Fourth Grade Journey

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

Monday, February 19, 2018

Inside Look #46 (Author INTERVIEW)

An Inside Look with Leslie Connor
(Author of The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle)

*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 Leslie Connor for being the THIRTEENTH author of the third season.  I truly appreciate it.  

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


*I remember when I first saw the cover of the book via Twitter conversations.  I was so drawn to it and knew the story within the pages would be incredible  While at NCTE, I was lucky enough to obtain an ARC of the novel.  When I began the story, I could not put it down.  The story of Mason was a beautiful one that will stay with me for quite some time.  I was thrilled when Leslie agreed to answer some of my "interview questions" for this blog feature!  

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

*Here is a link to my review of The Truth Told as Told by Mason Buttle

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

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
by Leslie Connor (Released January 23, 2018)

Leslie Connor Website

How did you come to know Mason Buttle?  
For me, characters are composites of people I’ve met, read about, or can imagine but it’s not a calculated thing; it happens organically. With Mason, I knew who that earnest, worried, big-hearted kid at the back of the room was.

What do you think is Mason's most admirable quality?
His honesty.

Is there anything you wish Mason would have changed or done differently in his story?
I don’t think so. I’m pretty comfortable with how he and I walked through his story together.

What do you think Mason can offer to other children that are experiencing similar situations to what he went through?
Perhaps he models staying true to oneself even in times of adversity. He’s a good model for keeping the faith that things will get better.  

How did you research Mason and the circumstances he found himself in?
I did some research on dyslexia and synesthesia to get closer to Mason’s daily experience. As for the situation, I hooked into several news stories as jumping off points but did not stick to specifics.

Do you and Mason share any similarities?  
Oh, yes. I think we are both worriers, and I think we’re both good hands-on learners.

What was the hardest scene to write about Mason?
Any of the scenes in which the dog, Moonie, was being mistreated—hands down. I avoided those scenes for days.

Who do you think was Mason's biggest supporter and why?
Ms. Blinny and Calvin played big parts in bolstering Mason, and both provided him some tools. But in the end, I think Mason was his own best advocate.

How do you think children like Mason are able to find one, or two, real and true friends when they might not fit in with the rest of the “crowd"?  
Kids on the periphery are often excellent observers; they see who else is suffering or lonely and gravitate toward them.

What do you think Mason is doing as this present time?  
He’s probably trying to fix the farm tractor! (I’m sure it’s stalled out again.)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (2/19/18)

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

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

*Young-Adult Novel (4 STARS out of 5 Stars!)

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

*My Young-Adult Novel

Everything I Know About You by Barbara Dee

*My Middle-Grade Novel/Young-Adult Novel

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan

*My Novel Published for Adults

Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen & Laurie Morrison

*My Middle-Grade Novel

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

How I Heard About It:  I read Dumplin awhile back and really enjoyed it.  While at NCTE17 I walked by a long line of reading "fans" to get a book signed by Julie Murphy.  I've had Ramona Blue on my TBR list for quite some time.  Recently I put it on my Cloud Library app.  It has been my audio read during the last week or so.  This story made my 35-45 minute drive fly by because it was so so good.  

What It Is About:  Ramona lives in a small town.  She doesn't have much.  She lives with her father, her older sister, and the boyfriend of her sister.  There really isn't room for the four of them being it is a trailer, but they make it work.  During the summer before Ramona's senior year, she has a summer "thing" with a girl named Grace.  At the end of the summer Grace must return home and that brings the relationship to an end.  Ramona begins to spend more and more time with her friend Freddy.  They have grown up together and are "buddies".  But the more time they spend together, the more they realize something might be happening.  Not only is Ramona confused by this, but Freddy is also because he knows that Ramona has come out and considers herself gay.  When each of them has a difficult end to their other relationships, they decide to give their own relationship a try.  Ramona's life is not only complicated by this event, but also by the fact her sister is pregnant, her absent mother drinks too much, and it is time to decide what to do with her future coming up after graduation.  

What I Thought Of It:  As I mentioned earlier, this story brought me several times of complete enjoyment during my drive to and from work.  I thought the narrator did a fantastic job of telling Ramona's story.  I feel in love with Ramona more and more as the story unfolded.  I thought the way Julie Murphy told the story was thoughtful, respectful, and truthful.  There were quite a few serious moments, but also great humorous scenes where I found myself laughing out loud.  The true power of the story came from the relationships that Ramona had with both her family and friends.  Julie Murphy sure can write a strong, entertaining, and profound young-adult story.  

Who Should Read It:   This is the PERFECT novel for both the high-school and college reader.  There are so many elements that the reader will be able to relate to.  Of course, if you are an adult reader who enjoys young-adult novels, then this is the book for you.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Life Lesson #19 - Be POWERful

"Be POWERful"

*This is the NINETEENTH 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.  

*This life-lesson has been used in the past and I always get such positive results.  The writers truly enjoy the images, the quotes, and the music.  There is so much to discuss regarding the video.  I want my students to be powerful and believe in their own power!  

*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)
Week #9:  Be a Bully - NOT!                                                              This Week's Life-Lesson
Week #10:  Be Courageous (to continue on)                                     This Week's Life-Lesson
Week #11:  Be Motivated                                                                   This Week's Life-Lesson
Week #12:  Be Inspired                                                                      This Week's Life-Lesson
Week #13:  Be Merry                                                                          This Week's Life-Lesson
Week #14:  Be a Team                                                                       This Week's Life-Lesson
Week #15:  Be Giving                                                                         This Week's Life-Lesson
Week #16:  Be SHOUTful                                                                  This Week's Life-Lesson
Week #17:  Be Happy                                                                        This Week's Life-Lesson
Week #18:  Be a Reader                                                                    This Week's Life-Lesson

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Wonder Wednesday #212 (Enginerds by Jarrett Lerner)

Wonder Wednesday - Skype Visit with Jarrett Lerner

*Our first read aloud was Wishtree by Katherine Applegate.

*Our second read aloud was Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

*Two incredible stories, but a little on the series side.  For our third read aloud, I wanted to mix things up a bit.

*After reading Enginerds, I knew this was the novel to share with my fourth graders.

*After we read the book, we were lucky enough to spend some time with Jarrett via Skype.  The students in my class got to share comments and ask questions of the author.

*Jarrett was awesome and we all loved the story even more after talking with him.

*Thanks Jarrett for an incredible Skype visit...

Monday, February 12, 2018

Music Monday #20 (Can't Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake)

"Can't Stop the Feeling" by Justin Timberlake

*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.

*I was going to pick this one to use right after the Superbowl, but then I heard The Champion by Carrie Underwood and had to use that last week.  My students are still in Superbowl mode so I'm sure they are going to enjoy it.  This week is all about fun and enjoying the song, the beat, and the whole thing.  The song just makes me so happy!  

*Today is our TWENTIETH 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 
Week #11:  "Brand New Eyes" by Bea Miller                               Click Here for Week Eleven MUSIC
Week #12:  "You Will Be Found" from Dear Evan Hansen         Click Here for Week Twelve MUSIC
Week #13:  "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka                    Click Here for Week Thirteen MUSIC
Week #14:  "Rise Up" by Andra Day                                          Click Here for Week Fourteen MUSIC
Week #15:  "Carol of the Bells" by The Piano Guys                     Click Here for Week Fifteen MUSIC
Week #16:  "This is Me" from The Greatest Showman                Click Here for Week Sixteen MUSIC
Week #17:  "A Million Dreams" The Greatest Showman        Click Here for Week Seventeen MUSIC
Week #18:  "I'll Be Your Water" by Keb Mo                              Click Here for Week Eighteen MUSIC
Week #19:  "The Champion" by Carrie Underwood                  Click Here for Week Nineteen MUSIC

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (2/12/18)

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

The Immoralists by Chloe Benjamin

*Novel Published for Adults (4 STARS out of 5 Stars!)

You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly

*Middle-Grade Novel (5 STARS out of 5 Stars!)

One True Way by Shannon Hitchcock

*Middle-School Novel (4 STARS out of 5 Stars!)

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

*My Young-Adult Novel

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

*My Young-Adult Novel (Audio)

Everything I Know About You by Barbara Dee

*My Middle-Grade Novel