Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Ugly by Robert Hoge

How I Heard About It:  During one of Donalyn Miller's online Scholastic "chats", she recommended this memoir.  Anytime she shares a book title, I'm pretty sure to get on Amazon and order it.  That happened with this one and I just finished the book a few minutes ago.  WOW!  

What It Is About:  I can't remember ever reading a memoir written for middle-grade readers.  Robert Hoge was born in Australia to a family with four older siblings.  When Robert was born, his parents learned that he had a large tumor on his face and disfigured legs.  At first his parents were shocked and not sure how to handle this newest addition to their family.  Once they brought him home, they became his biggest advocates.  As Robert grew up, he had to endure many difficult and complicated surgeries to repair both his face and legs.  Robert wants to be like all the other kids at school and his own older siblings.  He challenges both himself and his parents on the activities he wants to participate in.  While growing up Robert faces both children and adults that treat him differently and others that look beyond his differences and treat him as any other child should be treated.  

What I Thought Of It:  Thank you to Donalyn Miller for pointing this book out to me.  I absolutely loved it and could NOT put it down once I started.  Robert is such a talented writer and had such a heart-warming and touching way of telling his story.  I appreciated how he wrote it in a way that young readers would be able to understand and learn from his story.  There were many moments when my heart hurt for Robert and his family.  They all had such courage and strength in dealing with the differences and facing the world.  Stories as these need to be shared with children so they can see what others are dealing with.  I think by reading this memoir made me a better man and teacher.  

Who Should Read It:  I would say EVERYONE!  As I posted on FaceBook, this is a memoir written for middle-grade readers, but I think all readers should read the book on their own and/or have it read to them.  I know I'm going to use this as a read aloud with my fourth graders.  I can't wait for the powerful discussions that I know will come from the story.  There are so many important life-lessons that can be gained from Robert's story.  This will be a book that I will be sharing with EVERYONE.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Chasing Augustus by Kimberly Newton Fusco

How I Heard About It:  I remembering reading some "buzz" about this novel via Twitter.  I reached out to the author and was lucky enough to receive a copy of her book.  I was intrigued by the cover and title and couldn't wait to read it.  I've also enjoyed my Twitter "conversations" with Kimberly over the last few months.  

What It Is About:  After Rosie's dad has a stroke, she is left in the care of her grandfather.  Both Rosie and her grandpa Harry could be described as a bit "ornery".  They are strong, bull-headed, and stubborn.  Rosie's mother lives in California chasing her own "dreams".  She calls her daughter from time to time, but these calls are not well received by Rosie.  Before her mother left, she gave away Rosie's favorite friend; her dog Augustus.  Rosie spends all of her "free" time searching for Augustus.  She wants nothing more in the world than to get her pal back.  This search doesn't please Harry, but doesn't stop Rosie from her hunt.  She knows she can't find Augustus alone and requests the help of a new "friend" Philippe.  He lives in the same building as Rosie and Harry.  Philippe isn't your typical young boy and is keeping "secrets" of his own.  The two of them take risks, face danger, and must rely on each other to achieve the goal of "chasing" Augustus and learn what truly happened to Rosie's best friend.  

What I Thought Of It:  I had the chance to start the story a few nights ago, but because of time I didn't get very far.  When I sat down last night to continue, I could not put it down and finished the entire thing.  I LOVED this story and was completely engaged during the entire reading.  Rosie was a spit-fire and made me laugh, cheer, and even tear-up on occasion.  In my opinion, the best aspect of the story was her relationship with Harry, Phillippe, Swanson, and several other characters.  KNF has a unique and special way of describing the interactions and relationships between characters.  Just when I thought I had figured out what was going to happen, KNF would throw me off and take me in another direction.  I also appreciated that not everything was "roses" but real "thorns"; just like real life.  This is definitely a must-read novel.  

Who Should Read It:  I already have quite a few titles on my list for read aloud this year, but now I have another one.  This would make for an extremely strong story to share with a group of middle-grade readers.  I could see it being read to fourth, fifth, and sixth graders.  Individual readers in these grades would also be perfect to put this novel in their hands.  Of course middle-school readers should not be forgotten when it comes to this title.  Way to go Kimberly Newton Fusco.  You wrote one heck of a story that young readers will come to love.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Saturday, September 23, 2017

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds

How I Heard About It:  I'm embarrassed to say how long this book has been in my TBR pile.  I'm not sure why I didn't get to it earlier, but it seemed so many other titles made their way to the top.  I finally decided it was time to read this story and experience more of the Jason Reynolds magic.  

What It Is About:  Genie and Ernie are in for quite a summer.  They are leaving the city of Brooklyn to spend time with their grandparents out in the country of Virginia.  They realize there may be more than one reason why they are being "shipped" off to the their grandparents.  Once they settle into the "farm life", each boy begins to explore the surrounding land and people.  While spending time with his grandfather, Genie learns that his grandpa is blind.  Genie can't quite believe this because he admires him so much and sees him as the bravest man he knows.  Genie and his grandfather spend a lot of time together and begin to learn about each other in ways no one else knows.  Genie also finds out new information about his own brother Ernie and the ways he is brave and even the ways he isn't.  Both boys also have to adapt to their grandmother's strict ways.  Life may have been a bit complicated in Brooklyn, but it gets even more so during a summer none of the family members will forget.  

What I Thought Of It:  Jason certainly has a way with words and telling a story.  I appreciate his diversity in story telling and the way he weaves a plot that the reader won't soon forget.  Genie and Ernie were unforgettable characters that wove their way into my heart and mind.  I found myself thinking of these two young men even when not reading the book.  The experience they had out in the country with their grandparents was unique, special, and heart-warming.  I absolutely loved the relationship they had with both grandparents.  The writing was eloquent, beautiful, and endearing.  

Who Should Read It:  In my opinion, this novel might be best suited with middle-school readers.  I'm not sure fourth and/or fifth grade readers would be drawn into the story as older readers might be. I can see readers in grade six and above would be best.  High school readers may even enjoy the journey of these two boys.  Of course any fan of Jason Reynolds MUST read this middle-grade novel.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Life Lesson #3 - Be SAFE


*This is the THIRD Thursday of our school year together and that means it is "Life Lesson" Thursday.

*Our school participates in a school-wide PBIS system.  One of those aspects if "being safe".

*I thought it would be great to share a fun video about being safe in our bigger world.  

*This was a "fun" and "different" way to look at being safe.

*I set aside time during each day for us to work in our writer's notebooks. 

*We talk about what types of writing we can do in the notebook.  Here are some of the possibilities...

-What we notice in the video
-What we wonder about
-Connections we have to the video
-Thoughts, feeling, emotions about the video clip
-Reminders we have from the lesson/message
-Create a fiction story about the video

*Once the video is shared with the writers, we spend a few minutes "talking" about what we observed.

*My writers set up their HEADING in the notebook and we get busy writing.

*During the start-up of the year, I have my students write for about five minutes.  We slowly build our stamina for writing and slowly add time to the writing block. 

*At the end of the individual writing time, we call on a few volunteers to share their actual writing and/or further thoughts about the video we watched and wrote about.

*If there is time, I sometimes share the video clip with my class at the end of the writer's notebook time.  

2017/2018 Life Lessons...
Week #1:  Be a Reader                                                This Week's Life-Lesson
Week #2:  Be Kind to Others                                        This Week's Life-Lesson
Week #3:  Be Safe

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wonder Wednesday #192 (International DOT Day)

Wonder Wednesday - Making our MARK

*One of my favorite days of the school year is "International Dot Day".

*We have celebrated this day in our classroom the last several years.  Each year I do more and more centered around the idea of "making our mark".

*One of the activities we do is create our own "dot art project".

*Each student picked a "dot" and placed it where they wanted on their white "canvas".  Once the dot was glued down, they created a picture and/or design of their own choosing.

*While the "artists" were working, I had the pleasure of walking around and capturing some images of the students in action.

*This day of celebration will take us through the entire year and we can't wait to "make our mark" in many different ways!!!