Fourth Grade Journey

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

Saturday, September 23, 2017

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds

How I Heard About It:  I'm embarrassed to say how long this book has been in my TBR pile.  I'm not sure why I didn't get to it earlier, but it seemed so many other titles made their way to the top.  I finally decided it was time to read this story and experience more of the Jason Reynolds magic.  

What It Is About:  Genie and Ernie are in for quite a summer.  They are leaving the city of Brooklyn to spend time with their grandparents out in the country of Virginia.  They realize there may be more than one reason why they are being "shipped" off to the their grandparents.  Once they settle into the "farm life", each boy begins to explore the surrounding land and people.  While spending time with his grandfather, Genie learns that his grandpa is blind.  Genie can't quite believe this because he admires him so much and sees him as the bravest man he knows.  Genie and his grandfather spend a lot of time together and begin to learn about each other in ways no one else knows.  Genie also finds out new information about his own brother Ernie and the ways he is brave and even the ways he isn't.  Both boys also have to adapt to their grandmother's strict ways.  Life may have been a bit complicated in Brooklyn, but it gets even more so during a summer none of the family members will forget.  

What I Thought Of It:  Jason certainly has a way with words and telling a story.  I appreciate his diversity in story telling and the way he weaves a plot that the reader won't soon forget.  Genie and Ernie were unforgettable characters that wove their way into my heart and mind.  I found myself thinking of these two young men even when not reading the book.  The experience they had out in the country with their grandparents was unique, special, and heart-warming.  I absolutely loved the relationship they had with both grandparents.  The writing was eloquent, beautiful, and endearing.  

Who Should Read It:  In my opinion, this novel might be best suited with middle-school readers.  I'm not sure fourth and/or fifth grade readers would be drawn into the story as older readers might be. I can see readers in grade six and above would be best.  High school readers may even enjoy the journey of these two boys.  Of course any fan of Jason Reynolds MUST read this middle-grade novel.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Life Lesson #3 - Be SAFE


*This is the THIRD Thursday of our school year together and that means it is "Life Lesson" Thursday.

*Our school participates in a school-wide PBIS system.  One of those aspects if "being safe".

*I thought it would be great to share a fun video about being safe in our bigger world.  

*This was a "fun" and "different" way to look at being safe.

*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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wonder Wednesday #192 (International DOT Day)

Wonder Wednesday - Making our MARK

*One of my favorite days of the school year is "International Dot Day".

*We have celebrated this day in our classroom the last several years.  Each year I do more and more centered around the idea of "making our mark".

*One of the activities we do is create our own "dot art project".

*Each student picked a "dot" and placed it where they wanted on their white "canvas".  Once the dot was glued down, they created a picture and/or design of their own choosing.

*While the "artists" were working, I had the pleasure of walking around and capturing some images of the students in action.

*This day of celebration will take us through the entire year and we can't wait to "make our mark" in many different ways!!!

Monday, September 18, 2017

An Inside Look #35 - Season #THREE (Author Interview)

An Inside Look with Amy Sarig King
(Author of Me and Marvin Gardens)

*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 Amy Sarig King for being the SECOND author of the third season.  I truly appreciate it.  

*Here are links to the first THIRTY-FOUR interviews…


*I read this novel over the summer of 2017.  I so enjoyed the story and knew my fourth grade readers would like it as much as I did.

*Amy Sarig King was kind, gracious, and giving with her answers to my questions.  It is an honor to post her answers with my "Inside Look" feature.   

*Here is a link to my review of Me and Marvin Gardens...

*Thank you Amy Sarig King for writing this novel for middle-grade readers and taking the time to share your thoughts with us here on the blog...

Me and Marvin Gardens
by Amy Sarig King (Released January 31, 2017)

How did you come to know Obe?  
I’d known for a long time that I would write about the construction destruction of my childhood cornfield. I’d even tried to write it from a different point of view for a different age group once but it didn’t work. I still hadn’t gotten over the loss. It’s not like the land was mine or ours—it was the cushion where I grew up. So Obe is a lot of me. I got nosebleeds, got sucker punched, got covered in mosquito bites, and I grew up in nature. The original land was my family’s land. The creek was my best friend’s creek. The trash everywhere belonged to me, too—or that’s how it felt. So when Obe showed up at first, nose bleeding, mosquito-bitten, fishing trash out of the creek, I thought I’d met the mirror of me. But as he told me more about himself, I realized that he’s really the little brother I’d always wished for. He came to remind me to be fearless, daring, and brave, I think.

What do you think is Obe's most admirable quality?
 I guess if I was to pick one, it’s his unrelenting quest to keep the creek clean. Which relates to his unwavering belief that the kids on his bus shouldn’t treat Annie poorly.

Is there anything you wish Obe would have changed or done differently in his story?
 I wish Obe would have spoken up about Marvin sooner, but I also understand why he didn’t. Characters do what they do. My job is to allow them the space to do it.

What do you think Obe can offer to other children that are experiencing similar situations to what he went through?  
 Well, if any other children encounter a slimy never-before-discovered animal who poops toxic waste, I think they should let someone know. (Drop me a line!) As for losing the field, I hope Obe offers a new understanding of how change can help people grow, even if it’s not the kind of change we want to see in our world.

How did you research Obe and the circumstances he found himself in?
Since this was a very personal book, I didn’t need to research Obe’s situation or location that much. But I did talk to a few animal experts and they answered my hypothetical questions about Marvin even though they thought I was really weird for asking.

Do you and Obe share any similarities?  
Nosebleeds, getting sucker punched, losing a friend to “cooler” kids, the land, the creek, the trash, a passion for the environment, a half-hearted disdain for Monopoly…the list goes on.

What was the hardest scene to write about Obe?
 I suppose the hardest scene was toward the end—when Marvin and Co. were swimming downriver.

Who do you think was Obe's biggest supporter and why?
Ms. G., Obe’s science teacher, was probably his biggest supporter. She believed him. She helped him. She shared his concern for the environment. In second place is Obe’s mom, who does all these things, too, but later.

Why do you think humans and animals have such a special connection and bond?  
I have no idea why humans and animals share a bond. I don’t think it’s true for all humans because I know humans who don’t have any bonds with any animals. But if I was to guess why Obe and Marvin shared a bond, I’d say it’s because they both needed a friend.

What do you think Obe is doing as the present time?  

I think Obe is in his first week of school, taking weekends to go visit Marvin, and secretly dreaming of becoming a teacher.