Fourth Grade Journey

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

Monday, December 11, 2017

Music Monday #14 (Rise Up by Andra Day)



"Rise Up" from Andra Day

*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.

*This one makes a great big punch.  There is so much to the song.  I can't get over the power of the words and the message it is sending out into the world.  I've used it in the past and the young writers always respond quite well.  I'm excited to use it again this year!  

*Today is our FOURTEENTH 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 will.i.am                                                  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

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (12/11/17)



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...



Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart

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







We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

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

My Book Review





Enginerds by Jarrett Lerner

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








Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week


Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

*My Young-Adult Novel









One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

*My Young-Adult Novel









From Striving to Thriving
by Stephanie Harvey and Annie Ward

*My Professional Reading








Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

*My Novel Published for Adults


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

How I Heard About It:  This was another novel that I kept seeing everywhere.  People were talking about it on FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram.  It had been on my list for quite some time when I finally decided to read it.  I actually listened to it via "Cloud Library" during my commute.  I had enjoyed We Were Liars and was excited to see what this story was all about.  

What It Is About:  The story is about Jule.  Or is it?  The story is about Imogen.  Or is it?  These two young women meet and life after this is never the same for either one of them.  Does Jule want to be Imogen?  Does Imogen want to be Jule?  They each want something and are both determined to get it. The plot unravels backward starting with chapter eighteen and moving toward chapter one.  The novel ends with chapter nineteen.  Each girl brings such life, gut, and power to the novel.  Is Jule the fraud?  Is Imogen the fraud?  As the reader, you will race to the end to find out the answers to these questions and many more.  

What I Thought Of It:  When I first started listening, I was confused when it started at chapter 18.  I thought there was something wrong with my audio.  After checking, I realized it was beginning at the start.  Thinking to myself, I said alright let's go for a ride and figure out this format.  Once I got use to the story telling in "backward" motion, I had no problems following the events of the story.  Just because I could follow the story doesn't mean I had everything figured out.  There were plenty of twists and turns and many moments when I was trying to figure out who was who, who was doing what to whom, and what was truly going on with Jule and Imogen.  Quite the story.  A truly fun and engaging read.  

Who Should Read It:   Now that I have finished the novel, I can see why so many readers raved about the book.  It is the perfect mystery and thriller for both high school and adult readers.  There are a lot of surprises along the way which will bring readers hours of enjoyment.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars




The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

How I Heard About It:  A member of my BBC (Boy's Book Club) chose this novel for our current section.  I knew nothing of it and was interested in reading it.  I actually listened to it via the "Audible" app during my commute each morning and afternoon.  

What It Is About:  After a man commits suicide, he leaves his pregnant wife Annie alone and poor.  After she gives birth to Sally, they find refuge with a group of nuns living in New York City.  These two woman begin a life inside the "walls" of the convent and devote themselves to helping the poor.  The story follows each of them throughout their lives while introducing the reader to a variety of other characters.  

What I Thought Of It:  What can I say?  The beginning of the story grabbed me right away and lead me to believe I was in for a real treat.  But as the story continued, I lost interest and had a hard time following the plot.  I know if I had been reading it, it would have been a "skim and scan" type reading for me.  At first I was glad that I was listening, but then it was even hard to pay attention to the audio.  I know my mind wandered and I didn't catch everything that was going on.  It was a slow moving story.  I couldn't keep track of the characters.  All and all it just wasn't the novel for me.  

Who Should Read It:   Looking at all the reviews on Amazon, it looks like people either really loved the novel or didn't.  I would probably be somewhere in the middle.  There were moments when I was interested in what was going on and other times when I wasn't sure what was going on.  I would imagine that readers that have read other works by Alice McDermott would be an audience for this novel.  I look forward to our book club meeting.  I'm curious to see what the other members thought of it.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  3 STARS out of 5 Stars


Raffie on the Run by Jacqueline Resnick

How I Heard About It:  I was so lucky to have gotten to know Jacqueline Resnick when I read her two books, The Daring Escape of the Misfit Menagerie and A Valiant Quest for the Misfit Menagerie.  I used both of these books for a class read aloud and/or a "Breakfast with Books" book club selection.  Jacqueline reached out to me letting me know she had a new novel coming out in 2018.  I was so excited to hear from her and learn of this awesome news.  After receiving an ARC, I enjoyed reading her newest work of fiction.  Let me tell you:  it is a GREAT read!  

What It Is About:  Raffie is a rat.  He is a rat that lives with his family in the subway station.  He wants for nothing.  He has more food than he knows what to do with and experiences many grand adventures.  Each day when Raffie returns to the safety of his home, he shares his daring feats with his younger brother.  The brother looks up to and admires Raffie.  He wants to be just like him.  When Raffie's brother sets off to experience his own adventure, something goes terribly wrong and he disappears.  Raffie feels responsible and knows he must fix the problem.  He sets off to find his brother and will stop at nothing before he does.  Raffie must cross the busy city of New York to locate and save his brother.  While on this journey, he encounters many different characters and dangerous situations.  There are many times he could give up, but he is determined to be the big brother that his little brother looks up to and admires.  

What I Thought Of It:  For some reason it has been a long while since I have read an animal fiction story.  I'm not sure why because I always enjoy them.  I love Jacqueline's writing style and how she is able to create a story with animals and make them seem so human-like.  Once I started the story, I could not stop reading.  The characters were unique, the plot was action-packed, the setting came alive, and twists and turns didn't stop.  As I read the book, I kept thinking how much my young readers were going to enjoy the adventure of Raffie and his friends.  

Who Should Read It:   Jacqueline writes the perfect novel for middle-grade readers.  She brings the reader into the world of animals and lets them experience a story like no other.  This is a "spot-on" novel for readers in grades four, five, and six.  It would also be the best book for readers that enjoy reading stories told from an animal's point of view.  This is definitely going to be a book I share with my fourth graders when it is released in February of 2017.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars




We are Okay by Nina LaCour

How I Heard About It:  This was a novel that has been on my reading radar for quite some time.  When I ran across it via my "Cloud Library" app through my public library, I downloaded and began listening to it via my commute to and from work.  I was excited to listen because so many of my reader friends had such awesome reviews of the story.  

What It Is About:  Marin tried to escape her "old" life on the west coast by running off to college on the east coast.  But no matter how hard she tries, she can't shake the memories of her life back "home" with her best friend Mabel and her dear grandfather.  Marin lost her mother at a young age, isn't sure who her father is, and has lived with her grandfather for as long as she can remember.  When Marin and Mabel become closer than either of them thought was possible, she isn't sure how to handle the feelings and/or deal with the relationship.  Marin thought she knew her grandfather better than anyone, but when a tragic "accident" occurs, she learns her entire life may have been one BIG lie.  While at college during winter break, Marin is forced to deal with her past when Mabel shows up at her door.  

What I Thought Of It:  A complete joy to listen to.  The narrator did an incredible job of telling the story of Marin, her grandfather, and Mabel.  The writing was gorgeous, beautifully, and engaging.  The two stories, Marin and her grandfather and Marin and Mabel, each stood alone; but also depended on each other as the pages unfolded.  Marin was a character that came to life because of the strong and deep writing.  There were several moments when I could actually feel her pain.  The story provided me several days of listening pleasure.  

Who Should Read It:   Amazon states the book is geared toward grades eight and up.  In my opinion, I would say it is better suited for high school readers and/or adult readers.  The pace of the story is more on the "slow" side so the reader has to be patient for events to unfold.  I've never read anything by Nina LaCour, but after this story I will be looking into her other works.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars




Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart

How I Heard About It:  I absolutely love Dan Gemeinhart novels.  They are some of my favorite middle-grade stories.  When I learned that he was going to be releasing his fourth novel in 2018, I was excited.  I had the opportunity to meet Dan in person at #NCTE17 in St. Louis.  He was also signing ARC's of the book which I was lucky enough to snag.  I'm now going to be sharing this incredible story with my #bookexpedition group.  

What It Is About:  Told from the point of view of Aiden's beloved Dog Brodie.  Brodie is in "flux" between the real world and heaven.  He is about to enter the world of "forever after", but before he does, he must return to earth to find his boy Aiden and make sure he is safe from the "monster".  All the other dogs plead with Brodie not to make the return and warn him of the dangers he faces.  He returns to Earth as a spirit and befriends a pitiful named Tuck and an ornery cat named Patsy.  They do everything in their "animal powers" to locate Aiden and make sure he is finally safe from the monster that was responsible for Brodie's demise.  The three of them face many dangers and have to overcome a group of "hellhounds".  Brodie just keeps on remembering the past with Aiden which drives him forward to find the young boy that he had shared his life with.   There is no bond quite as strong as that between a boy and his dog.  Especially a "good dog"!  

What I Thought Of It:  Another FIVE star novel from the very talented Dan Gemeinhart.  Each time I read one of his novels, I'm surprised in the fact that it is completely different from his previous book.  That is the sign of a truly gifted writer.  Being a "dog" guy, I loved this story.  I loved the fact that it was told from the point of view of Brodie and his "pals".  I loved the idea of a place between Earth and heaven.  There were so many incredible moments sprinkled throughout the story.  Brodie and his friends gave so much of themselves, not only to each other, but to the human boy Aiden.  The writing was top notch.  The characters were so well developed to the point they "jumped" off the page.  The action started on page one and didn't let up until the last sentence.  I can't say enough "GOOD" about the book.  Just be sure to put it on your TBR list so you are ready for it on March 27th.  

Who Should Read It:   Dan's books are perfect for the middle-grade reader.  I have students in my class reading both Scar Island and Some Kind of Courage and they can't put them down.  I know they will find the same thing with his newest work of fiction.  Every fourth, fifth, and sixth grade classroom need to have this in their collection.  Of course middle-school readers will also eat up the adventure of Brodie.  Not only will young readers love the story, but adult readers as well.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5+ STARS out of 5 Stars





Thursday, December 7, 2017

Life Lesson #11 (Be Motivated)

"Be Motivated"

*This is the ELEVENTH 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.  

*We are a classroom of quotes, sayings, and helpful hints.  This video fits right in.  I love the images, the words, and the entire message.  This is a GREAT one!  

*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

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Wonder Wednesday #203 (Readers in ACTION)

Wonder Wednesday - Choice in SPOTS and BOOKS


*If I'm being honest, this school year has been difficult.  It has been difficult for many reasons and I don't want to use this blog as a place to negatively vent.



*The other day I was observing my readers in action and I had a moment of complete joy and contentment.  This doesn't happen a lot during the school day.

*The readers were engaged, reading, and all on-task.  I know this is because I offer book choice and spots where they read.  We would all say reading is our favorite time of the school day.

*I wanted to capture the moment and took these images.  They are a GREAT reminder that my readers are fully invested in our independent reading.

*Enjoy the "look" at the fourth grade readers in action...







Monday, December 4, 2017

Music Monday #13 (Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka)


"Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka

*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.

*This is one of my favorite songs and I have used it for years.  I find no matter the make-up of my class, everyone really loves the song.  It is so refreshing to bring in an "innocent" and "fresh" song that appeals to the young people of today.  

*Today is our THIRTEENTH 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 will.i.am                                                  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

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (12/4/17)



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...


Genuine Fraud by e. lockhart

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








Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week


Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

*My Young-Adult Novel









One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

*My Young-Adult Novel









From Striving to Thriving
by Stephanie Harvey and Annie Ward

*My Professional Reading








Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart

*My Middle-Grade Novel









We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

*My Young-Adult Novel (Audio)




Thursday, November 30, 2017

Life-Lesson #10 (Be Courageous)

"Be Courageous to Continue On"

*This is the TENTH 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 video captures the courage it takes to continue on during difficult or rough times.  I want them to know that not giving up is a virtue that each of them should hold.  

*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

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Wonder Wednesday #202 (NCTE17 - Part #TWO)

Wonder Wednesday - A Weekend of BOOK Love


*I'm still in "cloud nine" after my four days in St. Louis where I attended my third NCTE convention.  

*As I mentioned on FaceBook, I think it just gets better and better each year.  

*The time at the convention, talking with authors and educators, and taking in all the new information fills me up and reenergizes me to be in the trenches with the young readers and writers of mine.  

*I could write so much about my experience, but life is busy, teaching is more than a full-time job, and sometimes I think the story can be told better through images.

*Here is a look at my journey in St. Louis on Saturday, November 18th and Sunday, November 19th.  If you want to see pictures from part #ONE, click on the following link...