Fourth Grade Journey

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wonder Wednesday #182 (Breakfast with Books #SIX)

Wonder Wednesday - Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart

*On the afternoon of Monday, March 20th at 2:00 PM, my fourth grade students gathered together for an amazing Skype visit with Dan Gemeinhart.

*This was our sixth "Breakfast with Books" book club selection for the 2016/2017 school year.

*After reading an ARC of Dan's newest novel last summer, I knew it had to be a part of our fourth grade book club.  It is an incredible novel.

*Normally my readers meet before school for our book club discussion and breakfast treats, but since Dan is two hours behind us here in Minnesota, we decided to do an afternoon book club.  This way all of my students would be able to enjoy chatting with the author and learning more about the book.

*I would say about three-fourths of my my students read the book, wrote comments/questions, and participated in the "chat" with Dan.  The rest of my students were able to "witness" the book club in action and hopefully be motivated to join our next selection.

*Dan has been generous with his time and Skyped with my readers the last couple of years.  It is always a joy to have him join us for a period of time.  He is great with the kids, offers incredible information, and brings his story to life even more than he does on the written page.

*Here is a look inside of our book club this past Monday afternoon...

Other TRAILERS and VIDEOS about Scar Island

Picture Wednesday #27 (Covered Sky)

"Covered Sky"

*This is the twenty-seventh Wednesday of our year together and that means it is "Picture Wednesday".

*Being on Twitter, I am able to follow a variety of different "sources" that promote a variety of images.

*This particular picture I saw on "Fascinating Pictures".  It struck me as beautiful, gave me a lot to observe, and enjoy the beauty of the beauty.  I hope my writers find the same uniqueness in the picture as I did.

*Each Wednesday I feature a photograph, image, or graphic.  My goal is to have my writers do some thinking, reflecting, and writing about the image.

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

-What we notice in the image
-What we wonder about
-Connections we have to the picture
-Thoughts, feeling, emotions about the visual
-Reminders we have from the image
-Create a fiction story about the picture

*Once the image is revealed to the writers, we spend a few minutes "talking" about what we see.

*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 writers and slowly add time to our 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 visual in front of us.

Our Images from 2016-2017...  
Week #1 - Back to School -                               Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #2 - Be Kind to Others -                           Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #3 - Be Safe -                                          Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #4 - Be Responsible -                              Click Here to see IMAGE
Week #5 - Animal Friendship -                          Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #6 - A Helping Hand -                              Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #7 - A Running Jump -                             Click Here to See IMAGE 
Week #8 - Stand-UP/Unity Day -                       Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #9 - Home Sweet Home -                        Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #10 - Camouflage -                                  Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #11 - Dream Big-                                      Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #12 - Sidewalk Biking -                            Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #13 - HUG -                                              Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #14 - Happy Frog -                                   Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #15 - Hair Dryer -                                     Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #16 - Goodbye 2016/Hello 2017              Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #17 - Ghost Rainbow                               Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #18 - Winter Drive                                    Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #19 - Animal Friends                                Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #20-  The Writing Cabin                           Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #21 - Travel Companion                           Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #22 - Guitar Land                                     Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #23 - Airplane???                                     Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #24 - Concert in the Air                            Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #25 - Water Sir?                                       Click Here to See IMAGE
Week #26 - Sunset Floors                                  Click Here to See IMAGE

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Treat Tuesday #182 (Happy Book Birthday)

Treat Tuesday:  Actually Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

*I believe I ran across this recipe via Facebook.  I'm always looking for new chocolate chip recipes.

*I have my own which I think is pretty good, but willing to try new ones to see if I can improve what I already do pretty well.

*As I'm writing this on Sunday our plan is to maybe try this recipe this afternoon with my wife.  They look so tasty...


"Actually Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies are just that...PERFECT! Super soft and extra chocolatey cookies just how I think all cookies should be!"

Yield: 36 cookies
Prep Time: 
Cook Time: 
Total Time: 


  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips


  1. Stir melted butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until well combined.
  2. Add in egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Mix until lighter in color.
  3. Add in the flour, baking soda and salt. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the bottom really well to ensure a smooth, well stirred batter. 
  4. Hand stir the chocolate chips into the batter and let it sit 20 minutes to let the flour soak into the rest of the batter. (The warm melted butter will help with this.)
  5. Preheat oven to 325. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and scoop cookie dough onto prepared pans, using a two tablespoon cookie scoop.
  6. Bake 8-9 minutes, rotating sheets half way through baking. When you pull your cookies out of the oven, they will looked cooked around the edges and undercooked in the center. 
  7. Leave the cookies on the hot baking pans for 5-7 minutes or until you can remove them without falling apart. Place onto cooling racks and cool to room temperature before storing in air tight containers.

Treat Tuesday:  Middle-Grade Novel

Treat Tuesday:  Young-Adult Novel

Treat Tuesday:  Novel Published for Adults

Monday, March 20, 2017

Matylda, Bright & Tender by Holly M. McGhee

How I Heard About It:  Where else?  Twitter of course.  I really need to start writing down the "source" so that I can give them credit here.  Most of the titles I get via Twitter and my "nerdy" friends are top-notch and novels that I end up absolutely loving.  That was the case with this new novel.  

What It Is About:  Before Matylda, the gecko, came along; there was just Sussy and Guy.  These two fourth graders are the best of friends and have been for quite some time.  They share all:  hopes, dreams, knowledge, and everything in between.  One day these two best friends decide to bring in another aspect to their friendship.  Sussy and Gus want a pet and they want to share this pet.  After some discussion, they decide on a gecko.  Upon returning from local pet store, they land on the same Matylda.  The gecko and Guy seem to bond immediately while Sussy has a harder time warming up to this new creature.  Guy has so much energy, passion, and love for the gecko, that Sussy wants to share in that also.  It appears Matylda is more drawn to Guy than Sussy which frustrates Sussy.  Sussy is determined to be just as "good" as Guy.  During one afternoon outing, a horrific event leaves Sussy stunned, shocked, and not quite sure how to handle it.  She retreats to her room where Matylda lives and does everything in her power to "make" friends with her "pet".  This isn't as easy as she would like and takes a road that leads her to some poor decisions that both herself and Guy are disappointed in.  Can this "magical" gecko bring Matylda and Guy together as they once were.  

What I Thought Of It:  One siting is all it took for me to "devour" this story.  What a complete joy this novel was.  I found the plot to be fresh, unique, and "tender".  The characters of Sussy and Guy were over-the-top endearing and wove their way into my heart.  Being a fourth grade teacher, I would love to have had these two characters in my own classroom.  They were strong, independent, and so loyal to each other.  I enjoyed that they stood on their own two feet and didn't care that what other people thought.  They followed their own dreams, passions, and interests.  I'm a "life-lesson" kind of guy, and this story was full of them.  So many teachable moments.  I can't wait to share this book with my own fourth grade class.  

Who Should Read It:  This is a little "gem" of a book.  It would make for a strong and excellent read aloud in grades three, four, and five.  Readers in grades four, five, and six could easily handle the text, content, and themes of the story.  Of course all teachers, librarians, and educators need to experience this wonderfully warm and touching story of Sussy, Guy, and of course Matylda.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Music Monday #24 (Rise Up by Andra Day)

"Rise Up" by Andra Day

*This song gave me the chills the first time I heard it.  I wanted to know more about the artist that recorded it.

*I used it for the first time last year and my students really enjoyed the song and the videos that went with it.  I love the one with the Olympic images.  So powerful!

*The message of "rising up" and continuing on is one that I try to stress with my students and want them to explore in their writing.

*Today is our Twenty-Fourth Monday together and that means it is time for another 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 this 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 Monday Selections for 2016-2017 
Week #1 - "What I Am" by                                                    Click Here for Week #1 Music
Week #2 - "Clay" by Grace VanderWaal                                               Click Here for Week #2 Music
Week #3 - "One Voice" by Billy Gilman                                               Click Here for Week #3 Music
Week #4 - "I Don't Know My Name" by Grace VanderWaal                Click Here for Week #4 Music
Week #5 - "Proud" by Heather Small                                                    Click Here for Week #5 Music
Week #6 - "There's a Hero" by Billy Gilman                                        Click Here for Week #6 Music
Week #7 - "Can't Stop the Feeling" by Justin Timberlake                    Click Here for Week #7 Music
Week #8 - "Thriller" by Michael Jackson                                             Click Here for Week #8 Music
Week #9 - "Beautiful Thing" by Grace VanderWaal                            Click Here for Week #9 Music
Week #10 - "Live Like a Warrior" by Matisyahu                               Click Here for Week #10 Music
Week #11 - "Thankful" by Josh Groban                                             Click Here for Week #11 Music
Week #12 - "Hall of Fame" by The Script and                    Click Here for Week #12 Music
Week #13 - "Clouds" by Zach Sobiach                                               Click Here for Week #13 Music
Week #14 - "Hopeful" by Bars & Melody                                          Click Here for Week #14 Music
Week #15 - "Do They Know Its Christmas" by BandAid                   Click Here for Week #15 Music
Week #16 - "My Hero" by Harris J.                                                    Click Here for Week #16 Music
Week #17 - "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong             Click Here for Week #17 Music
Week #18 - "Be Humble and Kind" by Tim McGraw                         Click Here for Week #18 Music
Week #19 - "Dreamer" by Chris Brown                                              Click Here for Week #19 Music
Week #20 - "One Call Away" by Charlie Puth                                    Click Here for Week #20 Music
Week #21 - "I Lived" by One Republic                                               Click Here for Week #21 Music
Week #22 - "One Shining Moment" by Luther Vandross                    Click Here to Week #22 Music
Week #23 - "Fireflies" by Owl City                                                     Click Here for Week #23 Music

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (3/20/17)

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...

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

*Young-Adult Novel (Audio)

My Book Review

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week… 

Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig

*Novel Published for Adults

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

*Young-Adult Novel

Glory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom

*Novel Published for Adults (Audio)

Matylda, Bright & Tender by Holly M. McGhee

*Middle-Grade Novel