Fourth Grade Journey

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Treat Tuesday #142 (Book Release Day)

Treat Tuesday:  White Chocolate Blueberry Lasagna

*We attended a dinner party and this was served as dessert.

*It was so tasty and so "summer."

*I asked where the recipe came from and the host shared with me the site she got it from.  



For the Crust:
36 Golden Oreo cookies ( whole cookies with filling )
6 tablespoon unsalted butter-melted

For Cream Cheese Layer:
8 oz. cream cheese-softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter-softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 ¼ cup Cool Whip
1 to 1 ½ cup blueberries fresh or thawed (I used 1 ¼ cup frozen wild blueberries)

For Pudding Layer:
2 – 3.9 ounce packages White Chocolate Instant Pudding
3 cups cold milk
2 oz. freeze dried blueberries- powder (pulse blueberries in a food processor to make the powder)

For Topping:
1 ½ cup Cool Whip
white chocolate bar to make the curls (or sprinkle with 1 ½ cups white chocolate chips)

  1. In a food processor ground whole Oreo cookies with the filling to get fine crumbs.
  2. Combine Oreo crumbs with 6 tablespoons melted butter and stir until evenly moistened. Press the mixture into the bottom of 9 x 13 inch dish. Set in the fridge to firm while making the filling.
  3. In a bowl mix together cream cheese, ½ cup softened butter and powdered sugar and beat well. Mix in 1 ¼ cup Cool Whip. Fold in blueberries. NOTES: If you use frozen blueberries you must thaw them first and rinse with water if you don’t want to get dark purple color for your filling than drained them well at several layer of paper towel!!!
  4. Spread the mixture over the crust.
  5. In a medium bowl combine white chocolate instant pudding with 3 cups cold milk. Whisk for a few minutes until the pudding starts to thicken and mix in pulverized freeze dried blueberries. Spread over cream cheese layer. Set in the fridge to firm.
  6. Spread 1 ½ cups Cool Whip on top.
  7. Top with white chocolate curls or shavings or sprinkle white chocolate chips.
  8. Refrigerate at least 3-4 hours before serving.

Treat Tuesday:  Middle-Grade Novel

Treat Tuesday:  Young-Adult Novel

Treat Tuesday:  Adult Novel

Monday, May 30, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (5/30/16)

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… 

All the Rage by Courtney Summers

*Young-adult novel

*4 STARS out of 5 Stars!

My Book Review

Still Waters by Ash Parsons

*Young-adult novel

*4 STARS out of 5 Stars!

Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

*5 STARS out of 5 Stars!

My Book Review

Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz

*5+ STARS out of 5 Stars!

My Book Review

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week 

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

*My adult novel

A Year in the Life of a Complete and Total Genius by Stacey Matson

*My middle-grade novel

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz

How I Heard About It:  I was lucky enough to see a Twitter conversation between Elly Swartz and one of my Twitter friends.  I can't remember who was sharing her comments with Elly, but they were very favorable about her new novel coming out in October.  I joined in on the conversation asking if there were any ARCS out there.  Elly was kind enough to point me in the direction of NetGalley.  After doing some searching on my own, I was unable to locate the electronic copy of it.  Elly then went out of her way, and found the correct link to find the copy.  I could tell right away that Elly Swartz was one of those authors that I would like.  

What It Is About:  Molly's family is in a state of transition.  Her father is working more than ever and doesn't have as much time to focus on the Molly, her younger brother Ian, and her older sister Kate.  An even bigger transition is that Molly's mother has "left" the family to work in Canada.  She has promised she will return in a year's time, but Kate tries to convince Molly not to count on her promises.  As Molly's sixth grade year gets underway, she becomes a participant in a poetry "Slam" contest.  Molly realizes if she wins this contest, her mother will have to return for the special awards program.  She makes it her mission to win.  During this time, Molly begins to notice some of her behavior could be classified as "crazy."  With each day, she exhibits more and more untypical twelve year old behavior, but is determined to hide it from her family and her two best friends at school.  This becomes increasingly difficult and Molly tries to decide who she can tell.  

What I Thought Of It:  I sent a "tweet" to Elly Swartz last night at 1:40 AM.  I had just finished the novel and I was emotional spent.  I absolutely loved everything about Molly and her story.  The writing in this book is exquisite and not a word is wasted.  The story was told in such a caring and touching way and unraveled slowly with bits and pieces being revealed to the reader until there is a "wow" moment when you realize exactly what Molly is dealing with.  I thought the description of what was going on with Molly on the "outside" alongside what was going on with her "internally" was done with such heart, thought, and care.  Molly's two friends added greatly to the story and brought some much needed comedic relief.  If I'm being really honest, I think her story touched me so because I could relate to some of what she was going through.  There are some things in my own life where I try to make "perfect."  With age and hard work, I've come to the point where I know that there isn't such a thing as perfect and all will be OK when it isn't.  I hope, and am pretty sure, Molly was on the right track to figuring this out also.  

Who Should Read It:  EVERYONE!  This is definitely going to be a novel that I share with my fourth grade class when it comes out in October and I can get my hands on a hard copy of the book.  This is the perfect book for fourth, fifth, and sixth grade readers.  I'm also telling all of my adult Twitter friends who enjoy middle-grade fiction to read it.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5+ STARS out of 5 Stars

Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

How I Heard About It:  Having read Noggin a couple years back, I was quite curious about Whaley's new novel that was being chatted about on Twitter.  After reading that Donalyn Miller couldn't put it down and finished it in about a day, I knew I had to read it.  I just finished it earlier today and am so happy I got to experience this incredible story.  

What It Is About:  When Solomon was in eighth grade he experienced an incident that left him in the water fountain in front of all his classmates.  After this, he retreated home and hasn't left since.  Solomon is now sixteen years old.  He has existed in his home with only his parents and his beloved grandmother who visits as often as she can.  Lisa is a senior and wants to attend a highly prestigious physiology program, but getting in is highly competitive.  When she realizes who Solomon is and where he lives, her "project" to get into college becomes apparent.  Lisa's boyfriend Clark isn't sure this is such a good idea, but at this point she can't be stopped.  Lisa creates a way to enter Solomon's world, and home, and begins her "treatment" plan without him even knowing it.  As Solomon ventures into a world of new friendship with Lisa and then with Clark, he realizes slowly what he may have been missing these last three years.  Solomon shares secrets with both Lisa and Clark, but when their secrets are exposed, Solomon may retreat further than he ever has.  

What I Thought Of It:  As soon as I began this novel, I could not stop reading it or thinking about it when I wasn't reading it.  This is my second John Corey Whaley novel; the first being Noggin.  I love his writing style and boy can he tell a great story.  I was fascinated by Solomon's story as I haven't ever read about a character that can't leave their home.  He was an endearing guy that I wanted the best for.  Lisa's character was complex and I found myself angry at her at times and sympathetic toward her at others.  To finish the "love triangle" was Clark and he was an interesting and complex character.  To top it all of there was a grandmother that every young person would want and I could easily picture her in my head.  The book was told from alternating perspectives of Solomon and Lisa and worked well for the plot.  I actually loved everything about this story.  

Who Should Read It:  This is definitely a story that should be read by as many people as possible.  Readers who read middle-grade fiction, would enjoy the story.  Readers who typically read young-adult books, will for sure find this an excellent read.  I know that my adult reader friends will love this story as much as I did.  This is a definite must-read for summer 2016.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Saturday, May 28, 2016

All The Rage by Courtney Summers

How I Heard About It:  While surfing my "3M Cloud Library" app for a YA novel to "check-out" via my iPad, I came across this title.  I had never heard of it and/or seen anything about it.  After reading the summary, I decided to give it a try.  That is the wonderful thing about this app.  I can check out the book via my library card, give it a try, and check it back in if I don't like it.  The best part:  I'm not out any money!  

What It Is About:  The classic story of boy from the right side of the tracks and girl from the wrong side of the tracks.  Romy hasn't had it easy because of her upbringing, but has fit in with the "crowd" until a night with Kellan changes all of that.  He is the town "stud" and also the sheriff's son.  Romy has seen a different side of Kellan and tries to tell people, but no one believes her.  She becomes the outcast of the town.  Her only refuge is working at a diner in another town where they don't know her or the story that surrounds her.  After a local girl disappears, Romy might have to intervene and try to convince others that what she was saying was the truth and the same thing could have happened to this newest victim.  

What I Thought Of It:  Overall I liked this book.  It wouldn't be for everyone, but I have no problem reading about "tough" subject matters.  This isn't a pleasant story, but an important one to be told.  Summers doesn't hold back with the subject matter, the content, or the topic.  Romy is a complicated character and there were times when I liked her and times that I didn't.  To me this is a sign of great writing and excellent character development.  The entire reading experience was worth it for the very "shocking" conclusion.  

Who Should Read It:  This is definitely a novel for older high school readers and/or adults.  Because of the subject matter and story line, I would say the reader should be in 11th or 12th grade and above.  I had never read anything else by this author, but would be inclined to after reading this novel.  Adult readers that enjoy YA, should definitely give this story a try.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Friend Friday #141 (Pax by Sara Pennypacker)

Hi!  I'm Jessy and I read the book called Pax written by Sara Pennypacker.

I think this book was heartwarming because he went through a dangerous adventure to find his fox.  

My favorite part in the story is when Pax found friends because he seemed so lonely.  

The character that I liked best was Pax because he's very understanding.  

I think the author wrote this book because she wanted to write a book about true friendship.  

I would recommend this book to my friends because it's awesome and sad and heartwarming.  

Reading to me is everything because it helps you to become a better person and I always enjoy the books I read.  

*We are heading toward to finish line to the 2015-2106 school year.
*It was a tough year in many ways, but also a joy in others.
*One such joy was working with Jessy and sharing so many book titles with her.
*The two of us created quite a book relationship during the year.
*I couldn't believe how fast she could "tear" through a book that I shared with Jessy.
*This was the latest one I gave her to read.  

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Trailer Thursday #141 (Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews)

Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews (Young-Adult Novel)

Life Lesson #33 (Be Awesome)

"Be Awesome"

*It is Thursday and that means it is time for another "Life Lesson" video clip.

*As we head toward the end of the school year, it becomes a challenge to keep the writers engaged.

*I have found that the more humor and light-hearted material I can use, the better.

*This video clip fits that bill perfectly.  Plus, I want all my students to be AWESOME!

*I'm always trying to find ways to help my students reach their full potential.  

*Each Thursday I feature a different video with a "life lesson" in it.  

*After viewing the video once or twice, we chat a bit about it as a group.

*I then have the writers record their thoughts in their writer's notebooks.

*They can write their thoughts, reactions, connections, wonderings, learnings, or whatever is on their mind regarding the video.

*Encouragement is also given to reflect on the "message" of the clip.

*After about 5-10 minutes of writing, we listen to a few of the students share what they wrote.

*It is my hope that through these "life lessons", my students can become the best young people they can be.

Life Lessons (2015-2016)...
Lesson #1 - Be Courageous 
Lesson #2 - Be Kind
Lesson #3 - Be Courageous (part two)
Lesson #4 - Be Motivated
Lesson #5 - Be a Buddy, Not a Bully
Lesson #6 - Be Inspired
Lesson #7 - Be Spooky (Halloween Edition)
Lesson #8:  Be Kind (Kindness Retreat)
Lesson #9:  Be Shoutful
Lesson #10:  Be Happy
Lesson #11:  Be a Reader
Lesson #12:  Be Powerful
Lesson #13:  Be Merry
Lesson #14:  Be a Team
Lesson #15:  Be Giving
Lesson #16:  Be Brave (part two)
Lesson #17:  Be Positive
Lesson #18:  Be Dance Like
Lesson #19:  You Can Do It
Lesson #20:  Be a Hero
Lesson #21:  Be a Friend
Lesson #22:  Be Kind (Part Three)
Lesson #23:  Be Brave and Courageous
Lesson #24:  Be Fearless
Lesson #25:  Be a Sportsman/Sportswoman
Lesson #26:  Be Different
Lesson #27:  Thinking Outside the Box
Lesson #28:  Live Your Dream and Share Your Passion
Lesson #29:  You've Always Had the Power
Lesson #30:  Pay It Forward
Lesson #31:  Give a Compliment
Lesson #32:  Achieve Your Goals

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wonder Wednesday #141 (Book Trailers)

Wonder Wednesday - Book Trailers

*Something new I learned about a few years back was that book trailers were being made to promote books.

*I loved this idea and even started to feature "trailers" on Thursdays on this blog.

*One of my goals as a teacher has been to have my own students create a trailer on a book that they have read or experienced during our year together.

*It seems the end of the school year always snuck up on me and we never had time to create these trailers.

*This year I wasn't going to let that happen. Today was the day!

*Everyone picked a different book to create a trailer on.  The students were so excited.

*Here is a look at our first day on this project that I'm so glad I'm finally having my students experience...

Picture Wednesday #35 (The Writing Man)

"The Writing Man"

*This has to be one of my favorite images that I use with my fourth grade writers.

*I've had it for several years and always enjoy presenting it to the students to see what they think.

*There is so much to look at, observe, and study in this photograph.  

*Not only do I enjoy reading what they write about, but what types of discussions come from the image.  

*Each Wednesday we write in our writer's notebooks about a particular image.

*They can record their thoughts, reactions, connections, likes/dislikes, reminders, noticings, or anything else they would like.  

*Some of the writers choose to write a fiction story based on the picture.

*We write between five and ten minutes and then do a quick share at the end.  

*The photos always lead to lots of conversation and the sharing of ideas.  I try to get them to write first and then we can share what we wrote and what we were thinking.

*The writers are really enjoying writing and talking about these photographs.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Treat Tuesday #141 (Book Release Day)

Treat Tuesday:  Cranberry Chunk Cookies

*Graduation season is upon us.

*A close family friend has a son graduating and they requested my wife make these cookies.

*She usually makes them during the Christmas season, but made an exception and made them for the party.

*Lucky for us there were left-overs which we will be enjoying this week!

*2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened (my wife used butter)
*2/3 cup brown sugar
*2 large eggs
*1  1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
*1  1/2 cups flour
*1 teaspoon baking soda
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1 6-ounce package Ocean Spray Craisins (Original Dried Cranberries)
*2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips

-Preheat over to 375 degrees.

-Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy.

-Add eggs, mixing well.

-Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl.

-Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition.

-Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks.

-Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

-Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  (We did 12 minutes)

-Cool on wire rack.

-Makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Treat Tuesday:  Middle-Grade Novel

Treat Tuesday:  Young-Adult Novel

*Released 2015

*Released today

Treat Tuesday:  Adult Novel

Monday, May 23, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (5/23/16)

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… 

Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern

*Middle-Grade Novel

*5 STARS out of 5 Stars

My Book Review

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

*Young-Adult Novel

*4 STARS out of 5 Stars

My Book Review

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week 

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

*My adult novel

All the Rage by Courtney Summers

*My young-adult novel

Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

*My young-adult novel

Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz

*My middle-grade novel

Still Waters by Ash Parsons

*My young-adult novel (audio)

Music Monday #31: The World is Ours by David Correy & Aloe Blacc

"The World is Ours" by David Correy and Aloe Blacc

*This particular song was used by our Spanish teacher a few years back as a school wide theme.

*The students loved it and I loved it just as much.

*I used it the following year as a selection and it was a hit.

*This year I have a bunch of soccer players in my class and I know they are going to enjoy this song.

*This was our 31st Monday where we featured a musical selection.

*Each Monday I highlight a piece of music to share with my writers.  

*We begin with showing a video that goes along with the musical selection.

*The class will watch the video between 1-2 times.

*After the second viewing, the writers begin to record their thoughts in the notebooks.

*As they write, I play the music in the background (minus the video).

*My fourth graders can record their thoughts, ideas, connections, likes/dislikes, or reactions to the song.  They can also write about the message of the song.  

*I have my students write between 5-10 minutes.  At the end of our writing time, I see if a few of the writers would like to share what they wrote.  

Music Monday Selections (2015-2016)…

Week #1:  What I Am by
Week #2:  Proud by Heather Small
Week #3:  Dreamer by Chris Brown
Week #4:  Live Like a Warrior by Matisyahu
Week #5:  Sunshine by Matisyahu
Week #6:  Better When I'm Dancin' by Megan Trainor
Week #7:  Thriller by Michael Jackson
Week #8:  Hopeful by Bars and Melody
Week #9:  Keep Your Head Up by Andy Grammar
Week #10:  The Rainbow Connection from The Muppets
Week #11:  What Does the Fox Say by Ylvis
Week #12:  Hall of Fame by The Script
Week #13:  Clouds by Zach Sobiech
Week #14:  Do They Know Its Christmas by Band Aid
Week #15:  What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong
Week #16:  Am I Wrong by Nico & Vinz
Week #17:  Humble and Kind by Tim McGraw
Week #18:  Today's the Day by Pink
Week #19:  Hold My Hand by Jess Glynne
Week #20:  Fireflies by Owl City
Week #21:  Superheroes by The Script
Week #22:  Happy by Pharrell Williams
Week #23:  Waka, Waka - This Time for Africa by Shakira
Week #24:  Candyman by Zedd and Aloe Blacc
Week #25:  Something New by Axwell/Ingrosso
Week #26:  Broken Arrows by Avicii
Week #27:  Rise Up by Andra Day
Week #28:  The World's Greatest by R. Kelly
Week #29:  One Call Away by Charlie Puth
Week #30:  Can't Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

How I Heard About It:   I have actually had the hard copy of this novel for quite some time.  It just never seemed to make it to the top of my pile.  I had also heard mixed reviews about it so was torn as to whether I wanted to read it or not.  Last weekend while at the local library, I came across the audio version of the book and decided to give it a try.  While commuting to and from work, I listened to the entire story.  

What It Is About:  Greg has a plan for his senior year and he is going to fly under the radar.  He isn't going to attach himself to one single group.  He is going to be friends with everyone.  He refuses to be a part of a clique.  Greg's plan lasts for a few hours and then his mother intervenes.  She asks Greg to call Rachel who is also a senior, but the two of them haven't been friends since years earlier.  Rachel has just been diagnosed with cancer and Greg's mother thinks she needs a friend.  Greg thinks this suggestion is quite ludicrous, but decides to give it a try.  At first Rachel wants nothing to do with Greg, but eventually these two form a "sort" of friendship.  Greg decides to bring in his really only friend Earl into the mix.  Greg and Earl have a history of making "bad" films together.  While getting to know Rachel, and her getting to know them, she requests they make a film for her before her life changes too much.  

What I Thought Of It:   This was an absolute delight to listen to on audio.  As opposed to most of the audio books I listen to, this one had an actual array of narrators representing the variety of characters in the story.  It was almost like watching a movie, but with just the listening part.  I truly enjoyed the story of Greg, Earl, and Rachel.  It was quite different from other "Cancer" stories I've read and I appreciated it.  This one was told with much humor and I actually laughed out loud while driving my car.  Greg, who was the narrator, had such a great sense of humor during this difficult time in his life.  I also enjoyed Earl.  He was a bit more raw, and there was a scene in the book that bothered me greatly, but he was a necessary part of the story.  Even though the story was about Rachel and her cancer, it actually focused more on Greg and his being witness to this nasty disease.  

Who Should Read It:  In my opinion this would be a great novel for both the adult reader and the young-adult reader.  Even though it is about a serious subject matter, there is lots of humor and funny moments throughout the story.  The telling of the story is also quite different being as it is told from Greg's train of thought, but I thought it worked wonderfully.  I know there are mixed reviews of this book, but I think it was darn good and would bring hours of pleasure to any reader.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern

How I Heard About It:   During a recent shopping visit to the local book store, I came across this title on the shelf.  I was drawn to the title and the cover.  After reading the book blurb and checking out some reviews on GoodReads, I decided to purchase the book.  Am I glad I did!  

What It Is About:  Bad luck seems to be following fourth grader Benny.  His best buddy has moved away.  He can't seem to get the hang of regular things fourth graders should be able to do, like riding a bicycle, and he isn't impressed with Mr. Norris, his fourth grade teacher, who is supposed to be quite a teacher.  After Benny's father has an accident that he blames himself for, Benny feels like the world is out to get him.  Nothing is going right at either home and/or school. His biggest encourager is his mother and she promises him that things will get better.  He just needs to take life one step at a time.  Benny makes it his mission to earn as many "footprints" at school for good deeds and to find out why Mr. Norris isn't measuring up to his reputation.  

What I Thought Of It:   When I find a novel that I don't know anything about, give it a try, and love it; that makes me quite happy.  That is exactly what happened with this book.  The character of Benny had me right from the get-go and kept me by his side the entire story.  The writing in this book was incredible and spot-on depicting middle-grade characters.  The supporting cast both at Benny's home and school, were strong and added greatly to the plot.  The story was tender, heart-warming, suspenseful, and thought-provoking.  I found myself reading it quickly because I was so interested in finding out what was going to happen.  Anytime a male teacher is featured as a character I'm extremely pleased.  This will definitely be a story I'll be sharing with my fourth grade class next fall.  

Who Should Read It:  Just My Luck is the perfect novel for students in grades four, five, and six.  The  length isn't too long and the arrangement of the writing will be pleasing to these readers.  Even though I wouldn't say there was a lot of "action" in the story, I think it will totally keep a reader's interest throughout the whole book.  I also think the novel would make for an excellent read aloud in these same grades.  Adults who enjoy middle-grade fiction definitely need to get a copy of this book and experience the magic of Benny and his quest for luck!  Happy Reading…

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friend Friday #140 (The Wild Robot by Peter Brown)

Hi!  I'm Jessy and I read the book called The Wild Robot written by Peter Brown.

I think this book was awesome because it's very heartwarming and is a page turner.  

My favorite part in the story is when the robot came to life because that's where all the action began.  

The character that I liked best was Roz because she is very nice, kind and also understandable.  

I think the author wrote this book because he wants people to have fun with reading the story.  

I would recommend this book to my friends because it's fun, awesome, and full of action.  

Reading to me is amazing and enjoyable because a lot of books are amazing and enjoyable like The Wild Robot.  

*With thirteen days of school left, I'm trying to get as many new releases into the hands of my readers.
*This was one such book.
*I absolutely loved this story and couldn't wait to share it with my class.
*I gave it to Jessy first and she was done within days.
*Her thoughts here are spot-on!  
*If you haven't read this book yet, you MUST…