Fourth Grade Journey

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

Saturday, May 19, 2018

My Name is Venus Black by Heather Lloyd

How I Heard About It:  While looking through my GoodReads list of books to be read, I came across this title.  I don't remember adding it, but was ready to read a young-adult novel. I actually downloaded it via my Audible app and listen for the last couple of weeks while going to and from work.  

What It Is About:   When Venus Black was about thirteen years old, she was arrested for the murder of her step-father.  She refuses to talk about what happened and finds herself spending five years in a prison for young people.  Venus left her mother and younger brother with special needs behind.  Right around the time she was arrested, her brother Leo goes missing.  It tears Venus apart, but there is nothing she can do from behind bars.  Five years later, when Venus is released, she decides to begin a new life and put the past behind her.  She is estranged from her mother and has no idea if Leo is alive or dead.  She takes on a new name, new identity, and slowing begins to take her life back.  As the days proceed on the outside, Venus' past slowly creeps back and she is confronted with both her mother and Leo.  

What I Thought Of It:  An incredible audio story.  I enjoyed it from the beginning to the very end and my attention never wavered.  There were so many aspects of this work of fiction that I enjoyed.  Mainly the characters were well written, realistic, and thought-provoking.  The plot centered on the relationships that Venus had, but there was also a major sense of suspense as to what happened with Leo, his life, and if he would be reunited with his mother and sister.  There were times when I was frustrated with the decisions that some of the characters made, but to me this is an excellent sign of tremendous writing.  

Who Should Read It:  I know this novel is billed for the "young-adult" reader, but I think the book could be read by both the young-adult and adult reader.  The plot is engaging, pulls the reader in, and explores quite a few relational type issues.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Wonder Wednesday #224 (Mindfulness)

Wonder Wednesday - A "Retreat" away from the Classroom

*The last days of teaching are always a busy time, but it was wonderful to get out of the classroom and give myself some PD.

*This was my second day of Mindfulness Training that my district is offering.

*I have been implementing many Yoga Calm/Mindfulness concepts and activities throughout the school year.  I have seen a definite move in the right direction.

*The students that we are getting at our school are coming with more and more needs and as educators we need to find ways to meet them where they are at.  Taking time for thought, movement, and relaxation is so important.

*I came away with many new ideas and I can't wait to implement them in the remaining 15 days of fourth grade.  It is even more exciting to think about the possibilities that I will start next fall with.

*Our training was provided by 1000 PETALS.

*Here are a few videos that may get you started on your own journey...

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller

How I Heard About It:  Many of my Twitter friends shared such positive thoughts about this novel that I put it on my last Amazon order and was thrilled when it arrived in the mail.  I didn't know much about the story, but based on what my reading friends were saying, I was anticipating a great read.  

What It Is About:   Natalie loves science.  She loves her science teacher.  She also loves her scientist mother.  Recently her mother had a set-back at work and has retreated to her bedroom.  Natalie and her father try to make the best of it, but the longer her mother remains distant, the more concerned Natalie becomes.  She makes it her mission to win a science contest in which she will earn some money.  With this money, she hopes to reunite her mother with her science passion and get their life back to normal.  While at school Natalie not only has to deal with the science contest, but navigating rough waters with some of her friends.  When he father takes her to a therapist, Natalie isn't sure why she has to open up about her "feelings" when her own mother doesn't.  

What I Thought Of It:  A journey of emotional awareness for sure.  I thought the story was strong and moved along at a wonderful pace.  The chapters and sections were organized according to the scientific method which I found both interesting and unique.  The character of Natalie was realistic and easy to relate to.  I enjoyed that she showed both a strong independent side, and a side where she desperately needed both her mother and father.  Most stories don't revolve around the topic of science, and I liked how this story did.  I now want to have an egg-drop contest in my own class.  

Who Should Read It:  I'm thinking this novel would be best suited for readers at the end of fourth grade, fifth grade, and sixth grade.  I can see it in the hands of female readers a bit more than male, but that isn't to say boys wouldn't enjoy the story.  If you have a student that has dealt with a family member and depression, this would be the perfect novel to put in their hands.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown

How I Heard About It:  This has been a novel I've waited a long time to read.  I absolutely loved the first book and couldn't wait to see how the story continued.  I first gave my copy to a student I had last year because he had been waiting all year to read the sequel.  It was fun to share my copy with him.  

What It Is About:   Roz is back.  After being taken off the island, she ends up on a farm as their electronic helper.  She is put in charge of helping with the animals and other tasks around the farm.  When a dangerous storm hits, she must protect not only herself, but the children and animals.  Roz isn't happy in her new environment, wants to be reunited with her adopted son, and return to the island she called home. When the two children on the farm find about about Roz's wish, they agree to help her escape.  From here, she embarks on an adventure of travel, animals, family, friends, and a whole lot of other danger and/or fun.  Her main goal is to spend her life with her adopted son, a goose, and find the island that she called home.  

What I Thought Of It:  If possible, I think I enjoyed this story even better than the first one.  It was so great to get back to Roz, Brightbill, and a whole new cast of characters.  The action/adventure started on page one and didn't let up until the very last page.  I think that Peter's style of writing is unique, spot-on, and engaging.  I found myself chuckling on several occasions while reading.  It was a pure joy to read and such a fun and entertaining read.  Both my former student and myself hope the adventure continues in a third book.  

Who Should Read It:  I think this is perfect novel for third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade readers.  This is actually a book series that some of my hard to reach readers have embraced, read, and enjoyed.  There is something about the plot that really draws in the reader.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Monday, May 14, 2018

Music Monday #30: Be Humble and Kind by Tim McGraw

"Be Humble and Kind" by Tim McGraw

*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 a one of a kind song.  When I first heard it a couple years ago, I knew it was the perfect song for Music Monday.  The message is spot-on and the words are so important.  Beyond the curriculum, I think real-life messages are the center point of my classroom.  

*Today is our THIRTIETH 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
Week #20:  "Can't Stop the Feeling" by Justin Timberlake             Click Here for Week Twenty Music
Week #21:  "Legends" by Sleeping with Sirens                    Click Here for Week Twenty-One MUSIC
Week #22:  "Geronimo" by Sheppard                                   Click Here for Week Twenty-Two MUSIC
Week #23:  "Fresh Eyes" by Andy Grammer                     Click Here for Week Twenty-Three MUSIC
Week #24:  "One Shining Moment" by Luther Vandross     Click Here for Week Twenty-Four MUSIC
Week #25:  "Happy People" by Little Big Town                  Click Here for Week Twenty-Five MUSIC
Week #26:  "The World is Ours" by David Correy                 Click Here for Week Twenty-Six MUSIC
Week #27:  "Wavin' Flag" by K'Naan                                Click Here for Week Twenty-Seven MUSIC
Week #28:  "We Know the Way" from Moana                    Click Here for Week Twenty-Eight MUSIC
Week #29:  "Hall of Fame" by The Script                            Click Here for Week Twenty-Nine MUSIC

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (5/14/18)

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…

Denis Ever After by Tony Abbott

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

Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison

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

Ebb and Flow by Heather Smith

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

The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown

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

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week

My Name is Venus Black by Heather Lloyd

*My Young-Adult Novel (Audio)

The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller

*My Middle-Grade Novel

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Life Lesson #26: Be a TEAM!!!

"Be a TEAM"

*This is the TWENTY-SIXTH 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.  

*I can't remember where I saw it, but this video is a new one for this year.  I'm always looking for ways to show my students how important team work is.  I think this one captures that perfectly.  I hope they enjoy it as much as I do.  Here is to TEAM WORK!!!  

*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
Week #19:  Be POWERful                                                                 This Week's Life-Lesson
Week #20:  Be Brave                                                                         This Week's Life-Lesson
Week #21:  Be Positive                                                                      This Week's Life-Lesson
Week #22:  Be a Friend                                                                      This Week's Life-Lesson
Week #23:  Be Strong and Courageous                                             This Week's Life-Lesson
Week #24:  Be DANCE-Like                                                              This Week's Life-Lesson
Week #25:  Be Inclusive                                                                     This Week's Life-Lesson