Fourth Grade Journey

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Treat Tuesday #179 (Happy Book Birthday)

Treat Tuesday:  Chicken Alfredo Pasta

*One of my most favorite meals is Chicken Alfredo.  The only down side of this meal is it isn't all that healthy or good for you.

*My wife recently found this more "healthy" version and we when tried it out and it was delicious.

*Give it a try, enjoy, and check out the new books out today...


Servings: 4
1 tablespoon olive oil 
2 chicken breasts, cubed
1 teaspoon salt 
½ teaspoon pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour 
1 cup chicken broth 
1 cup skim milk, or milk of choice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 cups spinach 
2 cups whole grain penne pasta, cooked 
¼ cup Parmesan, optional


1. Heat the olive oil over a skillet and add chicken. Season with salt and pepper, and cook 5-8 minutes, or until no longer pink. 
2. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. 
3. In the same pan, add the garlic and sauté for one minute over medium heat. 
4. Sprinkle the flour over the garlic and slowly add in the chicken stock. 
5. Quickly stir to avoid lumps. 
6. Add in the skim milk, stir, and allow to reach a boil to thicken sauce. Season with salt and pepper. 
7. Once the sauce is thickened, add in the spinach and stir until wilted. 
8. Remove from heat and add in the cooked penne, chicken, and Parmesan. Stir to coat. 
9. Top with fresh Parmesan and enjoy!

Treat Tuesday:  Middle-Grade Novel

Treat Tuesday:  Young-Adult Novel

Treat Tuesday:  Novel Published for Adults

Monday, February 27, 2017

Music Monday #21 (I Lived by One Republic)

"I Lived" by One Republic

*I love when a piece of music not only has great lyrics, a great sound, but out a wonderful message.

*When I first say the video of the boy that went along with this song, it really tugged at my heart strings.  It made me want to live my life to the fullest.  I guess that is why it is called "I Lived."

*This particular song has been used in the past and is always received quite well by my writers.

*I'm excited to use it again this year!

*Today is our Twenty-First Monday together and that means it is time for another 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 this 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 Monday Selections for 2016-2017 
Week #1 - "What I Am" by                                                    Click Here for Week #1 Music
Week #2 - "Clay" by Grace VanderWaal                                               Click Here for Week #2 Music
Week #3 - "One Voice" by Billy Gilman                                               Click Here for Week #3 Music
Week #4 - "I Don't Know My Name" by Grace VanderWaal                Click Here for Week #4 Music
Week #5 - "Proud" by Heather Small                                                    Click Here for Week #5 Music
Week #6 - "There's a Hero" by Billy Gilman                                        Click Here for Week #6 Music
Week #7 - "Can't Stop the Feeling" by Justin Timberlake                    Click Here for Week #7 Music
Week #8 - "Thriller" by Michael Jackson                                             Click Here for Week #8 Music
Week #9 - "Beautiful Thing" by Grace VanderWaal                            Click Here for Week #9 Music
Week #10 - "Live Like a Warrior" by Matisyahu                               Click Here for Week #10 Music
Week #11 - "Thankful" by Josh Groban                                             Click Here for Week #11 Music
Week #12 - "Hall of Fame" by The Script and                    Click Here for Week #12 Music
Week #13 - "Clouds" by Zach Sobiach                                               Click Here for Week #13 Music
Week #14 - "Hopeful" by Bars & Melody                                          Click Here for Week #14 Music
Week #15 - "Do They Know Its Christmas" by BandAid                   Click Here for Week #15 Music
Week #16 - "My Hero" by Harris J.                                                    Click Here for Week #16 Music
Week #17 - "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong             Click Here for Week #17 Music
Week #18 - "Be Humble and Kind" by Tim McGraw                         Click Here for Week #18 Music
Week #19 - "Dreamer" by Chris Brown                                              Click Here for Week #19 Music
Week #20 - "One Call Away" by Charlie Puth                                    Click Here for Week #20 Music

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (2/27/17)

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...

Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar

*Middle-Grade Novel

My Book Review

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

*Young-Adult Novel

My Book Review

Books I Will (continue to) Read this Week… 

Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig

*Novel Published for Adults

The Weight of Him by Ethel Rohan

*Novel Published for Adults

The Kept by James Scott

*Novel Published for Adults (Audio Book)

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

*My Young-Adult Novel

The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish

*My Middle-Grade Novel

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

How I Heard About It:  After seeing a post by Donalyn Miller on Twitter about this novel, I added it to my TBR list.  I actually put in an order on Amazon and put this title in that order.  The other night I started the book and then spent most of my afternoon finishing it today.  I could not put it down.  

What It Is About:  Julian and Adam.  Adam and Julian.  Adam is a senior.  Julian is a freshman.  Adam has lots of friends, lots of energy, and lots going for him.  Julian is a loner, quiet, and not real sure of himself.  After losing both his parents to an accident, Julian becomes a foster child with Adam and his mother.  After a bit of time, he has to "leave" and go live with his uncle.  He believes he is leaving for one reason and Adam believes he is leaving for another reason.  Years later, these two boys "run" into each other at the local high school.  Julian has a lot to hide and tries to keep his distance from Adam.  Adam doesn't make this easy when he befriends him and makes sure he makes his counseling sessions with the therapist at school.  The beginning of their friendship is solely based on school interactions, but as time goes on Adam includes Julian in his life, his friendships, and back to his home.  All the while Julian is living with a "hell" at home with his uncle that he works extremely hard to hide from everyone.  It takes Adam a bit of time, but he begins to get a notion that something is not right with Julian, his uncle, and the private life they are living behind closed doors.  Adam makes it his mission to save Julian while Julian does everything in his power to keep his secrets safe in his own mind.  

What I Thought Of It:  WOW!  This was such an incredible read.  I read most of the book this afternoon in one sitting because I could not put it down.  The story was heart-wrenching, powerful, disturbing, and extremely meaningful.  I can't remember ever reading about two male characters that had such heart, soul, and extreme presence.  There were many moments during the reading when I had to stop, take a moment, and let the "deepness" sink in.  The writing was exquisite, the characters were developed fully and the story telling was at its best.  I could not read these pages fast enough.  

Who Should Read It:  This is a definite read for high-school readers and above.  The subject matter is "mature" during different portions of the story.  The plot is raw, real, and upsetting at times.  The reader should be one that can handle difficult moments that both fiction and real life can offer.  I highly recommend this book to adult readers because I know they will devour it as much as I did.  Happy Reading...

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar

How I Heard About It:  I was quite surprised when I went to the mailbox one day and found a package from Nancy Paulsen.  She had sent me to ARC's.  This one and Walking With Miss Millie.  What a pleasant surprise.  I recently finished Walking With Miss Millie and posted a a review, and just finished this second ARC last night.  Both were sure-fire winners!  

What It Is About:  Ruthie is new to America and living in New York City during the late 1960's.  She and her family have come here from Cuba to make a better life for themselves.  Ruthie is frustrated because she has been placed in the "slow" class and she knows she can handle the regular classroom.  She and a friend make it their goal to move up to the better class.  This plan is put on hold when Ruthie and her family are in a car accident leaving Ruthie with  a broken leg, put in a body cast, and confined to bed.  Each time she visits the doctor hoping to have the casts removed, she is disappointed to learn that she isn't healing as fast as she would like.  While frustrated, missing out on her childhood, and stranded in her room, Ruthie begins to take up writing and artistic ventures.  She also forms new friendships and continues the "old" ones that were started before the accident.  Ruthie learns about true strength in both herself and those people that surround her.  After a full year in in the cast and living in her room, she is finally released back into the real world, but Ruthie isn't sure she is ready; while her fears may keep her away from the life she really wants to live.  

What I Thought Of It:  Nancy Paulsen must know the type of stories I enjoy most because both of the ARC's she sent me were complete winners with me.  I thought this was an incredible story and felt like I was "inside" the book living this story beside Ruthie, her family, and friends.  It was interesting to learn about the move from Cuba to American, the struggles they faced, and how difficult life could be for immigrants new to this country.  I realized while reading that I'm sure some of our new students in our schools from different countries are probably still facing some of the same challenges in 2017 that children did in 1967.  Ruthie was a fighter and knew where she belonged both at school and at home.  

Who Should Read It:  A new book in my classroom is always a great day and I can't wait to share this story with my readers this coming week.  The novel is perfect for strong readers in fourth grade.  The reading level, content, and story would be spot-on for our fifth and/or sixth grade readers.  I'm also thinking it would be awesome to be used with the middle-school readers.  As always adult readers will find this a satisfying and enjoyable read.  Happy Reading...

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friend Friday #178 (Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz)

Hi!  We're Lexi and Audrey and we read the book called Finding Perfect written by Elly Swartz.

We thought this book was good 
because there was a lot of drama in the story, some really sad parts, and some happy moments.  

Our favorite part in the story was when Hannah and Molly got mad at each other during the Facebook post chapter because that was an interesting part of the story and could happen in real life.  

The character that we liked best was Molly because she was a perfectionist like we are and we could relate to some of the stuff she went through.  She had it worse.  

We think the author wrote this book because she wanted people to know that not everything needs to be perfect and there is always a way to solve your problems.  

We would recommend this book to our friends because we all like the same type of books and this is a pretty cool story.  

Reading to us is different because one of us likes reading more than the other, but we both like to read great books because they have really awesome stories inside them.  

*This was our most recent class read aloud.  I had read the book last summer, met Elly at #NCTE16, and knew this was going to be a story I wanted to share with my students.
*I asked Lexi and Audrey if they would like to do a "friend Friday" post together, and they were very excited to do that.
*Their responses were spot on and I'm so glad they were willing to share their thoughts about the book.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Trailer Thursday #178 (Wish by Barbara O'Connor)

Wish by Barbara O'Connor
(Trailer Created by Fourth Grade Reader Logan )

Wish by Barbara O'Connor

(Trailer Created by Fourth Grade Reader Sally)

Wish by Barbara O'Connor

(Trailer Created by Fourth Grade Reader Kaitlyn)

Wish by Barbara O'Connor

(Trailer Created by Fourth Grade Reader Kevin)

Wish by Barbara O'Connor

(Trailer Created by Fourth Grade Reader Sophia)

Wish by Barbara O'Connor

(Trailer Created by Fourth Grade Reader Isabella)

Wish by Barbara O'Connor

(Trailer Created by Fourth Grade Reader Eliana)

*Our most recent book club selection was Wish by Barbara O'Connor.  We had the chance to Skype with her.  It was such fun.

*After our book club, I had the book club  readers create a book trailer based on the novel Wish.  

*Our goal is to create a book trailer a week that we can share with our classmates.  

*We are collecting all the trailers we make and putting them into our Schoology Site.

*Each student will have their own album where they can keep all of their trailers.  Then the other readers will be able to browse those trailers and find a new book to read.   

*As the year progresses we will learn what should be included, and not included, in the trailer to make them the best they can be.

Here are Some Other Trailers that Promote this incredible author

Life Lesson #21 (Be Positive)

"Be Positive"

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

*Many of our "life lessons" are of a serious nature and teaching the children some pretty important concepts of life.

*Once and awhile it is fun to use something a bit more "light".  This is the perfect video to use.  Even though it does stress the importance of being "positive", the kids watching it have fun and enjoy it quite well.  It just puts a smile on everyone's face.  

*Each Thursday I share a short video clip with my writers.  The clip has some type of "lesson" I want to share and teach my fourth graders.  

*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.  

Life Lessons for 2016-2017…          

Week #1 - Be Brains -                                                 Click Here for Week #1 Lesson
Week #2 - Be Kind to Others -                                    Click Here for Week #2 Lesson      
Week #3 - Be Safe -                                                    Click Here for Week #3 Lesson
Week #4 - Be Responsible -                                       Click Here for Week #4 Lesson    
Week #5 - Be a Friend -                                              Click Here for Week #5 Lesson
Week #6 - Be Courageous -                                       Click Here for Week #6 Lesson
Week #7 - Be Life Changing -                                     Click Here for Week #7 Lesson
Week #8 - Be Spooky -                                               Click Here for Week #8 Lesson
Week #9 - Be Kind -                                                    Click Here for Week #9 Lesson
Week #10 - Be Courageous (To Continue On) -         Click Here for Week #10 Lesson
Week #11 - Be Motivated -                                          Click Here for Week #11 Lesson 
Week #12 - Be Inspired -                                            Click Here for Week #12 Lesson
Week #13 - Be Merry -                                                Click Here for Week #13 Lesson
Week #14 - Be a Team -                                             Click Here for Week #14 Lesson
Week #15 - Be Giving -                                               Click Here for Week #15 Lesson
Week #16 - Be SHOUTful -                                         Click Here for Week #16 Lesson
Week #17 - Be Happy -                                               Click Here for Week #17 Lesson
Week #18 - Be a Reader -                                          Click Here for Week #18 Lesson
Week #19 - Be Powerful -                                           Click Here for Week #19 Lesson
Week #20 - Be Brave -                                                Click Here for Week #20 Lesson

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wonder Wednesday #178 (Breakfast with Books with Barbara O'Connor)

Wonder Wednesday:  Book Club in Action

*We had our fifth "Breakfast with Books" book club on Thursday, February 16th.

*The twelve readers gathered in our classroom before school with breakfast treats and a copy of Wish in hand.

*The readers were excited to Skype with the author Barbara O'Connor.  We couldn't wait to share our comments and questions with her about her latest novel.

*Everyone had such a wonderful time enjoying the breakfast treats and listening to the author share her thoughts and answers with us about this terrific story.  Barbara was warm, gracious, and such fun to chat with.

*My fourth grade readers are so lucky to be able to personally connect with such incredible authors.  They loved the story of Charlie, Howard, and Wishbone.

*Here is an inside look at our book club in action...