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Archive for the ‘4th grade’ Category

How Not Being Able to Read Makes People Feel Less Than

Holes (novel)

Image via Wikipedia

On Friday, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Mr. Snyder’s class in Dalmatia, PA.  He was the teacher last year that motivated his students to learn their spelling words, by putting money into a jar to buy a goat for a family in Africa.  They met their goal last year and were able to buy two goats.

Mr. Snyder is now teaching 4th grade and he has 11 of the same students that he had 2 years ago.  Those parents must be so excited.  Did you know that it can take a new teacher up to 3 months to figure out how a child can learn effectively?  Well, Mr. Snyder will not be needing to go through the learning curve with half of his students.

These amazing students are listening to the book Holes in their class.  Mr. Snyder had invited me into his classroom via Skype to read chapters 17 and 18 to his students.   Some of his students had prepared a summary of the book and information about the characters before I read to them.  They told me about the characters Stanley, Armpit, and Zero.

In chapter 18 Zero is looking over Stanley’s arm as he is writing a letter to his family and tells Zero, who he feels is a nothing, to stop doing that.  Zero asks Stanley if he can teach him to read, because he doesn’t know how to.  Stanley refuses because his life is just too busy digging holes and he doesn’t want to take the time to help him.

This part of the book made me reflect on how children who struggle with reading really do feel about themselves.  They feel less than, like everyone else is better than they are, and stupid.  Louis Sachar did a great job when developing the character of Zero, because it helps us understand about how people’s self concept of themselves shapes who they are.  Zero feels like a zero and a nothing and all he is asking for is a little help.

We don’t want our children feeling this way.  So, if your child is struggling, the help them now before their self concept becomes too low and the gap continues to get bigger for him/her.  Click on the video and hear an excerpt from this chapter.


Books Boys Love

Cover of "Everyone Poops (My Body Science...

Cover of Everyone Poops (My Body Science)

Parents often wonder how they can engage their boys in enjoying reading.  They are looking for books that aren’t too girly and that their sons will enjoy.  Therefore, it is no surprise that one of the biggest questions that I get is, “What books do you suggest for a __year old boy?”  This question has inspired me to make a list of books from my favorite book publishing company, Usborne Books and More.  Below you will find a list of books that tend to be boys favorites along with the age that they are appropriate for.

Boys tend to like books that fit into 6 different categories. Of course this is just a brief list of the most popular and not all inclusive.

  • humor
  • non-fiction
  • Suspense
  • Hands on
  • Sports
  • How to

Baby Boys 0-4

Animal Board Books

Noisy Touch Feely

That’s Not my Monster

Glug, Glug, Glug Bath Book

Lift and Look Board books – Books include topics about construction sites, tractors, trains, and dinosaurs

Boys Ages 4-6

Everyone Poops

Engaging phonics Readers

How Big is a Million

The Gingerbread Man

There’s a Mouse About the House

Very First Reading Program

Boys 7-10

Beginning Non-fiction Readers

Illustrated Stories for Boys – includes the following

The Masked Pirate
Robot Racers
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Jon and the Green Troll
The Tale of the Haunted TV
The Band of Robbers
Sinbad the Sailor
Victor Saves the Village
The Terrible Tidybot
The Story of Shiverham Hall
The Pesky Parrot
Sam and the Giants
The Tale of the Kitchen Knight
Attack of the Swamp Monster
Robot Robbery
Treasure Island

Jack Russell Dog Detective

The Team Series

Boys 10-15

Moby Dick

Tom Sawyer

David Copperfield

Conspiracy 365

These are some suggestions for boys to engage them and get them excited about reading.  Usborne Books has many many titles that boys love.  You can check them all out at

This topic was discussed tonight as well on the Totoal Education Network, where I was a guest.  Check it out and learn what some of Neil’s favorite books for boys are as well.

Total Education Network Radio 08/18 by Total Tutor | Blog Talk Radio.

Thanksgiving is a Way of Life

Cover of "Thanksgiving Turkey Trouble (Re...

Cover via Amazon

For me Thanksgiving is a way of life.  I remember one of my favorite times growing up.  It was sitting around the Thanksgiving table and each of us sharing what we were thankful for in the past year.  I really did not know how to be thankful, other than this simple tradition.

It seems that students today are very thankful and this is definitely true for the students in Jan Wells classroom in Kansas.  This 4th grade group of students knows what is important.  When they were asked the question about what they are grateful for they mentioned some of the most important things.  They said friends, family, food, house, and many other things.

Today, my family gets to experience the Thanksgiving tradition of being grateful on a weekly basis.  It is amazing how when this is an ongoing tradition at meal time how deep kids can get.  Last year my 2 year old daughter said that she was thankful for her swim teacher.  Today I am grateful for all of the little moments that I get to spend with my kids, the students of the world, and the students that I tutor.  I used to say that Life doesn’t get any better than this, but it just keeps getting better.

I had so much fun talking about things that we are thankful for and reading the first chapter of the book Thanksgiving Turkey Trouble.  This is one of the books by Abby Klein in her Ready Freddy series.  Kids love books from the Ready Freddy series because they can relate to the characters and the situations that they get themselves into.  Take a look at Jan’s amazing group of 4th graders.

Feeling a Little Sleepy Today

Well, I am feeling a little sleepy today, it must be because I was in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota with a wonderful 4th grade class. When I was first in communication with the teacher of this classroom I noticed this neat name and she began explaining that the name of her town was because of the Chief Indian Sleepy Eye. I thought wow, that is really cool. When I got into the classroom today, a wonderful student let me know the same piece of information.

After chit-chatting with the students in Sleepy Eye, we had the wonderful opportunity to do a lesson the reading strategy visualization. This is an important tool that we utilize when reading. I always compare it to making a movie inside of our heads. I had the students draw pictures of what I was reading and through the following video we were able to compare the authors pictures with the students pictures.

Check it out!


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Chippewa Falls, WI 4th grade

Today I had the awesome opportunity to connect with Mrs. Merconti’s students in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.  I read the story Cinderella Skeleton and we made connections with the version of Cinderella that we are all familiar with to this one.  Click on the video to see a reading of this story. 

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