Michael J. Allen

Class of 2017 - 2018

Home | Teacher Plans | News | Calendar | Information | Homework | Projects | Contact | Archive

Teacher Plans

September 5th - 7th


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.
  • Project: Usually Science and Social Studies appear under this category.
  • Math: Visit www.msmoll.com

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


Getting Started

What an enjoyable summer vacation – I cycled 3000 miles across The UK, France, Switzerland and Italy. I'm as fit as a fiddle and feeling great!

I hope you feel like that too!

This school year is going to be filled with all the challenges associated with change: With a new principal, new core curriculum, new teacher assessment scenarios, things are going to be different! Some things won't have really changed much: the fabulous and amazing group of bright-eyed angels about to nervously pile into room 411 expecting a miraculous educational journey beginning on Wednesday and my boundless enthusiasm and excitement for the job.

My early role as ringmaster and artist is to attempt to drag our collective mind slowly but sadly away from the glories of summer into the fabulous and fascinating journey we're about to embark upon together.

Its a thrilling time!

The key to the start of school for me is community building.


I want the students to feel mostly relaxed as they get ready to get to work.

Of course, we won't get much done in the first few days: it's all about building community for these opening weeks, but we will aim to establish three very important words at the top of the list: Kindness, gentleness, relaxation! These will be the guiding principles of our community building phase.

Since Medford is still insisting that we 'co-teach' in Grade five, and, since this year, I am continuing working with a teacher who is broadly interested in the same philosophical and pragmatic approaches to teaching as I, Ms. Moll, we've decided to continue exploring integrating the two groups of students in a deeper way than just the daily required switch for math and science.

Our idea, at least at this point, is to think of the class as being forty students with two teachers.

Yes, it's true that Ms. Moll will be teaching math to all the students, and I will be teaching the science, but we will also be sharing more than just this.

From my point of view, it's almost impossible for me to work with students without completely committing holistically to their learning: it's why I chose to be an elementary teacher rather than a Middle School teacher – I'm more interested in the person than the information. Our goal this year is to integrate the two classes as deeply and holistically as we can.

Our first experiment with this integration last year was a spectacular success for everyone: the students loved it, the parents loved it and Ms. Moll and I loved it, too!

We're already planning together, we intend on working on projects together: we're going to try to have, for the second time at the Brooks School, two teachers running the integrated, project-based, multiple intelligence, whole-child etc. approach to teaching in fifth grade, at the same time.

How exciting is that?

It's going to be brilliant!!

See you back here next week to see how the first partial week went!



Along with a few colleagues, I'm trying to base my early encounters with the class around the concepts and structures outlined in, 'The First Six Weeks of School', by Paula Denton and Roxann Kriete. 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.

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

Alongside these goals are the standard curriculum goals.

As my journey begins with these students, my primary goals for September in Language are all about learning. My learning!

I need to collect information about each student's abilities. Specifically, I'm going to try to hear each student read a little by the end of the week, collect in more writing samples, and make an early assessment of each student's broad linguistic skills.

The students will be working in small groups this week discussing and sharing their ideas for class rules. By the end of the week, I hope to be able to have thoroughly explored and voted on a small, but well thought out, collection of rules for our community. Learning how to be effective and efficient in small teams is the secondary but equally vital role of these exercises.

The student's will be writing a short paragraph titled, 'Hopes and Dreams'. This short paragraph will help to frame the work on rules: How can we help everyone achieve their dreams for the year?

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 writing and art pieces:

'Pacific Rim' -  an exciting fantasy short story.

'Midnight Michaelangelo' - can the students make predictions about this story? After reading this story, can the students select passages they like and explain their choices?

'Opabinia' - discuss paradox, time travel, the distant past.

There are also language goals to be found lurking in the heart of the project described below:

  • The students will be reading a magazine called, '30 Cool things in the future' by Ruth Musgrave. They will discuss then select ten items to incorporate into their design for their cities.

  • The students will be inventing stories set in their city and reporting them using the newspaper report style of writing.



Perfect 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 'Perfect World?'

We will ask the question: 'what will our future world be like?'

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

Their challenge will be to create a vision of a 'perfect world' that they would like to live in.

Slightly fantastic aspects will be encouraged.


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


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

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


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.

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


Homework will be 'kicking off' next week.

Students will receive their homework jobs for the whole week each Friday. Look for it in the student's backpack. Students should complete one homework job each day for five days.

I will be doing a detailed introduction to the project in school each 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!

Highest pass