Fourth Grade Journey

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

Monday, November 20, 2017

Music Monday #11 (Brand New Eyes by Bea Miller)

"Brand New Eyes" by Bea Miller

*Music Monday is HERE and I'm excited to share a year's worth of musical selections with you.

*I know it is going to be a GREAT year of music, writing, thinking, and sharing.

*We are finishing up Wonder as our class read aloud.  Several of my students saw the movie over the weekend.  I ran across this video/song and knew we had to use it for Music Monday.  The writers are LOVING the story of Auggie and his journey through fifth grade.  

*Today is our ELEVENTH Monday together and that means it is time for our musical selection.

*I truly believe Mondays are my favorite day for our writer's notebooks.  

*Each Monday I present a piece of music to my fourth graders.  I usually present the song via a video so they are hearing and "seeing" the music.  

*After I share the video, we discuss the song/video for a few minutes as a class.  It is always a joy to hear what my young listeners have to say about the song.  

*They then get busy writing in their notebooks.  We start off at the beginning of the year writing for about five minutes.  This will gradually increase as the year progresses.  

*Here are some ideas I give the writers to think about during their writing time...

*Their opinions of the song.
*Their likes and dislikes of the song.
*What the song reminds them of.
*Any connections they may have to the music.
*What they think the message in the piece may be.
*What listeners can learn from the song.
*A fictional story about the music/video.

*These are just some ideas I give to the writers.  They are really free to write anything they would like as long as it connects to the song.

*After our silent reading, we spend a few more minutes sharing out what we wrote.  

*I keep a collection of the videos on our Schoology Site so that my students can always go back and rematch them anytime they wish.

Our Musical Selections for 2017/2018... 

Week #1:  "What I Am" by                                                  Click Here for Week One MUSIC
Week #2:  "Hopeful" by Bars and Melody                                         Click Here for Week Two MUSIC
Week #3:  "Somebody" by Lemonade Mouth                                  Click Here for Week Three MUSIC
Week #4:  "Dream Big" by Ryan Shupe                                            Click Here for Week Four MUSIC
Week #5:  "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield                                 Click Here for Week Five MUSIC
Week #6:  "The World's Greatest" by R. Kelly                                    Click Here for Week Six MUSIC
Week #7:  "Candyman" by Zedd, Aloe Blacc                                   Click Here of Week Seven MUSIC
Week #8:  "Thriller" by Michael Jackson                                         Click Here for Week Eight MUSIC
Week #9:  "Clay" by Grace Vanderwaal                                            Click Here for Week Nine MUSIC
Week #10:  "I Don't Know My Name" by Grace Vanderwaal            Click Here for Week Ten MUSIC

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (11/20/17)

Thanks to Jen and Kellee for hosting this idea on their site.  Here is a link to their site...
Books I Read this Past Week...

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

*My Young-Adult Novel

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

*My Novel Published for Adults (Audio)

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

*My Young-Adult Novel

Raffie on the Run by Jacqueline Resnick

*My Middle-Grade Novel

From Striving to Thriving
by Stephanie Harvey and Annie Ward

*My Professional Reading

Friday, November 17, 2017

Life Lesson #9 (Be a Bully - NOT)

"Be a Bully - NOT"

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

*One of the biggest messages I try to share with my students is to make a positive impact on the world.

*This isn't always easy, but I work very hard to spread this theme/lesson/idea each and every day.  

*The video captures the hearts and imagination of each and every writer.

*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                                                                             This Week's Life-Lesson
Week #4:  Be Responsible                                                                 This Week's Life-Lesson
Week #5:  Be Brains                                                                           This Week's Life-Lesson
Week #6:  Be a Friend                                                                        This Week's Life-Lesson
Week #7:  Be Life-Changing                                                              This Week's Life-Lesson              
Week #8:  Be Spooky (Halloween Fun Edition)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wonder Wednesday #200 (Breakfast with Books #TWO)

Wonder Wednesday - Book Club with Melissa Savage

*We had our second "Breakfast with Books" book club on Thursday, November 9th.  The readers gathered before school and we excited to meet and chat with Melissa Savage.

*Many of my fourth graders had spent the last month reading Lemons which was our second book club selection.

*Before our book club get-together, each reader finished the novel, wrote up comments and questions, and signed-up for a breakfast treat.

*I'm always so pleased that so many students participate in this optional club.  The parents buy them the book, encourage them to read it, and contribute treats to our book club.

*This was my first time meeting Melissa Savage and she was delightful.  The readers so enjoyed our time with her.  She shared about her writing life, her first book Lemons, and what she is working on.  I could see that each and every reader was getting so much from the experience.

*Here is a photo-look at our "Breakfast with Books" in action...

Monday, November 13, 2017

Inside Look #43 (Author INTERVIEW)

An Inside Look with Jake Burt

(Author of Greetings from Witness Protection)

*This was a new feature I added to the blog during the summer of 2016.  It was a shot in the dark that it would work, but much to my surprise; it took off and over first season I conducted 22 interviews with a variety of authors.  

*It has been such an honor to connect with authors and "chat" about their novel, characters, and thoughts about the story.

*I ran a series of interviews for Season #TWO over the summer of 2017.  It was great to get back to these conversations, that I decided to run Season #THREE during the 2017/2018 school year.  

*Thank you to Jake Burt for being the TENTH author of the third season.  I truly appreciate it.  

*Here are links to the first FORTY-TWO interviews…


*I recently received this novel from my #bookexpedition Twitter group.  With the start up of the school year, my reading time was greatly reduced.  Once I started this book, I made sure to find time to read because I enjoyed the story so much.  

*Jake was kind, gracious, and giving with his answers to the questions.  It is an honor to post his responses with my "Inside Look" feature.   

*Here is a link to my review of Greetings from Witness Protection

*Thank you Jake for writing this story for readers and taking the time to share your thoughts with us here on the blog...

Greetings from Witness Protection
by Jake Burt (Released October 3, 2107)

How did you come to know Nicki?  

It might seem strange, but through conversations. Yes, I made her up, but I think a great many authors would agree that the process of creating a character is not unlike the way we learn about any new people in our lives - we ask them questions, we observe them, and we listen to their stories. Perhaps that’s just the most comfortable way I can describe the process without getting too metacognitive, but I find it apt. I’m just lucky Nicki chose me to tell her story for her.

What do you think is Nicki's most admirable quality?

Self-confidence. She has a hard time trusting those around her, particularly the adults in her life. She gets defensive quickly, and she shields herself in myriad ways. However, because she’s had to find some rock, some consistent thing in her life, she’s settled upon herself. Yes, that confidence gets her into trouble, but it’s also the one thing that’s bailed her out, over and over again. I’d like to think it’s a major reason WITSEC chose her for the job.

 Is there anything you wish Nicki would have changed or done differently in her story?

Not a thing. If she had done something differently, then it wouldn’t be her story. It wouldn’t be THIS story, and it’s the one I desperately wanted to tell. That’s not to say the book didn’t undergo revisions along the way - it surely did, and I’m immensely grateful for the insight that my agent, editor, and second readers provided. But I view the passages that were adjusted and the chapters that were added as clarifications to Nicki’s story, rather than changes to her fundamental journey.

What do you think Nicki can offer to other children that are experiencing similar situations to what she went through?

I’d like to hope that she offers kids a sense of their own efficacy - yes, circumstances may swirl around you, life may be agonizingly unfair, but ultimately, you get to decide what is normal. You get to decide what is safe. And you get to decide who you define as family, whether they’re blood or not.

How did you research Nicki and the circumstances she found himself in?

The bulk of my research went into the experiences of children in foster care; of all the elements of her story, that was the one I felt most passionately about getting right. I interviewed people, observed students of mine that I knew had been adopted or had gone through the foster care system, and I read every primary source I could find on what that experience was like. I did similar research on what it was like to have kleptomania. It was important to me that it not be a joke, as I’ve frequently heard. For Nicki, it is a serious development of the difficulties of her childhood, a difficult but natural extension of her unique circumstances.

Researching other aspects of her story proved to be equally frustrating and fun. As one might expect, there’s terribly little to go on as far as the inner workings of WITSEC (if I’m being honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way). I was only able to get at what’s broadly available there - the rest I had to fashion to fit where I saw Nicki going. As for her pickpocketing, I watched hours upon hours of YouTube videos of pickpockets at work. My favorites star the aptly-monikered Apollo Robbins; it was from his neurological explanation of pickpocketing techniques that I drew inspiration for Nicki’s approach to her science of subterfuge.

Do you and Nicki share any similarities?  

Probably more than I realize, but for starters, we share a passion for literature, and her favorites list is basically my not-so-subtle way of paying homage to the books that have inspired me. I most certainly also share her desire to belong, to be known, and to feel like I fit.

Oh, and her favorite color is mine as well.

What was the hardest scene to write about Nicki?

I can’t go into too much detail without dropping major spoilers, but I’ll simply say, “What Gives,” and leave it at that.

Who do you think was Nicki's biggest supporter and why?

The obvious answers are either Harriet or Brit, but if we’re being honest and reading between the lines, it’s Janice. There’s a reason Nicki latches on to her despite her outward surliness, like after all her other experiences, Nicki’s able to zone in on the adults who actually care, whether they show it or not. As for why, I’d like to think it’s because Janice saw in Nicki something of a kindred spirit (whether she’d ever admit it or not), and Nicki can be obnoxiously endearing when she wants to.

Where do you think foster children’s resiliency comes from; much like Nicki’s?  

I’d hesitate to ever lump children’s foster care experiences together to try and categorize them; if there’s one thing I learned, it’s that the range of experiences and kids’ reactions to them are as diverse as the children themselves. If there is a source of resiliency in some of their foster experiences, I think it’d come from within the kids themselves - many have fortitude that puts the average adult to shame.

What do you think Nicki is doing as this present time?  

To answer would reveal whether or not she survived her experiences in North Carolina, and I’m fairly certain Janice would have my neck if I gave that information up. Or she’d taser me. Maybe both.