Fourth Grade Journey

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

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Engineers by Jarrett Lerner

How I Heard About It:  This was a title that has been getting a lot of BUZZ online.  After seeing friend after friend after friend RAVE about it, I knew it was time to get a copy, read it, and see what was inside the cover!  

What It Is About:  Ken is an active member of the "Enginerds" which is a group of boys who are smart, interested in math and science, and live to "outbrain" each other.  When Ken receives a secret gift from someone "unknown", he isn't sure quite what to think.  After his buddies arrive to help unwrap the gift, they discover a collection of metal parts.  As they contemplate how to put these pieces together, the gift itself appears in the shape of a robot. The boys are beyond thrilled and can't wait to find out what this large robot can do.  Ken hides the robot from his family, but after a few days he realizes this may be harder than he thinks.  Part of the problem is that the robot eats and eats and eats!  The enginerds have to come up with a plan to "feed" the robot.  Not only do they have to find enough "food", they also learn that there is more than one robot roaming around town consuming way too much.  The boys must come up with a plan and come up with it fast.  

What I Thought Of It:  This was just the book that I needed.  It was a complete fun ride and I could NOT put the book down.  The whole format is absolute perfection for middle-grade readers.  The chapters were short.  There are illustrations throughout the book.  The action starts on page one and doesn't stop until the very last word.  I also loved that the story ended on a cliffhanger which leaves the reader waiting for the second installment.  

Who Should Read It:   Readers in grades three, four, and five would be perfect for the book.  The novel would also be awesome for readers that may struggle a bit with longer novels.  The set-up of the story would be ideal to put in the hands of an individual reader.  I'm planning on using it as a class read aloud because I want all my fourth graders to experience this fun, fast-paced, and engaging story.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Life Lesson #12 (Be Inspired)

"Be Inspired"

*This is the TWELFTH 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
Week #11:  Be Motivated                                                                   This Week's Life-Lesson

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Wonder Wednesday #204 (Charlotte Huck Committee)

Wonder Wednesday - Dream Come True

*My friend Franki Sibberson encouraged me to apply for the NCTE Charlotte Huck Awards Committee.

*I sent in an application in December of 2015, but was not selected for the committee.  I didn't apply in 2016.

*After attending the NCTE convention this past November in which I attended the Charlotte Huck Awards luncheon, I decided to give it another shot.

*This week I was pleasantly surprised when I received an invitation to accept a membership position on the committee.  I'm excited, honored, and ready for this next journey in my professional and "reading" life.

*Being a bit short on time, I decided to post the acceptance letter here as my weekly WONDER.  This is truly a wonder and I can't wait to get started in early 2018...

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                                                  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