did not receive the assignment books yet due to an ordering error outside my control).

 

 

Project 

Future World

  

My primary goal for the start of the year is to give the students plenty of opportunity for catching up with each other, as well as getting to know new people, as we all start to learn about each other.

Together we are going to build a kind, respectful, and empathic place for us all to live and work. I would like re-entry into school to continue be as gentle and stress-free as possible for us all!

I think the opening project will be an excellent vehicle for all of the above.

The opening project is called 'Future World?'

We will ask the question: 'What would a potential Future World be like?'

The students will work in collaborative teams of three for this project.

Their challenge will be to create a shared vision of a Future World that they would like to live in.

Fantastic aspects will be strongly encouraged.

Activities:

  • The students will design a specific wall space in the classroom with maps, drawings and other artwork representing their Future World.
  • The students will write stories about events in their Future World.
  • They will present their Future World to the whole group, and they will explain and show what makes them great.
  • The students design ten important 'laws' for their Future World.
  • The students design and create a song/anthem for their vision of a Future World.
  • We will talk and read about emerging technologies through magazine articles.

 

This primarily relaxed and creative project takes just over three weeks.

The opening project is designed to set the background for many of the group's future explorations in Grade 5.

This week, the Future World artwork and displays will be moving towards the finishing line. The focuses this week are on finishing these maps and on designing, making and performing short Multi-media presentations about their Future World.

I will be teaching the students how to collect and organize material into folders on computers.

I will be training the students how to build PowerPoint presentations with an emphasis on using the software in a creative way. The training job will involve finding and saving images of amazing cars, and finding images for their Future World. The students will learn about designing and making presentations using transitions as well as the other main tools PowerPoint offers.

The students will start to design their own PowerPoints to 'sell' their Future World to the group. The students also need to design group drama skits, dance, music and speeches to go along with their presentations.

The Final presentations should be three minutes long or less.

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

2016 - 2017

 

2017 - 2018

 

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.

    Discuss:

    • Wheel size
    • Weight
    • Symmetry

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


Homework 

Homework will be continuing on this Friday, September 14th.

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 Mrs. Tuttle to find out about what happens during the Science class!