Fourth Grade Journey

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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Treat Tuesday #62...

Treat Tuesday - Slow Cooker Ground Beef Lasagna Soup

*This is another great meal to have on a week night for working parents and busy families.

*Easy to do and quite delicious!


1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
10 3/4 oz. tomato soup, canned, condensed
14.5 oz. tomatoes, canned, petite diced
15 oz. tomato sauce, canned
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 beef bouillon cubes
4 c. water
1 1/2 tsp. oregano
1 1/2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. parsley
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
8 oz. Ricotta Cheese
8 lasagna noodles, broken into small pieces - UNCOOKED
12 oz. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

*Combine onions, tomato soup, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and place in the slow cooker.
*Add all of the spices and bouillon cubes to the slow cooker.
*Add water and spread your broken UNCOOKED lasagna noodle pieces all around.
*Crumble RAW ground beef over top.
*Cover. Cook on Low for 7-8 hours or on High for 4-5 hours.
*Approximately half hour or so before done, stir in the Ricotta cheese.
*Serve with shredded Mozzarella Cheese on top and savor the taste!

Treat Tuesday:  Middle-Grade Novel

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt

*Such an outstanding story from an incredible author.  A must-read!

Treat Tuesday:  Adult Novel

The Ha Ha by Dave King

*Read this book many years ago, but remember enjoying it so much!

*A great, strong story with such an interesting story line.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (9/29/14)...

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…

Death by Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart

*4 STARS out of 5 Stars

El Deafo by Cece Bell

*5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein

*My adult novel

The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern

Music Monday #4...

"Roar" by Katy Perry

*I love this song and my students always love this song.

*It is uplifting, fun, and full of energy.  Just what kids like.

*We watch the video, we write in our notebooks while we listen to the song again, and we share.

*The writers can record their reactions, their likes, their dislikes, or anything else they would like.

*Music Monday is becoming one of our favorite days to write in our writer's notebooks.  

Music Monday Selections for 2014-2015…

Week #1 = What I Am by and Sesame Street Characters
Week #2 = Proud by Heather Small
Week #3 = Dreamer by Chris Brown

Saturday, September 27, 2014

El Deafo by Cece Bell...

How I Heard About It:  This book was "talked" about for quite awhile on Twitter and I was thrilled to read it and see what all the talk was about.  I always get excited about new books to share with my students.  

What It Is About:  This is a graphic novel memoir.  I'm not sure I have ever read a graphic novel memoir before, but it sure did work here.  Cece tells her story about finding out she is deaf and what it was like growing up as a deaf little girl.  She has to deal with the reactions of her classmates, the neighbor children, and everyone else that comes across her path.  Cece also has difficulties with her hearing aids, her phonic ear, and the fact that everyone wants to use sign language with her when she is totally against it.  As Cece grows up, friends seem to come and go and each year brings its own challenges.  During one year of school she learns she can actually have some fun with her phonic ear.  She and her classmates realize they can hear their teacher wherever she goes in the building.  Above all, Cece just wants what every other child wants:  to have friends and be accepted.

What I Thought Of It:  I read the entire book this afternoon and loved every minute of it.  I loved the humor used in the book.  I loved the touching moments in the book.  I loved the "character" of Cece and how she dealt with being hearing impaired.  As I read the book, I found it extremely interesting to take in all the graphics, but also realizing these were true stories.  It was like having two worlds coming together.

Who Should Read It:  I will be book talking this book on Monday and doing a "book drawing" to see who will be the first five readers to get to experience this story.  Being that this is a graphic novel it has to be in the hands of the reader.  They have to be able to see the graphics up close and personal.  I would say that readers in fourth-sixth would be able to handle the text quite easily, but would also be appropriate for readers above sixth grade.  Happy Reading...

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Death by Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart...

How I Heard About It:  This was another title that came from my Twitter community.  I nabbed this book off the shelf as soon as I saw it in the local book store.  I was quite excited to read it!  

What It Is About:  Benjamin isn't having an easy time of it.  His father has died.  His mother is working a part-time waitress job and going to school so she can get a "real" full-time job.  They are down on their luck and about to be evicted from their apartment.  Benjamin loves to enter contests and sweepstakes in order to win the grand prizes and the cash that goes along with it.  His main sweepstakes is for a toilet paper contest in which he must come up with a winning slogan.  During this time, his grandfather shows up on their doorstep and they soon realize he is dealing with memory issues.  Ben and his buddy navigate school, friends, and staying loyal to each other.  His mother's and his future depend on whether he can come up with the extra money in order to insure they won't be evicted.  

What I Thought Of It:  This was an excellent middle-grade novel and I'm so glad I was able to spend time with this story.  Ben was an awesome character to read about and I was rooting for him the whole time.  It was fun to read about his adventures with the contests, the sweepstakes, and being so incredibly loyal to his mother and their situation.  The novel had humor, serious issues, friendships, and a whole lot of love between a mother and her son.  I also enjoyed the story of the grandfather and his issues with his memory.  It was handled with sensitivity and care.  This story really had it all and will be a must share with my young readers.  

Who Should Read It:  In my opinion this would make for a perfect read aloud in grades three through six.  As I mentioned above, it has it all and would be an interesting story for children to listen to.  If a student read it on their own, they would have to be a strong reader in fourth grade or a fifth/sixth grade reader.  At this point, I'm thinking of picking this novel for my "Breakfast with Books" book club and/or a read aloud with my fourth graders.  Happy Reading...

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friend Friday #61...

Hi!  I’m Jaden and I’m read the book called The Strange Case of Origami Yoda written by Tom Angleberger.

I think this book is awesome because it is a very interesting and different type of story.  

My favorite part in the story is when he wipes the pee off the window because  it was funny.

The character that I liked best was Tommy because he is the one who wrote the case file and I think he is funny.  

I think the author wrote this book because he thought sixth graders were funny and wanted to write a story about them.  He also must like Star Wars!  

I would recommend this book to my friends because it is a fantastic book and I know they would like it.  

Reading to me is very fun because you can learn new things as you read!

*Jaden is the third reader in my class to post for Friend Friday.
*This was one of the first books that I book talked with my reading classes. 
*I wanted to promote the final book in the series and also introduce all the books from the series.
*She was very interested in reading it, got a copy of it, and didn't put it down until she was done.
*It was so great to watch her read it every day and get such enjoyment from it.
*One of her goals this year is to read the entire series.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Trailer Thursday #61...

Treasure Hunters: Danger Down the Nile by James Patterson

Treasure Hunters by James Patterson (Middle-Grade Novel)

The Garden of Last Days by Andre Dubus (Adult Novel)

The Library by Sarah Stewart (Picture Book)

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles...

How I Heard About It:  The gal that cuts my hair shared with me this title on my every three week visit.  We usually end up talking about books and she couldn't stop talking about this particular novel.  I did a bit of research on the book and decided that it would be the first pick of the BBC (Boy's Book Club) for this school year.  My BBC is an all men's book club with some of the staff I work with.

What It Is About:  This is a major novel at over 800 pages.  There is so much going on in this story that it is hard to narrow it down.  Penn Cage is the main character and is the Mayor of Natchez.  His father is the town doctor that has an impeccable reputation for as long as anyone can remember.  The story goes back and forth between present day and the 1960's when the KKK was in full force in the southern states.  There were brutal murders during that time that were never solved.  Henry is a reporter from town and has been on a quest to solve what really happened back in the 60's.  When a black nurse returns to town and ends up dead, Henry is hot on the trail to find out what happened to her and how she was involved in the cases "back in the day."  Penn's father is a major suspect and Penn doesn't know what to believe.  Penn and Henry team up to bring the "bad guys" to justice and just finally figure out what really happened in the past and during present situations.  

What I Thought Of It:  It took me a long time to read this being that it is a major undertaking and I also was trying to read several other things at the same time.  I loved the story and found it quite powerful.  Even though this is a work of fiction, I know it is based on true events in our country's history.  The writing style was outstanding and flowed from page to page.  As long as the book was, it actually wouldn't take too long to read if you devoted some time to it.  One of the member's of our book club finished it in under a week.  The plot was quite suspenseful and the character development was really strong.  This is the first book in a series of three novels so not everything was solved by the end of the book which was a bit frustrating, but just makes me look forward to the next installment.

Who Should Read It:  If you are an adult reader and a fan of historical fiction then this is the book for you.  Strong writing, interesting characters, gut-wrenching scenes, and a plot that doesn't stop; makes for a very satisfying read.  Happy Reading...

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Life Lesson #4...

"Be Motivated"

*Today brought us "Life Lesson #4".  This is one of my favorite writing days.

*The writers are started to anticipate what the video clip is going to be each Thursday.

*We discussed what it means to be motivated by something.

*The class watch this short video clip twice before we started writing.

*The writers record their thoughts, feelings, reactions, reminders, or anything they would like as long as their writing is related to the video and the message of the clip.

*At the end, we have a few writers share what they recorded.  

Life Lessons from this Year...
Life Lesson #1 - Be Brave
Life Lesson #2 - Be Kind
Life Lesson #3 - Be Courageous

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Picture Wednesday #4...

"What Are You Looking At?"

*Each Wednesday I post a picture that prompts our writing for the day.  

*We call it Picture Wednesday.

*This was the picture that was posted for the writers.

*We talk about the picture for a few minutes and then they set to writing.

*They can create a fiction story, write about the picture, record their thoughts and/or feelings.

*After our writing time, a few of the writers will share with the class.  

*This picture was a hit and promoted many questions and comments from the class.  

Wonder Wednesday #61...

Wonder Wednesday - Community of Readers

*There is nothing better than a community of readers!

*Over the last few years I have focused on building a strong reading community.

*One way I've done this is by way of "Club Book" Sheets.

*I make it a very simple program because as teachers we don't have any extra time to spare.

*The first step is to introduce and/or "book talk" a book with the class.

*The book sheet is then posted on the bulletin board.

*I invite readers to read the book and when they finish they record their name on the club sheet.

*That's it!  Nothing else.  But it sure does motivate and build a community of readers.

*It is a great way to introduce and promote lots of books and have as many kids read them as possible.

*The readers LOVE signing the sheets and see how many different clubs they can join.  

*It is a true WONDER to watch each club sheet grow with more and more "members."  

*Happy Reading!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Treat Tuesday #61...

Treat Tuesday - Six Minute Caramels

*I am a sucker for a caramel.

*They are my guilty pleasure and I just can't stop eating them.

*When I saw this "quick" recipe, I knew I had to try it out.

*So good, so easy, and of course so tasty!!!

*1/4 cup butter
*1/2 cup white sugar

*1/2 cup brown sugar
*1/2 cup light Karo syrup
*1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 - Combine all ingredients.
2 - Cook 6 minutes, stirring every two minutes.
3 - Stir and pour into lightly greased dish. (8x8 for thick caramels, 2 batches fit 9x13)
4 - Let cool.
5 - Cut (Cut into strips with knife then used a scissors to cut into pieces)
6 - Wrap in wax paper & store in an air tight container.

Treat Tuesday:  Middle Grade Novel

Treausre Hunters by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

*This book is becoming popular in my classroom and the waiting list is growing.

Treasure Hunters:Danger Down the Nile
 by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

*I just purchased this sequel and the readers were quite excited.  

Treat Tuesday:  Adult Novel

The Garden of Last Days by Andre Dubus III

*His novels are a bit dark, but very engaging and definitely a page turner.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Happy Birthday Babymouse (#18) by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm...

How I Heard About It:  You would have to live under a rock to not have heard of Babymouse and this awesome graphic novel series.  I came in a bit late to the wonder of Babymouse, but over the last couple of years, I have read all the books in the series and shared them with my students.  

What It Is About:  This time it is Babymouse's birthday and this year she is going to have the best party ever.  She is beyond excited.  When the invitations go out, she realizes her birthday party is the same day as Felicia Furrypaws.  Felicia is going to have the "best" party ever and of course all the same people are invited.  How can Babymouse make her party better than Felicia and have everyone come?  

What I Thought Of It:   As with all the other seventeen books, I really enjoy this series.  This particular story was fun and had all the "antics" I would expect from a Babymouse book.  I also always enjoy the "lesson" that is presented in the story.  Another great addition to my classroom collection!

Who Should Read It:  I personally believe this series should be in every elementary classroom.  It would work with young readers all the way up to kids in sixth grade.  Such a fun, creative, and unique series of graphic novels.  I can't wait to see what happens to Babymouse in the next edition.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Music Monday #3...

"Dreamer" by Chris Brown

*Sometimes a great song comes with a bit of "baggage".

*I really like the song, lyrics, and message, but of course not a huge fan of the artist himself.

*None of the writers mentioned the "scandal" associated with the singer.

*We watched the video first.  They loved the Olympic footage.

*While they wrote their responses they listened to the song again (without the video).

*We then shared out a few samples of the writing.  

Music Monday Selections for 2014-2015…

Week #1 = What I Am by and Sesame Street Characters
Week #2 = Proud by Heather Small

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (9/22/14)...

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…

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles

*I finally finished this EPIC novel.  Quite the read!

*4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus by Tom Angleberger

*Very satisfying final book in a GREAT series!

*5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Happy Birthday Babymouse (#18) by Jennifer L. Holm

*4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein

*My adult novel

Death by Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart

*My middle-grade novel

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus by Tom Angleberger...

How I Heard About It:  This is one of my favorite series for middle-grade readers.  I have enjoyed all the books and was looking forward to reading this latest (and last) installment in the series.  

What It Is About:  This sixth and final story has all the elements that made the first five books so great.  The adventure with the "gang" of kids takes place on a school field trip to Washington D.C.  Most of the story takes place on the charter bus that the school has rented for the day.  The principal has made it clear she does not want Origami Yoda (or any of his paper friends) to be a part of the trip.  Some of the kids have snuck a new character aboard.  This time around it is Emperor Pickletine.  Throughout the story there are more shenanigans from each of the characters including bathroom visits, flying airplanes, Mountain Dew stains, likes/dislikes of classmates, and of course more finger puppets.  Even though there are difficulties between the group of friends, they realize how much they each mean to each other and come to rely on Origami Yoda and all that he has to offer.

What I Thought Of It:  I was excited to read this final book and it did not disappoint.  It was so fun to read about the kids on this adventure to Washington D.C.  The shenanigans were hilarious and up to par as they were in the first five books.  I laughed many times throughout the story and enjoyed all that happened to the "crew."  As I neared the end of the book I became a bit sad knowing this series was coming to an end.  But then again, you never know if it is truly the last episode.  Origami Yoda sure did leave us wondering on the very last page.  

Who Should Read It:  I always enjoy sharing this series with my students.  Once they start the first book, they always immerse themselves in all the other books in the series.  In my opinion, I think this is the perfect read for readers in the fourth grade and above.  I also think it has to be in the individual hands of the reader because of all the illustrations, graphics, and doodles throughout the novel.  For that reason I don't think it would make for a good read aloud.  If you have read the first five, then this book must not be missed!  Happy Reading...

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson...

How I Heard About It:   Well if you follow any avid reader on Twitter, then you knew about this book well before it was released.  I attended a workshop by Donalyn Miller in August and she stated that if there was one book you had to read, it was this one.  It was quite exciting once I got this beautiful book in my hands.  

What It Is About:  Jacqueline writes this novel in prose.  It is actually an autobiography of her early years.  The writing covers her birth, growing up with her parents, living in different parts of the country, and experiences she had as a young girl.  She also includes stories about her siblings, her grandparents, and other family members that had an effect on her upbringing.  Several of the stories included are about her dreams and wishes as a young "brown girl" growing up in an ever-changing world.  She had the desire to write even as a child and was influenced by many adults, including some of her teachers.

What I Thought Of It: This was one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read.  Jacqueline has quite a "knack" for putting together some elegant words and creating flawless sentences and/or paragraphs.  I found myself rereading passages many times to take in the beauty of the words.  I loved how the format was in prose and each chapter was quite short, to the point, and an important aspect of her childhood.  This book lived up to everything that was said about it and I'm so happy that I read it.

Who Should Read It:  Even though this book is written for young readers, I'm not sure they would appreciate the beauty of the book like an adult reader would.  The story telling was a bit slow and took its time and because of that it may lose a middle-grade reader before they really get "into" the story.  If a middle school and/or high school reader needs to read an autobiography, then this is the book for them. I also recommend it to any adult reader that enjoys "memoir" type stories and beautiful writing.  Happy Reading...

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friend Friday #60...

Hi!  I’m Tommy and I’m reading the book called Wonkenstein written by Obert Skye.

I think this book is great because it is a made up story and so interesting.  

My favorite part in the story is when they found the monster because  it was funny.

The character that I liked best was Rob because he is the main character and I think he is pretty cool.  

I think the author wrote this book because he wanted to write a book for kids that they would enjoy.  

I would recommend this book to my friends because it is great and funny.

Reading to me is the best and I love it because it is just plain awesome!  

*Tommy is one of my new fourth grade readers in my class.
*He is off and running during our reading workshop.
*I have enjoyed watching him self-select the books he is going to read.  
*After reading this first book in the series, I asked him if he was going to read the next one.  He said he would this year, but he first wanted to try another series in the classroom library.  
*To me, a sign of a true reader.
*Thanks to Tommy for sharing his thoughts about this book.  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Trailer Thursday #60...

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Life Lesson #3...

Be Courageous

*Today brought us life-lesson #3 during our writer's notebook time.

*This is one of my favorite days of the week because I love sharing these lessons with my students.

*It was all about COURAGE today.

*We watched the video clip first.  I actually had some "giggling" which led to a great discussion.

*The class watched again and this time there were no "giggles."

*The writers spent about 5 minutes writing in their notebooks.

*The writing could include thoughts, reactions, feelings, reminders, or anything related to the theme.

*Toward the end we take a few minutes to share.

*This one was a powerful lesson and I could tell the students wrote some great stuff!

Life Lessons from this Year...
Life Lesson #1 - Be Brave
Life Lesson #2 - Be Kind

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Picture Wednesday #2 and #3...

"Sun Setting"

*This was the picture I used today for our writer's notebook.

*I post the picture and we discuss a bit as a class.

*Then the writers record their thoughts, reactions, feelings, and ideas about the picture.

*They can also write a fiction story about the picture if they would like.

*At the end of the writing time, we have a few writers share their writing if they would like.

"Panda Tumble"

*This was the picture we used last Wednesday and I forgot to post it!  

Wonder Wednesday #60...

Wonder Wednesday - Book Giveaway

*This idea comes directly from Donalyn Miller

*I attended a workshop she gave this past August.

*She described how she gives out "new reads" to her students.

*This is our first "giveaway" of the school year...

*My goal was to start this "wonderful" idea the first week of school, but that got away from me.

*As I blogged about earlier, I have three "reading" classes this year.  A dream come true!

*Today I set up our first book "giveaway".  No, they don't get to keep the book, but do get to read it.

*I "book talked" Comics Squad to all three classes.  

*After the book talk, I invited those students that were interested to submit their reading name card.

*All the cards went into our "book bowl".  

*Tomorrow I will draw a name from the bowl and that student will be the first reader to get their hands on this particular book.

*I'm thinking of drawing maybe five cards so we have a list of who will get the book next.  

*The readers are very excited to see who will be the first to get to read this new book in our classroom collection.

*I'm hoping to do this type of "drawing" several times a week.  

*Thanks to Donalyn Miller for sharing this awesome idea.  

*The excitement is palpable!!!