Fourth Grade Journey

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

Friday, January 30, 2015

Friend Friday #77 (Nnewts)...

Hi!  I am Holden and I read the book called Nnewts written by Doug TenNapel.

I think this book was good because it was interesting to read and had a lot of action.  

My favorite part in the story was when Orione shot the snake king because I like bows and arrows.  

The character that I liked best was Gullimar because he likes magic and so do I.  

I think the author wrote this book because 
he wanted to entertain me with a great book.  

I would recommend this book to our friends because it was recommended to me by my teacher and now I would like to tell other kids about it.  

Reading to me is fun because it is a great way to pace the time and is enjoyable.  

*Holden is in my third reading class.  

*He is such an enjoyable reader to work with.  

*I love to recommend new books to him because he is always so enthusiastic to read anything.

*Holden is a huge fan of Doug TenNepal so anytime I can hand him a new graphic novel from this author he is a happy reader.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Trailer Thursday #77...

Mark Teague Books (Picture Books)

Nnewts - Escape from the Lizzarks by Doug TenNapel (Graphic Novel)

Nerds by Michael Buckley (Middle-Grade Novel)

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (Young Adult Novel)

Secrets of Eden by Leslie DuBois (Adult Novel)

Life Lesson #18 (Be Dancelike)...

Be Dancelike 

*Each Thursday I share a "life lesson" with my students.

*It is my belief that some of these lessons can actually be more important than the "curriculum."

*We watch the video a few times as a class.  

*My students then get busy with their writing.  

*They can record their thoughts, feelings, reactions, reminders, or what they noticed while watching.

*We will write between five and ten minutes.

*At the end of our writing time, we have a few students share what they wrote!  

Life Lessons from this Year...
Life Lesson #1 - Be Brave
Life Lesson #2 - Be Kind
Life Lesson #3 - Be Courageous
Life Lesson #4 - Be Motivated
Life Lesson #5 - Be a Buddy, Not a Bully
Life Lesson #6 - Be Inspired: Never Give Up on Your Goals
Life Lesson #7 - Be SHOUTful (Shout Your Success)
Life Lesson #8 - Be Spooky (Halloween Week)
Life Lesson #9 - Be Kind (Part Two)
Life Lesson #10 - Be Happy
Life Lesson #11 - The Power of Literacy (Be a Reader)
Life Lesson #12 - Be POWERful
Life Lesson #13 - Be a Team
Life Lesson #14 - Be Merry
Life Lesson #15 - Be Giving
Life Lesson #16 - Be Brave (Part Two)
Life Lesson #17 - Be Positive

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wonder Wednesday #77 (Building the Classroom Library)...

Wonder Wednesday - 
Building the Classroom Library (Part One)

*I was lucky enough to receive some money from our PTO to be used for classroom supplies.

*Whenever I have any extra money, I always put it toward my classroom library and collection of books.

*It is quite exciting to watch the readers take in all the new titles and try to decide which ones they want to read first.

*Here is a look at some of the titles I added to the library that are rapidly being checked out...

 Knights of the Lunch Table Series

 Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake and Like Bug Juice on a Burger

 Explorer Series

 Nnewts #1

 The Misadventures of Salem Hyde Series

 The Quirks and the Quirkalicious Birthday

 The Dumbest Idea Ever

 The Adventures of Daniel Boom AKA Loud Boy Series

 Missile Mouse Series

The Secret Science Alliance Series

Picture Wednesday #20 (Watch Out Wave)...

Watch Out Wave

*Each Wednesday I share a picture/photograph with my writers.

*After the reveal, we discuss it as a class.  

*The writers then spend about 5 minutes writing in their notebooks.  

*They can record their thoughts, feelings, reactions, noticings, reminders, or create a story.

*After the writing, we have a few of the writers share what they wrote. 

*Our Wednesday writing is one of the favorite days for the kids.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson...

How I Heard About It:   At the end of 2014 I read I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson and absolutely loved it.  After finishing it, I checked to see what else she had written and found this title.  I completed the novel last night and I'm thrilled to have found a new and talented author.  

What It Is About:  Lennie has lost her older sister to a very sudden death.  Lennie's mother left years ago.  She lives with her grandmother and uncle.  The story begins about a month after the funeral as Lennie is heading back to high school.  She had been heavily involved in the school's band.  When she returns to the music class, she learns there is a new student in class named Joe who is a musical genius.  Lennie is starting to hang out with Toby who was her sister's boyfriend before she died.  She struggles with the feelings she seems to be having for him.  At the same time her friendship grows and grows with Joe.  Life becomes difficult for Lennie as she deals with her sister's absence, her new friendship with Joe, and the closeness that is developing with Toby.

What I Thought Of It:   After reading I'll Give You the Sun, I was very excited to read this book.  I enjoyed this story, but probably not as much as the author's newest book.  The character of Lennie was awesome and such an interesting young lady to read about.  The story was real and honest and at times quite graphic.  I appreciated this because I thought it was true to a high school girl dealing with everything that Lennie was.  The novel was easy to read and quite a quick read.  

Who Should Read It:  This book is for the young adult reader.  I think I'll Give You the Sun could be read by young adult readers and adult readers.  This particular novel is more geared toward the young adult reader rather than an adult reader.  Lennie is the "typical" high school girl and I think many high school readers will be able to relate to her and enjoy her.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Treat Tuesday #77...


*Saw this recipe on Facebook and we knew we had to try it.  

*We love Mexican food and especially casserole type dishes.

*This is simply delicious!  


1lb. ground beef
1/2 cup diced onion
1 pack taco seasoning mix
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 can refried beans (they spread easier if you warm them in microwave)
1 cup prepared rice (I used Minute Rice)
1 can Mexican blend corn (DRAINED)will only use about 1/2 can
4-5 large flour tortillas
8 oz of thick chunky salsa (your choice mild or hot)


-Spray a spring form, round cake pan or casserole with cooking spray
-Brown ground beef ,and onion and drain
-Add taco seasonings and cook according to package direction
-Lay 1 tortilla in bottom of baking dish and spread 1/3 of bean on it ,top with 1/3 of the meat and sprinkle on some cheese .

-2nd layer tortilla, 1/2 the rice, 1/2 salsa, 1/2 the corn and cheese
-3rd layer tortilla, 1/3 beans ,1/3meat, cheese

-4 layer tortilla . beans ,meat, corn, rice, salsa and cheese

-Bake covered with foil at 350 for about 40 minutes uncover and bake 10-15 minutes longer. let sit 5 minutes before cutting

-After baking top with sour cream,diced onion and shredded lettuce if desired

Treat Tuesday: Middle-Grade Novel

Nerds by Michael Buckley

Treat Tuesday:  Adult Novel

A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler

Monday, January 26, 2015

Music Monday (Colorado Edition)...

Rocky Mountain High by John Denver

*We have no school today because it is a grading day.  So no Music Monday with the kids.

*I was in Colorado this past weekend with my family.  We went visit some great friends.

*Colorado is such a beautiful state.  The winter beauty is unbelievable.

*It got me to thinking about this song so I thought I would throw it on for a special Music Monday.

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
Week #4 = Roar by Katy Perry
Week #5 = What Does the Fox Say by Ylvis
Week #6 = Rainbow Connection from the Muppets
Week #7 = Good Time by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepson
Week #8 = Thriller by Michael Jackson
Week #9 = Hall of Fame by The Script and
Week #10 = Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka
Week #11 = Count on Me by Bruno Mars
Week #12 = Superheroes by The Script
Week #13 = Something New by Axwell Ingrosso
Week #14 = Clouds by Zach Sobiech
Week #15 = Do They Know Its Christmas by BandAid
Week #16 = What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong
Week #17 = Shooting Star by Owl City

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (1/26/15)

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… 

Most Talkative:  Stories from the Front Lines of Pop Culture
by Andy Cohen

*5 Stars out of 5 Stars

*Listened to this on audio book

My Book Review

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

*My adult novel

*5 Stars out of 5 Stars

My Book Review

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Nevin

*My young-adult novel

*5+ Stars out of 5 Stars

My Book Review

Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

*My middle-grade novel

*4 Stars out of 5 Stars

My Book Review

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week 

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

*My adult novel

*The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

*My young-adult novel

The Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett

*My middle-grade novel

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriaty

*An adult novel that I'm listening to on audio

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett...

How I Heard About It:   I remember seeing a "Tweet" from Colby Sharp months ago that he was enjoying this book so of course I put it on my book radar.  

What It Is About:  Miles has just moved to a new town and school.  He was known for pulling the best "pranks" at his former school.  He wants to continue this tradition now, but he has some major competition at his new school with a boy named Miles.  Yep, Miles and Niles.  As these two youngsters get to know each other, a rivalry begins to establish who is the better "prankster."  Of course all of the pranks are driving the principal, Mr. Barkin, crazy and he makes it his mission to find out who is pulling the pranks.  Unfortunately this might come as a cost to his very own son.

What I Thought Of It:   This was a completely enjoyable story and one that I know my students are going to enjoy.  I love the format of the book.  In my opinion it is a chapter book, but has lots of illustrations on every page.  The two characters of Miles and Niles were fun to read about and each  unique in their own way.  The "major" prank at the end of the story is a prank to end all pranks.  I can't wait to share this book with the readers in my class.

Who Should Read It:  I'm so glad that more and more books are being published that are perfect and appealing to young readers.  The format of this particular book is geared toward the third and fourth grade reader.  I'm also thinking that a strong reader in second grade would be able to handle it.  It would even work for readers in the upper grades, especially if they are a reluctant or struggling reader.  I know this novel will be a welcome addition to my classroom library.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friend Friday #76 (BIG Nate)...

Hi!  I am Austin and I read the book called Big Nate written by Lincoln Peirce.

I think this book was awesome because Nate does funny things like play football with a turkey.

My favorite part in the story was when he looked at Penny's hair because he gaged.  

The character that I liked best was Nate because he does wacky and funny stuff.  

I think the author wrote this book because 
he wanted kids to laugh.  

I would recommend this book to our friends because it's a funny book and I know they would laugh like I did.  

Reading to me is good because I liked to read and have read a lot of great books this year.  

*Austin is in my fourth grade homeroom and reading class.

*I would describe him as one of my most avid readers.

*Whenever he has any down time he will head to his desk and pull out his book.

*One of his goals this year was to work his way through the Big Nate series.

*He will read a Big Nate book, then read something else, then go back to another Big Nate.

*I'm always amazed how he can "tune out" the room and get so absorbed in his books.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Trailer Thursday #76...

Audrey Wood Books (Picture Books)

The Dumbest Idea Ever by Jimmy Gownley (Graphic Novel)

Rain, Reign by Ann Martin (Middle-Grade Novel)

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (Young Adult Novel)

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Adult Novel)

Life Lesson #17 (Be Positive)...

Be Positive

*This is probably a bit of a risk to use with fourth graders, but I'm ok with that.

*Mention the word underwear or show a video with diapers and you are sure to get some laughs.

*I love the message in this video.  Just be positive!

*The class of writers will watch the video clip a few times.  We then get busy writing.

*They can write their reactions, thoughts, reminders, feelings, or what they notice in the video.

*After about five to ten minutes of writing, we do some quick sharing.

*It is my hope that these weekly "life lessons" will have a lasting impact on my students.  

Life Lessons from this Year...
Life Lesson #1 - Be Brave
Life Lesson #2 - Be Kind
Life Lesson #3 - Be Courageous
Life Lesson #4 - Be Motivated
Life Lesson #5 - Be a Buddy, Not a Bully
Life Lesson #6 - Be Inspired: Never Give Up on Your Goals
Life Lesson #7 - Be SHOUTful (Shout Your Success)
Life Lesson #8 - Be Spooky (Halloween Week)
Life Lesson #9 - Be Kind (Part Two)
Life Lesson #10 - Be Happy
Life Lesson #11 - The Power of Literacy (Be a Reader)
Life Lesson #12 - Be POWERful
Life Lesson #13 - Be a Team
Life Lesson #14 - Be Merry
Life Lesson #15 - Be Giving
Life Lesson #16 - Be Brave (Part Two)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wonder Wednesday #76...

Wonder Wednesday - NCTE Convention

*If I am completely honest, I really wasn't familiar with this convention until the last few years or so.

*Once I got on Twitter and started following all of these amazing educators, I came to know many different annual conventions.

*I would jealously follow their posts on Twitter as they attended wonderful meetings, workshops, and talks.

*One of my bucket list items for my teaching career was to attend one of these conventions "some day."

*An author friend of mine (Erin Soderberg) sent me a Tweet earlier this year telling me that the 2015 NCTE convention was going to be right her in Minneapolis.  We are both from here.

*I was so excited.  I went to my principal and asked to attend and she replied that "We would find a way for me to go."

*While at a Donalyn Miller workshop in December, we talked that the convention was going to be here in Minneapolis.  She also mentioned that the Nerdy Book Club was putting together a proposal to present at the convention.  She then asked if I would like to be a part of this proposal.  I think I was so shocked that I stammered an answer that yes I would.

*A few weeks after the workshop, I received an email from Colby Sharp asking if I wanted to be a part of the proposal.  I replied; YES!

*I wasn't sure what I was getting into, but I knew I couldn't pass up this opportunity.  Talk about being in a completely different league.

*Here are the members of this proposal.  You will see how out of my league I am, but what an honor to be included...

Middle-grade children’s book authors, Cynthia Lord, Liesl Shurtliff, and Kelly Barnhill

Brian Wyzlic, middle school teacher

Cindy Minnich, high school teacher

Colby Sharp, elementary teacher

Katherine Sokolowksi, elementary teacher

Jessica Lifshitz, elementary teacher and host of #LGBTQ chat

Shanetia Clark, an assistant professor of literacy

Teri Lesesne, professor of children’s and adolescents’ literature

Patrick Andrus, elementary teacher (Still Shocking to see my name here)

*At this point, we don't know if the proposal will be accepted or not.

*I believe the group will be notified in May.

*No matter what happens, it is truly an honor and a WONDER that this opportunity has been made available to me.  

Picture Wednesday #19 (Pigs on Vacation)...

Pigs on Vacation

*Put this picture with fourth grade writers and that equals a HIT!  

*My writers are WILD about animals so anytime I use a photo with an animal, they love it.

*After I reveal the picture, we have a quick class chat about it.

*Then the writers get busy writing.

*They can record their thoughts, feelings, reactions, ideas, reminders, or what they notice.

*A writer can also create a fiction story if they would like. 

*It is always a joy to see what the students come up with in their writing.  Always creative!  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Most Talkative by Andy Cohen...

How I Heard About It:   I first listened to Andy's second and most recent book, The Andy Cohen Diaries, a few weeks ago.  I listened to the audio book on my commute to and from work.  It was completely enjoyable and so much so that I ordered his first book to listen to also.  

What It Is About:  This first book covers Andy's early life where as the second book concentrated on one year in time in more recent years.  His memoir starts with his life in St. Louis with his mom, dad, and sister.  We then travel to Boston University where Andy attends college.  It is during these years where he struggles with his sexuality and decides to come out to his family and friends.  During college Andy gets an internship with CBS and spends the summer in New York.  After this time, he knows he wants to be in the world of television. He continues his career at CBS and works his way up from his internship to being a producer for the CBS morning show.  The book is full of funny, silly, and unique stories and encounters he has with many celebrities.  There comes a time when he leaves CBS, works for a cable network, and ends up at Bravo TV.  One of his biggest successes comes when he and the Bravo staff come up with the "Housewives" franchise.

What I Thought Of It:   The first audio brought me hours of enjoyment in the car and this one did the same.  It would have been great to listen to them in order, but it still worked the way I did it.  I must be honest and say that this story made me laugh out loud and also brought a few tears during some very tender moments.  Andy has a great way in telling a story and has had quite and eventful life.  The best part of this was listening to how he went from a kid in St. Louis with a love for entertainment and celebrities to a full-fledged celebrity himself living the life he always wanted.  Dreams really can come true.  

Who Should Read It:  If you know Andy Cohen, then you need to read this book.  If you watch Bravo TV, then you should read this book.  I think anyone that enjoys a story about the rise of a person from their childhood all the way up to their dream coming true, then I think they will enjoy this story.  There is nothing too deep (although there is a moment here and there) in this memoir, but it is pure fun and enjoyable.  It made for a perfect audio book and brought me hours of fun, smiles, and laughs.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Treat Tuesday #76...

Treat Tuesday - Chicken Cabbage Stir Fry

*One of our New Year's Resolutions is to eat better and prepare more "healthy" meals.

*We found this recipe on Facebook and it is so tasty.


~ 3 chicken breast halves
~1 teaspoon vegetable oil
~3 cups green cabbage, shredded
~ 1 tablespoon cornstarch
~1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
~1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder
~1⁄2 cup water
~1 tablespoon soy sauce


1. Cut chicken breasts into strips.
2. Heat oil in a frying pan.
3. Add chicken strips and stir fry over medium-high heat, turning constantly until done.
4. Add cabbage and sauté 2 minutes until cabbage is crisp-tender.
5. Mix cornstarch and seasonings; add water and soy sauce, and mix until smooth.
6. Stir sauce into chicken/cabbage mixture.
7. Cook until sauce has thickened and chicken is coated, about 1 minute.
8. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

Treat Tuesday:  Middle-Grade Novel

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

Treat Tuesday:  Adult Novel

The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha

Monday, January 19, 2015

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel...

How I Heard About It:   One of my favorite things is to follow publications that preview new and upcoming novels.  This title was mentioned in several different sources and became an adult novel on my radar.  I recently purchased it and dived in to see what Station Eleven was all about.

What It Is About:  Arthur Leander is a famous actor that has been in movies and is known world-wide.  He has been married three times which has caused much focus in the tabloids.  In his later years, he is acting in live theater in a production of King Lear.  He collapses on stage and Jeevan, a EMT from the audience, tries to revive him.  Kirsten is a young girl who is an actor in the stage production.  She spends some time with Jeevan on this fateful night at the theater.  This is also the night that a deadly flu hits the United States and causes something that has never happened before in the world.  As soon as people are exposed to the flu, their lives end within days.  Jeevan locks himself in his brother's apartment and Kirsten escapes the city with her older brother.  Arthur's best friend Clark, is on his way back to the United States when he learns of Arthur's death.  He becomes stranded at the airport because of the flu.  Jeevan, Kirsten, and Clark are all fighting for their lives to stay away from the flu.  Kirsten ends up on the road for fifteen years traveling with a group of people called the "Symphony."  Jeevan is on the road also after leaving his brother in the apartment.  Clark remains at the airport where they have created a whole of their own.  One thing is for sure:  none of them know what the future holds.

What I Thought Of It:   After a bit of a slow start, this novel was outstanding.  I normally don't gravitate toward "post-world" type stories, but I'm glad this book has become a part of my library.  The story line was fascinating and the characters were so unique and different.  It was interesting how the main characters all had their own story lines; yet they moved toward an ending that brings them all together in a stunning conclusion.  Having time off today, gave me the day to finish this incredible story.  There is nothing better than having a huge chunk of time to really delve into a story.  

Who Should Read It:  This is the perfect novel for adults that love fiction stories.  It is also for readers that want to take a look into the world after a major flu hits the world.  The novel is so well written that it just flows from page to page.  If you are also a fan of character study, then this is the book for you.  Happy Reading!

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper...

How I Heard About It:   One of my favorite middle-grade books is Out of My Mind by this author.  When I heard that she has a new book out, I was quite excited.  I became even more excited when I saw several Twitter friends reviewing this book and giving it high marks.  

What It Is About:  Stella lives in North Carolina during the 1930's.  The south is extremely segregated.  She is an outside kind of girl and especially enjoys the outdoors during the late night hours.  During one of her ventures outside, she sees a far-away fire with many men in white clothing.  She soon learns this is the Klan and her parents warn her to stay as far away from them as possible.  She and her brother Jo Jo go to the all-black school while the white children attend their own school.  Stella tries to understand why everything in their town has to be separate.  Her family and their neighbors even have their own doctor.  A few nights after her first sighting of the KKK, Stella finds that a neighbor's home is engulfed in flames.  She becomes a hero when she is able to find one of their missing children.  Life doesn't get an easier when her friend gets beat up in town, when the "white" doctor won't help her mother, and she doesn't win the writing contest her teacher has all the children enter.  Stella learns that with courage and "guts" she and her family can survive anything as long as they have each other.

What I Thought Of It:  While not as good as Out of My Mind, I enjoyed the novel.  This was perfect timing to read this story because of the current movie Selma.  It is hard to believe that people were fighting for their rights to vote during the 1930's and still fighting for those rights in the 1960's.  Stella's family was strong and relied on each other to survive some difficult situations.  Even though the subject matter was hard to read about, I'm glad the author didn't shy away from these real-life events.  The writing was so good that I felt like I was right there with this little girl and her family.  

Who Should Read It:  If you are doing a historical fiction type unit, then this is the perfect book for that.  If you are working on civil rights and/or voting rights, this would be a great mentor text.  Because of the subject matter and the difficulty of the text, I would say this book is geared toward a fifth and/or sixth grade reader.  Middle-school readers would also enjoy this story.  I also think it would make for a great read aloud for students in grades four through six.  Adult readers will also find this a satisfying read.  Happy Reading!

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars